Tag Archives: Russ Feingold

CA-03: Durston Says He’s Tied

An internal poll shows Bill Durston in a statistical dead heat with Dan Lungren.  From the email to supporters:

We’ve just received great news from a poll of 500 likely voters conducted by the respected polling firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, and Associates. Dr. Bill Durston is in a statistical dead heat with Dan Lungren in California’s 3rd Congressional District!

When voters were asked who they would vote for if they were to vote today, 33% chose Lungren, 30%, chose Bill, 7% chose another candidate, and 30% were undecided. With a margin of error of 4%, the differences between Bill and Lungren were not statistically significant.

After hearing a positive profile about both Lungren and Bill, the tallies were even closer – 39% for Lungren and 38% for Bill. After hearing about some of Lungren’s many shortcomings, including his Hawaii vacation paid for by special interests, his allegiance to the Bush-Cheney administration, and his fondness for taking money from Big Oil, voters chose Bill over Lungren by a margin of 43% to 34%, a difference which is highly statistically significant.

This shouldn’t surprise anybody.  CA-03 is the seat with the smallest registration gap between the parties that’s currently held by a Republican, and by November I’ll be willing to bet that gap will be almost erased.  Durston won’t have all the money to get out the “balanced” information about him and his opponent, but he will be competitive.

This could be a good time for outside groups to jump in.  CA-03 is one of those under-the-radar seats nationwide that is very, very winnable, and a late push could easily put Durston over the top.  Furthermore, he’s a solid progressive Democrat who supports single-payer.  At least one group is helping out.  Bill Durston is one of the over 100 Progressive Patriots who are benefiting from Russ Feingold’s efforts.  Russ Warner (CA-26) was added to the Progressive Patriots “Expand the Map” program today, and Charlie Brown and Jerry McNerney are members as well.

This would be a good time to support Bill Durston.  

CA Challengers All Over The Map On The Bailout

The Senate passed the bailout bill, with 2/5 of the DeFazio plan embedded – the raising of FDIC insurance limits, which was long overdue, and the ability for the SEC to suspend mark-to-market accounting, which is some kind of fairy tale.  It also includes all kinds of other legislation, like a tax package which is mainly focused on renewable energy tax credits, the only – I repeat, only – provision through all of this which could grow the manufacturing sector and reindustrialize the country (which is, you know, the key to America’s economic survival).  It actually RAISES taxes for oil companies as well.  I don’t think “Exempt from excise tax certain wooden arrow shafts for use by children” needed to be in there, but hey, it’s Congress!

The Senate jammed the House pretty good on this one, and I think they’ll eventually comply.

My Senators, Boxer and Feinstein, both voted for it, which shows that this cuts across ideological lines.  And yet I can’t argue with a word Russ Feingold says here:

“I will oppose the Wall Street bailout plan because though well intentioned, and certainly much improved over the administration’s original proposal, it remains deeply flawed.  It fails to offset the cost of the plan, leaving taxpayers to bear the burden of serious lapses of judgment by private financial institutions, their regulators, and the enablers in Washington who paved the way for this catastrophe by removing the safeguards that had protected consumers and the economy since the great depression.  The bailout legislation also fails to reform the flawed regulatory structure that permitted this crisis to arise in the first place.  And it doesn’t do enough to address the root cause of the credit market collapse, namely the housing crisis.  Taxpayers deserve a plan that puts their concerns ahead of those who got us into this mess.”

This is all true, and this was ultimately a bad plan, but I respect the opinion of hold your nose caucus as well.  I would have preferred a short-term fix with a vote giving a popular mandate to the solution.

Because right now the public opinion situation is very muddled.  People absolutely believe this is a crisis and they might not want to bail out Wall Street but they are adamant that something be done.  This is acute in California.  The state, with its emphasis on selling bonds and borrowing, is currently unable to pay its bills.  Bonds for highway construction, schools, housing and water projects cannot be sold.  The credit crunch has real-world effects.  This is why the Governor wrote the Congressional delegation and urged passage.  This is also why you don’t run a government based on borrowing, but there you go.

And so you have the fascinating and strange situation where Democratic challengers in Congressional races are hammering their incumbent opponents for voting yes AND voting no on the House plan.  On the side of “how could you vote for this” are Bill Durston (who rushed out an ad hitting Dan Lungren for voting yes) and Ed Chau (who slammed Gary Miller in a press release).  On the side of “I can’t believe you didn’t vote for this” are Nick Leibham, who couldn’t have been more exercised about Brian Bilbray’s no vote (calling it “totally irresponsible”) and Charlie Brown, who defended the need to do something against nutjob free market fundamentalist Tom McClintock.

