Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fuck You Jerry Brown and the Sacramento Democratic Caucus

UFW President Arturo Rodriguez listens as Governor Jerry Brown 
informs him he would veto SB 104 

Last night, unable yet again to come to any agreement with the Grover Norquist crowd to raise revenue, the CA Dem Caucus and Governor Jerry Brown approved an all-cuts "austerity" budget that will disproportionately affect the poor, threaten public education, shutter 70 parks, and deliver a serious blow to law enforcement and a nascent mortgage fraud strike force — yet will do nothing to restore California's long-term financial health.

If that wasn't bad enough, Jerry Brown executed the coup de grĂ¥ce at the eleventh hour last night by vetoing SB 104, a bill that would have made it easier for California's farm workers to organize.

Last night a crowd of farmworkers, UFW leaders, and Democratic legislators gathered in front of Governor Jerry Brown's Capitol office, awaiting word on whether he would sign SB 104, a bill that would help farmworker safety and prosperity by allowing them to organize unions via card check. The UFW pushed it after a rash of heat-related deaths in the fields in recent years, deaths that could have been prevented if more farmworkers had unions to protect them.

Brown had played up his connections to Cesar Chavez and the UFW during the campaign, and notably signed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975 recognizing the right of farmworkers to organize unions.

The governor's office had been silent on the bill, not giving any indication what he would do. As the midnight deadline for action approached, the crowd grew, especially after the legislature approved the budget, hoping for good news.

Instead they received a shock as Governor Brown vetoed SB 104, siding with big business over farmworkers. Brown's veto message doesn't really give any explanation for the veto, except that it changes the ALRA which, apparently, Brown wants to keep taking credit for even after its shortcomings have been revealed:

SB 104 is indeed a drastic change and I appreciate the frustrations that have given rise to it. But, I am not yet convinced that the far reaching proposals of this bill--which alter in a significant way the guiding assumptions of the ALRA--are justified. Before restructuring California's carefully crafted agricultural labor law, it is only right that the legislature consider legal provisions that more carefully track its original framework. The process should include all those who are affected by the ALRA.

In other words, Brown wants something that will make agribusiness happy - the same people who have shown no concern over farmworker heat deaths, who are happy to continue to pay workers poorly.

Gotta keep those grapes cheap.

Over the last couple of years, I've come to the conclusion that Democratic fecklessness isn't a bug, it's a fucking feature. At this point, they have no one but themselves to blame for allowing the Republican minority to hold this state hostage. They've refused at every opportunity to educate voters on the Republican agenda and it's affects on people's lives.

If anyone wants a reminder about what's at stake here, watch the video below. It's a spot I put together for the California Courage Campaign and the UFW two years ago urging the then-gubinatorial candidates to support card-check legislation.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Janice Hahn: Extreme Makeover Edition

Greetings dear readers - your blog mistress has been away on business for the last couple of weeks, first marinating in the Progressive primordial stew that is Netroots Nation, then on to DC to take care of some pressing family obligations. I'm in town for just a few days before me and Mr. V4C take off for the Eastern Sierras, where I hope to be blissfully internet-free for a week.

But enough about me, let's talk about you.

How about that CA-36 election?

Racist videos, demands, counter demands, FEC complaintsmassive fundraising off of said video, a weird "sexting" scandal involving Hahn's former chief of staff, more negative mailers than I can shake a stick at, and now this:

Janice Hahn is apparently no longer a Democrat.


According to the ad above, Janice Hahn is "a local City Council Woman who has never held partisan office."

Let's review for a second, shall we? Just two months ago, when Hahn was competing for the official CA Dem Party endorsement, her campaign caused quite a stir when it called into question a competing candidate's party loyalty, saying,

I was born a Democrat, I was raised a Democrat, and when I am elected to Congress, I will never forget that I’m a Democrat,” said Councilwoman Janice Hahn. “I grew up learning early on about Democratic values—my dad, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenny Hahn taught me about civil rights, equality, and the importance of the middle class. When I go to Congress I pledge to stand up for these Democratic values and be a fighter for the people of the 36th Congressional District.”

Hahn's new persona isn't just limited to TV advertising either. One of the first things her campaign did was change her ballot description from "LA City Councilwoman" to "Local City Councilwoman", hoping to erase any negative associations and connections with the City of Los Angeles.

