Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is the Dirty Tricks initiative dead or merely resting?

Though very tempted, I haven't danced on the grave of the Republican backed initiative to snag California Electoral College votes quite yet, but it's not looking good for it's backers. They'll need a lot more money than one Giuliani fundraiser can raise to get this on the ballot in time for it to be effective during the 2008 presidential election.

There's some mixed messages out there, so I don't know if it's really and truly dead, or if it's simply pining for the fjords, but I hope it's the former.

This and that Sunday

Hi all. I've been MIA from here quite a bit lately, for a variety of reasons including a new job which is sucking up all my brain power leaving precious little for anyone else. I think the pressure will ease as time goes on and I become acclimated to my new position. I hope so anyway. The few active brain cells remaining after work are generally devoted to my family, including figuring out what I'm going to feed them each night and who is going to clean the cat box since my son broke his arm playing football on Friday. (I have a suspicion I know the tragic answer to that question.)

I did get out for a bit yesterday to have lunch with a small group of John Edwards One Corps supporters and Jim Hester, who's running for Congress in the 52nd, but unfortunately he was a no-show. At this point, I don't know if there was miscommunication or if we were just blown off. All I know is that I'm a busy girl, and I found it quite annoying to be stood up. For the time being, I'm most impressed with Mike Lumpkin who's also running in the 52nd. It's early, but so far I find him to be likable, intelligent, and passionate about public service. I'm sure I'll be writing more about him as time goes on and the election gets closer.

Another thing I've meant to write about this past week, but ran out of hours in my days was
Bob McClellan's pathetically uninformed "constitutional moments" during City of El Cajon city council meetings.
I was especially bothered by Mayor Mark Lewis's comments that "I'm a born-again Christian and unless they (residents) elect all heathens, we're going to sneak a prayer in once in a while."

Got that? Forget about doing the city's business while you're working on the taxpayer's dime. The heathen citizens of El Cajon are desperately in need of some Christian education from their local government. That almost makes me wish I still lived in El Cajon so I could run for office. Almost.

Why is it that despite the fact that we live in a country where you can press your religious beliefs on others everywhere BUT within the government realm, that is exactly where they want to press it. Smells like theocracy to me, Bob.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Is this dirty trick DOA?

Is the Dirty Tricks Initiative dead in the water?

In an exclusive report to appear on this website late tonight and in Friday's print editions, The Times' Dan Morain reports that the proposal to change the winner-take-all electoral vote allocation to one by congressional district is virtually dead with the resignation of key supporters, internal disputes and a lack of funds.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bush announces he will veto healthcare for low income children


The State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was enacted with broad bipartisan support in 1997. It's due to expire in a few days, and Congress has moved to expand the plan to cover 3 to 4 million more low income, uninsured children, but Bush not only doesn't want it expanded, he wants the program to be cut. He's announced he will veto the legislation, and in 9 days, the federal funding will be eliminated for the program.

SCHIP provides federal funds that allow states to expand their Medicaid medical program to cover a total of 30 million low income children. SCHIP alone covers over 9 million children, and 90% of these children live at 200% or less of the federal poverty level. Since several states have moved to designate a fetus as an unborn child, SCHIP also covers prenatal care for low income, pregnant women in 11 states. Federal funding will be eliminated if Bush vetos the legislation and the veto stands. In a complete break with reality, Bush claims the parents of these children can afford to buy health insurance, and SCHIP is an unacceptable move toward government run healthcare.

Once again, Bush runs the gamut from heartless and cruel, to economically irresponsible. It SAVES money to provide basic healthcare for children. It's been proven over and over again. Why don't some understand that it's a good thing to reduce infant mortality. It's a good thing to reduce the number of women who die due to complications from childbirth. It's a good thing for all children to have basic medical care.

While the administration paints the extension of this meaningful and important bipartisan policy as political maneuvering by the Democrats, there will be real world consequences to our children. The Bush administration is playing games with the lives of children, and that is reprehensible.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Blackwater weapons probe

Just a link for now. I'm sure there will be more....
Blackwater targeted in weapons probe.

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.

Not good. Not good at all.


Friday night ketchup blogging

Because I've been busy this week and we need to ketchup. (Mom says, I was able to entertain myself as a child too.)

Monday: Since it was Constitution Day, I joined the conference call with Glenn Greenwald and Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks, that was sponsored by ACLU Southern California's Campaign for Our Constitution. Good stuff. The discussion was about all the C's of the day. The Constitution, the Congress, capitulation and culpability. Not to mention habeus corpus. It's shocking how little resistance there has been to the erosion civil liberties throughout the Bush decade (I know, I know. It feels like a decade though.)

Greenwald supported Arlen Specter's Habeus Corpus Restoration Act S 185 and Ike Skelton's HR 2826 which intends to do the same. In his opinion, they're imperfect, but valuable steps in the right direction.

Unfortunately, there were dueling conference calls on Monday afternoon, so I missed the call with the CA Secretary of State, Debra Bowen. Luckily, Courage Campaign has the audio and transcripts. I love the Internet.

Tuesday: Work all day, insomnia all night. Woo hoo. In San Diego news, it's being reported that Denise Ducheny is considering a run for San Diego Mayor.

