California GOP strongly favors decrepit infrastructure any way they can get it

Cross-posted from Calitics, the progressive community blog for California.

The Field Poll released their survey on the infrastructure bonds propositions. With the exception of the affordable housing bond, the Yes's lead No's for all of the bonds.  However, only the Transportation Package (1B) currently has more than 50%.  So, in theory it's touch and go on all of the propositions.  It's rather funny that Arnold can't get his own party behind these initiatives.

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CA-11: Pombo's got a surprise for you, Mr. Red-legged Frog.

Cross-posted from Calitics: the Progressive Community Blog for California.

On the flip is a letter from Richard Pombo (R, CA-11) about the Endangered Species Act. (well...not really, but it might as well be.)

For more information about Pombo's "reformed ESA", listen to this NPR story,read this WaPo article or this excellent editorial from Tracy Press, his hometown paper. Also, check out ThinkProgress's view of the bill.

And finally, check out Jerry McNerney, Pombo's challenger. Jerry will be a great representative for the the 11th.

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Gay Rights and Gay Marriage: Should we be rioting?

Cross-posted from Calitics: the progressive community blog for California

In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger said this to Sean Hannity:

I think gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Looking past the obvious inanity of the statement, you see a deeper discomfort with gay relations.  It's a bit odd considering that he worked in Hollywood for so long, where gays are always present (perhaps not openly though). Well, at some point Schwarzenegger is going to have to take a hard position on gay relationships; one that isn't fuzzy and relying on the courts or other decision makers. 

Follow me to the flip for lots more details including the demographics, the question posed about rioting, and a couple of comparisons.  Then I'll go into our ailing gay rights infrastructure.

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CA-04: The Mess of John Doolittle

Cross-posted from Calitics.

There is a whole slew of news coming in regarding John Doolittle.  It's been, shall we say, a very, very bad news cycle for the Doolittles.  First, the one that's getting most of the attention is  from the WaPo, and it's a doozy: (H/t to Kos)


In the past two years, campaign and political action committees controlled by Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) paid ever-larger commissions to his wife's one-person company and spent tens of thousands of dollars on gifts at stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co. and a Ritz-Carlton day spa.


The use of such committees, especially "leadership" PACs, for purposes other than electing politicians to Congress is a common and growing phenomenon, but campaign finance watchdogs say Doolittle has taken it to new heights.


Doolittle's wife, Julie, a professional fundraiser, has collected 15 percent of all contributions to Doolittle's leadership PAC and additional commissions on contributions to his campaign committee -- a total of nearly $140,000 since 2003, according to Federal Election Commission records.(WaPo 7/11/06)


Follow me to the flip for more on the Corrupt Spouses Doolittle.

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More on Mandatory Sentencing: The Big Taboo of The California Prison Debate

Cross-posted from Calitics: the progressive community blog for California.

Last week, I wrote an article about the 3 Strikes Law and its effect on the California prison system.  Of course, Arnold is talking about building more prisons.  But, the problem is really deeper than that.  And in today's California Report on KQED, a discussion about California's prisons centered around the question of whether to build new prisons and how to actually incorporate the "and Rehabilitation" to the Department of Corrections.  Of course, the question of the strength of the prison guards union, CCPOA, came up.  Strangely, the CCPOA's defense to that claim was "If we controlled the system, would we really be complaining so strenuously." I'm not sure that such a statement is really their best argument, but that's really a sidebar to this discussion.  A real kernel of truth was revealed at the end, when the commentator said that (rough paraphrase), "After the election, perhaps the government can face what has been the big taboo of the prison debate, the mandatory sentencing guidelines which are keeping thousands of prisoners in prison."  The actual program will likely appear on the California Report website tomorrow, I will try to correct it then.


Indeed, mandatory sentencing is the Big Taboo.  In Joel Dyer's The Perpetual Prisoner Machine: How America Profits from Crime, he explains why mandatory sentencing is so important to the prison industrial complex.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, the most powerful judge in the nation right now, said the following of mandatory sentencing:


I think I'm in agreement with most judges in the federal system that mandatory minimums are an imprudent, unwise and often unjust mechanism for sentencing - Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1994 Congressional hearings


Lots more on the flip...

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July 2 Mexican Election: AMLO as Revolutionary

Cross-posted to Calitics

The Mexican general election will be held this Sunday, July 2.  It will have an enormous impact on America and more specifically California.  The two candidates who are believed to have a chance are Felipe Calderón(Spanish) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Spanish).  By the way, those are some spiffy websites.  Calderon has a cool soccer game on the top of his.  The campaign practically came to a halt for the Mexican soccer matches, but the attention of the Mexican media is squarely on this election after the Mexican squad fell in a thrilling battle with the powerhouse that is the Argentian national squad.


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3 Strikes: The Real Problem with California's Prisons

Cross-posted from Calitics: the progressive community blog for California.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is pushing a new plan to build more prisons, saying that we "desperately" need new prison cells to accommodate our exploding prison population.

