Some cool meta stuff from Rip-off Barbie

So, I’m blogging here from Calitics Central East, aka my sister’s house in Austin, Texas.  I’m visiting my very cute nieces and this rip-off barbie  doll gave me some great ideas.  Well, the doll and the other terrific front-page posters in one of those extended email threads that make you very, very thankful for gmail.  So, thanks gmail and the wonderful Calitics FP’s.  And the rip-off Barbie.

So, where am I going with this, sorry…Well, two things. First, we’re going to be using the rec’d diary list more in the future and promoting stuff to the front page less.  You’ll know see that the recommended diary list is featured promintently above the fold on the left of the front page. So, two things that would be great for all you reader types: 1) Read the Recent diaries. 2) Recommend diaries that you like. 

if a diary is very popular, I’ll get it on the FP so that it goes out on our RSS feed.  Speaking of RSS feed, as you may know, every tag and every user on Calitics has its own RSS feed. it’s actually a really cool feature. So, I’ve harnessed this, and we’ll be promoting local content through the local subdomains we’ve talked about before. So, if you look up top (shortly) you’ll see links to the various minblogs, but here are some of the addresses, I think you’ll get the pattern:,,,,,, and Do I need more? Let me know, and we could set up additional local redirects.

Pérez in the CA 80th AD

Even at 100 degrees Farenheit, the Coachella Valley is gorgeous.  Here’s a pic from a house party for Manuel Pérez, Democratic candidate for the 80th AD.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

As I mentioned earlier, I support Pérez because he is the strongest, best qualified candidate of a good set of Democrats.  As dday notes, this House seat leans Dem:

AD-80 (Bonnie Garcia)

Democratic: 45.59%
Republican: 37.37%

Follow me over the flip for more photos and a breakdown of why Manuel Pérez is the best Democrat to represent the 80th, and the most likely to beat the predicted Republican candidate, Palm Springs police chief, Gary Jeandron. 

Here’s another photo of Pérez speaking to supporters in Bermuda Dunes.  Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Here’s a Map of the CA 80th AD.

Now, about the primary challengers:
The other Democrats in this race are Greg Pettis, Cathedral City councilman, and Rick Gonzales, Wells Fargo investment banker.  Both are great guys.  If Manuel Pérez didn’t match their strengths and up the ante considerably, I’d probably be stumping for one of them.  (A recent addition, Gilbert Ramirez, Jr. just jumped in, but I know little about him yet.  The little I do know tells me he’s no threat to Pérez.)   But as I noted in a previous diary, we have a good farm team of liberals growing in this district now, and I feel strongly that Pérez is the best in this race.

In Greg Pettis’s case, he represents a solid vote for gay rights and labor.  However, Pérez is a lifelong advocate for all civil rights, including protection for gay students, and you don’t get more pro labor than Pérez, whose UFW parents met working in the fields right here in the 80th district.  Also, Perez is a married Latino family man who is both prochoice and pro gay rights.  That’s a powerful combo for our advocate in Sacramento.  Greg’s been a fixture of Democratic politics in the area for some time, but he’s lost this race before.  Pérez is new to politics and offers a very compelling new option. 

Rick Gonzalez has a great background in D.C., working with Bill Clinton and Al Gore years back, but he doesn’t have Pérez’s experience and track record of working for social justice here in the 80th.  Rick has roots here, but so does Pérez, deep and broad roots.  As my initial Pérez diary indicates, Manuel Pérez served Riverside and Imperial Counties his entire career.  Other than short absences to attend Harvard and to work in Sacramento, Pérez has been bringing healthcare and education to the 80th as a nonprofit manager and CVUSD trustee.  Rick has excellent businesss experience with Wells Fargo, but so does Pérez, with local government and nonprofit healthcare.  The biggest difference: Gonzalez doesn’t have Manuel Pérez’s support from labor.

Finally, Steve Clute, the previous Democratic candidate for the CA 80th AD who garnered 49.57 % of the last vote, endorsed Pérez

At the house party, Pérez talked about the interaction between California’s schools, our prisons, and our social services, and how they don’t work cooperatively.  He knows what it is to be the at-risk-youth, the teacher, and the policy wonk.  He knows it from experience acquired here, and he can express it equally well in the salons of Rancho Mirage y las iglesias de Coachella.  This is the candidate we’ve been waiting for.