Wednesday: I attended the Calitics Q3 blograiser at the Firehouse American Eatery (which I heartily recommend). Very cool. Very fun. Very informative. We had a fantastic group of local activists, candidates and bloggers, and we raised a little money for the Calitics PAC via their ActBlue page.

It was a perfect occasion to socialize, have lively and intelligent conversations, and do a bit of networking. Personally, I'm a great proponent of finding the spaces where the netroots and the grassroots can meet and work together, and by that measure it was a fantastic success.

The candidates that attended the the Calitics blograiser included:

Nick Leibham, CA-50
Todd Gloria, San Diego's City Council District 3.
Steve Filson, CA-15
Mike Lumpkin, CA-52
Jim Bell, San Diego Mayor

I'm sure there's someone I'm missing. I've either shamefully forgotten, or I missed them in the mingling. We had between 25-30 great people who came to support San Diego Progressive political action. Next week, more of the same and more more more in Santa Monica and San Francisco!

Thurday: Was this the day of the Patreus/Betray-Us Attack the Messenger So You can Ignore the Message Fest? It's all a blur. I've already moved on.

Friday: In today's news, former El Cajon city councilman Charles Santos was arrested for grand theft and elder abuse of his mother. Nice.

In tomorrow's news, I'm going to clean my house. It's a disaster. Thanks for "ketching up" this fine Friday evening.

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Giving credit where credit is due

If you haven't already seen it, take a look at this video of an emotional San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, explaining why he suddenly changed his position on marriage equality and has decided to sign the City Council resolution to submit a legal brief in support of gay marriages to the state Supreme Court.

Good for you, Mayor Sanders. You can be proud of this decision.

He's going to catch hell for this from a vocal and ugly minority. Read the comments at the UT for a taste, if you can stomach it. Voice of San Diego has a good story, minus the bilious comments from our citizenry.

I certainly hope and believe that this will be offset by a show of support for his fair-minded decision. I'm not generally a big fan of Jerry Sanders, but I'll give credit where credit is due. It takes courage to stand up, and admit you've considered the facts and changed your mind, or that you've been wrong about something. Sanders made a principled decision, and Bravo! for that.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Be still my heart...

Krugman has a blog.

The NY Times drops the TimesSelect pay-to-read mistake, AND I get a Paul Krugman blog.

I'm swooning here.

Fully funded redeployment now

At Calitics and Daily Kos today, Representative Barbara Lee said:

As many of you may know, just over six years ago I cast the lone vote against giving George Bush an unchecked authority to wage an undefined war against an undefined enemy for an unspecified period of time, an authority his administration has invoked in going into Iraq, in the establishment of military tribunals, even in conducting warrantless surveillance of Americans.

Thankfully, today I am no longer a lone voice, as evidenced in no small part by vibrant communities like this one. The majority of Americans want to end the occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home, but despite the fact that George Bush refuses to change course in Iraq, Congress has not taken the necessary steps to end his administration's failed policy.

So how do we change this?

It's September, so we'll be seeing the Iraq emergency supplemental spending debate continue to heat up, we will continue to press for fully funded withdrawl of troops from Iraq. Fund a safe and orderly withdrawl now.

This pledge was first taken by Reps Lee, Woolsey and Waters, but now 80 other congressmembers have signed on. If you're representative isn't on the list, please send them a message that you will back them, if they vote to start moving troops and contractors out of Iraq right away.

I've heard repeatedly, that most of the time, they only get a trickle of letters and calls opposing the actions in Iraq. Let's change that right now. We know that most Americans are not going to take to the streets over this situation, but everyone can take three minutes to make a quick phone call or send an email. If you call, all you have to say is that you want to register your opinion that you want your rep to vote to only fund safe redeployment out of Iraq. Or use the email link. Quick. Easy. Clear. Painless.

If you don't tell them what you want done, how can they represent you? The polls overwhelmingly say Americans think this occupation is a debaucle, and we need to start reducing our military presence, so speak up to the one's who should be doing something about it. Congress has the responsibility and the power to set the course in Iraq. The constitutional role of the president is to carry out the mission as directed by congress. The president is commander in chief of the military...not of the congress or the American people. You'd never know it by the blah blah blah that comes out of this White House, or from the whining from Congress, but there it is. Congress needs to step up and do the right thing, so feel free to give them a little nudge.

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

211 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0549
Phone: 202-225-3906 Fax: 202-225-3303
1800 Thibodo Road, #310 Vista, CA 92083
Phone: 760-599-5000 Fax: 760-599-1178

227 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0550
Phone: 202-225-0508 Fax 202-225-2558
462 Stevens Ave., Ste. 107
Solana Beach, CA 92075
Phone: 858-350-1150 Fax: 858-350-0750

2428 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0551
Phone: 202-225-8045 Fax: 202-225-9073
333 F Street, #A Chula Vista, CA 91910-2624
Phone: 619-422-5963 Fax: 619-422-7290

2265 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0552
Phone: 202-225-5672 Fax: 202-225-0235
1870 Cordell Ct., #206 El Cajon, CA 92020
Phone: 619-448-5201 Fax: 619-449-2251

1526 Longworth Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0553
Phone: 202-225-2040 Fax: 202-225-2948
4305 University Avenue, #515
San Diego, CA 92105-1601
Phone: 619-280-5353 Fax: 619-280-5311


Monday, September 17, 2007

Stop Blackwater in Potrero Oct 6 -7

What happens to private contractors who kill Iraqis? Maybe nothing

An incident this past weekend in which employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm that has become controversial for its extensive role in the war in Iraq, allegedly opened fire on and killed several Iraqis seems to be the last straw for Iraqi tolerance of the company. Iraqi government officials have promised action, including but not limited to the suspension or outright revocation of the company's license to operate in Iraq.

