A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Political Book Reading at Books, Inc.

I thought I'd pass along a hot tip of an event at Books Inc. in Alameda.

Robert Draper, reporter and author, will be presenting his book Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush. on Tuesday, October 2, 2007 7:30 PM.

This sounds like an interesting book. From the reviews I read, it looks like Draper built this book out of interviews with Bush and those close to him - but it sounds like neither a hit piece nor a gushing propaganda. Of course, there is so much that is going on in the white house that none of these people would admit to a reporter, so a book like this can only skim the surface, and it will probably take years of investigation and subpoenas to expose the inner workings of the Bush administration. Still, if this book can do anything to reverse the damaging myth that Bush is a dunce (one that, I believe, distracts progressives from paying attention to the atrocities committed by Cheney, Rove, etc.), then I'm all for that. It should be an interesting reading.

[New York Times review] [excerpts from Slate]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our first Alameda Meetup for John Edwards

Last night we had our first meetup to support the candidacy of John Edwards for President. It was, I felt, a good succes!

I had some requests for links to some of the videos we showed there and information I had provided. I thought I would put it up on the blog here.

Who would make the best President? - a comparision writeup I was passing out. This is a must-read.

John Edwards website - a good resource for position papers, and so forth.

Speech at California Democratic Convention - we showed this stump speech from a few months ago; it's the speech I saw that pulled me "off the fence" to become an Edwards supporter. It really shows his conviction and leadership, as well as specifics.

Edwards vs. Clinton on lobbyists - A segment of a debate in which Edwards and Clinton spar on whether it's appropriate to court lobbyists.

Hair - a commercial taking on the whole "haircut" controversy

Meet John Edwards - a general campaign video introduction

A chat with John and Elizabeth Edwards

If you are supporting or leaning towards Edwards — the most progressive and the most electable of the Democrats, I hope that you will engage your neighbors in conversation about the candidates, come to the next meetups in Alameda (our next is October 24th), and if you can, make a small contribution to the campaign by clicking the "contribute" button at the John Edwards website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The scam, the heist, the robbery, the fraud...

Update: Apparently this initiative is dead! Hooray!

Last week, I was invited last-minute to a meeting between two or three dozen politically active citizens and Art Torres (chair of the California Democratic Party) and Howard Dean (chair of the Democratic National Committee). Given the opportunity to contribute to grassroots input to these two large institutions, I jumped at the chance. (Well, I BARTed, actually.)

The meeting was to kick off a campaign to stop what is being called the "Steal the State" plot, the "Dirty Tricks", etc. I thought I'd share the issue here just to help make sure that the three readers of this blog are aware of it.

In the current system of electing presidents, the electoral college means that each state is "winner take all", meaning that Presidents are not chosen by popular vote, but by electoral votes. Some states (Florida, Ohio, Nevada, etc.) could go either way each time, and are thus the battleground states; some (like California) are solidly "blue" states, meaning that all of their electoral votes tend to go to the Democratic candidate; some states (like Texas) are solidly "red" states, and all their votes tend to count toward the Republican candidate.

This system sucks.

And the Republicans have found another way to try and hijack the Presidential elections, by proposing a way to deal with this. They are circulating petitions in California, under the guise of "reform", that would change California's allocation of electoral college votes to be proportional by congressional district, rather than winner-take-all for the state.

The sneaky thing about this is that on first glance, this looks like a rather fair thing to do. Except that, please note, there is not a corresponding initiative taking place in, say, Texas, or other "Red" states.

This is, in effect, unilateral disarmament. If California were to pass this initiative, it would be handing 22 electoral votes to the Republian nominee on a silver platter.

What a windfall for the Republicans. You would think they would be united behind this sneaky trick, but apparently not. The conservative Orange County Register said "A proposed change, which could be on next June's ballot, in the way California's votes are allocated in the presidential election might have a sheen of fairness, but it is nakedly partisan and profoundly subversive of our constitutional system." Or Republican Governor said "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… It almost feels like a loser's mentality, saying, 'I cannot win with those rules. So let me change the rules.'"

Hopefully enough people are aware of this scam that they will not even sign the petition — I heard that some of these were being circulated around Oakland and the UC Berkeley campus, though I suspect most petition-gatherers are standing outside of Wal-marts in "red" counties around the state for maximum Republican pick-up.

And let's support true, nation-wide electoral reform that fixes the underlying problems fairly.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Don Perata is Abusing His Power

Check out this article from BeyondChron.org: Perata and Migden Join To Stop Leno Bills.

Apparently the Don, working with State Senator Carole Midgen, is holding up nearly all of Assemblymember Mark Leno's bills — many of them no-brainers — in order to rebuff Leno's primary challenge of Midgen. (Mark Leno is a terrific legislator, and he has come up with some great bills lately!) He's also attempting to create a loophole to extend his own term limits

This is inexcusable behavior (and an an embarrassment to his hometown of Alameda). I sure hope this backfires on Perata (and Midgen) when voters find out what is going on.