And then you have Russ Warner, who cited David Dreier’s hypocrisy while saying he would have voted for the bill as well:

Warner’s campaign pointed to a conflicting statement on Dreier’s website, where the 13-term incumbent writes, “I believe we need to empower families to make sound economic choices and avoid taxpayer funded bailouts.”

While Warner says he would have voted for the bailout bill as well, his campaign attacked Dreier for changing his position.

The point is that no politician has any idea what the people want, and the decision-making process is exceedingly complex.  Those who are taking principled stands are likely to be rewarded and those taking political ones punished, but even that is unclear.  I would steer clear of making definitive statements about the public mood; chances are they don’t even know what they think.

My latest FISA letter to Senator Feinstein

Here is the text of my latest letter to Senator Feinstein on FISA and telecom immunity.  It appears that we have been corresponding for so long that I now have a pretty good record to go by to understand her position.  To see where she was, and where she’s gone on this issue is not pretty.

Please note that I did take one last thing out of this letter before I faxed it, but I left it in for the readers here to understand just how I feel.

June 29, 2008

Senator Diane Feinstein

United States Senate

331 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510 Via Facsimile (202) 228-3954

Re: FISA Telecom Immunity

Dear Senator Feinstein:

For over two years, I have been writing to you about my outrage over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.  You have somehow found it possible, given your busy schedule selling out our civil rights, to respond to my communications from time to time, and I thank you for it.  I would like to both review your positions on the issue, and respond to them, now that the Senate is considering a bill that would give the telecommunications companies that colluded with the administration immunity for their undisputed wrongdoing.

I first wrote to you about my concerns in early 2006.  On April 12, 2006, you responded via email as follows:

I have carefully reviewed the Constitution and the laws relating to this domestic intelligence activity, along with the President’s statements and those of the Attorney General and other Administration officials.  I believe that the electronic surveillance program was not conducted in accordance with U.S. law.  The program, as described, violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires a court order for surveillance of Americans.  

Congress has updated FISA many times since 9/11 in order to provide our nation with all the necessary tools to fight terrorism.  The Administration has never asked for the authority to conduct this program.

I believe the Administration also violated the National Security Act, which requires all members of the Intelligence Committee to be fully and currently informed of all significant intelligence activities other than covert actions.  I am a member of the Intelligence Committee, and yet I was not told about this program until it was made public.  

On October 20, 2007, I again wrote to you, via facsimile, when it became clear that you had backed away from your original position, as set forth above, because you were “undecided” as to whether to grant immunity to those telecommunications companies that had done what the administration wanted, in spite of the manifest illegality of doing so.  I laid out a timeline of what I considered relevant events concerning warrantless wiretapping.  I believe that timeline is as trenchant now as it was then, and I will again impart it to you:

1) On October 13, 2007, The Washington Post reported that based on documents released from the trial of Joseph Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications, that the government had enlisted the telecommunications companies’ assistance with its warrantless wiretapping program (the program) on February 27, 2001, fully six months prior to the attack on the World Trade Center (9/11);

2) While Quest refused, maintaining the program was illegal, other companies did participate;

3) At least one telecommunications company, Verizon, not only participated, but also demanded and received payment of $1,000 each time it provided information pursuant to the program;

4) Verizon was paid for its participation over 700 times;

5) The program, and telecommunications companies’ illegal acts in support of it, failed to prevent 9/11;

6) According to fully corroborated testimony by James Comey before the Senate Judiciary Committee (upon which you sit), on March 11, 2004, although it had previously done so, the Department of Justice (DOJ) refused to affirm the legality of the program, but the President allowed the program to continue, despite DOJ’s refusal;

7) The President, on April 20, 2004, publicly denied such warrantless wiretapping was taking place;

8) In December 2005, the existence of the program was disclosed by The New York Times;

9) In response to the disclosure, the President admitted to the existence of the program, but claimed that it (a) began after 9/11, and (b) prevented an attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles (which the President called the “Liberty Tower”);

10) Subsequent investigation revealed there was probably no imminent or even credible threat to the Library Tower;

11) In the ensuing months and years, the Administration has claimed that such warrantless wiretapping has been conducted very rarely, and only in extreme circumstances;

