Wednesday, January 31, 2007

RIP Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins passed away today. She was 62. And whether she was writing about the Texas Legislature or about Dubya's reign in DC, she was brilliant.

Oh yes, and she knew Dubya like nobody else (at least on the progressive end of things), and I knew I could always count on her to unspin all the unbelievable crap that has been coming out of DC for the last six years...
Just like how she had been able to see through all the BS in Austin.
I know I'll be missing her. : (

From the Texas Observer:

To Our Readers and Friends
Molly Ivins left her editor's chair at The Texas Observer more than 30 years ago and went on to play a larger stage. But she never left us behind. She remained convinced that Texas needed a progressive, independent voice to call the powerful to account and to stand up for the common folk. She kept our voice alive. More than once, when the paper was on the brink of insolvency, she delivered speeches and gave us the honorariums. She donated royalties from her best-selling book Shrub to keep the doors open. Her determination and efforts sustained the Observer as a magazine, as a family, and as a community.

Molly was a hero. She was a mentor. She was a liberal. She was a patriot. She was a friend. And she always will be. With Molly's death we have lost someone we hold dear. What she has left behind we will hold dearer still.

Despite her failing health, and an impending ice storm, Molly insisted on being driven to the Observer's most recent public event in early January so she could thank our supporters.

Observer writers are useful, she explained to the crowd, in much the same way as good hunting dogs. Turn them loose, let them hunt. When they return with their prey, pat them on the head, say a few words of praise, and set them loose to hunt again.

For the time being, The Texas Observer's web site ( will be dedicated to remembering Molly, her work, her wit, her contributions to the political discourse of a nation. We invite readers to submit their own thoughts and recollections, to say a few words of praise.

Then, we will return to the hunt.

No One Calls My Congresswoman "A Whore"

OMG, look what's on Politico:

Rep. Loretta Sanchez has quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, accusing the chairman, Rep. Joe Baca, of telling people she's a "whore."

Baca denied the charge.

In an interview with The Politico Wednesday, Sanchez, a California Democrat as is Baca, also cited concerns about whether Baca was properly elected Hispanic Caucus chairman in November and about his general attitude toward female lawmakers. The caucus represents 21 Hispanic Democrats in Congress.

"I'm not going to be a part of the CHC as long as Mr. Baca illegally holds the chair … I told them no. There's a big rift here," Sanchez said. "You treat the women like shit. I have no use for him."

This is just disgusting! How can someone say something so gawd-awful and offensive to a co-worker? Oh, and why is this sexist attitude still allowed in Congress??!!

I'm sorry, but calling someone a whore isn’t something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Saying something like that to a colleague is just downright offensive! If Baca really did say that to my Congresswoman, then he’d better APOLOGIZE AHORA…
And start treating women with more respect!!

If someone called me a “whore”, then I’d sure as hell quit his organization. How sad that this may further exacerbate the divisions among Congressional Latinos.

: (

SoCal ACTION ALERT: Support Pro-Choice People of Faith!


Please help our friends at Orange County/San Bernardino Planned Parenthood! I spoke with an OC Planned Parenthood staffer earlier this afternoon, and she let me know that local anti-choice wingnuts are busing in MORE WINGNUTS from Riverside County, just to try to intimidate and silence us. Now can we just allow this to happen? Sorry, but I don't think so: We can't let them silence us!

If you can come to Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach next Thursday, please do. We need to support our progressive allies at Planned Parenthood, and I think it would be nice to show the wingnuts that they can't scare us... NOT EVEN BEHIND THE ORANGE CURTAIN!

Oh yeah, and here's the info:

Celebrate the 34th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade with a
Discussion of Faith & Choice

"God, Women, Faith & Choice"
Interfaith Panel Discussion and "Ask The Clergy" Session

Thursday, February 8th, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Temple Bat Yahm
1011 Camelback Street, Newport Beach, CA

There is no charge for this event. Light refreshments will be served.
Please RSVP to 714.922.4132 or

Sponsored by:
Planned Parenthood OSBC Community Action Fund
National Council of Jewish Women, Orange County Affinity Group,
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Orange County Chapter
Progressive Christians Uniting, Orange County Chapter

Do you have a question for our clergy panelists?

Send them to
Selected questions will be raised for discussion on February 8th.

So does this sound "threatening" to you? Seriously, why would wingnuts be offended by this? Well no matter why they're "offended" and "threatened" by this, let's not allow them to silence pro-choice people of faith in Southern California!

The Amazing Beauty of Orange County: Newport Beach Chips in to Save Crystal Cove

Who said that there are never happy endings? I guess whoever said that never heard about the story of Crystal Cove, and its little village of historic cottages. Once upon a time, this was a place where people would go to get away from it all. This was a place where filmmakers came when they needed an exotic backdrop for their stories. This was a place that still inspires artists to create masterpieces...

But it was all threatened when a few greedy developers decided to turn this bucolic paradise into yet another elite mega-resort along Orange County's "Gold Coast". All around this once rural oceanfront setting, new cookie-cutter McMansions were popping up. It seemed like the one last undeveloped stretch of coastline in Orange County would be gone forever...

Until local environmentalists and old time Crystal Cove residents united to stop this new fit of OC development madness... And offer their own alternative! Fortunately the state finally listened, and agreed to restore the cottages instead of build a resort. Last year, many of the cottages were reopened to the public...
And so far the public has been loving the historic charm of the cottages, as well as the pristine shores nearby.

But still, the work is not over quite yet. There are still about twenty-four cottages that are still in shambles. However, it now looks like they won't be in disrepair for long! (From OC Register)

The demand is there. The money – that's another matter.

But things could be looking up for two dozen highly coveted but vacant beachside cottages at Crystal Cove. To shore up the costly second phase of restoration in the historic bluff-side village, Newport Beach might hand over tax proceeds to a nonprofit that manages the vintage huts.

The roughly $80,000 annual payout – money from taxes on stays at previously restored cottages – would be nominal compared with the estimated $20 million needed to restore the remaining 24 bungalows.

So far the city of Newport Beach (which annexed this entire area some years back) has been collecting fees from the cottage guests, and everyone was wondering what Newport would be doing with all this money. Well, I guess we got our answer: The city will be chipping in to save this little stretch of heaven along the California coast! And already, we're getting a good idea as to what this money will be going toward:

While officials have raised $650,000 for a marine research station at Crystal Cove and $90,000 for an outdoor educational area, Newport's money would be the first devoted to refurbishing the remaining cottages.

Seventeen of those will be converted for overnight stays. One will house a museum, two will be used for park operations and the rest will accommodate the education area.

Newport City Manager Homer Bludau, mindful of the eight-figure restoration cost, called the city's proposed contribution a "goodwill gesture."

City officials hope the money, to be paid annually for at least five years, will add kindling to a fundraising campaign expected to kick off after final cost estimates come out in March. "There's a real (demand for the cottages), and we just think it's the right thing to do," Bludau said.

Well, I'm glad to see that this restoration project is near completion...
Heck, I'm glad just to see the one last unspoiled stretch of shore in Orange County remain unspoiled! Hopefully once this last phas of restoration is completed, we will all be able to enjoy the magical dream of Crystal Cove for many years to come. Finally, we have a happy ending for a uniquely Orange County story!

