The progressive revolution

Yesterday, Speak Out California launched our new site design, weblog, blogroll and updated interactive voter guide for the Nov. 8 special election. Earlier that day, PowerPAC – a statewide social justice organization – launched a bold campaign to End Poverty in California. And late last night, Rick Jacobs, former chair of the California campaign for Howard Dean, launched the Courage Campaign, a place where progressive activists can hook up with regional news and events.
Schwarzenegger’s right-wing policies have unleased a progressive backlash in California like nothing he has ever dreamed of! How fitting that these three groups all launched their campaigns on the same day that Schwarzenegger demonstrated his utter lack of leadership toward a better future for our state by vetoing both a much-needed increase to the minimum wage and a bill that would grant marriage equality to same-sex couples.
Progressives have not only the vision and the real solutions to California’s problems, we clearly have the fire in the belly necessary to deflect these attacks and to push forward our own positive agenda.
We say, bring on the fight.

Governor vetoes same-sex marriage bill

Hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians and their families will continue to live without equality under the law in this state, thanks to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s decision to veto AB 849 by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). You can read a PDF of his veto message here.
He is continuing to hide behind Prop 22, which voters passed five years ago, and the results of which simply do not relfect how Californians view the issue today. Prop 22 was a right-wing attempt to confuse voters into “protecting marriage,” and it worked. But recent court opinions have made it clear that this is a question of constitutional rights, and thus nothing precluded Schwarzenegger from doing the right thing and signing the bill. He simply does not have the courage to do it.
And in 2006, we are going to elect a Governor who does. Phil Angelides, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Governor, said this today:

“By vetoing the Civil Marriage and Religious Freedom Protection Act, Governor Schwarzenegger has come down on the wrong side of history. [He] had the chance to enter the pages of history with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson; instead he has chosen to be listed alongside George Wallace and Strom Thurmond.”

When my husband Dan and I got engaged two years ago, we were deeply conflicted about getting married, knowing that our own gay friends and family members could not at this time enjoy the same right. We did decide to get married, but in committing to each other, we also committed ourselves to working for the political change necessary to ensure that this horrible wrong would be made right. One of our favorite wedding gifts was a membership to the Human Rights Campaign, which we continue to support, along with Equality California, as much as we can.
We are proud that at Speak Out California, our members sent nearly 300 letters to the Governor urging him to sign AB 849. This was in conjunction with several other groups who lobbied his office heavily during the last two weeks, making sure he heard our voices loud and clear. He did not listen. But he cannot squelch the conviction that we have to make this change.
There will be actions taking place throughout the state tomorrow to further demonstrate this show of solidarity and support. If you can, please attend an event in your area (click on “More” for details):

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Welcome to the redesign!

Today, with the announcement to our membership, our redesign is officially live! We hope you’ll check out all the features of the new site, and we’ve posted about this before but again, many thanks to James Home of for his help with everything.
You may want to check out the new blogroll in particular; it is in the column to the left and it’s dynamically updated, so the most recently posted to weblogs are at the top. There are 130 some odd sites on there now, and every time I’ve taken a tour through them I’ve been impressed by not just the quantity (which is certainly impressive!) but the quality, too. We have a bunch of smart people in this state and we’re going to do great things: we’re going to beat back the Governor’s agenda forty days from now and then go on to even better things in 2006. Thanks for visiting, keep coming back, and enjoy the new site!

P.S. If you can, please send more money.

The JoinArnold weblog is either a treasure trove of warped thinking, or today is a particularly good day. There’s so much to take apart in just this post that the mind boggles, completely. They’re celebrating a guy with a million bucks to spare whose top priority in life is putting a harder squeeze on those so clearly overpaid and underworked teachers and nurses. What planet are these people from?


So the nurses put Governor Schwarzenegger up on the auction block yesterday – literally. The Murky News has the story…

“GENUINE CORRUPT CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER NOT AN IMITATION!!!!!!**********,” read the listing, which included a sepia-toned photograph of Schwarzenegger with dollar signs replacing his eyes…
Bidding started at $12 and peaked at more than $3.6 million before eBay yanked the posting.

If you haven’t already, give their petition your John Hancock (remember, these things actually work!). They’ve also got a generally pretty good but currently not completely up to date weblog.
In more serious news, you’ll be shocked to learn that after two decades of conservative economics, the rich are indeed getting richer, the poor are indeed getting poorer, and the noose is tightening around the middle class. A bunch of groups have been working together on crunching census data and the SF Chronicle has a pretty good summary of the bad news. We need an alternative!