"Last straw" was my thought too, when I heard Blackwater had "lost their license" to operate in Iraq. (Though the Salon article says that they may not even have a license.) This has been building for a while. However, I don't think Blackwater will be packing their bags and going home anytime in the near future. The individuals who were involved in the shooting, on the other hand, will probably be moved out of reach of the arm of Iraqi law. I'm just guessing, but it seems reasonable, doesn't it?

Iraq doesn't want them, and neither do we.

There is a two day encampment planned on October 6 and 7 to stop Blackwater in Potrero. There will be a Sierra Club led hike, educational forums, and a march to the gate of the property being purchased for the Blackwater West site. It will be a full weekend of activities. Activist San Diego has additional information about the event, with details about how to participate and to register for a camp site.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fund healthcare, not warfare

from the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice email list:

MARCH TO END THE WAR IN IRAQ Saturday, October 27 12:00 noon, Horton Plaza 4th & Broadway, San Diego

Bring the Troops Home Now! Fund Healthcare, Not Warfare! Fund the Wounded, Not the War!

The U.S. war in Iraq is responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, causing untold suffering among the Iraqi people and driving millions into exile. The war has also killed over 3700 American military personnel with tens of thousands more injured. But those of us at home are also paying a huge price for this war. In no area is this more apparent than in the health care crisis facing our nation and our veterans.

At least $454 billion of our tax dollars has been spent on the war in Iraq - enough to pay for healthcare for close to 90% of the 45,000,000 million Americans who are currently without health insurance. Lack of insurance kills 18,000 Americans each year and is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.

At the same time, the scandal at Walter Reed Hospital has shed light on the shameful treatment of injured combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan . The Department of Veterans Affairs walk-in clinics remain severely understaffed and unable to meet the rising demand for services. For those returning from war with PTSD and other psychological problems (approximately one-third of combat vets), the shortages are causing clinics to deny vets the individual counseling that they need.

It is time for peace and social justice activists and those fighting for universal healthcare to unite to change the twisted priorities in this country. Please join the San Diego Coalition for Peace & Justice (SDCPJ) in an historic march in San Diego to demand that our government bring our troops home now; fund universal quality health care, not war; and stop neglecting our vets.

Join with us at Horton Plaza (4th and Broadway, downtown San Diego ) at 12 noon on Saturday, October 27th, in coordination with demonstrations in Los Angeles , San Francisco , and elsewhere in the US .

We need your help to make this demonstration a success. We urge your union, or community or religious organization to endorse this call. Make and distribute your own leaflets and flyers. Consider donating funds to SDCPJ to help cover the cost of the event. Attend SDCPJ's planning meetings. Our next meeting is Monday, September 17th, 7 pm, at the First Church of the Brethren, 3850 Westgate Place, San Diego.

Bring your friends, your co-workers, members of organizations you are affiliated with, your fellow students to the march. Bring your signs, flags, and banners.

To add your organization as an endorser, or to get involved in the planning, please contact or go to
In solidarity,
San Diego Coalition for Peace & Justice
Iraq Veterans Against the War, San Diego
Vets for Peace, San Diego
Activist San Diego
Richard Barrera, SEIU United Healthcare Workers West
Guerrero Azteca
Sylvia Hampton, Health Care for All, San Diego
Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego County
Caring Council
Green Party of San Diego County
International Socialist Organization
Supportive Parents Information Network (SPIN)
World Can't Wait
Peace Resource Center of San Diego

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Restoring our basic values

Yesterday, David Dayen (aka:D-Day) wrote Just Weights and Measures, calling for a return to the basic values of fairness, justice and the rule of law in America. It's a great bit of writing, and advocates for the restoration of habeas corpus and FISA, the closing of Guantanamo, and bringing back a working system of checks and balances.

For six and a half long years we have seen an Administration throw morality out the window while claiming to have the word of God on their side. They have eliminated the Great Writ of habeas corpus, they have spied on their fellow citizens without warrants, they have incarcerated terror suspects at Guantanamo and secret prisons indefinitely and without charges, they have nullified federal statutes through the questionably legal means of signing statements, and more. And we cannot stand idly by while they use one ephah for their friends and allies, and another ephah for anyone they deem a threat, be it militarily or politically. We must stand up for just measures.

This week, the ACLU of Southern California is launching The Campaign for Our Constitution, and is kicking off with a conference call with contributor and bestselling author Glenn Greenwald and Cenk Uygur, co-host of Air America's "Young Turks". Please sign up at

I naively expected that once we had a Democratic majority, we'd start stuffing this genie back into it's bottle, but instead the opposite has happened and Congress has continued to capitulate to Bush's demands. Congress needs to be held accountable, and to be reminded yet again, to fulfill their constitutional role, and uphold the basic values of this nation.