12) Subsequent investigation by the FBI’s Inspector General revealed that such a claim is patently false; the FBI has abused its ability to issue National Security Letters and obtain private communications without warrants on hundreds of occasions, and many if not most of those letters were issued in connection with investigations wholly unrelated to terrorism;

13) On August 3, 2007, 60 Senators, including you, voted for the Protect America Act (PAA), which gives the Administration increased ability to engage in warrantless wiretapping;

14) After the PAA became law, several members of Congress indicated the Administration had warned them of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack upon Congress, which bore upon their votes;

15) Subsequent investigation reveals there was no such imminent threat;

16) In the ensuing weeks since the passage of the PAA, the President has claimed that the members of the “Gang of Eight” in Congress had been fully briefed on the warrantless wiretapping program;

17) At least three members of the “Gang of Eight” have indicated that they were not so briefed;

18) The President continues to claim that the warrantless wiretapping program was undertaken in response to 9/11.

Your response from January 22, 2008, via email, was remarkable, not only for the time it took to reach me (a mere six months), but for the amazing turnaround in your position on the matter:

I introduced an amendment on the Senate floor that would limit this grant of immunity. Under my amendment, cases against the telecommunications companies would go to the FISA Court for judicial review. The Court would only provide immunity if it finds that the alleged assistance was not provided, that assistance met legal requirements, or that a company had a good faith, reasonable belief that assistance was legal.

I believe that this approach strikes the correct balance: it maintains court review and a judicial determination of whether companies provided assistance that they should have known violated the law.

I have also filed an amendment to restore FISA’s exclusivity, to ensure that no surveillance program can proceed outside the law in the way that the Terrorist Surveillance Program did for more than five years.

After reading your response, I responded the next day, with a facsimile that repeated the timeline, and included an additional point:

19) On January 10, 2008, it became publicly known that telecommunications companies had cut off FBI wiretaps because the bills had not been paid quickly enough to suit the companies.

I then received a letter via U.S. Mail that appeared to me to be a word-for-word repeat of your email.  I am unsure whether you responded to my second facsimile at all, but suffice it to say that I was then clear about your position: you favored your judicial review that would grant immunity to telecommunications companies for a “good faith” belief in the legality something that they knew was illegal for over 30 years.

And so now the Senate is on the verge of voting on a bill that would go so much further than your pathetic “balanced” approach, in that the question of illegality of the wiretapping would never enter into the judicial review at all; rather, the review would be limited to deciding whether the companies were told they would somehow be protected by the Administration for breaking the law, and if they were, they become immune.

One has to wonder how we could have fallen so far into this Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole where “they told me I could” becomes the justification for excusing unlawful conduct.  I think it is rather clear than when an important decision maker in the process moves from “I believe that the electronic surveillance program was not conducted in accordance with U.S. law” to “I introduced an amendment on the Senate floor that would limit this grant of immunity” that the responsibility lies, to a significant degree, with that decision maker, namely you.

From a negotiation standpoint, what you did makes no sense at all.  Your amendment was a virtual capitulation from the beginning of the process that already gave the Administration more than it should have ever expected.  There is no precedent in American law that would give intentional actors retroactive civil immunity for their acts, until you made such a notion possible.  So, when Representative Hoyer began the negotiations that led to this bill, his side had already conceded a point that should not have been part of the calculus at all.

Further, I see no reason at all why the right of the American people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, was ever a negotiable point in the first place.  That such a notion would have occurred to you makes me doubt your commitment to the Constitution and the People of the State of California, whom, I would like to remind you, you were elected to serve.  We value our personal rights, as set forth in the very first provision of our State’s constitution:

All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights.  Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.

Finally, any notion that these companies acted in anything that would approach “good faith” is completely undermined by their eagerness to shut off the wiretaps for slow payment (and there has never been any suggestion that the government would not pay eventually) even if these taps were of great importance to ongoing investigations.  The companies were not concerned with any notions of patriotism; they were only in it for the money.  For you or anyone to maintain that telecom immunity must be passed in order to keep us from “being attacked by terrorists,” is simply an insult.  As I noted above, the illegal program was instituted before September 11, 2001, and it did not protect us then.  This was an illegal, ineffective program that has produced nothing good in the short term, and promises to produce nothing but bad for our civil liberties in the long term.