About Gary Jeandron, I hear he’s well-liked in Palm Springs where he’s been police chief for some time.  However, this Desert Sun article about veteran volunteers getting an unceremonious boot from the Citizens on Patrol program doesn’t speak well for Jeandron’s judgement.  Nor does his willingness to have intelligent design taught in Palm Springs public schools, according to this Press Enterprise article about his school board race. 

Riverside and Imperial Counties deserve a strong, compassionate, smart progressive for a change.  And the California Assembly needs all the Democrats we can get!  Please help us get there – come pay a visit to my ActBlue page for Manuel Pérez.
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Crossposted from Daily Kos

Sen. Kuehl Offers a Lesson in How To Talk About Health Care

This passage from Anthony Wright on the deabte over SB 840 (the single-payer universal health care bill), which passed the California State Senate yesterday, caught my eye.  I think it’s a good lesson on how to deal with Republicans who will lie and lie about how health care is delivered in this country and abroad.  It’s important for every Democrat who wants to move forward on this issue to read this.


In the staid Senate, there was little debate on the measure. Being its fifth time around the block, Capitol watchers expect nothing other than a party-line (or near party-line) vote on the measure.

However, Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, did take the opportunity to attack the nationalized health care systems of other countries.

“There’s no question that we have problems with the high cost of health care, but to say we have the lowest standard of health care, or that we’re at the bottom of industrialized nations is not a true statement,’’ Aanestad said.

Contrary to what Aanestad said, though, the U.S. spends more on health care, but gets less, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The latest numbers show that the U.S. spends $7,800 per capita on health care, nearly twice as much as Canada’s $4,050; the UK spends $3,250. Meanwhile, the US ranks 21st in life expectancy (Canada ranks 7th and the UK ranks 18th), and 23rd in infant mortality behind Canada and the UK .

Aanestad went on to say that the “the only universal health care … (seen) in the US is the outmoded and substandard Veterans Administration Health Care system. Do you really want your American health care to end up in the Veterans’ Administration model?”

Lastly, Aanestad proclaimed that “if I needed bypass surgery, I could not get it (in Canada) because I’m over 60 years old and I would be put on a waiting list because I’m too old to qualify for bypass surgery.’’ On the other hand, in the U.S. “If I needed bypass surgery, I’d have it tonight,’’ he said.

Sen. Kuehl contradicted this statement.

“This notion that waiting lists exists somewhere else, but not in America ? Maybe for the privileged few of us who can get right in. But there are a lot of people in my district – the richest district in the state and the one with probably the highest number of people insured – who are still on waiting lists, whether with Kaiser, or with Blue Cross,’’ said Kuehl, who represents Santa Monica.

“You can’t just run right in and get your bypass surgery,’’ Kuehl said.

Please read and absorb that.  The Republicans are going to lie about health care.  But their problem is that everyone in this country already knows about the current the health care system, and has faced its ineptitude and soaring costs.  It’s easier to lie about something more abstract like Iraq than health care, when everyone knows the deal.  This, of course, is why they always try to shift the debate to health care in Europe, where they can lie with impunity.  It’s easier to demonize the unknown than the known.  They’re of course wildly at variance with the facts on health care in the Western world, and I think Democrats can leverage personal experience with the American system here, and ask, “How can this possibly be the best we can do?”  Kuehl pretty much did just that.  There are wait lists right here at home; everybody knows this.  It can take months to see a doctor, particularly a specialist.  We’ve all had the experience of sitting in the ER waiting forever for what is supposed to be something used in case of catastrophic emergencies. 

They also spend a lot of time on VA hospitals, which not everyone in the country has had a chance to use, and there’s a blurring of lines here.  Mentioning VA hospitals is designed to call up the imagery of the terrible conditions at the Walter Reed outpatient facility.  Except here’s the problem: Walter Reed was an ARMY hospital, and a good deal of the issues with the outpatient care had to do with the fact that they were privatizing the facility.  If you’re strictly talking about the VA system, it’s actually quite good.

Remember, too, that the VA is the only truly socialized health system in the US: they run the insurance side, sure, but also employ the doctors, build the hospitals, and administrate the care. All of which makes the VA a particularly fertile example for liberals because, unlike the French or German or Canadian systems, the VA exists within the America lifestyle context, short-circuiting the weird well-we-eat-more-cheeseburgers retort to arguments about lower medical spending and better health outcomes in foreign countries. The VA is cheaper, more efficient, less error prone, and boasts higher patient satisfaction than any system in the US, and it does so without the reputation for rationing, waiting lines, and low-tech care that erroneously plague other countries. Now, if some of our conservative friends have an answer for that, I’d like to hear it.