And in mailers sent out from the LA County Federation of Labor this week, there's this:

So this is clearly a strategy on Hahn's part to pivot away from her partisan image and depict the candidate in such a way that she'll appeal to independent and swing voters.

Now this might be a good strategy in a general election where you're dealing with less informed voters and have time to rebrand yourself, but that's not the election we're in now.

This election is a low turnout down and dirty sprint to the finish, where both candidates have to fire up a committed base of informed, partisan voters and drag them to the polls.  The last thing you want to do is run away from the partisan voters who brung you to the dance in the first place.

Craig Huey certainly isn't running away from his base. They're fired up and ready to go, recruiting Tea Party volunteers from as far away as San Diego to come canvass for the candidate.

And Huey isn't at all shy about using Hahn's numerous (and valid IMHO) attacks against him to both fire up his own voters and depress Hahn's potential Democratic base. This week an IE from the "Friends of Huey For Congress" sent out a flyer calling into question Hahn's honesty by dredging up the attacks her campaign made against Debra Bowen in the final days of the primary, even going as far as quoting Bowen's campaign manager, as well as criticism from the liberal website Daily Kos.

Now anyone reading my blog knows I'm not the biggest fan of Janice Hahn, but I also don't want my district handed over to a Tea-bagger. I hope somebody, anybody from Hahn's campaign will read this and come to their fucking senses.

In an election where turnout could go as low as 10-15%, where the electorate is suffering from some serious voter fatigue, and many others have no idea there even is an election, firing up the base is everything.

In Hahn's case, the base are committed Democrats who want a committed Democrat to fight for them in congress. By now presenting herself to voters as a "local City Council Woman who has never held partisan office", she's basically signaling to the base she's yet another wishy-washy DINO Congress-critter who may or may not uphold the values they hold dear. Better than a Teabagger, sure, but not by much.

And that, dear friends, can be a recipe for disaster. I guess we'll know for sure in two weeks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CA-36 Election "The Most Offensive Political Ad Ever"


The DCCC released a statement condemning the ad for sexism, but weirdly left out mentioning how racist it was.

“Craig Huey must condemn this offensive and sexist ad, and demand that the ad makers immediately take it down. This ad does not reflect the values of California’s hardworking women and men. Craig Huey’s silence should send a chilling message to our mothers, sisters, and daughters that this kind of outrageous and sexist material is tolerated.”

Eric Bauman, Chairman of the LA County Democratic Party, condemned the ad for both it's blatant sexism and racism.

"An online ad, released by Turn Right USA, depicts women as strippers, uses African American actors to depict gangbangers, and features lyrics such as "Give us your cash b*tch, so we can shoot up the street!" This exploitation of women and African Americans to ridicule Janice Hahn's campaign and to suggestively portray young African Americans as criminals is an insult to women and African Americans in Los Angeles and across America.

"This abhorrent attempt to scare voters using racially charged images and degrading language is another desperate attempt by Tea Party extremists to suppress voter turnout in this Congressional Special Election."

And evidently, Craig Huey's campaign can't distance themselves fast enough from this piece of crap.

Huey's campaign manager, Jimmy Camp, quickly denounced the video, calling it "inappropriate" and "highly offensive" and noting that it has no connection to the campaign.

The video's creator, Ladd Ehlinger, Jr., agreed.

"He's absolutely right," Ehlinger said. "It is offensive and it has absolutely nothing to do with him."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also denounced the ad, calling it "offensive and sexist."

Ehlinger said he wrote the lyrics with members of Splack Pack, a Florida-based rap group, who also performed.

"They're awesome guys," he said. "We were having fun."

David Weigel calls this the most offensive political ad ever. I'd say that's about right.

Democrats sort of bungled a low-turnout jungle primary for Jane Harman's open seat. They expected it to produce an all-Democrat race between Janice Hahn and Debra Bowen, but Bowen fell short, and Republican Craig Huey got the other runoff spot.

That got rogue conservative filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger, Jr. interested in the race again. He made a 2010 ad against Harman, in which the congresswoman had a crush on the president of Iran; he's most famous for his ad on behalf of Dale Peterson. In California he's done this.