Fortunately for the People of California, we have at least one Senator who still respects us, the things that make us strong, and our Constitution.  She and a dedicated group of her colleagues have managed to put the brakes on what has felt like a runaway train that would destroy our civil liberties.  With what now seems like the luxury of time (a scant two weeks), perhaps you can reflect upon the fiasco that that you would create by supporting the FISA bill, and finally come to understand that it does no good and much harm.

Moreover, even if you were to decide that ultimately this compromise is somehow the right thing to do, there is simply no need to do it hastily.  We still do not know exactly what the telecommunications companies did, upon whom it was done, and we have no idea whether it produced anything at all that would make anyone safer.  I feel that as to the last point, it did not, or else this Administration, which has little or no regard for the protection of state secrets, except when it feels such secrecy is politically advantageous, would have already disclosed it publicly.

I know that there is a political calculation going on here, but I would like to suggest to you that what appears to be the conventional wisdom on national security is no longer reflective of how the American people (and certainly the people of California) truly feel.  We are not ready to cower at the first sign of a threat on our soil, and we are ready to respond not in fear, but with the strength born of our principles of justice and liberty.

There is no doubt that a significant cadre of politicians will try to make an issue out of the failure to pass this bad bill, but their efforts will not succeed as they may have if this were 2003.  This Administration is the most unpopular in history, and the political difficulties that would inure to you and those on the side of liberty is not worth avoiding when compared to the massive unearned benefit the Administration and its supporters in Congress would gain from the bill’s passage.

Finally, if this is indeed such an important decision to make, there is no reason why it cannot be made by the next Congress, and a new President.  There is every reason to believe that the next President will be someone who understands and appreciates the U.S. Constitution, rather than referring to it as a “g*******d piece of paper,” and I would much prefer that he make the final decision before signing any bill of this importance.   Any investigation that is in place has not been, and will not be affected by not enacting the bill, and if there is a need to collect new information, the Administration can do what it always could have done: GET A WARRANT.

You should be grateful to Senators Boxer, Feingold, Dodd, and the others who have held back this dangerous juggernaut of a bill that would help only a privileged few and cause irreparable harm to this country, its people, and its reason for existence.  They have given you what you, for no good reason, have declined to get for yourself: time to come to the right decision, and the only decision you can make with a good conscience (assuming you have one).  NOTE: I omitted the italicized parenthetical from the final letter, as I decided it might be a little “over the top.”

I urge you to take a cue from your constituents and act from strength and not from fear.  Please oppose any FISA legislation that includes telecommunications company immunity, and please support the Constitution and an American system of justice that does not reward those who break the law.

Very Truly Yours,


After trying for so long to make the good Senator understand my position, and in that time seeing her position move further away from mine, I am left with the distinct impression that Senator Feinstein really does not care what people like me (that would be Californians and Democrats) think.  I sincerely hope that within the limited time we have before this legislation gets back on the Senate floor, I, and others like me, can make an impression on her.

Sen. Boxer On FISA

If you’re following the FISA battle, you may know that Sen. Feingold and Dodd have vowed to filibuster the full bill when it comes to the floor for a vote.  That’s slightly less promising than it sounds.  The motion to proceed has already been filed by Sen. Reid, and so without the votes on the Dodd-Feingold filibuster, it will be broken.  They can stretch out the bill, hopefully to the July 4 recess, but in order to stop it in its tracks you would need less than 60 votes for cloture.

One of those votes may be Sen. Boxer, who just delivered this statement on the floor of the Senate:

One of the most basic tenets of our freedom is justice, and at the heart of justice lies the search for truth.

Throughout history, whenever the United States government has violated the trust of the American people, we have always worked to regain that trust by seeking the truth and allowing for a full examination of the abuses of government power.

In 1975, the Church Committee-which would later become the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence-looked into allegations of covert and illegal spying by the federal government on Americans.

What did the Committee find?  The Committee found that the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, and the CIA had engaged in spying on the political activities of American citizens.

As a result, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978, setting up a new court with authority to approve electronic surveillance on a case by case basis.

But in late 2005, we learned that the U.S. government had again violated the trust of the American people when the New York Times published a story exposing a warrantless  surveillance program authorized by President Bush shortly after 9/11.

Since that time, Congress and the American people have been grappling with the disclosure, and working, with absolutely no help from the Bush Administration, to find out exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, what we have before us today is a bill that would not only deny the Court the ability to finally make a judicial determination as to the legality of the NSA program, but would effectively guarantee immunity for the telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Administration and violated the privacy of their customers.

