Tag Archives: Bob Filner

Brian Bilbray and Carl DeMaio: San Diego’s Republican Shapeshifters

If there’s one thing that’s been particularly consistent to campaigns of the far right in San Diego this fall, it’s the unusually desperate attempts to hide the real agenda from voters. It’s one that should be cause for optimism as long as voters pay attention, and betrays an almost impressive self-awareness from the top of the GOP that the party’s agenda has drifted well outside the mainstream.

From the special exemptions of Prop 32 to Brian Bilbray’s teetering re-election bid to Carl DeMaio’s bizarre mayoral campaign, extreme conservatives are doing everything they can to hide their record and who they are.

For the backers of Proposition 32, the deception was part of the design from the very beginning. They surveyed the political landscape and found that, unsurprisingly, nobody wants millionaires and corporations to be able to buy off our political process. Rather than abandon a wildly unpopular idea, they came up with a different plan: fake it.  

Cross-posted from San Diego Free Press

That’s Prop 32, from the same white knights of campaign finance reform who broke the system to begin with by using the Citizens United case to overthrow existing regulations on special interest money. This year, they simply took it a step further, called the plan reform and packed in enough special exemptions to create a system that only works for corporations and millionaires.

It makes sense because everyone wants campaign finance reform. But the reason they want campaign finance reform is specifically because of what Prop 32’s backers have done and continue to do.

The hundreds of millions of unregulated, unlimited political cash flowing into SuperPACs exists specifically because of Prop 32’s backers, and now its being funded by the Koch Brothers and other super-rich conservatives that saw Citizens United as the starting pistol to buy off democracy. Prop 32’s hoping to trick voters. Will they see through it?

At the same time, there’s Brian Bilbray. He has cobbled together a decades-long career of faking moderation when election time comes around, but the reality just doesn’t match the myth he’s built for himself when push comes to shove. Bilbray wants to cast himself as an environmentalist, but mustered just a 17% score on the League of Conservation Voters 2011 scorecard. And it was Bilbray’s early work trying to gut the Clean Water Act that once inspired Donna Frye to become a clean water activist.

He’s done his best to avoid the ramifications of the national GOP’s war on women, right on through to Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ comments. But the reality of his record remains, including a pitiful 8% score from Planned Parenthood’s scorecard. Brian Bilbray may not want to be lumped in with the war on women, but if that’s what he’s hoping for, maybe he shouldn’t have signed up for it in the first place.

All of that could maybe be overlooked if Bilbray had taken up the mantle of the millions of Americans devastated when the economy fell apart near the end of the Bush administration. But while Bilbray will certainly have populist talking points on the stump, it’s worth remembering that he voted for the Paul Ryan plan to dismantle Medicare and destroy Social Security in response to increased economic security.

And Bilbray’s plan for economic recovery? One part rewarding tax-evading corporate interests, one part Let them eat a Yacht Race! Not exactly your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.

For Carl DeMaio, the attempt to whitewash nearly twenty years as a professional politician has been even more depraved than elsewhere. After coming up with the likes of Newt Gingrich, Virginia Thomas, the Jack Abramoff crew, and the Koch Brothers, it seems to have dawned on Carl that the city of San Diego, well… really doesn’t like that at all.

During his tenure on the council, DeMaio has received the lowest cumulative score on the annual Environmental Quality Report Card. And despite being appointed since joining the council, DeMaio hasn’t appeared in the minutes of a single meeting of the San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Joint Powers Authority since January 2011.

Reality didn’t matter to DeMaio though when he took a week out to declare himself an environmentalist. He didn’t get very far with that, so he moved on to a plan to encourage biking by investing in more roads. Doesn’t make sense? It isn’t supposed to. It’s just supposed to distract from his career-long record on the wrong side of these issues.

Word on the street is, DeMaio spent some time recently trying for an endorsement from the Victory Fund, which led to an unexpected declaration from Carl that he was pro-choice. It has to be considered unexpected since it was certainly news to Planned Parenthood. Why? Because despite the clear reasons that choice matters at the local level, DeMaio has always refused to fill out Planned Parenthood’s questionnaire. And today, if you’re looking for pro-choice candidates in November, you sure aren’t going to find Carl DeMaio on the list.

There are still more examples. He runs as a fiscal conservative while voting against hundreds of millions in taxpayer savings and getting the BS treatment from Mayor Jerry Sanders. He tried out medical marijuana but that fell flat once anyone read past Carl’s own statement.

He took a quick stab at being for the middle class and affordable housing over the summer, trying to pass off support from a landlord group as support for tenants. The claims were called “preposterous,” and the former CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission said in no uncertain terms that “Carl DeMaio is not an advocate for more affordable housing.”

Heck, DeMaio has even tried reaching out to the Latino community while trumpeting an endorsement from Pete Wilson, the father of Proposition 187. And after casting the only vote on the council in support of Arizona’s SB1070, his Latino outreach has featured a plan to have local police enforce federal immigration law.