You can sign up at Campaign for Our Constitution for updates about what you can do to help.

I'd like to see the presidential candidates talking about this a lot more. Of course, it's really in the hands of Congress, but a suitable choice for president should be able to lead on this issue, rather than silently hoping all those shiny, new expanded powers are still sitting there for him/her to have at their disposal as president.

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It's hard being a part of the reality based community

This past week California State Fish and Game Commissioner R. Judd Hanna, was forced out of his position after Governor Schwarzenegger received a letter from 34 Republican legislators demanding his removal due to his understanding and acceptance of the science which has shown the link between condor mortality and the ingestion of lead bullets.

If you need any proof that we need to radically strengthen science education in this country, just take a look at any random group of Republican legislators. I've never heard so much anti-science, anti-intellecual claptrap in my life as I have over the past few years. They revel in their ignorance.

There is currently legislation pending (AB 821) which would ban the use of lead bullets for deer hunting in condor habitat. The science clearly shows the danger to the fragile wild condor population, and now Mr Hanna has been punished for doing his job. He's a fish and game commissioner responsible for protecting endangered species, so he is responsible for learning everything to be learned about the California condor. It would be a dereliction of his assigned duties to do otherwise. His crime? He shared his knowledge with the other commissioners. Apparantly, having sound knowledge and speaking the truth makes you a partisan advocate.

Color me appalled. This doesn't bode well for the essential legislation that is sitting on the Governor's desk. They banned the bullets in Arizona. Why is it a problem is CA? In AZ they even spent money to give copper bullets to hunters so they could see for themselves that they were more than satisfactory.

I do not understand the fears and motivations of the NRA at all. Nobody is going to take their damn guns. Just shut up about that, for god's sake. That's not a credible threat. They sound like a bunch of three year olds clinging to their blankies. This pending law isn't saying they can't hunt. It's saying the bullets are causing harm in the wilderness that they supposedly love so much. The lead doesn't only harm condors, but many other species. Just use the copper bullets, people.

$40 million has been spent to save the condors who were being driven to extinction by lead in the environment. Rescuing this species is within reach. We can see it from here. Now they're in danger once again from the same threat that nearly wiped them out a few short years ago. This legislation will make or break the effort to save the condors. You can call the governor's office at 916-445-2841 and tell them you want him to sign AB 821 (the condor bill). The governor has until October 14 to sign or veto the bill.

For someone who flouts his cred as an environmentalist, Arnold's not much of an environmentalist. If the environment is what he's going to use to boast of his post partisan credibility, he ought to have the cojones to walk the walk, and not demand the resignation of appointees for supporting science and speaking the truth.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Unconstitutional dirty tricks

According to Doug Kendall at Slate, the Presidential Election Reform Act (aka: The Dirty Tricks Initiative) is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits a ballot measure that would trump a state legislature's chosen method of appointing electors. In Article II, Section 1, the Constitution declares that electors shall be appointed by states "in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct." That's legislature. California's could scrap its current winner-take-all approach and adopt a district-by-district system for allocating electors (as only Maine and Nebraska currently do). But the voters—whom the initiative supporters have turned to because they don't have the support of the Democratic-controlled legislature—cannot do this on their own.

It can be said that the legislature has given the voters that authority by legislating the initiative process, but I don't know about that. That's an awfully broad interpretation of "legislature".

Legislature = all eligible voters. I think not.

At any rate, even if this does manage to get on the ballot and pass, I imagine that it would be tied up in court beyond the November election. Yet another reason why I think the broader intent of this thing is to cause the tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth, and to force Democrats to spend time and money.

That's why I'd like to nip this in the bud now, and hopefully people won't sign the petition to even get it as far as the June ballot. It's a loser's game.

If we want to allocate electoral college votes into smaller units like congressional districts or move to "one person, one vote", we need to do it as a nation. Not piecemeal. When it's done state by state, it just games the system, and can make the outcome of presidential elections a foregone conclusion.

Really now! Like it or not, the presidential election is essentially a statewide election. There's a winner and a loser. Not a winner and a runner up. We don't give boobie prizes in our elections. Let's not start in California.

I do recommend the Slate article. It's really very good, and lays out the legal reasoning behind Mr Kendall's argument.

John Edwards on Iraq

Here's the video of John Edwards' response to President Bush this evening:

No timeline = No funding. No excuses.

Crooks and Liars has video of the official Democratic response by Senator Jack Reed, as well as transcripts, fact checking etc right here >>>

Senator Jack Reed:
We intend to exercise our Constitutional duties and profoundly change our military involvement in Iraq. We ask Americans of good will of whatever party to join with us in this historic effort to restore the strength and security of the United States.

I'm not from Missouri, but show me. Walk the walk, my friends.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

AB8: Healthcare Reform, California-style

Sacramento legislators passed significant healthcare legislation today. Hopefully this will be an important step toward improving the healthcare of all Californians, and appears to be the most comprehensive overhaul of healthcare so far in the United States.