Now, I would support granting the telecom companies indemnification, but this immunity provision blocks us from finding the truth.

I know that many of my colleagues in the Senate think we know enough about this program.

But we do not know enough.  The Bush Administration trampled on the Constitution, and we are not doing anything in this bill to provide accountability.

This bill goes along with the premise that we hold up the constitution when it suits us, and we set it aside when it hinders what we want to do.

Simply put, this bill is a fig leaf that attempts to hide the truth about the warrantless surveillance program at the expense of the rights of our citizens.

And if we vote for it today, we are perpetuating a cover-up.

However, she has not said whether or not she supports the filibuster.  You can call her right now:

Barbara Boxer

(202) 224-3553

It’s important to note that our hope here is to DELAY.  The odds of limiting cloture to 61 people are remote.  But if Dodd and Feingold take up all their time on the floor, and enough Senators are there to help and ask questions, we can stretch this thing out.  DFA has some sample text for Sen. Boxer:

“I calling to demand Senator (Boxer or Feinstein) support a filibuster of any bill that will ultimately grant immunity to telecommunications companies who spied on innocent Americans. Can I count on the Senator to stand up to President Bush and his fear mongering?”

DFA, True Majority, and MoveOn are working on this.

Democrats Working to Increase Participation in Democracy

(California Young Democrat leaders have begun organizing for AB 1819 on Facebook! – promoted by Bob Brigham)

While the California Republican Party is busy defending tax breaks for yacht owners, Democrats are busy working to decrease barriers to voting and increase participation in democracy. The California Democratic Party Platform even talks about increasing participation:

To promote honest leadership and open government, California Democrats will:


  • Increase voter participation by advocating for extended voting hours and/or days, scheduling elections on weekends, or by declaring Election Day a holiday

While I agree that would be great, the current perspective of the CDP Platform is to seek increases in the percentage of participation among registered voters. Yet there is even greater potential to increase voter participation by reforming barriers to voter registration. This is the premise behind recent national legislation by Democrats in Congress and a bill by Assemblyman Curren Price for California.

These are two pieces of legislation that deserve to be followed closely, which means you’ll probably need to follow on the blogs as so far both reforms have been largely ignored by traditional media.

Federal Election Day Registration Legislation

If you want to increase participation in democracy and provide a crucial check on GOP efforts to disenfranchise voters, the most common sense reform available has already been proven effective:

Election Day Registration (EDR), also known as “Same Day Registration,” permits eligible citizens to register and vote on Election Day. Currently, eight states have EDR. A ninth, North Carolina, allows for Same Day Registration at early voting sites. EDR states typically boast voter turnout rates that are generally 10-12 percent higher than states without EDR, and report few problems with fraud, costs or administrative complexity. EDR significantly increases the opportunity to cast a vote and participate in American democracy.

This really is common sense. In the 2006 midterms, 40% of election news stories were aired in the final week — after the registration deadline in 42 states. Not only does EDR help new voters, but prevents disenfranchisement by allowing an easy remedy for voters who arrive at the polls only to find out there was a problem with their registration (the solution to Katherine Harris purges). Furthermore, this reform is more secure than mailed registration as the registrant is there in person and significantly reduces the volume of staff intensive provisional ballots.

Our friends at Progressive States (disclosure: I helped incubate the organization a few years ago) have been promoting EDR at the state level, but as much as I appreciate lateral redeployment of progress from state-to-state, we need to move forward nationally as all Americans deserve the benefits of such reform. That is why I was delighted to see that the day after the Bush Supreme Court ruled in favor of GOP disenfranchising voter identification laws, Democrats in Washington introduced federal Election Day Registration legislation:

U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) are introducing legislation to help more Americans register to vote by allowing Election Day registration at polling places for all federal elections. The Election Day Registration Act addresses chronic problems with the American electoral process – low voter turnout and archaic voter registration laws. Election Day registration is also seen as preferable to advance registration since voters are actually present when they register, reducing opportunities for fraud. The bill’s introduction comes days after the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana voter ID law that seriously impedes the ability of elderly and low-income Americans to vote. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Jon Tester (D-MT), who represent states that recently enacted Election Day registration, are also cosponsors of the bill.

“The right to vote is at the heart of our democracy, and we should constantly be looking for ways to make it easier for Americans to exercise that right,” Feingold said. “Election Day registration has worked well in Wisconsin for more than 30 years and is a major reason why Wisconsin is a national leader in voter turnout. By allowing people to register in person on Election Day, we can bring more people into the process, which only strengthens our democracy.”