There’s more here.  It’d be great for Democrats to line up people who use the VA system and tell their stories, about a successful government-run program that’s completely at odds with the private for-profit system most of us use.  They’ve particularly done an excellent job at keeping down prescription drug prices because they’re given the ability to negotiate; you can “get your meds,” as VA care user Mike Gravel said in Sunday’s debate, cheaper and quicker.

Democrats, all you have to do is SPEAK THE TRUTH.  The people are with you on this issue.  And there are specific ways to demonstrate the viability of a health care system that values treatment rather than money.

Laguna Beach: A Rather Exquisite Economy of the Arts

“This is the first time we could quantify what the arts means to Laguna Beach,” said Nancy Beverage, chairwoman of the city’s Arts Commission. “It’s important so we don’t kill the goose that laid the egg.”

And what a mighty goose this is. The OC Register is reporting today that Laguna Beach leads the nation in money spent on the arts. People from across the nation and around the world come to Laguna Beach to enjoy the artistic spirit here. And nearly $55 million was pumped into Laguna Beach’s economy in 2005, thanks to its art scene. Art truly is the economic lifeblood of Laguna Beach.

So just how important is art in Laguna Beach? How is the art shaping the local economy? How is it shaping the city?

Follow me after the flip for more…

Laguna Beach has a long history of artistic creativity. Ever since Norman St. Claire first abandoned the San Francisco fog to document Laguna’s natural beauty on canvass in 1903, art has shaped and molded the community in Laguna Beach. In 1918, the town’s first gallery opened (now the Laguna Art Museum). When Laguna Beach became the first community in South Orange County to incorporate as a city in 1927, it did so as an artists’ colony that was already becoming world-renowned.

And in 1932, out of the economic disaster of the Great Depression, the Festival of Arts emerged. The artists in town were just looking for a way to capitalize off the Olympic games in nearby Los Angeles. Instead they started a great tradition, and a real cash cow for the now booming arts colony.

But in the 1960s, a group of hippie artists were getting frustrated with all the rigid tradition and conservative conformity of the Festival of Arts. In 1966, the young artists staged a revolt against the local art extablishment and their jury system that excluded so many talented local artists. They began their own art festival out of protest, and out of this protest the Sawdust Festival was born. And now, this is one of the top five art festivals in the nation.

Clearly, Laguna knows how to capitalize off its art. And the tradition goes on today. From The OC Register:

Today, the 9-square-mile city with about 7 miles of coastline has about 90 art galleries […]

The findings of the study will help provide the city and its residents with a substantial way to measure the value of Laguna Beach’s artistic community, said John Hoover, member of the board of directors for the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts.

According to the report, “Arts and Economic Prosperity III,” art-related spending in Laguna Beach contributes about $2.7 million in tax revenue to the state and about $2.4 million to the city.

In Laguna Beach, a person attending an artistic event spends an average of $55.41, according to the report. That is about twice the national average of $27.79 spent per person.

Most of the money spent in Laguna Beach pays for meals, lodging and souvenirs, the study said.

Wow, so the tradition continues. Laguna Beach has now made its art into a tourist magnet. Laguna is the ultimate destination for people who enjoy some aesthetic pleasure with their travel. But is all this commercial success killing the artistic spirit?

Is the artistic spirit dying in the midst of all the wealth, all the excess, and all the episodes of that MTV reality show? Is Laguna Beach starting to act too much like its snooty sister next door? Maybe Laguna has become too prosperous for its creative well-being?

No wonder why even the Chamber of Commerce President has called for more affordable housing for local artists and their galleries:

As the Laguna continues to grow and tourism thrives, the city must preserve its artistic community, [Mayor Toni] Iseman said.

As housing costs rise, the city should consider providing affordable housing to artists, some of whom are being priced out, said Dave Sanford, president of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. Galleries also need affordable space.

“When the city decides where to invest money, they need to consider this,” Sanford said.

Yes, perhaps Laguna beach should ensure that the artists are not priced out of the arts colony. Perhaps as the city considers new development downtown, the city should ensure that these artists’ lofts are spaces that young local artists can actually afford. Laguna has been so wise in making a living off its art. The colony certainly cannot afford to ultimately allow past success to choke future artistic endeavors.

