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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Our New President Needs to Do

I watched the inauguration ceremonies at the Alameda Free Library today. I'm relieved that Bush/Cheney are now officially out of power, and that we have a Democrat in the White House now. But I"m going to reserve judgement and enthusiasm on Obama until after I have seen what he actually does. He talks a good talk, but will it translate into real improvement?

Here is what I think the President needs to do in order to get my respect and approval:

The President needs to undo the damage done by a previous conservative President — in this case, Bill Clinton — and hit the media conglomerates hard. Deconsolidate the huge corporations that have turned our airwaves and media into right-wing, pro-corporate propaganda outlets. If our citizens cannot be informed, how will they really know what is going on? Our media should be commons, by and for the American people, not towers of deception.

The President needs to restore the Constitution fully. This means stopping the state of emergency that we have been in for the last seven years. It means uncovering the "Continuity of Government" plans that Cheney and Rumsfeld have been working on since the Ford Administration and probably put in to effect on September 11, 2001. Obama is a constitutional scholar, and if he does not take bold steps to restore our Constitution, then truly there is no hope for the restoration of our law.

Obama took an oath that he will "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." George Bush certainly did the opposite. Will Obama restore it? And When?

The President needs to investigate the crimes of the previous administration and prosecute those found responsible. Yes, the people of America need to come together and heal the country. But the leaders who have performed unspeakable acts — I'm talking about people like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Powell, for starters — need to be tried for their crimes. Crimes like spying on Americans. Like performing torture. Like instigating invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq on false pretenses. And huge mismanagement of funds: Rumsfeld reported in 2001 that the Pentagon could not track 2.3 Trillion; how much have they thrown away since then? We cannot have justice in this country if those responsible are not accountable for their actions. And we do not do something about them, they will only come back stronger.

And part of bringing down the Republican criminals means adequate investigations, not white-wash, no-blame-em shell games. The Republicans had spent $40 Million to investigate Bill Clinton, yet the long-delayed investigation into September 11th, which held absolutely nobody accountable, was led by Republican partisans with a paltry budget of $14 million. Congress needs a reasonable budget to uncover what really happened in the days of the Bush Administration, and only our new President has the potential to get this going … certainly our Congress hasn't had the willpower our courage to impeach in spite of the opportunities.

The President needs to turn his back on the big-business interests who bankrolled his climb to power. He needs to say "Thanks, but your money does not buy influence." Otherwise we just have a "lite" version of the Republican corporate takeover of our country. If Obama stands up against the corporations that helped him get elected, he'll have a rougher time getting their financial support when it comes time for a re-election campaign in four years, but he would sure get the support of ordinary citizens!

The President needs to reconsider the conservative people he has chosen to surround himself with. Hillary Clinton, known for her talk of plans to "obliterate" Iran, is too hawkish to be an effective Secretary of State. His secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is a schill for Monsanto, one of the world's most frightening corporations, supporting genetically engineered crops and the pipedream of biofuels. Sorry, but what change is this exactly?

If the President is going to actually tackle the Climate Crisis, he needs to stop pushing for so-called "Clean Coal" that The Reality Campaign has been fighting to bring to peoples' attention. Mr. President, you are no longer a representative from the Great Coal State of Illinois. You must lead America, and the world, in fighting the climate crisis. But it will take more than inspiring words to make it happen.

For all this talk about how far we've come to have an African American president, Obama is the President we need to take a stand against human trafficking — Slavery, if you will. Twenty-seven million slaves exist in the world today. If Obama is truly going to affect the world, this is a form of cruelty he should address — at least, to make people more aware of it.

The President needs to make bold, huge steps in getting us out of our occupation of Iraq. Over one million Iraqis have died as a result our invasion. That's starting to sound a lot like Genocide, with the blood on American hands. What bold steps will Obama take to make amends?

The President needs to stop the giveaway to Wall Street that our Democratically-controlled Congress just can't seem to get enough of. Corporations that have mismanaged our money do not deserve handouts.

Yes, I'm sure our new President will make us feel good about ourselves, and we can be proud of ourselves for electing a face of Change. But actions speak louder than words, and a lot of action is needed. What are you waiting for, Mr. President?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Call Schwarzenegger and ask him to pass that budget!

Eve Pearlman talked about the state budget woes earlier today on her blog.

State Senator Loni Hancock came to Saturday's election meeting telling us that people need to call the Governor's office and let him know that he needs to sign the budget that the Democrats have worked so hard to make work.

I just called and talked to the nice phone attendant. Won't you take 60 seconds and do the same?

(916) 445-2841. ext 0

Lost the Battle, Won the War?

Saturday was the big election (well, big for me, small in significance to, say, Presidential elections) and although I did not personally emerge victorious, I am still very happy with the overall outcome.

Here's what happened. The election to select twelve delegates from our assembly district to the California Democratic Party was held on Saturday afternoon. It was spectacularly well-attended. Though there were a number of candidates running independently, there were two main competing slates. Mine, a self-organized, grassroots, progressive group, included all of the incumbents who had decided to run again plus others who are involved in local groups like Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, East Bay for Democracy/DFA, and local campaigns. Theirs was a group that had joined a pledge of allegiance to State Senator John Burton in his juggernaut-bid for position as chair to the California Democratic Party. Presumably because of Burton's union ties, this slate brought out a huge number of union folks to come and vote. To be honest, I figured that our folks didn't stand a chance to this "political machine" — exactly the kind of politics that my cohorts and I have been trying to fight.

Amazingly, we as a group prevailed. Seven out of our nine candidates were elected, plus two others who were on neither slate. We shut down the power structure. It felt really, really good.

The personal downside for me was that I ended up tied for sixth in the vote count, and there were six slots available for men. So it came down to a coin toss. Which I lost. But I had just met the guy I lost to, Jakada Imani, earlier that day, and I really think he'll be a wonderful delegate.

I tried to thank everybody I knew who came out to support me and my progressive cohorts, but in case I missed you, please consider yourself thanked profusely for taking the time out of your day to participate in this always-under-publicized event.

I will still stay involved, especially in offering to help out the new delegates be effective in their new positions. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Slate of Nine formed for CA Democratic Party delegates

I mentioned recently that I am running for another term as delegate to the California Democratic Party. The election is being held this Saturday afternoon, January 10, on the second-floor Meeting Room "A" of the Alameda Hospital.

If you are a registered Democrat, and you are interested in seeing our area represented by good progressive citizens to strengthen our state's Democratic Party, I ask for you to swing by the Alameda Hospital on Saturday and cast your ballot.

I am running as part of a diverse and active slate of nine men and women. I ask that you cast a ballot for all of us. Here is this list. Women: Frieda Edgette, Alice Fried, Tara Marchant, Sumi Paranjape. Men: Mark Briggs, Abel Guillen, Wayne Nishioka, Chris Urkofsky, Dan Wood. Please bring this list with you.

Date: This Saturday, January 10. Times: Registration is from Noon to 2 PM. You can register and vote and leave if you want, or you can stay from 2-3 PM when the candidates will each give a brief speech to introduce themselves; votes are then collected and tallied about about 3 PM.

(Unfortunately, there is no other way to vote in this, you have to be there in person before 2 PM.)

Note: There is an annoying "poll tax" of $5 (goes to fundraising activities in the Democratic Party) per person to vote -- however, nobody will be turned away for lack of funds, so consider it optional.

I hope that some of my many Democratic readers out there in Alameda can come and help support me. For more information about my candidacy, please see my previous post.