(This is cross-posted at Calitics, and at my blog. For more info on what's being done to preserve this California dream for future generations, see what the Crystal Cove Allinace is up to. And yes, all these photos are MINE... To share with you!)

: )

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Can Be Done About Climate Change? Senator Boxer Asks Us (And Offers a Solution?)

Ever since Senator Barbara Boxer asked this question earlier today, I've been thinking about it. I know that this is already becoming one of the great challenges of our time. I know that this is something that we simply cannot afford to ignore...

So what's being done about it? What can be done about it, when the White House has tried to deceive us into thinking that it's not even a problem?

Already, we're starting to see positive action in Washington. The House recently voted to end oil company subsidies. We're seeing Presidential Candidates talk about how they intend to tackle climate change. Oh, and we're finally seeing some legislation being introduced to stop the oncoming global catastrophe NOW!

Oh, and speaking of legislation, our own Senator Boxer may be up to something quite good:

Eleven senators, including Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), today introduced a bill setting firm emissions reduction targets needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming. The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act calls for reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping emissions to 80 percent below their 1990 levels by 2050.

Human activity-burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests-releases CO2 that blankets the earth and traps heat. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased greatly over the last century and global temperatures are rising as a result. Scientific evidence suggests if atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases stabilize at or below 450 parts per million (ppm CO2 equivalent), we have a good chance of holding global average temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and averting the most severe impacts of global warming.

Staying under the 450 ppm threshold requires cutting global emissions roughly in half from today's levels by mid-century. Given that the United States leads the world in both absolute and per capita emissions, we must achieve even deeper reductions here at home. The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act takes an incremental approach to reaching this goal: U.S. emissions would decrease approximately two percent each year from 2010-2020 to reach 1990 levels. Emissions would be cut 26 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, 53 percent below 1990 levels by 2040 and fully 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The bill allows for acceleration of the emission reductions if necessary to stay below the 2C target. It also includes provisions to increase our reliance on clean renewable energy sources, improve energy efficiency, test carbon capture and storage technologies, reduce heat-trapping emissions from passenger vehicles and re-engage in international negotiations on global warming.

I guess that's why the Union of Concerned Scientists has endorsed this bill. Oh, and I should probably admit that I am really liking this piece of legislation, as well. However, I recognize that this may not be the the final bill that becomes law. Perhaps Senator Boxer also understands this, and is asking us what we want to see done on climate change.

Well, I can tell you what I want to see done on climate change. There is only so much supply of fossil fuels left on our planet...
And look at how much damage has been done in the pursuit of more! For the sake of our national (and global) security, as well as our global survival, we must end this addiction to fossil fuels! I definitely want to see our government invest in clean, renewable energy, instead of wasting any more funds trying to salvage the fossil fuel industry. Of course, I also want to see our government encourage conservation. I want to see the American people be more energy wise. Oh, and I WANT TO SEE MYSELF BECOME MORE ENERGY-WISE!

If we want our planet to survive for future generations, then we need to stop destroying it now. If we want America to succeed in tomorrow's global economy, then we need to begin preparing now. If we want to thrive in the future, then we need to stop thinking in the past.

(Cross-posted at Calitics and My Left Wing)

Minimum Wage Bill to FINALLY Receive a Senate Vote

Cloture was finally reached on the Senate bill that would raise the minimum wage...
But at a price: (From Bob Geiger)

The measure that will now be voted on is a compromise bill that also gives $8 billion in tax breaks to small business, a price Reid said he was willing to pay to get a raise out of Senate Republicans for America's working poor.

"If that's the only way to get this out of here, I'm willing to do it to give 13 million Americans an increase in the minimum wage," said Reid, of the tax breaks that, while already paid for, should not have been necessary for a hike in the decade-old minimum wage.

Well, so am I. If that's all that the Republicans are asking for, then let's give it to them in order to give the working poor in this nation the raise that they totally deserve...
And desperately need.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Surreal Politics of Orange County: Immigration, Prop 187, and Pete Wilson Return to Haunt Us

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Ah, so you thought Proposition 187 was dead? So you thought all the madness of the 1990s was over? So you thought we forgot about Pete Wilson?

Well, think again! While GOP candidate for OC Supervisor Carlos Bustamante has been tricking us into believing that he's a Democrat who cares about his fellow Latinos, he has also been pandering to anti-immigrant wingnuts. So should it really surprise him that after sending out that deceptive "Independent Democrat" mailer, that the REAL DEMOCRATS would send out a little clarification?

Oh yeah, and does Carlos really think that all of us forgot what he said to the OC Register about OC Sheriff Mike Carona's horrendous proposal that the county enforce federal immigration law?

Yes. I support the Sheriff's innovative and effective plan to remove criminal immigrants from our streets and country.

Oh, really?! So does Bustamante really want to brink back all the unrest from last year? Does he want to strike fear in the hearts of many in his own community in Santa Ana? Why would he agree to this?

Perhaps, is he thinking the same thing that Janet Nguyen and Trung Nguyen are thinking? Maybe he is (or perhaps not). Are they all thinking that the best way to turn out the Republican vote is to play the race card via "illegal immigration", and that they'll enjoy success much like Pete Wilson did when he won reelection as Governor in 1994?

Possibly... But it won't work. This type of pandering to fears of the "illegal alien hordes" never really works in the end. Prop. 187 was later found to be unconstitutional, and thrown out in federal court. In the meantime, Latinos turned en masse against the California GOP: From Cox News Service)

In California, Republicans have not won a regular statewide election and no GOP presidential candidate has carried the state since 1994, when Wilson tied his gubernatorial campaign to Proposition 187, which cut social services to illegal immigrants. The proposition passed with broad support but has since been thrown out in court. Current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, came to power in a special recall election.

Antonio Gonzalez, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute, a Latino policy and research think tank, said that anger over Wilson resulted in a major surge in Hispanic voters. Nationwide, more than 1 million Hispanics registered to vote from 1994 to 1996, he said. He predicted another bounce of about 2 million new Latino voters from 2004 to 2008, buoyed in part by Republican rhetoric and legislation about illegal immigration.

Oh yes, and we still remember what happened last November. Remember when Tan Nguyen tried to scare local Latinos into not voting? Well, that didn't work out too well for him in the end. Not only did he lose, but he tainted Brand GOP in Central OC last November...
And contributed to Lynn Daucher's loss in the 34th State Senate race (most of which overlaps with the 47th CD and 1st SD)...

So perhaps, these Republicans should think twice before they go after immigrants...
And look at recent history.

The Real John McCain

So do you think John McCain is a nice, cozy "moderate"? Do you think he's an "independent-minded maverick"? Well, think again!

Here's a good reality check from Robert Greenwald:

He's a cozy "moderate" when he's pandering to moderates and independents...
And he's a certified wingnut when he's pandering to right-wing extremist wingnuts!

Oh yes, and don't forget "McSurge's" plan for Iraq:

For more straight talk on the "straight talker", see The Real McCain. Believe me: After you see for yourself what he's all about, you won't find him to be very "cozy" and "maverick" anymore.

Good News for "The Liberal Media"

Air America Radio, which had been going through some financial turbulence as of late, will survive...
And it looks like a New York developer is coming to the rescue: (From Huffington Post)

Air America Radio, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings since October, will be rescued at the 11th hour by Manhattan real estate developer Stephen L. Green. [...]

