While California Dreams- Weekly Update Vol.1 Iss.3

A weekly update on the goings-on in Sacramento
For the week ending June 23, 2007

Key bills and issues we’ve been following during the past week and beyond:
With far less fanfare than Michael Moore’s visit and screening of his compelling and tear-jerking expose on the disastrous state of our health care system in this country, the Capital returned to its less frenzied but still intense efforts on a variety of measures that are either time-sensitive or political hot-potatoes to be dealt with.
Here are some of the highlights:
Health Care- (not the real deal)
Although most Californians would like to see a universal-type system similar to Senator Kuehl’s SB 840, neither the Governor nor the legislature is giving up on a modified system that maintains a health-insurance based program. Late this past week, the leaders of the Senate, Don Perata, and Assembly, Fabian Nunez, stood together and announced they had merged into one bill the elements of competing measures they had introduced earlier this year. They are touting this measure as:

“extending health insurance to millions of Californians who have none and institute fundamental reforms to expand coverage and rein in spiraling medical costs. It features shared responsibility among employers, individuals, reinvested state dollars, and new federal funds.”

While the Gov. is getting most of the press on this subject, with his measure that calls for extracting additional sums for the various stakeholders, including doctors and hospitals, the amusing word-game stumping the Gov is whether his idea (which isn’t in any bill, so it really isn’t more than his wish list) constitutes a “tax” or a “fee”. If it’s a tax, then his ideas, if incorporated into the next iteration of this compromise, will require a 2/3 vote of the Legislature (no Reps will report for duty on that one) or whether it’s a fee it won’t require their votes. The semantic game is well documented by John Myers in his Capital Notes (See thursday’s offering).
For more information on the details of w hat is included in the actual legislation Perata and Nunez are carrying now and how this is all shaking out. Check out the Sacramento Bee article.
On the budget
This dance continues, with the Gov. washing his hands of any arm-twisting power he has by taking a European excursion, ostensibly to sell California to our friends in England and France, among others. Guess there’s more publicity to be gained there than trying to hammer out the necessary compromises at home. Oh well, when your popularity rating is in the 60’s and you’re the Terminator, you can get away with abandoning your post and putting all the responsibility and heavy lifting on the other parties whose popularity remains in the cellar.
Seems the Dems and Reps are playing P.R.games, with the Dems saying they’re close to a budget and the Reps saying yes and then no. Of course, what’s in the budget should be of greater concern than meeting the deadline. But it’s much easier for the public to put its collective arms around the failure to meet the deadline than the priorities being included in the discussion. The budget is complicated and decisions about whether to fund foster care, gang violence, medi-care reimbursement rates for Planned Parenthood and other community care clinics (see weblog entries of May 2nd and May 29th) require considered thought and participation, something we’re sadly lacking in political discourse today.
The list goes on and on at dizzying speed and import. It takes very little energy or brain-power to focus on a deadline and that’s what the buzz is all about at the moment.
Of course, the legislature wants the term-limits initiative to pass, needing an “on-time” budget to persuade the public that they’re not so bad after all, so meeting the deadline would probably be a fair bet this year, although don’t wager too much of your hard-earned money on it.
The Tribes vs. The Unions
And speaking of wagers, an issue simmering to the surface in Sacramento revolves around the push by five very rich Southern California Tribes who are putting their political power to work to get legislation passed which will allow them to add up to 22,500 new slot machines at their casinos. Pushing back with similar clout are the Unions who are demanding various rights for casino workers, including the right to organize by collecting signatures on union cards, activities the Tribes are being accused of prohibiting at present.
This battle is also playing out on the electoral field as Labor is backing Laura Richardson’s run against Jenny Oropeza for Congress because, purportedly, Oropeza voted to support the legislation expanding gambling without including worker protections as demanded by the Unions. The race is further complicated by the homophobia Richardson has reputedly demonstrated during her political career, thus engendering a strong response from the politically active Gay and Lesbian Community. This battle will be played out by next Tuesday when the Special Election is held in Long Beach to replace deceased Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald. Click here for more info.
Global Warming and implementation of AB 32
This week the California Air Resources Board (CARB) came out with its closely watched and anticipated first set of regulations in response to the landmark Global Warming Bill passed in 2006. If you recall (ignoring all the hype, particularly by the Gov’s highly paid media staff), this measure mandates the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Translated, this is the equivalent to reducing gas consumption by an average of 800 million gallons of gas per year for 13 years. The rules have been denounced by many environmental groups as being far too weak, but given who’s been appointing to that Board ( Schwarzenegger), this can’t be a big surprise. He’s a lot of hat and very little cattle when it comes to really doing what is necessary to attack global warming. And much like the Bush Adminstration, there isn’t a big corporation that Arnold will squeeze to do the right thing, especially if it costs them even a dime to be good stewards.
So what has the CARB done? It has set up three new rules requiring: cleaner gas;less methane emissions from landfills; and a ban on the sale of refrigerants for car air conditioners. For more information, check out the L.A. Times article.
The Rest of the Story
We’ll be watching and reporting on the many issues, including further budget discussions as they unfold over the next several days. We welcome your comments and suggestions and hope you will send this newsletter to your friends and other like-minded progressives. Urge them to sign up to
Speak Out California and keep the progressive voice alive!
Until next week,
Hannah-Beth Jackson and the Speak Out California Team