After all if the art is gone, then ultimately the economy is dead. And more importantly, the creative spirit dies as the art leaves. Laguna’s history of artistic passion and astounding success is just too precious to be lost forever.

Left, Right, and Center ALL AGREE: Janet Nguyen Needs to Come Clean

(Also see OC Blog and The Liberal OC)

Why is Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen evading the law? This is a question that all of us are asking. This is a question that bloggers on the left, right, and center are all asking. This is a question that Janet Nguyen is forcing us to ask so long as she refuses to file a report on those secret campaign contributions that violated Orange County’s campaign finance law. And so long as Janet Nguyen does not file this report, we will all be counting the days that she has not filed.

Even though Martin Wisckol began reporting on this matter at The OC Register’s Total Buzz blog, Janet Nguyen has not taken notice, and she has not reported. Even though Mike Lawson has begun counting the days that Janet Nguyen has evaded county law at The Liberal OC, Janet Nguyen has not taken notice, and she has not reported. Even though Matt Cunningham has spoken out about this at OC Blog, Janet Nguyen has not taken notice, and she has not reported. Oh yes, and even though we at Calitics have turned our eyes to Orange County for this, Janet Nguyen has not taken notice, and she has not reported. So what will it take for Janet Nguyen to report these contributions? How many more days must we count?

Why won’t Janet Nguyen come clean? Why won’t she report these contributions, and report of her returning this money? Who were the donors who gave to her legal defense fund? When did these donors give? And just how much did these donors give? So long as Janet Nguyen does not obey the law and report these contributions, she only invites us all to ask these questions, and she invites us to count the days that she has not reported.

What excuse does Janet Nguyen have? Why can’t she fill out the paperwork about the three donors to her legal defense fund? Why can’t she follow county law? As she is now a county lawmaker, she should be setting a good example. She needs to file a report. And until she reports, we will be counting the days.

So if Janet Nguyen can’t even follow one county ordinance on campaign contributions, then how can we trust her with this and other laws? This is why left, right, and center all agree that Janet Nguyen needs to come clean. We have waited 53 days, and Janet Nguyen still has not complied with the law. And until she complies, we will be counting the days.

Sen. Perata’s Out of Iraq Ballot Measure Passes Senate

Sen. Don Perata’s advisory “Out of Iraq” proposed ballot measure has cleared its first hurdle by passing the Senate.  (LA Times).

“That war is costing California dearly,” said Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), who sponsored the measure and noted that 340 soldiers from the state had died so far.

The resolution is an advisory measure that voters would consider on the presidential primary ballot next February. The proposal is expected to be approved by the Assembly, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said publicly whether he will sign it.  Democrats depicted Perata’s nonbinding measure — a rarity in California’s century of direct democracy — as a way to prod President Bush to give up on the increasingly unpopular war. They decried the conflict as a waste of money that could have been better spent on domestic concerns.

For those at the California Democratic Party, you might recall this measure from the debacle with the quorum call vote.  You see this was the resolution that originally proceeded through the resolutions committee, and when there were suggested changes, the thing blew up. The quorum call was made, and the rest is history.

But there is a lesson in local progressive action in this story as well. Follow me over the flip…

You see, while this would be the first state to have such an advisory measure, it is not the first such ballot measure in the state. You see back in November 2004, San Francisco progressives placed Measure N, a measure that announced withdrawal as the preferred policy of San Francisco. 

Supervisor Chris Daly and his progressive allies today plan to put a “Bring the Troops Home” resolution on the November ballot, timing the move to coincide with the Monday handover of power in Iraq.

“The federal government should take immediate steps to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and bring our troops safely home,” the single-page Daly resolution reads, in part.

Municipalities in the Bay Area and around the country have put their elected legislatures on record opposing the Iraq occupation, but San Francisco would be the first to put the issue directly to the voters.

“I think the City and County of San Francisco needs to weigh in on the atrocities that the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft bunch have really committed,” said Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who with Daly, Matt Gonzalez and Tom Ammiano plans to sign his name to send the resolution to the electorate. “They have made us unfortunately one of the most hated countries in the world right now and it’s very sad. This didn’t have to be.