Green is the brother of Mark Green, the New York Democrat who served as the city's public advocate in the 90s and ran for mayor against Michael Bloomberg in 2001.

He has already signed a letter of intent, and plans to finalize a purchase agreement within the week.

Oh yeah, but they will still be losing one of their star hosts...
Al Franken is running for the US Senate!

And the wingnuts say that we're just a bunch of crazed, commie pinkos...

hehe ; )

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Surreal Politics of Orange County: What's an "Independent Democrat"?

Santa Ana Council member Carlos Bustamante seems to be having trouble in his run for OC Supervisor. Apparently, he's afraid to admit to his own constituents in Santa Ana that he's really a Republican. Well, perhaps he has reason to be afraid, considering that his geographic base isn't all that conservative.

So if one's a Republican seeking support in a Democratic city for local office, what can one do? Well, I guess that person can PRETEND TO BE A DEMOCRAT! Here's the mailer that Bustamante has been sending to my fellow Santa Ana Democrats, courtesy of The Liberal OC:

Well, I can understand why Carlos wouldn't want Latino voters to know that he's been cozying up to anti-immigrant Minutemen extremists. But does he really think that we're this stupid? My friend Claudio Gallegos (of Orange Juice) thinks that Bustamante has now realized that he can't win by being openly right-wing, though I still think he hasn't done a very good job of hiding his past pandering to wingnuts.

On the back are quotes from Bustamante supporters, including failed [Republican] politician Mark Leyes. One would think it might be an IE [independent expenditure]. In fact it was paid for by the Bustamante campaign, clearly trying to mislead Democratic voters into thinking he is a Democrat. Whats the matter Carlos, you realize you cannot win under the Republican label in Santa Ana? Are you ashamed to admit you are a Republican? Don’t worry, after the thumping they got last November, I am sure there are plenty of people embarassed [sic] to say they are Republicans.

Oh, and don't think that the Orange County Democrats are staying silent about this...
They have already mailed out this handy-dandy reminder of Bustamante's pandering to right-wing extremists. I found this in my mailbox the other day:

Ya know, if Bustamante really thinks that his "Independent Democrat" kabuki theater helps him, then he's got serious problems. I've spoken with a few Republicans in my area, and they've told me that they are so mad at him for his sleazy acts on the city council and his constant record of looking out for no one but himself, that they are willing to do almost anything to take him down...
Even if it means making it easier for Tom Umberg to win this Supervisor's race...

And I can see why. With a friend (and candidate) like Carlos Bustamante, the Republicans don't need enemies to strike them down! Oh wait, that's right...
Carlos is now an "Independent Democrat"...

; )

(This is cross-posted at Calitics.)

(For more great coverage of Orange County politics, please visit my friends at Orange Juice and The Liberal OC!)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Now This Is What I Want to See

From The New York Times:

Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall on Saturday to oppose President Bush’s plan for a troop increase in Iraq in what organizers hoped would be one of the largest shows of antiwar sentiment in the nation’s capital since the war began.

Well, I'm glad to see the MSM treat peace activists a little more fairly...
Still, if you want to find out what REALLY HAPPENED, go here or here for more.

Nothing like real, first-hand folks!

: )

Friday, January 26, 2007

Campaign 2008: Who Will Hollywood Heart More?

Ah, how fun it is to see how Hollywood is trying to deal with the Presidential Primary! Oh, and especially with the early primary looking more and more like reality, their early contributions could make a big difference right here in the Golden State. So is this good news for Hillary Clinton, or can Barack Obama make inroads in Tinseltown?

Oh, my! Guess who has Obama-mania now: (From Hollywood Today)

DreamWorks founders Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen are hosting a fundraiser Feb. 20 in Beverly Hills for U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) “in support of his presidential exploratory committee,” according to invitations that went out Wednesday to top Democrats in show business.

... And from CNN:

Some 700 invitations to the $2,300-per-head event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel went out this week, Andy Spahn, political adviser to Katzenberg and Spielberg, said Thursday. Katzenberg, Spielberg and Geffen are the founders of the DreamWorks movie studio.

Katzenberg has endorsed Obama, but Spielberg, a longtime supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, hasn't made up his mind. Geffen also has not publicly endorsed a candidate.

WOW! Even as Presidential candidates always try to stay away from those "Hollywood Values", they sure don't have a problem taking (a whole lot of) cold, hard Hollywood cash! But until now, it seemed like Hillary Clinton had the Hollywood ATM cornered. But apparently, she isn't quite as loved by the stars as she used to be: (From LA Times)

... In December [2005], the Sunday Times of London quoted George Clooney as saying that he was "frustrated and disappointed" that the Democratic leaders -- including Clinton -- had "backed themselves into a corner" over the Iraq war. According to the paper, Clooney reportedly called Clinton "the most polarizing figure in American politics." [...]

Kathleen Turner, starring in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in London's West End, was asked by a British reporter if she thought Clinton could win in 2008.

"I have my doubts about that," Turner told Rosie Millard of the New Statesman. "We don't want a celebrity woman president. We want someone who is really proven, someone with a really good foundation at that level, not just a star." [...]

A writer for More magazine took up the matter with Susan Sarandon. The actress was blunt. "I find Hillary Clinton to be a great disappointment," she said in the interview, which appears in [the April 2006] issue.

So are the Netroots really not alone in the Democratic fold when it comes to ambivalence over Clinton? Perhaps just like many of us dirty fucking hippies, some of the big Hollywood players are still angry over Clinton's previous support for the Iraq War. Perhaps, they are concerned about her "electability". Perhaps, they are just looking for something new...

But don't count her out quite yet: (From Washington Post)

Elizabeth Taylor likes the way Hillary Rodham Clinton thinks and that is worth a check for $2,100. [...]

In a statement released on Thursday, the actress said, "I have contributed to Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign because she has a mind of her own and a very strong one at that.

"I like the way she thinks. She is very savvy and a smart leader with years of experience in government, diplomacy and politics."

Perhaps, the lovely Liz Taylor has a point. Hillary has real-world experience. She is quite a smart leader, and a very able campaigner. Oh, and she does have a mind of her own!

Still, Senator Clinton has all that baggage... But Obama hardly even has a track record! Obama's been waffling on the environment lately... But Clinton has waffled on Iraq! Perhaps they both have issues, but does Edwards even have a chance in California?

We still have a full year before the California Presidential Primary, but it's already a hot topic. The Netroots is debating it out, and Tinseltown is now beginning to pay it out. Oh my, I think this may be one interesting campaign!

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

: )

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Surreal Politics of Orange County: Update on the First Supe Special

With less than two weeks to go until the February 6 special election to fill the Orange County Supervisorial seat that Lou Correa vacated when he left for Sacramento, the (melo)drama is intensifying as absentee voters begin to turn in their ballots.

Well for starters, the two Vietnamese candidates are fighting over who's winning the Vietnamese vote. Earlier this week, Garden Grove School Trustee Trung Nguyen (R)claimed that he is winning the early Vietnamese vote, and that fellow GOP candidates Janet Nguyen and Carlos Bustamante should drop out and endorse him. However just the next day, Garden Grove Councilmember Janet Nguyen (R) issued a press release stating that she is the favorite among Vietnamese absentee voters. So who should we believe here? I don't know...