Saying that federal courts could seize control of California's overcrowded prisons, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday called a special legislative session on the corrections system and said the state must build more lockups soon.

Schwarzenegger urged lawmakers into action less than a week after a federal court monitor sharply rebuked him for retreating from prison reforms he had promised after taking office in 2003. Some critics called the governor's move an election-year political gimmick. (LA Times 6/27/06)

But, even with all the discussion of the prison crisis, the real cause of the problem is ignored.  

Lots, lots more on the flip...

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California Redisctricting Redux

In last November's special election, Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to ram a flawed redistricting proposition down the the throat's of the California electorate.  Fortunately, the voters saw through it as a soft-core version of Tom Delay's power grab in Texas.  Yes, the GOP knew that it wouldn't be able to consolidate its power like it did in Texas, but they figured this would be a great way to possibly pick up a seat by using mostly Republican ex-judges.


However, I've always thought that we need a new way of redistricting.  Our general elections are drifting towards sham status.  Primaries are becoming the real election, and this causes the legislative candidates to become increasingly partisan.  It has yielded an assembly that is so hamstrung because both sides have retreated to their base and are unwilling to see the side's position.  For example, at this point no GOP state legislator could really vote for tax increases.  They would soon be targeted by Grover Norquist and his gang for a primary challenge, and there goes his (or her) career.  And the primary pressures are causing both sides to want spending increases, but tax increases to support them are verboten by Norquist decree.


Wouldn't it be great if every seat in the nation was truly competitive?  Where the seats were drawn by some reasonable cartographer?  Wow, that would be nice.  Well, now redistricting is back. Sen Alan Lowenthal's (D-Long Beach) proposed consitutional amendment has support from both sides of the aisle.


A year ago, voters struck down Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's redistricting reform, turned off by what appeared to be a crass power grab to reshape legislative districts.


Less than a year later, state lawmakers are back with another reform ballot proposal -- to create an independent redistricting commission that would redraw the lines that determine the political balance of power in California.


"This is a much cleaner proposal. But, it will need support from both sides," said state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, the author of the measure, SCA 3. "People must be able to see that one party is not going to have an advantage over the other party. That's crucial."

*

Lawmakers must move quickly to get the measure on the November ballot. There is an official, though not strict, Thursday deadline. If they don't make it, proponents may have to wait for 2008 to put it on the ballot.

(CoCoTimes 6/26/06)


And this time it's done right: No mid-decade redistricting.  This time we'd wait until the 2010 census.  More on the flip...

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CA-11: Jerry McNerney, California's Jon Tester and a big win for California's netroots

Cross-posted at Calitics, the progressive community blog for California.

In CA-11, Jerry McNerney took the Democratic nomination.  He will face "Paid-for" Pombo in the general election.  We've been following the CA-11 race here at Calitics for a long time, more so recently due to the recent comments of Filson.  I posted a diary both at Calitics and at dKos about the bullshit surrounding the triangulation theories playing out in this race.  I'd like to go through this a little and make the proposition that Jerry McNerney is our Tester, a progressive leader that is simultaneously electable and responsive to his Democratic base.  For more on Tester, check out dKos.

So, a brief background on the race would probably be helpful here.  Jerry McNerney ran a campaign that got a late start in 2004.  He struggled to build a campaign structure for that race, going so far as to mortgage his house in order to run a decent campaign.  In the end, he garnered about 39% of the vote, a respectable figure against a well-funded incumbent.  Of course, at that point Richard Pombo was merely an unremarkable Congressman with a penchant for hyperbole, or outright lying, depending on how you see fit to describe it.  The 11th district isn't your typical Bay Area district, it has its soul in San Joaquin county.  It previously had more Democrats, but the Democratic heart of Stockton was shifted from what is now the 11th to what is now the 18th.  This was due to the Gary Condit scandal.  Legislative Democrats wanted Condit to retire so that the Democrats could retain his seat in the 18th District, now held by Blue Dog Valleycrat Dennis Cardoza.  Thus, the 11th now has a substantial Republican registration advantage.

There's lots more on the flip...

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CA-50: The NRCC's greatest hits. A collection of ridiculous ads

Cross-posted from Calitics: The progressive community blog for California.

I wanted to consolidate some of the ridiculous ads, and the Busby rebuttals.  Most of the links are from FactCheck.org, where you can find lots of info debunking NRCC ads against Busby.  If you can volunteer, donate, or VOTE!


1) Immigration:
NRCC ad(WMV): Bubsy wants amnesty.
Busby ad (WMV): Busby supports McCain (R-AZ) Immigration Plan



2) Gas Tax
NRCC ad (WMV): Busby wants to increase the gas tax.
Truth: Busby backed off her support for an increase in the gas tax.
Busby ad: Bilbray took money from Big Oil.



3) Busby on Child Porn Teacher
NRCC ad: Busby praised a teacher arrested for kiddie porn and excercise poor judgement as a school board member.  Here  is the mailer version of that ad.
Truth: Busby expressed shock when that teacher was arrested.
Busby ad: He never taught again after being arrested.


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Diaries

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