I still want true universal healthcare in the model of Sheila Keuhl's SB 840. That's the real deal.

In the meantime, this is promising. I'm afraid the laws of unintended consequences will be sure to kick in if this gets past the governor, but I still think he should sign it because it will greatly expand coverage for children and the working poor, and that's an urgent short term goal in the big picture reform of our healthcare system. It can and will be tinkered with over time.

Governor Schwarzenegger has indicated that he's getting out his veto pen, but has also said he's calling the legislature into a special session to continue working on healthcare reform. I suspect that in the near future, something similar will pass again that has whatever changes Arnold wants to see, and he will sign it. Then he will go pose for the magazine covers again. That's what I'd bet on right now.

Though Frank Russo at California Progress Report says...

Senator Perata in presenting the bill acknowledged that the seven week impasse on the state budget had a big impact on failure to negotiate a last minute deal that the Governor could commit to in advance to sign. He said if there was a special session, it will be incumbent on the Governor to provide us with his legislation—a not so gentle reminder that the Governor has never had a bill proposal introduced in this, the “year of health care” that he proclaimed.

....which concerns me a bit. Are we going to get something more like Arnold's not so great plan? I hope they're not just setting us up for disappointment. Keeping cynicism at bay is getting more difficult everyday.

The office of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez issued the following press release, which has a good, bullet point summary of the legislation passed in Sacramento today.

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2007
Contact: Beth Willon (Núñez) or Alicia Trost (Perata)
Phone: (916) 319-2408, (916) 524-6537 or (916) 651-4188, (916) 207-8245
California Legislature Sends Governor Nation's Most Comprehensive Health Care Reform Package in Decades. More than Two-Thirds of Uninsured Covered Under AB 8, Including All Children

SACRAMENTO - Historic health care reform legislation extending coverage to millions of California’s uninsured, including all children, was approved by the state Senate and Assembly today by votes of 22-17 and 45-31, respectively.

Assembly Bill 8, co-authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), now heads to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk for consideration.

"I believe today is an historic opportunity for California to put itself on the map once again, to send a loud and clear message to Washington, D.C. that the inaction of Congress and our President to deliver on health care reform is falling on California and the state legislature," Speaker Núñez said on the Assembly floor. "This year we will lead the nation in real comprehensive health care reform."

"This bill is not perfect, but it’s the best we could come up with this year and better than anything produced by any other state in the nation so far," Perata said. "We’ve taken a giant, important step here by coming up with a practical, workable plan to make sure every working Californian has access to affordable health care."

"The Governor should sign this," Perata added. "However, if the Governor rejects this, we will pick up ourselves and go at it again. I am committed to fixing California’s broken health care system, and if we need to do it in a special session, so be it."

"AB 8 is based on the principal that health care shouldn't just be available for those that can afford it, but that it should be a right for each and every Californian," Speaker Nunez added. "This bill represents more than a year and a half of work on the part of Democrats in both the Assembly and Senate to come around to a comprehensive health care reform package for California."

AB 8 would extend health insurance to more than two-thirds of the 5 million Californians now uninsured. AB 8 would also insure all children, take steps to rein in spiraling medical costs and guarantee coverage for people who have pre-existing medical conditions.

The legislation does this through a system of shared responsibility in which employers, employees and government each pays a portion of the costs.

AB 8 is backed by a diverse array of labor groups, children’s health advocates, and others, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), California Labor Federation, AARP, Health Access, 100% Campaign, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), California Teachers Association (CTA), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

AB 8 is the product of close to two years of negotiation and engagement with health care providers, businesses, labor, hospitals, doctors, children’s health advocates, and others interested in promoting comprehensive health care in California. AB 8:

  • Builds on the employer-based system in which most Californians already get their health care

  • Promotes shared responsibility from employers, employees, and where necessary the state

  • Mandates that most employers must meet a minimum spending threshold of 7.5% of payroll on insurance, contributing that fee into a statewide fund or spending it directly on their employees

  • Allows all employees whose employers pay a fee to get coverage through a statewide purchasing pool that will negotiate for discounted prices with health insurers

  • Encourages employees to use pretax income to pay for health insurance premiums

  • Provides prorated subsidies for families below 300% of the federal poverty level so working people can afford to pay their insurance premiums

  • Mandates that insurance companies must use 85 cents out of every premium dollar to go to health care, not administration

  • Ends cherry picking by insurers, ensuring that most people will have to be offered coverage by insurance companies at a competitive rate

  • Establishes the new California Health Care Cost and Quality Transparency Commission and requires the commission to develop, implement and update a health care quality and cost containment plan to help improve health outcomes for Californians and keep health care costs affordable

  • Expands access to Medi-Cal/Healthy Families, broadening eligibility to include both parents and children with incomes between 133% and 300% of the federal poverty level

  • Promotes prevention and management of chronic disease such as asthma and diabetes

  • Assists with personal health and wellness management

  • Simplifies benefit choices in the insurance market so that everyone can make real world, apples to apples comparisons when they are choosing a health plan.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

A new Freeway Blogger video

Attorney seeks probe of electoral vote plan

Attorney Bernie Fadem has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information about contacts between the White House, the RNC, and those behind the California Dirty Tricks Initiative.