But I'm certainly glad that I'm not Santa Ana Council member Carlos Bustamante (R)! I mean, would you want an endorsement mailer singing your praises only because you intend to block a Garden Grove Casino proposal that has no chance in hell of ever happening??!! Would you want a prominent REPUBLICAN blogger calling you out for your horrendous track record on the Santa Ana City Council?

So what has Bustamante done while on the Santa Ana City Council? Glad you asked. For starters he was on the council when the library budget was cut so drastically that today we have a city of over 400,000 with only one public library. Even gang-infested cities in Los Angeles County have more access to libraries!

Bustamante has also presided over a recent mushrooming of graffiti. And the Santa Ana Police Department is vastly understaffed - no thanks to Bustamante.

What about the streets and parks in Santa Ana? Disaster! That is particularly true of our streets. And Bustamante keeps approving massive tower developments that are only going to make traffic worse in our already congested city. What is he thinking? Oh right, take a look at his financial reports. He gets a lot of money from developers.

While I may not agree with Art Pedroza on quite a few issues, I do agree with him that Bustamante has been bad for Santa Ana, and will be even worse for Orange County! Well, at least the Libertarians still like him... I think...

But I certainly know that fellow Santa Ana Council member Claudia Alvarez doesn't! She has done what many of us would think to be impossible, and endorse the man she ran against for State Assembly in 2004. Yes, even as Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido (D??!!) endorsed Bustamante, Alvarez is sticking with her fellow Democrats in supporting Tom Umberg. Well, I'm happy to see that the two are making nice now, but I wonder why. Why is Alvarez doing this? Perhaps Art Pedroza, of Orange Juice, has an answer:

You have to love the fact that Alvarez has made this election work for her. It is a very sound strategy on her part. I believe she will run against Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido in two years. Now she can count on Umberg's support. And why shouldn't he back her? Pulido betrayed his party by backing a Republican in Carlos Bustamante, instead of Umberg.

Now Umberg and Alvarez can make Pulido pay by presenting a united front today. Their conference will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the O.C. Employees Association office. I expect she will formally endorse Umberg. This is an incredible turn of events given the vitriol that she engaged in against Umberg when they competed for the 69th Assembly District not that long ago.

Again, while I disagree with Pedroza on much of his politics, I must agree with his good insight as to the inside politics of all this. Claudia Alvarez is looking to challenge Miguel Pulido for Mayor in 2008, and if there's ever a time for her to mend fences with Democrats, it's now! Besides, many of us are already angry with Pulido for bypassing the official Democratic candidate and endorsing a Republican for this Supervisorial seat.

Well, enough of Alvarez... Let's get back to this special election, and Democratic candidate Tom Umberg. Santa Ana Democratic activist (and Orange Juice blogger) Claudio Gallegos summed up quite well why we need Umberg on the OC Board of Supervisors. Basically, he will be the one man who can stop wingnuts Chris Norby and John Moorlach from implementing their insane "policies":

... I am here to say that I support Umberg and encourage all those to vote for him. Umberg is the only viable candidate who will stand up for working families. Umberg is the only candidate who supports health care for the poor. He will stand up to the Norby/Moorlach agenda to fire all county employees.

He will take the lead in standing up to Moorlach's plan to drive widowed police officers wives into the poor house. I have to believe Moorlach honestly hates working families, Umberg does not. That is why I encourage people to vote for Tom Umberg for County Supervisor.

Umberg can be counted on to stand up to Norby's stupid plan to build a freeway in a zone where it would be vulnerable to collapse in an earthquake. Tom believes in putting science before dumb ideas. Tom Umberg is the best candidate to stop the 57 Freeway extension.

(emphasis mine)

OK, so NOW do you see why this election is so important to us in Orange County? We need a friggin' voice of reason at the county level, and it doesn't look like any of the Republicans running is willing to challenge the crazy wingnuts! Bustamante has been busy pandering to Minutemen, while Janet Nguyen and Trung Nguyen compete over who can demonize Latino immigrants more...
Sorry, but I just want someone on the Board of Supervisors who will fight for our working-class communities...

Am I the crazy one here?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Allard and Musgrave Give up on Hate Amendment This Year

Oh, no! Can this be true? The Pueblo Chieftain says so:

In past sessions, Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave were conservative champions of a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the last Congress, both sponsoring legislation to do just that.

Not this year.

The two Republicans said last week they have no plans to re-introduce their legislation in the new Congress - another sign that Democrats are now in the majority.

So does this mean that those Congresscritters will actually have to work on REAL ISSUES instead of a desined-to-fail effort to WRITE HATE INTO THE CONSTITUTION?!

Wow! I guess this means no legislative "accomplishments" for Marilyn Musgrave.

Is This "Fitzmas"?

"How could we reach a point where the chief of staff for the vice president was repeatedly lying to federal investigators?" Fitzgerald rhetorically asked the jurors. "That's what this case is all about."

Well, that's what WaPo is reporting this morning. Here's more:

Fitzgerald said Libby became Cheney's point man in talking to the press and White House to rebut Plame's husband, a former ambassador who publicly raised doubts about President Bush's statements on Iraq's nuclear weapons program. Plame's undercover status was revealed in the political crossfire between the administration, particularly the vice president's office, and the war critic, Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Fitzgerald contended that Libby claimed he learned Plame's identity from NBC's Tim Russert in July 2003, though he actually learned it from Cheney and several other administration officials a month earlier. He told investigators he passed along this information as second-hand gossip to two other reporters, but the two reporters have said Libby provided or confirmed the information for them.

Fitzgerald said Libby's subsequent claims of memory lapses to a grand jury in spring 2004 are implausible. He noted that Libby told the grand jury he felt he was learning the information as if it were new when he heard it from Russert on July 10, and had forgotten he heard it first from Cheney and other officials weeks earlier.

Well, I don't want to steal Fitz's thunder. Go to The Washington Post yourself, and see what's there. I have a feeling that this will be one interesting trial...

And more not-so-good news for Dubya as he prepares to give his "Disarray of the Union" speech tonight.

Monday, January 22, 2007

CA-11: Campaign 2008 Has Already Begun

Oh... My... Goodness!

If you thought it was hard for Jerry McNerney to unseat Pombo in 2006, just wait until 2008...
Or not, especially since the Republicans are already laying the groundwork to retake the 11th District.

So what can we do to help McNerney hold onto CA-11? What can we do to keep this area blue?

I still remember what happened in the 11th last year. I remember way back when, when I wondered if it was more likely that Pete McCloskey would beat Pombo in the Republican Primary than any Democrat knocking off Pombo. Oh yes, and I still remember the Democratic Primary and the "mysterious forces" behind Steve Filson. I remember how the DCCC originally gave McNerney the cold shrug after he won the primary, and I must admit that I'm still somewhat miffed about it. However, I remember how the Republicans freaked out at the last minute, as they finally began to realize that Pombo was in deep trouble.

And despite all that happened, McNerney won by a fairly comfortable margin last November. I was excited to hear McNerney give the Democratic national radio address last month, and I was just elated to see McNerney sworn in with the rest of the Democratic majority just eighteen days ago. Everything seemed so great...

Until I saw THIS! From the Contra Costa Times:

"Why would you reward someone who broke the law? It doesn't make sense," says the flier, which McNerney supporters uploaded this week to the Calitics and Say No To Pombo blogs. "But that's what Jerry McNerney wants to do. He wants to reward illegal aliens with Social Security benefits, even though they entered our country illegally."