“For over 33 years, Minnesota’s same day registration law has helped produce the highest voter turnout of any state,” said Klobuchar. “Same day registration works, it encourages people to be engaged and interested in the issues facing our country – this bill gives a voice to every American who wants to vote.”

Indeed, Senator Klobuchar is correct in the results and the comparison between states’ differing approaches to unnecessary voter registration deadlines is stark.

From Future Majority PAC’s EDR page

This is important federal legislation and is well worth spending a few minutes to contact your representative and our Senators to politely ask that they co-sponsor this legislation. Please leave a comment with any progress on this front as I’ll be keeping a list to mark progress in getting the entire California delegation to join up. This is a “no brainer” in the words of Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

California Assembly Bill 1819 to Expand Pre-Registration

In California, Assemblyman Curren Price is lowering barriers to participation at the other end of the registration window. His AB 1819 is an extremely forward thinking bill that could bring the youth organizing energy we’ve seen the last few cycles on college campuses into our high schools.

Progressive legislation, authored by Assemblymember Curren Price (D- Inglewood), that will allow young Californians to “pre-register” to vote at the age of 16 passed through the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee.

“Research shows that early involvement in politics leads to lifelong involvement,” said Assemblymember Price.  “Facilitating participation by younger voters empowers and engages our youth and ultimately strengthens our entire political process.”

According to the Secretary of State, more than 7.2 million eligible voters in California are not registered to vote – nearly one-third of California’s eligible voters.  Among young voters, participation is even lower – according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census, more than 45 percent of eligible voters in California between 18 and 24 years of age were not registered to vote in 2004.  Furthermore, while participation by younger voters has increased in the last few elections, California ranks 36th in the nation for turnout among young voters.

As currently written, the bill would go into effect on January 1, 2010 and while I anticipate it would increase interest in that year’s midterm elections, the long-term effects of facilitating an expectation of participation in our high schools would be a boom for democracy. It is great to see AB 1819 co-sponsored by incoming Democratic Party leaders Karen Bass and Darrell Steinberg as I believe it is safe to assume California Republicans will throw a tantrum at the thought of expanding the pre-registration period from current law which allows pre-registration for those turning 18 prior to the next election. In fact, the bill was passed out of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee on a party-line vote, with Republicans apparently having a problem with this:

Research shows that people who get involved in the political process at a young age are much more likely to become lifelong voters, so facilitating participation by younger voters can have positive long term effects on overall voter participation.


AB 1819 does not change the voting age, but by allowing 16 and 17 year olds to register to vote when they go to the DMV to get their first driver’s licenses, or when they are taking civics and government classes in high school, it will help those individuals take the first steps towards a lifetime of participation in our democracy.

I applaud Assemblyman Price’s focus on facilitating participatory democracy. With the Millennial generation the largest in our country’s history, such a focus will be felt decades down the road.

While we are lucky this cycle to have Barack Obama’s National Voter Registration Drive (beginning next Saturday with events in California from San Diego to Ukiah), it is legislation like this that will institutionalize increased participation regardless of the dynamics of a particular election.

And as long as Republican remains a slur, having more people vote will decrease the voice of yacht owners voting for tax loopholes. Which is why the GOP is fighting the idea of more people (who despise them) voting instead of reversing the actions that created the loathing. Until such an unlikely coming to terms with reality, removing barriers to voter registration will disproportionately benefit Democrats.

A near-term game changer for Democrats and a long-term game changer for democracy.

Mike Thompson Moves Us Forward With Iraq Withdrawal Plan

(Wonderful stuff by Thompson. – promoted by juls)

Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), whose first congresssional district represents part of Yolo County, has just cosponsored the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007 with Senator (and presidential hopeful) Barack Obama (D-IL) and Philadelpia Congressman and Iraq War vet Patrick Murphy (D-PA) to set a timetable for ending our occupation of Iraq. As a Vietnam Vet and tireless champion of veterans’ issues, Thompson knows firsthand the human cost of staying in a pointless war, and was one of the nearly 2/3 of House Democrats who had the sense to vote against going into Iraq in the first place. The details of the bill are as follows:

The binding legislation ends President Bush’s escalation by capping the number of troops at January 10, 2007 levels, puts forward specific benchmarks for success in Iraq and establishes a timeline to redeploy our troops. Redeployment, according to the bill, would begin no later than May 1, 2007, with the goal of all combat brigades redeployed by March 31, 2008 – a date consistent with the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Troops would be sent either home to their families in the U.S., to Afghanistan where more troops are needed to fight the war on terror or would remain in the region to train Iraqis, protect against more violence and perform counterterrorist activities. The Iraq War De-Escalation Act will refocus the efforts of American armed forces on Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden and urges the president to send, within 60 days, a Special Envoy to Iraq to begin the important work of diplomacy with key nations in the region.

