I asked Hillary Clinton about California…

Having Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton strongly praise California’s environmental leadership was a welcomed acknowledgement of our effort to set the standard for good environmental stewardship. She also told the crowd at the Democratic convention that she regularly points to California as the example the rest of the nation should be following in this effort.
Speak Out California was in attendance at the press conference Senator Clinton held after her speech to the Convention. I was able to ask her whether she was prepared to help California get back some of its tax dollars, since we are the biggest “donor” state in the country. (California pays over $50 Billion more in federal taxes than we receive in federal programs and services, which is equal to getting 78 cents worth for each dollar we contribute to the federal coffers in taxes). She responded by saying, “We have the same problem in New York. The states that have a lot of wealthy people, like California and New York do, . . . we don’t get our fair share back.” She said she would “look at” that issue as president, but that her focus would be in making sure that Health Care and Education are funded equally throughout the country.
The bad news…
No other presidential candidate had a press conference following their presentation to the general convention, so we did not have a chance to ask any of them what they will do for the people of California if elected president.
The good news…
I was interviewed for NPR speaking for Speak Out California, so listen for it in the coming days.

The “Head and Heart” and enthusiasim of California of Progressives is here in San Diego

Speak Out California is present at the Democratic Convention in San Diego! We have a table and have listened carefully to all the speakers. Those presidential candidates who have the “head and heart” of the Californian people have spoken.
We’re conducting an informal “Presidential Straw Poll” here to get a sense of how those attending the Convention
feel about the candidates, particularly after hearing them speak in person. We’ll be following up on this at the end of the convention and will keep you posted on just where the general sentiments seem to be–at least at this point in the campaign.
During her speech to the general convention, Hillary Clinton spoke powerfully about her commitment to a national universal health care system.
Barack Obama electrified the crowd as he empowered each person in the audience to have a “can do” attitude. He further emphasized that it is the voters who decide what the elected members must do.
After telling the audience that he was one of the few candidates who spoke Spanish, Christopher Dodd reminded us of the importance of fixing the nation for the benefit of the next generation.
Toward the end of the afternoon, Dennis Kucinich came and briefly continued his open support for the impeachment ofPresident George W. Bush.
We will be here again tomorrow as we wait to hear John Edwards. And check in later this week to see the results of the Convention Straw Poll.

Convention coverage roundup

Some big changes at the CA Dems convention this year: first, it was sold out for observers yesterday, which hasn’t happened in years. But the second big change is first-class treatment for bloggers: we’ve got our own press riser this year, complete with wet bar and intern staff. OK, none of that really except for the riser, which is great though! We’ll have more coverage here soon, or here’s a quick tour of the sites with the best independent coverage…
CA Progress Report
CA Majority Report
CDP tag on Flickr
More soon.

Presidential candidates woo us–but will the honeymoon last?

Leading democratic presidential contenders will hit the hustings in San Diego this weekend, vying for votes and trolling for support from conventioneers. The accelerated presidential primary calendar will give California more influence over who is nominated, but it also favors those who amass the most in campaign contributions, so they can get their message out in multiple media markets at once.
All the more reason why those of us who hunger for change in Washington need to be on our toes, researching the candidates and their positions, and choosing wisely. We need to look beyond the race for dollars, get involved and active earlier, and make sure that whoever earns the nomination has a real depth of support and staying power.
What can you do to help ensure a progressive candidate wins?
Participate in town hall meetings. Volunteer in campaigns. Walk precincts, write letters to the editor, spread the word to friends and neighbors, put up signs, slap a bumper sticker on your own car, staff a table at your local farmer’s market, leaflet at a favorite sporting event, contribute online, and/or join up with friends to do phone banking.
You don’t need reminding how high the stakes are. You are already more then motivated. Just get out there and do it.
As Joan Blades of MoveOn.org has printed on one of her favorite T-shirts, “Politics is NOT a spectator sport!”