According to the flier, which cites an August 2006 newspaper story on the U.S. Senate's bipartisan immigration-reform plan, the plan McNerney supports would jeopardize Social Security's future. "If Jerry McNerney wants to let illegal aliens get Social Security, what other ideas does he have to encourage illegal aliens to break our laws?" it asks.

Already, the NRCC is back in full gear... But do they also have a candidate in mind?
From the SF Chronicle:

"There's no way the Republicans are going to concede that seat,'' said Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, whose district has some overlap with McNerney's 11th Congressional District, which cuts across parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Joaquin counties.

Houston, who is contemplating a challenge against McNerney in 2008, will be in Washington next month to talk to GOP leaders. Pombo, 46, a Tracy cattle rancher who was chairman of the House Resources Committee when he was defeated in November, has not ruled out running again.

From what I am hearing now, Houston may be a formidable opponent. He already represents many of the CA-11 voters in the Assembly. The Republicans are already starting to cheer him on. I've heard that Houston sells himself as a reasonable "moderate", though I think his voting record says something else. Oh yes, and voters in this swing district will be voting for President in 2008!

So what does this all mean for Jerry McNerney? Well, I'm hoping that all this motivates him and the Bay Area activists to work hard to get him reelected...
And hopefully, just as hard as they worked to get him elected last year! This is a purple seat that is fast trending blue, so it's not as if Republicans have that much of an advantage in this region. This time last year, people told us that Pombo could not be taken down. Now, these same folks are telling us that McNerney cannot survive next year. All we need to do is keep up the grassroots activism, and encourage McNerney to keep in touch with his district, and I think we shouldn't have a problem keeping CA-11 blue!

(Cross-posted at Calitics, and at Swing State Project)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

CA Primary: What Type of Green Will We Be Talking About?

Now, it is looking increasingly official. The LA Times is reporting that Ahhnuld and the Legislature are ready to move the 2008 Presidential Primaries to February 5. That would put our Democratic primary after Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, but before everyone else. Obviously, this means we will be voting quite early...

But what else does this mean? How else could this affect the overall primary chase? The LA Times goes on to pontificate:

Contenders, who now bypass California except to raise money, would be forced to establish real presences here.

The huge cost of competing in California — estimated by one veteran strategist to be $6 million to $8 million per candidate — would probably require all contenders to accelerate their fundraising and possibly give an edge to those candidates who have already amassed sizable war chests, such as Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), according to operatives in both parties.

Well, they are most likely correct on this charge. As we see with every competitive election here, California is a very expensive state for candidates. We have so many millions of voters to reach out to, and so many millions of dollars worth of ad time which is just waiting to be bought. Oh yeah, and hopefully the candidates don't forget to set up some type of operation to win over supporters, and get them out to vote! Yeah, I can see how well-heeled candidates have the advantage here.

But is this edge insurmountable? What about the issues? What about the message? Don't the issues matter?

Elevating the clout of California's primary could change the dynamics of the race. It could push to the forefront issues such as immigration and global warming that might be more important and emotional here than in other areas of the country. But the daunting cost of competing here might also end up forcing candidates who did not win in the first primaries out of the race even earlier than in the past, strategists said.

I guess this might be the secret weapon of the other candidates. I'm sure that immigration will freak out the California GOP, as McCain will be taking some serious heat from wingnuts over his supposed "pro-amnesty" position. But what will we Democrats be talking about?

Well, I do see climate change becoming a serious issue in our primary. Now that the state is doing something about it, what will the federal government do? As the rest of the world takes action, how can our nation still ignore the problem? I'm already asking this, and I have a feeling that other Democrats here will be asking this question to the candidates.

So what will they do? Already, John Edwards has declared that climate change will be one of his top priorities, and has already encouraged his supporters to start conserving now. Barack Obama seemed like an environmental superstar, until he signed onto the milquetoast McCain-Lieberman bill that hardly accomplishes anything, and he has made a shocking reversal on coal energy. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, wants to cut "our dependence on foreign oil by at least 50 percent by the year 2025" by way of more bio-fuels and renewable power (solar and wind), as well as more conservation. While Obama has backpedaled on climate change, Clinton and Edwards have become more vocal about it. In the near future, we may all be asking them how they voted on the Boxer-Sanders legislation that actually does something to cut greenhouse gas emissions. I'm sure I'm not the only California Democrat who will take notice.

So can Edwards' message on climate change help him in California, even if he gets outspent by Clinton? Can Obama's recent waffling on climate change and environmental issues hurt him in the Golden State? Can any of the other candidates rise above the fray with a cogent environmental message?

Of course, I'm sure that climate change and the environment will not be the only major issue in the California Primary. Still, it can be the one make-or-break issue that can win over enough eco-conscious voters to win delegates, and perhaps plenty of them. But can a great message win over big money? Does genuine eco-consciousness matter as much as a glossy ad campaign?

I guess over the next year, we will be finding out which green matters more.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

IPCC: Climate Change May Be Worse Than Expected

Oh, my! Here's yet another warning that we shouldn't take climate change lightly. A new study that is about to be released by the world's foremost experts on climate change are now saying that warming will happen faster than we previously expected, and may be even more destructive. (From The Observer)

A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms -like the ones that battered Britain last week - will increase dramatically. Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent.

The impact will be catastrophic, forcing hundreds of millions of people to flee their devastated homelands, particularly in tropical, low-lying areas, while creating waves of immigrants whose movements will strain the economies of even the most affluent countries.

'The really chilling thing about the IPCC report is that it is the work of several thousand climate experts who have widely differing views about how greenhouse gases will have their effect. Some think they will have a major impact, others a lesser role. Each paragraph of this report was therefore argued over and scrutinised intensely. Only points that were considered indisputable survived this process. This is a very conservative document - that's what makes it so scary,' said one senior UK climate expert.

My goodness! As Bush still mulls over whether or not to believe that climate change is real, to the point where even the business lobby is begging him to recognize scientific fact, nothing is being done about it. As we continue to ignore the existence of this problem, the oncoming crisis only worsens.

So of course, as Washington fails to act, this will only continue to haunt us.

Although the final wording of the report is still being worked on, the draft indicates that scientists now have their clearest idea so far about future climate changes, as well as about recent events. It points out that:

· 12 of the past 13 years were the warmest since records began;

· ocean temperatures have risen at least three kilometres beneath the surface;

· glaciers, snow cover and permafrost have decreased in both hemispheres;

· sea levels are rising at the rate of almost 2mm a year;

· cold days, nights and frost have become rarer while hot days, hot nights and heatwaves have become more frequent.

And the cause is clear, say the authors: 'It is very likely that [man-made] greenhouse gas increases caused most of the average temperature increases since the mid-20th century,' says the report.

To date, these changes have caused global temperatures to rise by 0.6C. The most likely outcome of continuing rises in greenhouses gases will be to make the planet a further 3C hotter by 2100, although the report acknowledges that rises of 4.5C to 5C could be experienced. Ice-cap melting, rises in sea levels, flooding, cyclones and storms will be an inevitable consequence.