In addition, if the Iraqi government meets certain political, diplomatic and reconstruction benchmarks outlined by the Administration, the plan allows for the temporary suspension (for no more than 90 days) of troops redeployments, however only with congressional approval.

Senator Russ Feingold has a similar bill out there, similarly titled The Iraq Redeployment Bill of 2007, that would push the withdrawal timetable to 6 rather than 14 months. Feingold has been on fire recently, and had some choice words for his fellow senators in this recent diary at daily kos, this audio interview with Dave Sirota, and last night’s appearance on Countdown. Hopefully between the Thompson-Obama-Murphy bill and Feingold’s bill, they can put something together.

If you’re in his district, you can email here to let Mike Thompson know that he’s got support on the ground for this bill, if you’re so inclined.

originally posted at surf putah

Two Minutes for Debra Bowen

( – promoted by SFBrianCL)

Senator Russ Feingold’s Progressive Patriots Fund is having an online contest to see which Secretary of State candidate the campaign will support. Voting for Debra Bowen a quick way we can help her campaign and if she wins it might help give her the national exposure she deserves.

The voting should be tight. To be pefectly honest, I almost voted for Jennifer Brunner, who is my favorite candidate in Ohio.

Go vote.

Yes, this is partially a ploy for Feingold to get more email addresses, but he rocks and writes emails that are worth reading.

CA-Gov: Angelides wins Feingold’s Progressive Patriots PAC Prize

Phil Angelides is now a Progressive Patriot!  However, if you think about it, shouldn’t he have won…by a lot.  California is, of course the biggest state, with the most progressives.  So, this sort of should be a no-brainer.  And Phil, sure enough, won by a large margin.  Congratulations Phil!

Feingold announced today that Phil Angelides, Democratic Candidate for California Governor, is the winner of the fifth “Pick a Progressive Patriot” contest. After a week of online voting, in which thousands of people from the online community participated, Mr. Angelides won the latest contest as he attempts to unseat Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this fall.  Phil Angelides will receive a $5,000 contribution from the Progressive Patriots Fund.
“I am proud to support Phil Angelides. Phil is running for Governor to increase educational opportunities, provide higher quality health care to more people, and protect taxpayers by fighting corporate corruption.” Feingold said. “I am happy to contribute $5,000 to his campaign and am pleased to add him to our growing list of Progressive Patriots.”(Prog. Patriots’ PAC 6/29/06)

Help Jerry McNerney Today

(Make your voice heard. – promoted by jsw)

Russ Feingold’s Progressive Patriots Fund (a PAC) is having a special vote at Yearly Kos to see which candidate will receive a $5,000 donation from them.  They are not publicizing the vote outside of Yearly Kos, so very few votes will be cast.  This means that each vote matters much more than in the other votes by the PPF. 

Please help Jerry McNerney, and help us fight Richard Pombo, by voting for McNerney at the following URL by the end of Sunday. 


California Blog Roundup, 4/26/06

Today’s Blog Roundup is on the flip. Teasers: Feingold in LA, CA-11, CA-50, CA-36, gas gouging, a little on the Dem Gov Primary, and a lot of neat stuff in “Other”.

Feingold Blogger Lunch

OK, first of all, some Los Angeles bloggers got to lunch with Russ Feingold yesterday. Here are their reports:


  • Progressive 11th attended the Tracy Candidates’ Forum and reports back. Prog11 supports McNerney, near as I can tell, but assuming his report of Filson’s attitude toward the grassroots is correct, it isn’t very happy-making. More important, those grassroots are the people you need to run through brick walls for you in the general, so you might not want to dump on them in the primary.
  • Jerry McNerney was interviewd on the Quake today.



    Marcy Winograd, the primary challenger to Jane Harman in CA-36, introduced herself at MyDD (and yes, we need to send them an email). The comments are interesting. Down with Tyranny is all for Marcy.

Black Gold! Texas Tea!

Dem Gov Primary