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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This time around, the Democrats are the Bad Guys

I was absolutely sickened by the passage in the House of Representatives of the Waxman-Markey climate bill. It reminded me of the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act of a few short years ago.

What's that? A bill to fight the climate crisis being compared to the so-called "Patriot" Act?

If you saw Michael Moore's infamous Fahrenheit 9/11, you may remember the shocking confession by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan that in Congress they often don't actually read the bill.

And this is just what happened yesterday. Apparently 300 pages were added at the last minute to the bill at 3 AM. And regardless of their motivation for wanting or not wanting the bill, it was the Republicans who were right for trying to actually put the brakes on the process and actually give themselves time to read the bill. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, raised questions about whether "there was even a copy of the current version of the bill anywhere in the House chamber."

So now are you starting to see the parallels between this and the "Patriot" Act? I don't care what a bill is supposed to solve; if Congress allows it to be pushed through to passage like the railroad car in Back to the Future Part III, then there is a big problem with Congress. And this time, it's the Democrats who are conducting this train - not the evil Republicans.

So where does our representative, Pete Stark, stand on this? I'm not sure. According to SolveClimate, Stark voted No "on the grounds that the bill wasn't strong enough". OK, that's fine. But I really want to find out what he thinks about the whole way that the Democrats are allowing bills to be passed, unread.

This is a defining moment for the Democratic Party. It fills me with incredible sorrow that we had fought for so long to wrestle control of Congress away from the Republicans, only to have the Democrats do basically the same thing.

What is in these 300 pages that were snuck in at 3 AM? We'll probably find out soon enough, just as we eventually did with the "Patriot" Act, and I'm pretty sure we're not going to like what it contains. Even if the overall purpose of the bill is a "good" thing, sneaking in 300 pages of provisions without vetting them is most assuredly not. Remember, at the time that the "Patriot" Act was proposed, everybody thought it was critical that it be passed for national security. Boy, do we wish that never happened!

The only glimmer of hope is that there is a movement afoot to stop the passage of laws in the dark like this. It's called "Read the Bill." The idea is that all leglislation be made available to the public (on the Internet) for 72 hours before it can be voted upon.

There is a bill on the floor in Congress, called H. Res 554, which would put this rule into effect. I have been trying to find out if Pete Stark is in favor of this (and if he'll even sign on as a co-sponsor). I've gotten the run-around from his office.

If you have a moment, please call Rep. Stark at 202-225-5065 (Washington DC) or 510-494-1388 (Fremont Office) and tell the receptionist about H. Res. 554. (It's important to use the term "H. Res." and not "H.R.")

Shame on Nancy Pelosi. Shame on Henry Waxman. Shame on Congress. We should be better than this.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

APC party - a good time had by all, plus big funds raised

Last weekend, David Teeters put on a fundraiser party benefiting Alameda Point Collaborative a non-profit that is working "to end homelessness by providing housing and services to create communities where formerly homeless families and individuals can flourish."

This is truly a wonderful organization that I've been a fan of for many years now. It's one of Alameda's "best kept secrets" but I'm one of many who are trying to help get more people aware of it.

David's party was a big success, and managed to raise over $2000 for a good cause. (If you didn't hear about it, then you must not be on my email list. Send me a message at the address listed at the top of this blog and I'll put you on my informal email list!)

If you missed the party, or if you just want to help, there are a lot of suggestions for how you can help. The list suggests a lot of non-monetary opportunities to get involved, or you can just make a tax-deductable donation online.

This is one of Alameda's most worthy nonprofits (among, for example, BikeAlameda, near and dear to my heart, and the ever-popular Meals on Wheels), and it deserves your helping hand - especially in these lean economic times.