A Lafayette attorney who specializes in election law is seeking a Congressional investigation into whether the White House was involved in pushing a California ballot initiative to change the way the state allocates its electoral votes.

Barry Fadem, who is working for the group opposed to the initiative, also made a Freedom of Information Act request with the White House on Friday to reveal all contacts between Bush Administration officials, the Republican National Committee and other political operatives discussing potential changes to the state's electoral college laws.

"We want to know if the White House improperly discussed this on taxpayer time," said Fadem, a Democrat. "But we also want to make people aware that this is not some new idea, not some good public policy that proponents keep claiming. This is truly only about one thing: stealing the presidency."

According to Chris Lehane, political consultant and spokesperson for Californians for Fair Election Reform, "The public has a strong interest in knowing if this was cooked up by the Bush White House."

Agreed. Especially since they're playing dumb about it. It's kind of amazing/amusing to watch them act like no one knows anything about this, as if it's all the work of one loose cannon RNC attorney. The RNC says they're not involved. The governor claims he doesn't know enough to comment on it. Riiiiight.

Note: when you act like you're hiding something, people will naturally want to know what you're hiding.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

San Diego County Democratic Club Convention

I had to get up and get ready at 0'dark thirty this morning so I could ride with Kristi to the San Diego Democratic Club Convention, because she wanted to get there early to set up the San Diego for John Edwards table. It was at the site of the old Naval Training Center in Point Loma, and is now called Liberty Station. First off, wow. It was an absolute trip for a life long San Diegian to see all the construction and remodeling of that old base, and how it's being turned into a neighborhood. Frankly, I've only paid limited attention to the news of what all they have been planning for that site, so when we drove into the area I was amazed as well as incredibly lost. However we eventually found the right location, and they did have a Starbucks down the street, so I bought a latte and all was right with the world once again.

The convention was great. Well done, SD County Democratic Party people. I'm not going to give a blow by blow report, because that would be an awful lot to absorb. I'm just going to hit the highlights.

Richard Barrera, who will be running for a SD School Board seat, was the first speaker on behalf of It's Our Healthcare. We signed Get Well Soon cards to send to Sacramento for our poor, sick healthcare system. :-) We also watched Sicko, but unfortunately the DVD had Issues, and kept skipping so it was very annoying to watch...they ended up stopping it short because it was cutting into the rest of the program. We saw most of it though, and I'd seen it before. Too bad they had a crummy dvd though. There was an It's Our Healthcare workshop in the afternoon, but that's not what I chose to attend.

The late morning session was a debate between proxies for the candidates from the presidential race, and was followed by a straw poll. The winner was....Hillary Clinton, who was followed by Edwards, Obama, Kucinich, and Richardson, in that order. Edwards wasn't far behind. Maybe 5 percentage points if I recall correctly. I didn't write it down. (bad, bad blogger!)

The keynote speaker during lunch was Jehmu Greene, the former Executive Director of Rock the Vote who spoke about attracting and empowering young voters. Good stuff. I attended her workshops in the afternoon too. The first half of the afternoon was about engaging "Generation Y", and the later afternoon part of the presentation was about coalition building. It was good. Kind of a freewheeling, give and take discussion, but definitely worthwhile, and Ms. Greene knows her stuff.

One thing that made me say "woo hoo" today was Michael Lumpkin's announcement of his candidacy in CA-52. I don't know a lot about him yet, but I will definitely find out more and share that with you, my dear readers. Lumpkin is 8 days retired from the Navy. He was a career officer, and a commander in the SEALS. He's a member of the East County Democratic Club, as well as the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. And he was a good speaker. Dynamic and passionate, without being over the top. I certainly had an excellent first impression. Time will tell. I was happy to hear him says that Hunter's seat in the 52nd "isn't a birthright". Heh.

There was so much more. Too much for me to condense at the moment, but let it be said that it was a great convention. Very worthwhile, educational and entertaining. As a bonus, I have blog fodder for future days now. :-)

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

More dirty tricks news

Over the past few weeks, I've written about how the CA Republican party wants to use California's Electoral College electors as insurance in the '08 presidential election because of their fear they can't win the White House if the deck isn't stacked in their favor.

It's been a busy week on that front.

As a recap, the situation is this: Attorneys for the CA Republican party have filed to have an initiative placed on the June 08 ballot that would change the way California's 55 Electoral College votes are apportioned. Instead of winner take all, they're proposing they be based on the winner in each congressional district. Due to the way California is gerrymandered into fairly safe seats, the Republican presidential candidate would automatically pick up about 20 more electors.

Believe it or not, I'm with Arnold on this one.

"I feel like, if you're all of a sudden in the middle of the game start changing the rules, it's kind of odd," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California. "It almost feels like a loser's mentality, saying, 'I cannot win with those rules. So let me change the rules.'"

Well said. I'm always very happy when I can agree with my governor.

However, I'd still like him to give it a quick read. He keeps saying he can't comment fully because he hasn't read it. It's short! It's important! His former lawyer and his party are behind it! Come on now. It'll just take five minutes. He should brush up on it before this weekend's CA Republican party convention because it's on the agenda to be formally endorsed.

