Flashreport freedom smackdown

I’m in the process of reading George Lakoff’s latest, Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America’s Most Important Idea. It’s great, and obviously something I’ve been thinking about a lot too. I’m only about a third of the way through, but so far Lakoff is taking a much different approach to understanding the conservative notion of freedom than I have. He’s either being more charitable or more nuanced, or he’s just flat out wrong.
My take on conservative freedom is that it all pretty much boils down to property rights, and Russell Kirk had it about right when he put it seventh out of ten and after a bunch of stuff about defending the moral order. This is what is behind the endless bellyaching about taxes we get from the conservative punditry: It’s becauase they’re just not really into any kind of freedom beyond that, whether you describe it as substantial freedom or FDR’s four freedoms or cognitive liberty or whatever. And the reason the current occupant of the White House talks about it so much is pure Orwell: it’s a pretty word and it sounds nice in speeches and hopefully no one will notice what a shallow mockery they’re making of the concept in their actual policies…

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What does it all mean?

As far as we can tell, it means: run progressive.
It seems as though running lame just isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Phil Angelides won the Democratic Primary. His campaign was not the most innovative when it came to online tactics. And toward the end, it degenerated into a predictable mudslinging war with Steve Westly. But in the end, his campaign spoke to progressives. He got most of the progressive endorsements, and distinguished himself from the pack by being the only major statewide candidate in God knows how long to actually try to make a case for tax increases on coporations and the ultra-wealthy in order to pay for the things we need to get our state back on track.
I for one am convinced that Phil will be an excellent candidate to go up against Schwarznegger in the fall. He is a clear choice, and will be presenting a clear vision that is positive and that is nowhere anywhere near anything Schwarzenegger will touch, in spite of his fancy new marketing.
Francine Busby lost in her race for Congress. Kos has a great analysis of how her Republican opponent actually ran to her left, and WON.
Meanwhile, the fall campaign has already begun, and it looks like Schwarzenegger will be playing the duck and cover game when it comes to him being associated with President Bush, whose approval numbers have hit a record low in the Golden State. No more than 28% of Californians approve of the job Bush is doing.
In Schwarzenegger’s first election where he will only face *gasp* ONE opponent, those numbers aren’t looking so hot.

Today is the day – Vote!

It’s election day, so if you haven’t already, please get out and vote today!
If you are still deciding, chek out our one-stop source of election information, the 2006 Primary Voter’s Guide.
And if you need to be motivated, read our good friend Frank Russo’s analysis of why this election is important.
Don’t let this be an historic low-turnout election! Go vote and remind your friends, family members and coworkers to do the same.

Swiftboating of Judy Chu: Tobacco rears its ugly head – again!

We’ve been tracking the source of late money going into a number of key races in the state and in the process, lifting the veil of these misleadingly named IE committees. The tobacco industry has been a major contributor to several of the Orwellian titled groups and targeted many progressive, anti-smoking candidates through the years. So why should we be surprised that tobacco continues its deceitful practices–this time in the form of a hit piece against Board of Equalization candidate, Judy Chu, who is running against Jerome Horton for the 4th district seat in Los Angeles County.
Of course, tobacco has a big stake in the outcome—can they continue their favored treatment with Mr. Horton on the key state taxing board or be subject to greater scrutiny by the persistently critical Ms. Chu who has stood up to this industry for years? She won’t take their money and has voted against them time after time. Mr. Horton, on the other hand, has taken lots of their money for his campaigns and carried their water politically as well.
The truth is that Judy Chu has been tobacco’s worst nightmare, not their best friend. So what is tobacco doing in this race-sending out pieces claiming Ms. Chu is actually on their side?