“I think San Francisco voters will undoubtedly pass this thing with an overwhelming majority. Thank God, thank God.” (SF Examiner 6/29/2004)

That measure passed with the support of nearly 2/3 of San Francisco voters. 63.33% to be exact, but I’m imagining that would be higher today. Substantially higher.

And now, a similar measure is coming to the California ballot.  But progressives, specifically, Supervisors Daly, McGlodrick, Gonzalez, and Ammiano,  led the way.  You see we aren’t called progressives for nothing, we lead, we um…progress. So, things come full circle sometimes, and this just shows how important getting out and leading on the issues of the day is for progressives.

So, good work Don Perata, congrats on following the lead of San Francisco’s crraaazzy progressive Supervisors.

SB 840 (Single Payer Health Care) Passes State Senate

Thanks to Frank Russo for informing us that Sheila Kuehl’s SB 840, the single-payer health care plan which is the the result of years of work and refining, has passed the California State Senate for the second straight year.  The mostly party-line vote was 22-14, with only Lou Correa voting with the Republicans against the bill.

Speaker Nunez and President Pro Tem Perata have health care bills up for votes, likely tomorrow, that are expected to pass.  Then the other chamber gets a crack at them all, then there will be some process of negotiation and merging of all of these health care-related bills resulting in whatever the Governor and the Legislative leaders decide is an acceptable final product.  It’s great that, by virtue of continuing to push SB 840 and not backing down, Sen. Kuehl will be in that room for those negotiations.  So this is not a fool’s errand, it’s a vital step to continue to push this state toward universal single payer healthcare and show the nation that it can be done.

On the flip for more legislative news…

In other news that really warms my heart, Sen. Gloria Romero’s SB 110, providing for an independent sentencing commission that will have the power to recommend sentencing guidelines, the TRUE way to reform our broken prison system, passed the State Senate.  Better yet, a companion bill passed the Assembly, so it looks like this sentencing commission proposal has a very good chance of winding up on the Governor’s desk.  Lou Correa again was the only Democratic Senator to vote against the bill.  I sense a pattern.  But it passed, and that’s spectacular news.  Hopefully the final bill will give the commission some teeth to actually mandate sentencing reform, and take the process out of the hands of “tough on crime” legislators.

And the Senate also voted to put the nonbinding Out of Iraq resolution on the February 2008 ballot.  I only really appreciate this in the sense that I’d love to see the Governor have to sign it.  Will he protect his party or “let the people decide?”  Other than that, I’m apathetic toward it, and I do believe it’s a stalking horse to get more Democrats to the polls in February, who may be more disposed to approving the term limits initiative that would allow the Democratic leadership to stay in office.

Updated: Walters Accuses Democrats of White Protectionist Plan

The California legislature passed an incumbent protectionist redistricting plan in 2001.  It was basically a deal between the Democrats and Republicans to not throw any more seats into jeopardy.  That motivation is one of the biggest reasons why people want to take the redistricting process out of the hands of the legislature and give it to a non-directly interested party.  For some reason Dan Walters is pushing forward a bit of revisionist history and it is frankly offensive.

There’s another irony attached to the declining fortunes of GOP congressmen from California — the 2001 deal that created their rock-solid districts. Democrats controlled the Legislature and the governorship at the time, and could have ripped off four or five GOP seats, but they opted, instead, for a status-quo deal.

Why? Because increasing Democratic-leaning seats would have thinned the margins of Democratic incumbents, especially in Southern California, and several white members could have been challenged by Latinos in primaries. Had Democrats been more aggressive in 2001, it’s likely that they would have picked up more California seats in last year’s national power shift.

Seriously, what the heck?  This was not about heading off primary challenges and it certainly was not racially motivated.  Instead, it was a non-engagement scheme, with the motivation being general elections not changing party hands.  Republicans didn’t lose any more seats and Democrats did not risk theirs.  It has, by and large, been highly successful.

[UPDATE] 9:20 AM Evidently, the source of this claim is a lawsuit by MALDEF from 2002 that alleges an unconstitutional gerrymander in CA-27, 28 and 51.  CA-51 seems to be the basis of Walter’s claim.  MALDEF alleged at the time that “the legislature specifically left our four Latino neighborhoods purely for racial reasons, to protect the incumbent.” That incumbent was Bob Filner.  The Court of course ruled against MALDEF and this was obviously not a major bone of contention considering everybody I have spoken to does not remember the controversy.

At least now we know Walters wasn’t completely making things up, just bringing up old allegations.