I know he has a copy handy because Julia Rosen hand delivered 2,148 copies to his office on Monday;

We asked the blogosphere and thousands of Courage Campaign members to send him a copy and boy did you deliver.

But on Thursday he's still saying he's not familiar with the wording.


You can go to the Courage Campaign website and send Arnold a message that we want him read and to lead.

On Wednesday the CA Secretary of State's office cleared the initiative for signature gathering. They need to collect 433,971 valid signatures by Feb 4th to get on the June ballot. Here are the title and official summary from the Secretary of State's office.

Presidential Electors. Political Party Nomination and Election by Congressional District. Statute.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS. POLITICAL PARTY NOMINATION AND ELECTION BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. STATUTE. Requires California to join two other states in selecting electors for president by the plurality vote in each congressional district. Provides for political party nomination of electors pledged to vote for that party's candidate. Independent electors to be chosen by independent presidential candidates and also elected by congressional district. Two at-large electors to be selected based on plurality of statewide vote for president. Mandates that electors vote for candidate for whom they are pledged. Eliminates $10 compensation and 5 cents per mile reimbursement of electors. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Reduced state expenses of less than $10,000 every four years. (Initiative 07-0032.)

The Secretary of State's tracking number for this measure is 1268 and the Attorney General's tracking number is 07-0032.

The proponent for this measure, Thomas W. Hiltachk, must collect the signatures of 433,971 registered voters - the number equal to 5% of the total votes cast for governor in the 2006 gubernatorial election - in order to qualify the measure for the ballot. The proponent has 150 days to circulate petitions for this measure, meaning the signatures must be collected by February 4, 2008.

Since they've got the big bucks behind this, I imagine there will be an army of paid signature gatherers out there within days.

If you want to read more about this current batch of dirty tricks, there's a lot of good posts and diaries out there.

Calitics has been all over this.

Dday has an informative and interesting diary at Daily Kos about the funding behind the effort.

Lawyers behind a California ballot proposal that could benefit the 2008 Republican presidential nominee have ties to a Texas homebuilder who financed attacks on Democrat John Kerry's Vietnam War record in the 2004 presidential campaign.

What are they going to do? Swiftboat the entire country?

Don't answer that.

Todd Beeton also has a story about the initiative on his Courage Campaign blog.

And finally, if you can donate $20 to save 20 electoral votes, you can do that through our friends at Act Blue. Be sure to leave them a tip!

And don't sign that petition!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Protecting the California Condor

Since we're in the last week of the regular California legislative session, there will be a flurry of bills, and as always Frank D Russo at California Progress Report has the madness well in hand. Here is his first report on the September legislat-a-thon.

I noticed among the long list of legislation that AB 821 (Nava) passed on a straight party line vote with Democrats voting to ban lead ammunition in the habitat of the California Condor, and Republicans voting to allow the practice to continue. The giant bird with the 10 foot wingspan was once a common sight throughout North America, but by 1987 only 22 remained. One of the primary factors that drove the condors to near extinction was lead poisoning.

In 1987, all of the surviving condors were captured and placed in a captive breeding program in an effort to save the species. Over the past several years, the success of the program could be measured by an increasing population and the reintroduction of the birds to their natural habitat over California, Arizona and Baja California. But once again, lead is causing death and illness among the condors. Incredibly, we saved the species only to release them back into the wild to face the very same environmental threat. At one time it was thought that a substantial native population of condors would be established in the wild by 2015 but that date has been pushed back 5 to 10 years now because of lead poisoning.

Condors are scavengers, and will eat the remains of animals that were shot with lead bullets, and since lead breaks apart upon impact, the poisonous fragments and dust can be spread throughout the carcass and ingested by a flock of hungry birds. Since reintroduction of condors to the wild, at least ten have died from lead poisoning, and others have been made very ill.

There have been many successes with reintroduction of the condors to the wild. The current population of 140 free condors continues to grow. The goal of connecting the isolated groups of birds from multiple habitats into a contiguous, natural range was given a huge boost earlier this year with the sighting of a California Condor in San Diego 's back county for the first time since 1910. If we protect this habitat, someday soon the condors range will once again stretch from northern California, and into Baja Mexico.

There are those who claim that there's no proof that lead bullets are the culprit, however last year a study was released showing the strong link between the lead isotopes in bullets and identical isotopes found in the blood of diseased birds. Between the strong scientific evidence and the easy availability of alternative products of equal quality such a copper bullets, there is no reason to continue to pollute our environment and kill our wildlife with this toxic metal.

There are actually 49 other birds of the world that are poisoned by lead ammunition, but the negative effect is particularly dramatic with condors who have long natural lives, and a slow reproductive cycle. They simply can't breed fast enough to replenish the population lost to poisoning.

According to CPR there was floor debate on AB 821, but the Democrats in the Senate overwhelmingly passed this smart bit of legislation. It will now go back to the Assembly for concurrence in amendments. I'm really pleased about this, because I see it as the best bet to avoid a tragic ending to what has been a crowning success in species conservation and wildlife reintroduction programs.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

We're Number . . . 17?

...on the Economist's Democracy Index.