The most amazing part is the special brand of doublethink that DeMaio has going on in all this. He isn’t just making up an entirely new self for the general election, he’s doing it while criticizing others for the same thing. Like last week at the KPBS mayoral debate:

“The U-T CEO mentioned that he got support from labor, and yet labor has not supported it, that he got support from business groups, but very few groups that are out there have supported the plan,” DeMaio said. “And so I just think that the email probably was making some claims that are not grounded in reality.”

Now, it wouldn’t be shocking to discover the UT making claims that are not grounded in reality. But compare that to DeMaio’s recent record. He’s an affordable housing advocate unless you ask affordable housing advocates. He’s an environmentalist unless you ask environmentalists. He’s a medical marijuana advocate unless you ask medical marijuana advocates. He’s pro-choice unless you ask Planned Parenthood. He’s a friend to the Latino community except for wanting them to be harassed by the police. He’s a fiscal conservative except for imposing a billion dollar tax increase without a vote of the public.

But when Doug Manchester and John Lynch — the very same duo who helped DeMaio defeat essentially the same tax increase in 2005 — don’t poll well, then maybe reality has come loose.

Does it work? Maybe not with anyone who has the time and interest to dig into the substance. But those who never catch more than headlines because they have lives full of working to make ends meet, struggling with health care bills, working into retirement thanks to Wall Street, trying to figure out what to do after a foreclosure… they understandably won’t ever have that time.

And that’s the whole idea. Keep up the game of whack-a-mole long enough that voters never get a chance to examine the truth.

It’s said that great writers steal outright, so here’s a heartfelt tip of the cap to the inimitable Ann Richards before saying: Poor Carl.

He’s never once had a job that asked him to appeal to a majority, or even anyone resembling moderates. So now that he’s stuck in a general election, he’s like Columbus discovering America. He’s found the environment. He’s found the middle class and working people. He’s found women. He’s found the sick and suffering. He’s found Latinos.

Poor Carl. He can’t help it. San Diego just doesn’t want what he’s been selling his whole life.

I’m proud to work for San Diegans for Bob Filner for Mayor 2012

Carl DeMaio, the next Scott Walker

Statewide, we’re all gearing up to beat back Proposition 32, that tries to give full financial control of our elections to corporations and millionaires that have already been running amok since Citizens United came down.

But down in San Diego, we’re already fighting what comes next. Carl DeMaio is running for mayor with big designs on becoming a national sensation for the far right, and if he gets momentum now he just might pull it off.

Prominent state and national GOP figures are already putting on Orange County fundraisers billing DeMaio as “The Next Scott Walker,” and his calling card has become the string of roadmaps and pathways that mirror Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future. DeMaio knows how to become a champion for the far right, and he’s executing the playbook from DC step by step.

It’s a record that should have a familiar ring to anyone who’s been following the presidential race. Plucked out of college by Newt Gingrich, he worked on the Contract for America before moving on to the Reason Institute to have his work funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers and Scaife Family and fell in with the Abramoff crowd.

In a sadly familiar story, he made a personal fortune after starting companies to help the government cut jobs and outsource work, and help contractors to profit off the deals. Playing both sides of the street paid off handsomely for him.

The boldness of his hypocrisy and the things he outright makes up could almost be admirable if they weren’t so damaging. Running as a fiscal conservative, he’s orchestrated a new billion dollar tax payable directly to corporations. Even though voters rejected the same tax twice, he simply imposed it anyways.

He’s roiled many in San Diego’s LGBT community by accepting big campaign checks from some of Prop 8’s biggest supporters despite being a gay candidate himself. Reportedly, the price of those donations was a promise that “he would not push the gay agenda issues” as mayor.

Now in the general election, his claims have gotten even wilder.

After posting the worst cumulative score on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard since joining the city council, he’s declared himself an environmentalist based on nothing in particular.

He’s attempting to reach out to San Diego’s Latino community after announcing that local police should enforce federal immigration law and casting the only vote on city council defending Arizona’s SB1070 racial profiling law.

And now he’s announced he’s pro-choice, which would be great… but big news to Planned Parenthood. Of the four leading candidates for mayor in the primary, DeMaio was the only one not rated pro-choice by Planned Parenthood.

DeMaio’s gamble is that not enough people have been paying attention and the media won’t push back enough for all these bizarre claims to backfire on him. He’ll have millions in TV ads to make his case, and it remains to be seen whether the plan will work.

He’s already spearheaded dramatic attacks on public workers, championed outsourcing, and promised that he owes favors to the developers and contractors who are bankrolling his campaign. Along the way, he hasn’t hidden his plan to bring this agenda to the state level next.

If the state and national GOP is lining up to spend millions electing the next Scott Walker in San Diego, it’s time to push back. You can learn much more about what’s on the horizon at DirtyDeMaio, and stay up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

I’m proud to work for San Diegans for Bob Filner for Mayor 2012

Bob Filner declares for San Diego Mayor… sort of

Cross-posted and tweaked from Two Cathedrals

Breaking yesterday through Twitter and evolving since, Congressman Bob Filner has apparently made an official public announcement that he’ll be running for mayor of San Diego.