Mr. Ehlinger's last filmmaking opus supported Tea Party candidate Mattie Fein, who ran against Jane Harman in 2010. In it, he portrayed Harman as a crazed Frau Blucher parody from straight out of "Young Frankenstein".

Makes one nostalgic for Demon Sheep.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Janice Hahn Takes Out Cable Ad Comparing Craig Huey To Sarah Palin

Looks like the Hahn campaign will be continuing the "Craig Huey Boogeyman" meme began during this weekend's somewhat  lackluster "Unity Rally". 

Today the campaign came out swinging with a cable-TV ad meant to tie Huey with Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

Considering how little the general public knows about Huey and his views (having never held elected office before, he has no record to point to), Hahn's people will need to define the candidate to a wider audience before he can define himself.

This ad clearly shows they're aware of this need and will be aggressively working towards that goal.

To date, other efforts haven't worked as well for Hahn.

Previously Hahn had pointed towards Huey's radical views on reproductive choice. But Huey was able to deflect the criticism by pointing to his own personal history - as an adopted child.

Huey responded by saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has established that abortion is legal.

"Congress cannot change that," Huey said. "I personally believe that life begins at conception and that it should be cherished and protected.

"As one who was adopted as a child, I hope that women considering abortion would take a serious look at the option of putting their baby up for adoption instead."

Dave Gilliard, Huey's campaign consultant, accused Hahn of misdirection.

"Instead of talking about the economic issues that people in this district care about, Janice Hahn is resorting to her worn-out playbook of negative campaign attacks," Gilliard said.

"It won't work. Voters in the 36th (Congressional District) are smarter than that and they want to hear what the candidates have to say about jobs, taxes and debt."

Then last week Hahn dusted off the same campaign tactic that baited Marcy Winograd into the race, and "invited" Huey to sign on to a pledge supporting the troops.

It was a pledge that Huey promptly blew off.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn won a strategic victory during her Congressional primary with a pledge of support for Israel. Secretary of State Debra Bowen signed it within two hours, perhaps sealing her defeat.

Hahn's campaign must have figured that if it worked once, why not try it again. On Memorial Day, Hahn sent a pledge to her general election opponent, conservative marketing guy Craig Huey, calling for upgrades in veterans' health care and an end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Huey has handled it a little differently than Bowen did. His campaign didn't respond until today. The answer: Buzz off with your stupid pledge.

"It's a stunt on her part," said Jimmy Camp, Huey's campaign manager. "We're not as gullible as Debra Bowen was. Our issues are our issues and we're not going to let her frame what we have to say."

Camp also said that Huey's campaign hadn't actually received the pledge, except via Twitter. "We don't respond to tweets," he said.

If Bowen had tried that approach, who knows if things would have been different.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Save The Date: June 11th Town Hall On California's Craptacular Budget Crisis

At six years and counting, it's a little difficult to label the California budget problem a crisis. At this point, it's more like one of those annoying (yet potentially life threatening) chronic conditions, like lymphoma.....or hemorrhoids.

Republicans won't budge on revenue increases, the state is closing parks right and left, the UC system is raising tuition beyond many student's ability to pay, and many basic services are being cut to the bone. Hell, they even cancelled the 4th of July in my neck of the woods because of budget cuts.

Well my state Assembly Member, Betsy Butler, is doing something that 's all too rare in this state, she's inviting her constituents to participate in an adult discussion about the issues in the form of a Town Hall Meeting. 

Want to tell her what you think of California's budget mess, find out how budget cuts will affect your life and community, and what you can do about it?

Here's your chance.

Saturday, June 11
10:30am - 12noon
Santa Monica College
Bundy Campus - Room 123
3171 South Bundy Dr. LA, CA 90066
for more information, call 310-615-3515

Folks, on the masthead of this blog are these words: "Change can only happen when citizens stand together and take ownership over their government, their country, their communities and themselves....."

I know a lot of us just got done with a bruising campaign that left many uncertain about what to do next. The California budget crisis has, and will, effect each and every one of us. And the thing is, it's within our power to do something about it.

I think it would be well worth your time. I'll be there. I hope you will too.

BREAKING! Scandalous New Weinergate Tweet Discovered

Wow. Go away for a week and all hell breaks loose.