A Call to Reproductive Arms

Now that the dust has settled on the Supreme Court’s anti-choice, anti-woman ruling last week, the Women’s community has shed its polite and considered posture of reviewing the decision carefully to call for a full frontal assault on the hypocrites and religious fanatics now clearly in control of our highest court in the land.
The Bush administration, not content with its former control of Congress, the Executive Branch and the media, has pushed full-speed-ahead at dismantling the last protections of the Bill of Rights and fundamental freedoms our country has fought long and hard to achieve and preserve. It has now successfully packed the U.S. Supreme Court with right-wing judges committed to imposing its political agenda. This is NOT the proper role of the Judiciary. But that has never been of concern to an administration determined to rule rather than govern. This failed ideology has, alas, achieved its goal or at least begun its intended goal of dismantling the hard-fought battles for civil and human rights — starting first with women.
Many articles are now appearing in well-respected journals and newspapers acknowledging that the Roberts Court is composed of right-wing religious fundamentalists who are imposing their own personal and religious moral standards on the rest of America, under the guise of Constitutional interpretation. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg so eloquently pointed out, this is nothing more than a thinly disguised effort at overturning years of Court precedent to undermine women’s reproductive freedoms.
Well, this just won’t stand. And to emphasize that, women’s groups throughout the country are calling for a day of protest and objection to the five overly-ideologically motivated justices who are trying to co-opt and return our country to the days of back-alley abortions and deaths of thousands of women. They have the power now and they are determined to exercise it. They’ve ignored the rules of jurisprudence and precedent to do so, but that is of little concern when the goal is to impose its extremist ideology on the entire country–such is the power of the Supreme Court. Their goal is to create a theocracy where religion trumps individual freedoms, where corporate “rights” trump the people’s rights and where government abuse trumps the Bill of Rights.
Today, around the country, comes a call to raise our voices yet again for Choice as we recognize and honor the historic March On Washington for Reproductive Freedom of April 25, 2004. That demonstration of determination and freedom saw over 1.2 Million Americans- men, women, children, old and young take to the streets of Washington to affirm a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body and reproductive decisions. It was, and continues to this day, to be the largest single march in our nation’s history. It obviously fell on deaf ears, but serves as the energy today to replicate that unmistakable call for reproductive choice.
The goal of today’s call-to-action is to demand that Congress pass a Freedom of Choice Act to ensure that women throughout the country and have access to legal abortions so that this Supreme Court cannot take this right away, bit-by-bit as it has been doing for years, and now is doing with greater speed and determination. Although we have such a law in California, as Roe v. Wade was codified into California law in the early part of this millenium to prevent against possible erosion of Roe,the country at large needs the same protections that we in California correctly anticipated would be necessary. Given the record of this administration on human and civil rights, and this Supreme Court’s recent rulings, there is little doubt that such a measure is critically important.
We can be silent no longer. Today and every day this Administration and its lackeys are allowed to make decisions that will affect our rights and freedoms, we must speak out. Whether we are secure in California with laws that protect our basic rights, federal law always presents a threat and with a court such as the one the Bushies have been able to put together, that threat has never been more real.They will do anything to insert their religious beliefs into the Constitution at the expense of the People. It is now time for the People to speak out loudly and unequivocally. After all, this is OUR country and we simply can’t let the failed and corrupt policies of this government take that away from us.
Today is a day of action. Our voices must be heard.It is time again to demonstrate,call our elected officials in Sacramento and Washington and tell them they will only get your support when they protect reproductive rights of America’s women. We have been silent and too polite for too long. Act today–and tomorrow, and next week, and as long as necessary to protect our hard-fought gains. Let’s make sure the government understands when they do these things, they are not acting in our name.

Healthcare moves to center stage

Now that the Governor has milked his green credentials for as much as the public and media will bear, he’s finally come back to the state he’s supposed to be overseeing. With his media exploitations overshadowed by the tragedy in Virginia and the meltdown of the country’s chief law enforcement officer in a web of poorly concealed prevarication, Arnold isn’t front page news anymore so he’s folded his circus tents and headed back to the state that calls him Governor, for better or worse.
For those of us who think his leaving the state to those with more commitment to it and less to their own personal glory and aggrandizement is a good thing, there is sadness or at least melancholy that he’s back. For those who think he should try to help mold the state he claims to serve, his return is vitally important to move important issues forward.
And for those who are following the health care debate, the Governor is a quixotic presence in the whole discussion. He has been expounding on his vision for “universal health care” (although his plan doesn’t cover everyone, as the phrase “universal” would require). As touted throughout the country this past week, his plan would cover all California’s 6.5 million uninsured. It would do so by requiring doctors, hospitals, health plans, individuals, employers and the government to contribute into the system or suffer risk of tax penalties. Whatever his proposal ultimately entails, it doesn’t even have an author and so isn’t even in legislative form. In other words, as a legislative reality, it is a figment of his large and oversized imagination. Or so one would think.