The expectations game

This little gem in the L.A. Business Journal today gives a glimpse into what the Republican strategy is for the upcoming special election and beyond into 2006. It’s only an excerpt of the article without a subscription, but in it we hear from conservative strategist Arnold Steinberg, who supports the theory of the article that Republicans are “worried” Schwarzenegger might become another Jesse Ventura.
The Republicans, and to some extent even the Schwarzenegger campaign, are trying to set the Governor up as an underdog, in order to lower expectations about his performance in the special election. This is a classic Republican strategy, and we have seen it played out numerous times. Here’s the real clue:

Furthermore, Schwarzenegger and his allies will likely be outspent in the Nov. 8 election by a margin of at least 3-1. Public employee unions, which have been airing a series of hard-hitting ads opposing the governor’s special ballot initiatives, have already raised more than $50 million and are likely to collect millions more.

It always amuses me when people with the kind of money the Republicans and their corporate backers have try to play the underdog card. It’s especially funny in Schwarznegger’s case, because he clearly could have had access to a heck of a lot more money than the unions have if his ideas weren’t so horrifyingly bad that the public has been rejecting them early on in opinion polls. Meanwhile, the California Teachers Assn. had to refinance its San Francisco headquarters in order to raise the funds necessary to fight off Schwarzenegger’s attacks.
Until Schwarzenegger has to sell one of his Hummers, or one of his corportate CEOs has to refinance a vacation home or two, the underdog approach just isn’t going to work!

A case study in corporate media failure

This week, the San Jose Mercury News ran this reality-defying headline: “Governor battling ‘Goliath’ on Nov. 8.” Memo to the Murky News headline-writing staff: next time you’re tempted to copy and paste the Governor’s spin, head over to Arnold Watch and click on the cash register first. As of last Thursday, he’d raised just a hare under $57 million from the corporate special interest Goliaths he’s got lined up behind him.
This was a statewide phenomenon, and this story in the Capitol Weekly tells us why: after two plus years of Bush administration (or maybe Kremlin?) style strict access control, the Gov’s political team made the call and threw reporters a few scraps last week. A few papers didn’t buy it and made the fact that they were finally given some access the story, as they should have, but there were far too many headlines like the Murky’s.
The lede in the Oakland Tribune’s coverage today, “Embattled Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was actually allowed to talk freely to the public, through the media, this week,” is another example of the shockwave of confusion this sent rippling through the Capitol press corps. “[F]reely to the public” and “through the media” are not the same thing!
This situation is a mini-clinic in just how blithely antidemocratic corporate media can be. Whether headlines like this are ordinary failures to think critically about or deliberate pro-corporate bias, remember: while we’d never recommend you believe everything you read on the internet, you sure can’t believe everything in “trusted” print media either. Keep thinking critically, it’s going to be a long campaign season.

It’s (almost) alive!

So Speak Out California is launching our new site design today at Webzine 2005! We will be tabling, handing out copies of the 2005 special election voter guide and our new site and weblog designed by the amazing James Home. If you’re in the Bay Area, come see us! And hear from speakers and panelists exploring the wonders of independent online publishing!

More of the same: Schwarzenegger supports Prop 75

So big surprise, Gov. Schwarzenegger is running for re-election next year. And big surprise, while addressing his party faithful at the GOP convention in Anaheim this weekend, he came out in favor of Prop 75, the anti-union initiative. Prop 75 just happens to be the only big business-backed initiative that is not failing miserably at the moment in the polls. Coincidence? We think not. So again, Schwarzenegger’s actions are not motivated by his convictions or beliefs, but come out of pure political calculation.
An Orange County teacher that Schwarzenegger trotted out at the convention was quoted in the press today in support of Prop 75, saying it is an “employee rights issue.” From the L.A. Times:

At the GOP convention, Schwarzenegger allies dispatched Sandra Crandall, a teacher at Moiola Elementary School.
“This is a freedom-of-choice issue,” she said. “The issue is so simple, my kindergarten children understand it. Ask permission. Ask permission on how to use my hard-earned money.”

This is completely flawed logic. Sure, it’s her money, but the reason she has 20 5-year-olds in that classroom and not 30 or 40 is because of the union-led initiatives for class-size reduction. The state can pay her salary because of education funding protections in Proposition 98, which would never have happened without the union. So you just can’t on the one hand, reap the benefits of the union and the political clout it has built up over the years, and on the other hand strip away the money that enables that work because “it’s mine.”
That is the crux of the difference between conservatives and progressives. Conservatives live in this fantasy world where they have somehow achieved everything “on their own,” while progressives recognize that we all contribute to the well being of each other, and thus to the greater good.
We’re glad Schwarzenegger has come out publicly in favor of Prop 75. It will make it that much more difficult to keep a straight face when he tells the public that this special election is about anything other than right-wing Republican-led partisan attacks.