So are we ready for entire islands to disappear? Are we ready for more Hurricane Katrinas? Are we ready for more bizarre heatwaves in the midst of winter? Are we ready for entire climate patterns to be turned on their heads? Are we ready for mass human displacement? Are we ready for an instant refugee crisis?

Are we ready for the greatest global catastrophe in recent human history?

And must we make this our ultimate fate?

I am still hopeful that this does not have to be our ultimate fate. There are many things that we can do NOW to halt this oncoming catastrophe. We have the technology to make our automobiles more fuel-efficient. Heck, the plans are already being drawn! We have the technology to power our homes and our lives with clean, renewable energy. Heck, Congress just made the first step in the right direction by voting to redirect federal funds into investing in a sustainable energy future! We have the capabilities to be more energy efficient, and to power our planet with clean, renewable energy.

I just hope that we see more action. Obviously, climate change is the greatest environmental crisis facing us today. However, it is not just an environmental crisis. As it may cause a loss of many of our natural resources, as well as population shifts throughout the world, it may very well be the greatest global security crisis of the 21st century. This will alter how natural resources are distributed throughout the planet, so expect strife. Expect bloody warfare. Expect humanitarian crises...

Unless you are ready to take action and solve this problem.

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos, at My Left Wing, and at NION)

It's Hillary Time!

Finally, what everyone has been waiting for...

Hillary has announced!!

Yes, so the Big Orange types don't look to be big fans:

... Hillary would be a drag on races lower on the ballot. In fact, her potential nomination is already creating all sorts of headaches for Senate and House recruitment efforts in tough states and districts. This is a dynamic not at play with any of the other serious candidates. She is also the DLC candidate, literally. From Harold Ford's memo accepting the DLC chairmanship:

I assume there will be an effort to help Senator Clinton's campaign, and I would support such an effort.

At least Vilsack can say that he was sacked by the DLC. Hillary is the DLC's last chance at some measure of relevancy. She loses, they've got nothing left.

And yes, I haven't even been nice to her at times. Still, we should remember:

She's got a great "story", and has taken more shit from the Right than any other Democrat in existence (besting husband Bill by a longshot). She's a tough one. And really, while Republicans may talk about swiftboating her, is there anything left for them to hurl at her? Unlike what some naysayers say, she can absolutely win the general election. And it's well past time for this country to join the 20th century, much less the current one, and start feeling more comfortable electing women to the top offices.

Thanks, Kos, for that reminder. She has a pretty solid record in the Senate. She has a long history in the Democratic family. She has quite a long record of children's advocacy. Oh yeah, and who else has taken such crap from the wingnuts...

So while Hillary may still be far from my first pick for President at this moment, I'll try to keep an open mind. I'll join her online conversations, and judge for myself if she's the one that will be the best possible candidate for 2008. I've seen what she's done in the past, and now I want to find out what she intends to do as a future President.

: )

Friday, January 19, 2007

As the White House Crumbles...

The Speaker of the House is tellin' it like it is: (From AP Wire)

Pelosi said Bush "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

... And someone from the Iraq Study Group (Remember them?) is breaking the silence there:

Pelosi's attack came as Lee Hamilton, the Democratic co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, told a House panel that Bush's plan to deploy 21,500 additional troops to secure Baghdad and Anbar province would delay progress in training Iraqi security forces.

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended removing U.S. combat troops by early next year, and changing the U.S. mission from security to training and logistical support of Iraqi troops.

"You delay the date of completion of the training mission. You delay the date of handing responsibility to the Iraqis. You delay the date of departure of U.S. troops" from the region, Hamilton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the buildup.

... And some Senators bicker over what language should be in a friggin' non-binding resolution:

Senate Democrats, backed by two Republicans, unveiled legislation Wednesday that criticized Bush's decision. "It is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military force presence in Iraq," the nonbinding Senate measure states.

[Sen Gordon] Smith [R-OR] said his reluctance to back the resolution hinged on the word "escalating," which he said is a partisan term that unnecessarily inflames the issue. He said he is working with Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb. on a "constructive, nonpartisan resolution that expresses the opposition of the Senate to the surge."

... And Bush is still ignoring all this outside reality as he continues to urge for his beloved surge. Ya know, he really is living in his own world now. How else can one explain how he ignores the entire rest of the country calling for an end to this war?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

House Votes to End Oil Company Subsidies

From AP Wire. Sit back and enjoy:

The House rolled back billions of dollars in oil industry subsidies Thursday in what supporters hailed as a new direction in energy policy toward more renewable fuels. Critics said the action would reduce domestic oil production and increase reliance on imports. [...]

The legislation would impose a "conservation fee" on oil and gas taken from deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico; scrap nearly $6 billion worth of oil industry tax breaks enacted by Congress in recent years; and seek to recoup royalties lost to the government because of an Interior Department error in leases issued in the late 1990s.

Democrats said the legislation could produce as much as $15 billion in revenue. Most of that money would pay to promote renewable fuels such as solar and wind power, alternative fuels including ethanol and biodiesel and incentives for conservation.

"The oil industry doesn't need the taxpayers' help. ... There is not an American that goes to a gas pump that doesn't know that," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Pump prices topped $3 per gallon last year as the oil industry earned record profits.

The bill, Hoyer said, "starts to move our nation in a new direction" on energy policy.

Why the hell were were we subsidizing fossil fuels in the first place??!! We need action on climate change. We need more incentives to conserve. We need more incentives to invest in renewable energy. We need common-sense solutions to the great human security issue of our time...

And ya know what? Today's vote in the House was a good first step in the right direction. Oh yeah, and the House Dems completed the ENTIRE "100 HOURS AGENDA" IN LESS THAN HALF THE TIME! If ya ask me, I'll tell you that the Dems finished more in the first 42 hours of the 110th Congress than the Republicans during the ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE 109th!

: )

OC GOP Resorts to Gay-bashing for Special Election

As the Orange County special election approaches, the Republican Party is becoming desperate. The Democrats have united behind Former Assemblymember Tom Umberg, while the Republicans remain divided. We Democrats are working our patooties off, hitting the streets to talk to our neighbors about the need for us to have an ally of working families on the Board of Supervisors. Meanwhile, the Republicans feel that the only way for them to pick up a Supervisorial seat is to resort to fear and homophobia.

How pathetic! So the Orange County Republican Party thinks that it must resort to this in order to win next month:

Two IEs arrived today -- one hitting Umberg on his military-integrity issues, and this one from the Republican Party of Orange County to high-propensity GOP voters, reminding them of Umberg's vote to legalize gay marriage.

(From OC Blog)

It figures that as the Republicans are grasping onto straws as they lose their grasp on this special election, that they would have to resort to such fear mongering and thinly veiled bigotry. I guess that they still did not learn the lesson from last year's election that such scare tactics do not work!

Yes, I know that this would not be the first time the Republicans have used LGBT people to scare others into voting for them. However, that still does not make it right! How dare they use us queers as a ploy to frighten people! How dare they suggest that this honorable person can't be elected as Supervisor if he voted for civil rights legislation that would extend the right of civil marriage to good, loving gay and lesbian couples. How dare they try to smear this military veteran by suggesting that his votes for LGBT rights somehow disqualify him from representing working families at the county level!

How sad for the OC GOP that they feel they must resort to such hatred. : (

Btw: Chris Prevatt has a great post on the GOP's "Southern Strategy 2.0" at The Liberal OC.

Oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention this! The special election is on February 6, and it is to fill the seat that Lou Correa vacated when he became my State Senator. Please read this post that I wrote back in December for more background on the race. : )

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More on Why Arnold-Care Is the Wrong Prescription for California's Health Care Needs

Yes, I agree with the idea of universal health care. I believe that every Californian deserves medical coverage, and quality health care. However, Arnold-Care is not universal health care. In reality, it is nothing more than "Romney-Care" on steroids!

At first, I was willing to take a look at Arnold's proposal...
But once I gave it a close examination, I just didn't like what I saw. When I saw the LA Times piece on Arnold-Care last week, I knew it was nothing but trouble.

Arnold's proposal would shift all the responsibilities and all the costs to working families, while enabling corporations to lessen the coverage that they're already offering. Arnold-Care is basically an easy prescription for his corporate buddies, but some very bitter (and ineffective!) medicine for working families looking for a real solution to their health care problems. The notion of universal health care is great, but Arnold's actual proposal REALLY, REALLY SUCKS!

OK, so you don't believe me...
Listen to the expert on health care, State Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica):

The Governor has consistently described his proposal as “universal healthcare", promised it would cover all of California’s children, and indicated that everyone---doctors, hospitals, businesses, insurance companies and consumers---would have “shared responsibility” in paying for the plan. The press has dutifully repeated his phrases, in almost every case without a modicum of analysis. The details of the proposal reveal quite a different picture. [...]

The central basis of the Governor’s plan is simply to mandate that every Californian must, by law, carry health insurance. There is no requirement that it be affordable and no minimum coverage. This means that the requirement can be met by a bare-bones policy covering only catastrophic events, with a $5,000 deductible and up to $7500 in out of pocket expenses for all the things that aren’t covered by the policy. [...]

The Governor’s proposal does not establish any minimums for the coverage benefits that must be offered. As a matter of fact, in a recent addition to the presentation of his proposal, the Governor called for more “flexibility in insurance underwriting” and repeal of “excessive government regulation”. This means he would like to roll back even the most minimal requirements now in the law for coverage but still require everyone to buy policies and pay whatever premiums are charged. [...]

The Governor has indicated he wants to provide subsidies to help families with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level ($32,000 for single parent with one child, $50,000 for family of four) fulfill their mandate to buy private insurance. They would pay up to 6% of their income for the coverage by law, which, for some, is significantly higher cost sharing than they might be paying now as Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Families with incomes slightly above the level would be required to buy insurance without subsidies.

Again, I highly recommend that you look at Senator Kuehl's critique for yourself. She does a great job of cutting through all the hype, and revealing Arnold's health care plan for the vapid piece of crap that it really is. She says it much better than I do when she explains why Arnold-Care is a terrible prescription for California's health and well-being.

And 20,000 More Troops Are Supposed to Put a Lid on THIS??!!

"I heard a powerful sound and I felt myself being thrown to the ground," said Qassim Salman, a 21-year-old law student who suffered shrapnel wounds to his head and left shoulder. "A minute later another explosion happened. I passed out and woke up to find myself in a hospital. I feel sorry, sad and afraid."

(LA Times)

Earlier today, there was a gruesome attack on a Baghdad university. Some seventy people were killed. But apparently, this is only the latest manifestation of a "surge" of violence gone out of control in Iraq. Ever since last February's bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra, the nation has plunged into a horrifying civil war.

The attacks came on a grueling day of sectarian and political violence in Baghdad that left at least 69 more Iraqis dead, underscoring the findings of a United Nations report released the same day that says at least 34,000 Iraqi civilians died last year in acts of violence.

The figure, nearly triple the number recently released by the Iraqi Health Ministry, matches The Times' estimates that about 100 people have died a day in political violence since the February bombing of a major Shiite shrine in Samarra. That attack and its aftermath are widely seen as the turning point that pushed Iraq into civil war.

Let's face it: Iraq is in a civil war, and there is no military solution that the US can force upon it. It will not aid the nation in reconciliation, and may only result in flaming further violence. Iraq needs a political solution, as this "military solution" has utterly failed.

But again, Bush refuses to recognize reality.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Iraq's Talking With Iran... So Why Not Us?

Hmmmm... I found this in today's LA Times:

The Iraqi government is moving to solidify relations with Iran, even as the United States turns up the rhetorical heat and bolsters its military forces to confront Tehran's influence in Iraq.

Iraq's foreign minister, responding to a U.S. raid on an Iranian office in Irbil in northern Iraq last week, said Monday that the government intended to transform similar Iranian agencies into consulates. The minister, Hoshyar Zebari, also said the government planned to negotiate more border entry points with Iran.

Wow! So just as the Bushies become increasingly belligerent towards Iran, the Iraqi government moves ever so closer toward its next-door neighbor. So why the disconnect between the occupier and the occupied? Perhaps because Iraq has to live next to whatever happens in Iran, and vice-versa!

"We, as Iraqis, have our own interest," Zebari said in an interview with The Times. "We are bound by geographic destiny to live with" Iran, adding that the Iraqi government wanted "to engage them constructively."

Well, Mr. Zebari does have a point. It is in the Iraqis' best interest to have Iran as an ally. But how about having Iran as an economic lifeline?

American officials oppose the presence in Iraq of Iranian officials and members of the Revolutionary Guard, which is controlled by religious hard-liners in Iran. Washington and Tehran have been at odds for decades and are in a standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

But to Iraq, Iran is its biggest trading partner and a source of tourist revenue, mainly from the thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims who travel to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala every year.

In Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish north, much of the economy is founded on trade with Iran and the smuggling of contraband into the Islamic Republic. Since the 1979 founding of Iran's theocracy, Kurdistan has been a transit point for banned alcohol, movies and satellite dishes.

Wow, isn't this ironic? Just as Washington heats up the rhetoric against Tehran, both governments are propping up the same Iraqi "government"! Perhaps this is why Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to have it both ways: He wants the US troop presence to remain, yet he also needs the Iranian money to keep flowing in.

But what would happen if our Spoiled-Brat-in-Chief were to have his way in going to war against Iran? What would then happen to Iraq? What would happen to the entire balance of the Middle East? There is just so much at risk, but Bush doesn't get it. This is why his daddy's friends in the Iraq Study Group recommended dialogue with Iran. Even the Iraqis recognize that without Iranian aid, they could face quite a dire situation.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Remembering Dr. King

Today, we remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was an advocate for equal rights for all, AND he was a tireless voice for peace and justice. Here are some memorable quotes from Dr. King, courtesy of the King Research and Education Institute:

Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.

John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms: "No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." And he goes on toward the end to say, "Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." We must see this, believe this, and live by it if we are to remain awake through a great revolution.

--Martin Luther King, Jr., Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution

More recently I have come to see the need for the method of nonviolence in international relations. Although I was not yet convinced of its efficacy in conflicts between nations, I felt that while war could never be a positive good, it could serve as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force. War, horrible as it is, might be preferable to surrender to a totalitarian system. But now I believe that the potential destructiveness of modern weapons totally rules out the possibility of war ever again achieving a negative good. If we assume that mankind has a right to survive then we must find an alternative to war and destruction. "Don't ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have the compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight; we are always on the threshold of a new dawn."
--Martin Luther King, Jr., "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence" in Strength to Love (1958)

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam [or now, Iraq and the Middle East] and for justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., "CONSCIENCE AND THE VIETNAM WAR" in The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

AD 69 Delegates: WE WON!!