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The Rogue Court and Reproductive Rights

Politics is always full of irony-whether it’s a political party claiming to have “family values” while its leaders are chasing youngsters of their own sex, cheating on their spouses, or selling their public trust to the highest bidder. We see so much of it in this right-wing Republican era that it’s simply hard to know where to start.
The irony of the anti- gun control mantra that guns don’t kill people… (of course it’s the bullets that do it), to the so-called “sanctity of life” while we’re allowing mentally unstable college students to buy semi-automatic weapons and shoot up their colleagues , while at the same time sending our young men and women to a war zone to kill and be killed in another country’s thousand year old war.
And then there is Roe v. Wade—the most important civil rights legislation of the past three decades finally going down in a slow but apparently inexorable death dance with the appointments of anti-choice male justices to the
highest court in the land. But you may ask: “Where is the irony in this?”

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Healthcare Battle Heating Up

As the legislative season starts to get into full gear and the healthcare debate takes front-and-center, it’s time to gear up for a huge public outcry against the Governor’s unabashed pro-insurance industry bias. While he cavorts around the country as the Pretender- in- Chief in the battle against global warming, the battle to provide affordable, quality healthcare in California is warming up as well.
Several attempts to address the healthcare crisis have been offered up by both parties over the past few legislative sessions. While modest healthcare reform has long been on the agenda , we’ve really just attacked its inefficiencies and inequities on the fringes. Now is the time to truly reform and revamp the system. The real question is how are we going to do it?
Senator Sheila Kuehl has been fighting to create the single-payor Medicare-type system for several years. And all the data seems to support this concept—take the insurance industry out of the game because they offer little or nothing to the process. The basic principle is fairly simple: The cost of the insurance industry administering the system is totally out-of-line and unnecessary. If we replace their greedy profit and excessive overhead with a single administrator, health care providers will be able to thrive without the burden of insurance companies demanding anywhere from 25-50% of each insurance premium dollar being paid ,ostensibly, for health care.
But this governor is beholden to the insurance industry for millions of dollars in contributions and simply refuses to recognize we can do better for less if we remove this parasitic industry from the equation. In order to make some of the changes that must be made now, we’ve seen several compromise proposals come into play. One of these important and necessary fixes comes in the form of AB 1554 by Assemblymember Dave Jones of Sacramento. While this measure doesn’t solve the problem, it does force the insurance industry to justify its profits and costs before being able to raise its rates, a process that has gone uncontrolled for far too long, thus allowing this industry to increase costs—and its enormous profits to the point that many Californians simply cannot afford insurance, period.
Prior to Jones introducting this measure, other legislators had tried to bring up similar measures, without success. AB 1554 starts up its hill on Tuesday, April 17th with its first policy hearing in the Assembly Health Committee. We urge you to go to our
on our site and send a letter to the members of that committee urging that they support this bill. If the Governor is going to insist on keeping the insurance industry in the game, let’s at least make sure that their rates can’t be raised just because they can…… For an example of the kind of fiasco lack of oversight can cause, look at the cost of gasoline and the profits these scoundrels are reaping because we refuse to place any kind of ceiling on unjustifiable greed.
When so many of our people go uninsured, the system itself becomes overloaded with non-paying patients. As a society we appropriately refuse to turn the neediest of these away and thus our hospitals become burdened, inefficient and overworked. Then society suffers—but not the insurance industry. As a community, this is just unacceptable.
It’s clear the Governor thinks business is more important than people, so he’s willing to sacrifice Californians on the altar of profit. And yet his popularity soars. So we have to start somewhere, incrementally, to put people first. There is no better place to start reasserting our values than when it comes to healthcare. The time is now.

Life after Anna Nicole Smith

Now that the mystery of who fathered Anna Nicole Smith’s child has been resolved, perhaps we can go on to more important, albeit far less interesting matters, like health care, ending the war and addressing global warming. Of course, focusing on these matters is far less interesting, but with all the intrigue and suspense gone, we just might have to bite-the-bullet and consider that there are other pressing matters to deal with.
Fortunately, the California legislature has made that call and after a week’s vacation for Easter, Passover and other celebrations, they’re back dealing with issues that actually will impact our daily lives. Although hundreds of bills are back in play-from the sublime to the ridiculous, there are a number of interesting and significant health-care related bills that continue to move forward.

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Freedom smackdown part II: Andrew Sullivan edition

Maybe it’s too mind bending to contemplate responding to Andrew Sullivan (a reasonably clear headed conservative) responding to David Brooks (a nearly completely muddle-headed one, at least most of the time), but this is a clear illustration of the rhetorical corner that both conservatives and some progressives have painted themselves into at this point.
There’s two big problems here. Problem the first:

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