Read the whole article.

(Hat Tip to Thomas B. from AD13)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Experimentally blogging on national topics

Since I didn't get written up in the Alameda sun's article on local bloggers, I figured it's time for me to start blogging nationally. OK, not quite the reason, but I figured I would point out a couple of articles I've written on the popular national sites.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article Waiting for Al Goredot.

And I recently wrote a review of The Road to 9/11, a new book by Peter Dale Scott.

Fun online reading about the world outside of Alameda.....

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Alameda Meetup for John Edwards

I'm pleased to announce Alameda's first-ever meetup for the candidacy of John Edwards for President in 2008, later this month. All three of you readers of this blog are welcome to attend!

You've probably gotten wind of the fact by now that I'm a big supporter of John Edwards this time around. The primary election is only a few months away (Feb 2007) so I wanted to get organized in Alameda and help get the word out about the most Progressive AND Electable candidate out there.

So please mark your calendars to save the date: Wednesday, September 26, 7 PM at Crosstown Community Center (Corner of High St. @ Encinal). (We'll be doing this monthly on 4th Wednesdays.)

If you want to learn about Edwards and why I and so many politically active and knowledgeable people in the area are backing him, please be sure to come for the FIRST HALF of the meeting. I want to start out with some presentations and discussion about "Why Edwards?" to help bring more people into the fold, or at least help get the word out. If you are curious about John Edwards, please come to at least the first part of the meeting, 7 PM ~ 8 PM.

The second half of the meeting will be focused more on Edwards supporters. If you are already supporting Edwards, I hope you can stick around for the second half. We'll be planning activities for helping get out the word in Alameda and the area. I also have a bunch of "swag" available.....

RSVP (Yes/No/Maybe) at our meetup site here.

Regarding Edwards, just to whet your appetite, or if you can't make it to the meetup...

"I can say without equivocation that no one who is running for president has presented anywhere near as comprehensive and accurate a prediction of what our country ought to do in the field of environmental quality, in the field of health care for those who are not presently insured, for those who struggle with poverty" -- Former President Jimmy Carter


Edwards has proposed a specific plan to end poverty in the U.S. by 2036 through measures including: raising the minimum wage, tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit, strengthening labor unions, investing in rural community colleges and training centers, and expanding college opportunities.

Edwards has issued a comprehensive proposal to end the war in Iraq--starting today: It calls on Congress to use its funding power to block President Bush's escalation, immediately begin withdrawing troops by capping funding and requiring complete withdrawal of all combat troops in 12 to 18 months.

"More than any of the presidential candidates, John Edwards has come up with a specific and plausible plan that provides for health care coverage for all Americans." -- Nicholas Kristoff, The New York Times


"Nationwide general election polling shows John Edwards is the Democrat with the best chance of defeating the Republican candidate in the 2008 general election for President. Edwards is the only Democrat with a significant lead in a head-to-head match-up against Republican frontrunner Giuliani."
Global Strategy Group, Polling Memorandum, 8/27/2007

"We believe that Senator Edwards will have a great appeal in a general election. He has the ability to reach out to moderate voters, including the members of our union, and to address their very real concerns about jobs, health care and the economy." -- Douglas J. McCarron, President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America in his 8/30/2007 endorsement


In July 2007, MoveOn.org members voted John Edwards the presidential candidate "Most Likely to Succeed in Solving the Climate Crisis" by a margin of 2:1.

John Edwards has produced the "...strongest, most comprehensive climate and energy plan among the three Democratic front-runners. He's stumping for 80 percent cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, and fleshing that goal out with detailed proposals for big boosts in renewables and fuel efficiency, changes to the energy grid and efficiency standards (the only front-runner to emphasize these), a green-jobs program, and more."
Grist: July/Aug 2007

Labor Day with the Unions

Yesterday I attended a big Labor Day picnic sponsored by the Alameda Labor Council. In other words, Labor Day with Labor.

After years of having "celebrated" Labor Day by doing nothing in particular - usually taking the day off, perhaps going to a BBQ, but never anything having to do with Labor - it was a refreshing activity!

It was a HUGE event, held at MLK Shoreline Park, just off of Doolittle. It was close enough to reach by bicycle from Alameda. Pete Escovedo played there, Firefighters from Hayward served a terrific lunch/dinner, and there were more local activists and politicians (many of whom are acquaintances and friends) there than could be counted. I went there to help a bit with the John Edwards table, though my help wasn't really needed, so I just spent time the family having a good time.

Channel 2 interviewed me - they were looking for a family to spotlight - about the sorry state of health care in this country. I didn't mind appearing for the camera since I was wearing my Edwards T-shirt. :-)

Spending Labor Day with Labor is a really great way to celebrate this holiday which is unfortunately meaningless to many Americans....