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Following the money: Prop 82

We know that Prop. 82, the measure on the primary ballot that would provide preschool to all California 4-year-olds, is being fought by big business interests. What you may not realize is that the No. 1 donor against Prop. 82 is Don Fisher, owner of The Gap, who along with his family has put in hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat the measure. Of course, Fisher has made much of his fortune by clothing kids. Is it more important that they look good than be properly prepared for a lifetime of learning?
Of course the so-called Californians for Civil Justice Reform (anti-lawyer folks) have put in enormous amounts in opposition to this Proposition and millions into other Independent Expenditures. They’re the
multi-national corporations who don’t want any legal responsibility for actions that hurt consumers. And while the L.A. Chamber of Commerce has shown great leadership in endorsing Prop 82, the California Chamber is still refusing to accept that we need these investments in our children for our state to prosper in the long term. The Prop 82 campaign has a wealth of information on this. More on the flip…

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Corporate Donors Continue Attacking Progressive Candidates while hiding behind front groups

While most Californians spent this past Memorial Day weekend with family and reflecting on those who have given their lives in the service of our country, our biggest polluters and profiteers were at it again….dumping enormous amounts of money into campaigns to defeat more progressive candidates in several key state senate districts.
We’ve previously exposed these huge corporate players from behind such Orwellian titles as “Californians for Civil Justice Reform”—which is funded primarily by oil, tobacco, development, pharmaceuticals and financial interests, “Californians for Progress and Education” comprised primarily of real estate and development money, in addition to insurance and medical industries, and “Californians for Jobs and a Prosperous Economy” (the anti-consumer people plus the Association of Motor Car Dealers)–to name some of the larger groups injecting Democratic races with money from big oil, tobacco and other disfavored industries.
In deciding who represent progressive values and will fight for them in public office, we’ve provided you with the latest updates on who is spending big money, and where it’s going:

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Big money rolling in to hot races

We’ve been watching the enormous amount of money being spent by big tobacco, oil and pharmaceutical companies, who have been pulling out all the stops to influence the outcome of the heavily contested California State Senate campaigns we’re highlighting on our Speak Out California’s Primary Voter Guide.
We’ve been talking about the need to get corporate money out of the campaign process to ensure that our elected officials are beholden to the people and not corporate special interests. As proud progressives, we expect our system of government to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.” But in modern-day election battles, in order to make that happen, it’s extremely important to keep following the money – who is supporting which candidate and with what money?
The Sacramento Bee over the last few days has done its best to expose who these groups really are. Their coverage is excellent and worth reading.

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Independent Expenditures: How corporations hide the ball

We’ve been talking regularly about the ever-expanding role of money in politics and elections specifically. There is no question that the system needs reform so that legislators and political leaders get back to the job of governing on behalf of the people, not the big corporations who have bought out Washington D.C. (ala Jack Abramoff, et. al.) and have been insinuating themselves into the California process as well.
These big business groups have no interest in protecting the public; their only interest is in expanding their profits. They are even so bold as to say so. So why do we tolerate this kind of greedy exploitation of our people and our planet?

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The Launch of our 2006 Primary Voter Guide

We’re very pleased to provide you, the voters of California, with important information for Election Day, June 6, 2006. As that date is fast approaching, you will be voting to help decide the direction our state will take. Our Speak Out California Voter Guide for the 2006 Primary Elections is here…
The guide is designed to provide you with easy access to the best progressive input available for each candidate for statewide (Constitutional) offices and a select number of the hotly-contested State Senate district races which we are highlighting because they pit acknowledged or avowed big corporate-backed Democrats against more progressive Democrats.

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Tax debate: Angelides response

Angelides’ campaign spokesperson Dan Newman provided us with this response to the previous post…

Westly’s ads are false. The truth is: 99% of Californians would not see any change in their taxes under the Angelides plan. Angelides will roll back a portion of George Bush’s tax cuts for millionaires and close unjust corporate tax loopholes in order to fully fund schools and balance the budget. Steve Westly supports Schwarzenegger’s tuition and fee increases, and supports the Republican tax breaks for multinational corporations like Exxon Mobil. The bottom line: Steve Westly supports taxing the middle class, but is willing to let his fellow gazillionaires off the hook.

Mr Westly’s campaign has been contacted, we’ll run their response if they choose to provide one. Hope this is helpful! Also we’re putting the finishing touches on the voter guide, it should be up later today.