All posts by Rusalka

CA-Lt.Gov: The Danger Tom McClintock Poses to the Children of California…and the Rest of Us

(He’s one scary SOB. Rec the diary at dKos. – promoted by SFBrianCL)

What, you might ask, does arch-conservative Tom McClintock have to do with the diabetes epidemic that is about to overwhelm every other pressing need on the long list of pressing needs in front of our lawmakers today?

At Monday’s stem cell research press conference in San Francisco, I got myself a quick education in the broad implications of epidemic diabetes, stem cell research and the office of Lt. Governor. (Thank you to the folks at the Garamendi campaign for linking to video from their release.

All public health experts agree that a diabetes epidemic is overwhelming our already fractured health care delivery system.  What is not well known is that we haven’t seen anything yet.  We need money for national defense?  Schools?  Roads?  Fuggedaboutit!

In a welcome element of serendipity and Democratic teamwork, Jerry McNerney and his smashing grassroots campaign to boot R. Pombo out of Congress, are also speaking out in support of stem cell research and taking issue with Mr. McClintock.

Save bandwidth, follow the breadcrumbs to dKos

Stem Cell Crisis in California: John Garamendi and Michael J. Fox v. Tom McClintock

( – promoted by SFBrianCL)

At first I applauded yesterday’s announcement of Dem candidate for CA Lt. Guv John Garamendi’s Monday press conference with Stem Cell Initiative Founder and Bd Pres of the Calif Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Bob Klein and SF Mayor Gavin Newsom on the importance of stem cell research to the nation. (University of California, 600-16th – in front of Genentech Hall, St. San Francisco, 12:15pm. Be there.)

Like many of us, I’d been following the delicious way Rush Limbaugh turned Michael J. Fox’s recent ads on behalf of Dem candidates who favor medical research into a national news story.

Then I got to wondering how much – if anything – is known about the truly critical choice California faces in the Lt. Governor race. After all, most of us, even if we live in CA, don’t know much at all about the L.G.’s scope of work, let alone it’s relationship to stem cell research. And if we live anywhere else, we certainly can’t be expected to understand why this CA race should be of national concern.

More below the jump. I’ll unpack and shed some light.

In 2004, a great year for turnout, 59.1% of Californians voted for Prop. 71, which asked

Should the “California Institute for Regenerative Medicine” be established to regulate and fund stem cell research with the constitutional right to conduct such research and with an oversight committee?

Read the summary from Smart Voter.

Fast forward to 2006 and the Lt. Guv’s race, where California’s significant 2004 victory could be stalled – if not crippled – because of a back-door effort by the far right to elect Tom McClintock – a staunch foe of 71 – who promises to block stem cell research. And because the largest promise for that research, by far, lies in California, with McClintock in the Lt. Gov’s chair, all Americans will lose.

You can hear what this poster boy for neo-conservative public policy says about many of the real life issues we care about. Garamendi’s folks quote him on video.

Wearing the white hat we have John Garamendi. Enviro, articulate advocate of universal health insurance and staunch supporter of stem cell research on humanitarian, public health and economic grounds. Icing on the cake: he knows perhaps as much about the challenges and possibilities for election integrity as Debra Bowen

Happily, significant elements of the CA msm are coming out in favor of John Garamendi, and, thanks to Mr. Fox, there is more coverage of stem cell research as a political albeit non-partisan issue. How nuanced that coverage will be remains to be seen. A crowd at Monday’s press conference may help.

I don’t know when California last had a remarkable Lt. Gov, but read about the powers of the office and consider who you want making decisions about your health, your education, the air you breath, the water you drink. Think about what it will mean when the second highest Constitutional office in the state – with one of the largest economies in the world – is held by a man who is absolutely committed to convening the best minds to create a universal health plan for CA.  A man who has the political will to implement it. Consider what it means for all of us.

I asked Don Reed, Co-chair of Californians for Cures why I should care abut the out-come of this race, and got an earful:

Imagine if you really truly hated something–I mean genuinely despised it, so much so that you were publicly listed as first in the official opposition to it–and then were given POWER over it?

That is the situation California’s new stem cell program will face, if conservative Republican Tom McClintock becomes Lieutenant Governor.

McClintock’s opposition to Proposition 71, the California Stem Cells for Research and Cures Act is definitely not a secret. On the voter pamphlet his name is the first one listed among the enemies of the research program.  

“Official ballot arguments in opposition are signed by Tom McClintock, California State Senator’…”…

So how does Mr. McClintock feel about Proposition 71? He calls it “a self-serving sham…perhaps the worst ballot measure that we’ve seen over the past decade…open season on  California taxpayers…” Reporter Marc Strasman of California Politics Today interviewed McClintock, and said he (McClintock) “compared the proponents of Proposition 71 to snake oil salesmen who come into town, take the people’s money, and leave them poorer… Private companies… would `make out like bandits’ while citizens will not even have the right to ask about what the research is buying.”

This evidences a flagrant disregard for the truth. I have attended virtually all of the 84 meetings, and the public is not only welcomed to attend but also invited to participate in every decision. To the best of my knowledge Mr. McClintock has not attended any of the meetings, so he may wish to claim ignorance.

His remarks reveal a contempt for the research, which I find troubling. “Snake oil”? I have personally held in my hand a laboratory rat which had been paralyzed, but which walked again after having been treated with embryonic stem cells.

As the father of a paralyzed son, I am eager for the research to move forward, and it frustrates me to see rampant ignorance getting in the way. The lawsuits already blocking full implementation of Proposition 71 are backed by opponents of the research very much like Mr. McClintock’s supporters among the religious right.

As Lieutenant Governor, McClintock would place up to five members on the oversight committee that runs the stem cell program.

What kind of people might he appoint? It is scary to consider.

As a Californian, McClintock, is staggeringly out of step with the state he wishes to lead. This is perhaps why he came in third in a recent gubernatorial election.

As a Senator, how has he done? Not many politicians can claim to have received F grades from groups as widely varied as Sierra Children’s Advocacy Institute, Congress of California Seniors, Planned Parenthood, American Association of University Women, Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality, California Labor Federation, California School Employees Association, Consumer Federation of California, the Alliance for Better Business — just to name a few.…

Who supports McClintock? The Religious Right, for one.…   If anyone thinks the Religious Right supports the  California stem cell program, they should please let me know, I would be glad.

He is spectacularly funded, more than $3 million for his campaign, (…) compared to rival John Garamendi, with (I think) under $1 mil.

Bottom line: this race is not in the bag and it matters. It quite directly matters for stem cell research, for environmental protection, for health policy and for leadership and investment in education.

The money trail is particularly daunting. As with the races for CD-11, CA-50 and CA-4, the Repugs are pouring resources into this race. As of the end of October, McClintock had $852k on hand compared to Garamendi’s $290k. I leave it to wonkier minds than mine to make sense of the contributors.

So what can we do? If we can get to San Francisco this Monday, we can show up at the press conference and demonstrate popular support for Bob Klein, John Garamendi and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Before heading out to phone or canvass, we can do the drill: Get Informed, Get Involved, Contribute. We can show up and beat the drums and we can spread the word. Count this diary as part of spreading the word: worth doing if many people read it. So please, recommend, comment and do all you can do to keep California Blue. And sane.