Making Real the Promise

Take Back America crashed out of the gates this morning with an outstanding series of aggressively positive messages from some of the outstanding movement leaders. Bob Borosage, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, MoveOn super activist Eli Parisier, Drum Major Institute chief Andrea Batiste Schlesinger and Rep. Schakowsky unleashed a series of barn burners. I’m not sure I can think of a session with a better matchup between crowd energy and great speakers that knew just the right tone to hit. And you didn’t have to fly to Washington and shell out mad hotel money to see it:

Continue reading

Take Back America coming up

Of all the emerging progressive infrastructure groups, the Campaign for America’s Future has been on a tear lately. As we wrote about a few weeks back, they landed the brilliant Rick Perlstein, author of the mind-blowing history of Barry Goldwater at the dawn of movement conservatism, to cover conservative failures. (he’s a busy, busy guy)
They’ve continued this trend of snapping up brilliant progressive writers by getting Bill Scher (of LiberalOasis and “Wait! Don’t Move to Canada: A Stay-And-Fight Strategy to Win Back America“) to take point on blogging for their upcoming conference.
The show is from June 18th to 20th and it is an incredible deal; in an age of ever-climbing conference fees they’ve managed to hold it down to $190 for three entire days of brain-melting progressive action. And it’s in Washington DC – not the most affordable place for a junket, but far from the worst, too. New features this year include a bunch of self-organized, “unconference”-like sessions, which have proven to be some of the most interesting sessions at the last couple of events I’ve attended. I’m hoping to present some of the philosophical foundations work I’ve been hammering out at one of these.
Bill’s blog is here and the main Take Back America conference site is here. If you can make it, this one’s a good ‘un.

Conservative Failure Day

Campaign for America’s Future chief Bob Borosage sets up the big challenge for the Republican candidates as they’re headed in to their debate tonight: figuring out how to talk about their failed governing philosophy:

Each of Bush’s signature failures — the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, Enron and the corporate scandals, failed tax and trade policies, the attempt to privatize Social Security, the posturing around Terri Schiavo and stem cells — can be traced back not simply to the conservative ideology and ideologues that sired them — but to the basic concepts that Reagan championed. The Gipper can’t lead Republican candidates out of the wilderness because, to paraphrase, his conservatism is the problem, not the solution.

CAF is doing their part to bury the philosophy of conservatism dead like communism is dead. They’ve got a whole one day conference on just this going on today, with plenty of juicy updates at Rick “Before the Storm” Perlstein’s outstanding new weblog, The Big Con.
And Vanity Fair has another reminder of both this failed philosophy and why Giuliani is dangerous, despite his seemingly narrow chances of getting through the primary:

Rudy, arguably, is the most anti-family-values candidate in the race (this or any other). And yet, in some sense – which could be playing well with the right wing – what he may be doing is going to the deeper meaning of family values, which is about male prerogative, an older, stubborn, my-way-or-the-highway, when-men-were-men, don’t-tread-on-me kind of thing.

It’s all comes down to enforcing moral orders with conservatives, and the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want to live in the country that results from this kind of dog eat dog approach.
Update: Howard Fineman tunes right into the creepy lizard brain aspect of this:

Commenting on the candidates, Fineman said, “There is a hierarchical, there is, dare I say it, male, there’s an old-line quality to them that some voters, indeed a lot of voters, find reassuring.”

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.

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:

Continue reading

Liveblogging TALC

I’m at the High Speed Rail session at the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition conference in Oakland today, where my laptop just stepped up to play this great video that the High Speed Rail Authority has put together:

This is a great conference – almost 400 people, and with a strong social justice focus along with the expected environmental one. This is the kind of citizen-led event that flies right in the face of the “California is ungovernable” argument.

Voting to kill the troops – even here

You wouldn’t think this would be possible in our state, but two Congressman have perfect zeros on votes for supporting the troops: Jerry Lewis and John Doolittle. Down With Tyranny has great coverage and links to their progressive punch scores. This was an ad from 2006 about this issue:

Doolittle is the sicko who had party operatives send out a piece of mail the weekend before the election accusing his opponent, retired Air Force Lieutenant Charlie Brown, of being a Nazi sympathizer. Despite being in a district that is among the most lopsidedly Republican in the state (by almost 20 points!) he almost lost. It takes a special kind of chutzpah to accuse a veteran of being a Nazi sympathizer and a special kind of incompetence to blow a 20 point lead. You can contribute to Charlie Brown here. He is absolutely running again.
Dailykos, Calitics, and D-Day all have more on these two.

Ideas and consequences: the case for interdependence

Over at StreetProphets, PastorDan asks “Who is My Neighbor?” in relation to the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids that have been happening all over the country – including many in California. Latina Lista broke some great coverage of the “privatized detention facilities” (maybe the three scariest words in the American lexicon right now) that families broken up by the raids are being placed in.
PastorDan’s post includes a treatment of how birthright citizenship challenges the authoritarian familial structures favored by conservatives – and why they want that law changed. The whole article, and a lot of the pieces linked from it, are very much worth a read. But where it really gets interesting is this:

Continue reading