The statistical detail in the article is a wee bit eye-glazing (it's an index in the Economist, for pete's sake), but it's really very interesting to see where countries stand next to one another in areas such as political participation, free elections, a functioning government and civil liberties. Here's the top ten, for your perusal:


Those Swedes better watch out. If word gets out about this, someone might start hating them for their freedoms.


Brad thought of us here in San Diego while he was on vacation!

Which reminds me to remind you that you can still sign the Save KLSD petition. They're still on the air. We still have progressive talk radio in San Diego. Let's keep it that way.


God says: Iowa first!

How do we know that? Because Bill Richardson says so.

"Iowa, for good reason, for constitutional reasons, for reasons related to the Lord, should be the first caucus and primary," Richardson, New Mexico's governor, said at the Northwest Iowa Labor Council Picnic. "And I want you to know who was the first candidate to sign a pledge not to campaign anywhere if they got ahead of Iowa. It was Bill Richardson."

Oh brother. I don't know if it's temporary insanity or pandering, but which ever it is, I am not impressed.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Greenwald on FISA

Glenn Greenwald posted an excellent piece on Friday regarding the Democratic capitulation on FISA.

With each new Democratic enabling event -- from the recission of habeas corpus to the approval of "enhanced interrogation techniques" to the FISA capitulation and the complete silence (at best) over the administration's increasing belligerence towards Iran -- it becomes more and more difficult to know whether the Democratic leadership is affirmatively supportive of this agenda or simply afraid to oppose it due to the political risks. Either way, on the most egregious abuses of this administration, there is little to no effective opposition, and increasingly, there is much affirmative bipartisan support for those abuses.

This. This is precisely why I am disgusted with the Democratic "leadership" right now. There are certainly more Dems in office now that will really work toward both big D and little D democratic values, but they are few and far between in the leadership. The problem isn't that the Congressional and Senate Democrats are just frightened or spineless, but that too many of them are complicit. Do you believe for one moment that DiFi votes the way she does because she's scared of being called weak or of not being re-elected? I don't. She's voting her values. She constantly acts as if she knows what's right for the country, and public opinion be damned. Over and over she accomodates the White House in their efforts to "protect" America by undermining the constitution.

Contrary to what seems to be a common thought, you can't save the constitution by destroying the constitution.

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How to rig a presidential election

George Skelton from the LA Times has an opinion piece in today's paper about the CA Republican attempt to rig the 2008 presidential election. And that is exactly what it is...the rigging of elections by tilting the outcome to give the Republican presidential candidate approximately 20 more Electoral College votes.

The Republican Party's legal team and Schwarzenegger's former personal attorney have put forward an initiative that will grant EC votes based on who wins in each congressional district, rather than the current "winner take all" method. Now that might sound good on the surface to some people, but when you look a little bit deeper, and you think for just a moment about the probability of the Republican Party trying to make elections more fair, then you'll probably come to the same conclusion I did...and that all the major papers in CA have already figured out...they're not. The only goal is to tilt the Electoral College so we have yet another four years of the same ol' in the White House.

California is gerrymandered in such a way that many districts are considered "safe" seats, and we can fairly reliably predict which party will win in which districts. Under the Republican scheme, this is what would determine the votes of the Electoral College in California. Now I'll be the first to say we should toss out the EC as it is no longer relevant in this day and age, but IMO, we need to move as a country to a one person, one vote system of electing our president. This initiative would be a half step measure that will only tilt results in the favor of Republicans, and dilute the power of California relative to the other states.

In other words, Republicans are afraid they can't win the White House now, so they have to rig it.

That's more democratic? I think not.

But it's a win/win for partisan Republicans that want to win at any cost. If it gets on the ballot and they can trick enough people into believing them there is a good chance we'll have four more years of Republicans running the country into the ground. If they don't win, they've still caused the Democratic party to waste a boatload of money fighting it.

My recommendation: if someone approaches you with a clipboard and asks you to sign a petition to make the Electoral College more democratic by reapportioning EC votes, tell them no. Tell them hell no.

I'm hoping people see it for what it is, and they won't get enough signatures to even get it on the ballot.

The Courage Campaign and the CA blogosphere is hard at work on this, and the first action taken was to deliver 2,148 copies of the initiative to the governor's office last week after he claimed he "hadn't read it". Bravo!

Edwards receives Labor Day labor endorsements

I'm not surprised. I wondered which labor unions would give Edwards their endorsement on Labor Day, and it turns out to be The United Steelworkers (USW) and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

He also received an endorsement this past week from United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in America. These three groups provide a bloc of union support that encompasses 1.8 million workers and retirees.

The unions made their endorsements after a poll of their membership, and were clear about why their unions are choosing to support Edwards as the best candidate to represent working class Americans.

“Senator John Edwards is committed, as he has been throughout his life, to going to bat for everyday Americans and to changing a broken political system that leaves millions of Americans without a voice in their government,” said Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard. “Edwards is right on the issues that matter to us, and he’s the candidate with the best chance of winning in the general election. The big corporations don’t need another president who does their bidding. It’s time we had a president who will fight for working people – and that’s what John Edwards will do.”

Amen to that.

(edit)- Randy at California Note's has more.