Great news from the Land of the OC:

The sensible progressives won!

Today was an amazing day for Democrats in Central Orange County. For one, we had a record SIXTY-ONE DEMOCRATS show up for the caucus. In past years, there weren't even ENOUGH CANDIDATES in the 69th Assembly District. Also, we had REAL COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS show up and run. I was so heart warmed to see people who actually understand our diverse, working-class communities run...

And I was just ecstatic to see them WIN!

I won a seat on the DSCC, along with two other activists from Orange County DFA. Oh, and the best news is that the rest of the folks who won are real activists who go out in the community and get things done! For once, the Democrats from the AD 69 delegation will represent the best interests of the community, and not some radical fringe that undermines progressive causes. For once, we won't be under the influence of Lyndon LaRouche supporters. For once, the AD 69 Democratic delegation will not just be discounted as a bunch of "crazy fringe radicals"!

Tonight is a great night for ALL OF US DEMOCRATS in Central Orange County. The people have spoken, and they want a Democratic Party that fights for real progressive values. No more crazy talk over non-issues, because now we're ready for action!

: )

Today's the Big Day!!

OK, so this is it.

Now, I must make that final rehearsal of my speech. I must make sure that my friends will be going. I must begin preparing for my very first caucus! It's so exciting, yet so completely frightening. I don't know if I've quite felt like this before...

But I just hope that everything works out today. I am now worried about all this talk of bodyguards and pure intimidation. I'm hopeful that no violence will break out today, but I really never know. When someone becomes extremely desperate to hold onto power, that person may resort to the most extreme measures to do just that. I am already somewhat saddened over what may become permanent divisions in our party.

Still, I am also gladdened over what may be a great future for our party in Central OC. This may just be the beginning of a rebound, and a strengthening of the Democratic brand as we move away from crazy talk, and begin real action. I just hope that all of this works out today.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Finally, Congress Is Doing Its Job!

Say goodbye to the bad old days of a "Rubber Stamp Congress"! No more rolling over for everything that the Chimp-in-Chief wants. Finally, Congress is doing its job in checking and balancing the executive. (From Washington Post)

President Bush's proposal to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq encountered strong bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill yesterday, and his top national security advisers, dispatched to defend the strategy, were greeted with a skepticism not seen from Congress over the past six years.

Lawmakers said they have little confidencethat [sic] the Iraqi government has the capacity to deliver on promises to take the lead in cracking down on violent militias and providing security in Baghdad, as the president's plan contemplates. Democrats and Republicans alike said they are concerned that Bush's plan, announced Wednesday night in a nationally televised prime-time address, is too little and too late and does not appear very different from previous efforts to secure the capital.

Well, who has any confidence in this Iraqi government's (in)ability to drive a wedge between itself and its Shiite militia allies? Who has any confidence in Bush's (in)ability to understand that 20,000 extra troops does jack shit to change anything in Iraq (other than give the militias more targets)? Who has any confidence in the neocons' crazed plan for US hegemony in the Middle East?

I don't. I'm sick of the Bushies...
And it looks like the DC pols have finally realized how toxic the Bushies really are.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

So Bush Wants to Resolve His Mistake... With Another Mistake!

So Bush admitted that he made a mistake tonight...
And he added by laying the groundwork for a new mistake!

From The Guardian:

George Bush made what amounted to a last throw of the dice in Iraq early this morning when he ordered 21,500 more US troops to be deployed, despite widespread scepticism about their chances of stabilising the increasingly turbulent country.

Only months after he declared that the US was winning, the president, in a 20-minute televised address from the White House, set out what he described as "a new strategy". He admitted that his administration had made serious mistakes in the course of the four-year-old conflict.

"Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons," he said. "There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighbourhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents, and there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have."

So Bush announces "a new strategy"... But what is this new strategy? More troops, more money, more violence, more death. Basically, more of the SAME OLD SHIT that Bush has been throwing at our faces for the last four years!

But can this escalation possibly work? Can we afford any more money? Can we afford any more lives? I don't think so. Our bank is already breaking, and our military is being stretched to the point of peril.

Mr Bush's decision to raise the number of troops in Iraq from 132,000 to 153,500 will put an enormous strain on the over-stretched US military. About 17,500 troops are to be sent to Baghdad, and 4,000 marines will go to Anbar province, the insurgents' heartland. The first troops are due to begin arriving within 30 days. Troops already in Iraq will have their one-year tour of duty extended by three to four months. Rules governing the frequency of overseas tours for the national guard and army reservists will be changed.

But with opposition to the war growing in the US and only two years of his presidency remaining, Mr Bush has limited time left to turn Iraq round. Although he set no timetable for Mr Maliki to deal with sectarian violence, he said: "I have made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended."

And how does this change our "open-ended commitment"? How can Maliki deal with "sectarian violence", when the folks who are furthering this violence are the powerful forces behind Maliki? Will Bush ever admit that we are losing in Iraq? If this "surge" doesn't work this time, what would Bush propose as Iraq is mired in a masty civil war?

This escalation just won't work...
Bush just wants another carte blanche to make another terrible mistake.
How sad. : (

Why I'm Running in AD 69

Here's an advance of the speech I'd like to give this Sunday at the caucus. Oh, and by the way, here's the lowdown on the 69th AD caucus:

AD #69
1/14/07 at 2:00pm
1401 E. Beachwood, Santa Ana
Convenor: Mark Hull-Richter
949.632.8403 /


Hello! My name is Andrew Davey, and I am running for State Central Committee. Early last year, I interned with Francine Busby's campaign for Congress in San Diego County, and this is where I began to learn about the internal workings of the Democratic Party as we fought to take back CA-50, and came close, but not quite close enough. Later this year, I came back home to Orange County, and I volunteered with Lou Correa's campaign for State Senate in the 34th Senate District. Fortunately, we kept SD 34 blue. Unfortunately, our internal problems made this feat much too difficult.

Now, I am running because I am sick and tired of the same old lack of support for candidates, as well as the same old fights that have split this local party for way too many years. I have lived in Orange County my whole life, and I have been encouraged by the many gains that Democrats have made here in recent years. However, all those gains were in deep jeopardy last year, as the Republicans successfully closed the registration gap in the 34th State Senate District, and came dangerously close to winning last November. As the Republicans were busy registering voters (legally and illegally), we were too busy fighting over old disputes that should be ancient history!

While Lou Correa was ultimately successful in keeping SD 34 blue last November, our work is FAR FROM OVER! We need to get active again, and begin reaching out to our working-class communities again. I am a Progressive Slate candidate, and while many of us disagree on a few minor issues, I am sure that ALL OF US can agree on this common set of goals:

1. Quality, affordable health care for all

2. Eliminating poverty by enacting livable wages while offering quality education for all our youth

3. Bringing our troops home from Iraq as soon as possible

4. Protecting our natural resources for our future

5. Ensuring that no one is ever again disenfranchised from voting, just because of nationality and party affiliation

I hope that no matter who you vote for today, that in the end, we can all support candidates and policies that make these goals a reality. I appreciate this chance to speak to you today, and I would really appreciate your vote today. Thank you!