As campaign roll-outs go, it wasn’t the most elegant beginning, and the legitimate process story continues to bubble up. A full launch can still be done in the future without losing significant impact, but in the meantime, the story and its continued unfolding underscores that the horserace has begun no matter what, and the vacuum will be filled.

While some will continue to hash through the reliability of information and the ‘is he REALLY?’ sideshow, what is clear is that Filner is now considered a part of the mayoral race; which means there’s a Democrat in the race, which means that two sides are presumed in discussion of mayoral issues.

It’s a big deal in San Diego, because we haven’t had two full-strength sides engaged in a city-wide debate in a number of years. It didn’t happen during last year’s Prop D campaign. It didn’t happen in the 2008 mayoral race when Democrats failed to field a viable candidate. The 2004 mayoral race turned into the fluke three-way race between Republicans Dick Murphy and Ron Roberts and last-minute write-in Democrat Donna Frye. You would have to go back more than a decade for the last time we’ve had a legitimate campaign addressing the comprehensive future of the city in which both major parties were seriously engaged.

Filner’s entry into the discussion addresses that, because he has the experience and personal campaign infrastructure to overcome existing deficiencies that have hamstrung previous efforts at a full-scale, two-sided debate about the issues that face this city.

And that means that this isn’t just a referendum anymore on Republican candidates. Not on Councilmember Carl DeMaio’s extreme views, or whether Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher has the clout to stand up to downtown developers. Nor is it just musing over whether District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis can indulge enough of her moderate tendencies to pick up establishment Democrats. It’s a real debate.

Now we can have a stronger conversation about how pension reform doesn’t have to be debilitating to be effective. About how we don’t have to stop investing in the basic quality of life for our neighborhoods to put our fiscal house in order. That we can remain committed to smart development and addressing blight without handing over the keys of city hall to developers.

Looking forward a bit to the musical chairs, newly-elected State Senator Juan Vargas (40th) is expected to run for Filner’s vacated seat (Vargas previously challenged Filner in the primary), and newly-elected Assemblymember Ben Hueso (79th) is expected to be among those aiming to succeed Vargas. So the fun will hardly be contained moving forward.

URGENT: Afghanistan_HR3699 needs your help

Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA9], proved she has a backbone when in 2001 she stood up against war and became the only member of congress to vote “No” on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), and she was oh so right.

Now, Barbara has again taken the lead in trying to stop the insane decision to expand and escalate the war in Afghanistan. Her bill, H.R. 3699 “To prohibit any increase in the number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan,” has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee. Link: http://www.govtrack.us/congres…  


Yvette Clarke [D-NY11]  Emanuel Cleaver [D-MO5]   Steve Cohen [D-TN9]

John Conyers [D-MI14]   Donna Edwards [D-MD4]     Keith Ellison [D-MN5]

Bob Filner [D-CA51]  Alan Grayson [D-FL8]  Raul Grijalva [D-AZ7]

Maurice Hinchey [D-NY22]  Michael Honda [D-CA15]  Sheila Jackson-Lee [D-TX18] Dennis Kucinich [D-OH10]  John Lewis [D-GA5]      James McDermott [D-WA7]

James McGovern [D-MA3]    Jerrold Nadler [D-NY8]  Fortney Stark [D-CA13] Edolphus Towns [D-NY10]  Nydia Velázquez [D-NY12]Maxine Waters [D-CA35]

Diane Watson [D-CA33]    Lynn Woolsey [D-CA6]

As you can see, MOST of our 53 California representatives have NOT signed onto the bill. No Waxman. No Berman. No Sherman. No Schiff. Just those heroes in bold above are on this short list. CONTACT your representative to ask that they co-sponsor and support this important legislation to take back the war powers as in our constitution. And thank those who have signed on.

Here’s the link to the committee: http://www.govtrack.us/congres…  The Democratic Chair is Rep. Ike Skelton [D-MO4] with the ranking Republican member Rep. Howard McKeon [R-CA25] (Santa Clarita and east), Rep. Duncan Hunter [R-CA52], and the TWO DEMOCRATS from CA:

Rep. Susan Davis [D-CA53] (San Diego) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez [D-CA47] (Garden Grove-Santa Ana).

Please CONTACT these people on the committee right away and ask that this bill be brought to a vote immediately. With the impending announcement coming from Obama, there is no time to lose.////

Politics Waxing, American Warrior Support Waning

Here’s an email I received recently from a person who refused to help American Combat Veterans of War because a few Democratic politicians were listed on our website as supporters, even though just as many Republicans support our mission as Democrats. For background, ACVOW is a San Diego based nonprofit that recruits combat veteran volunteers to mentor our young warriors, helping them cope with combat stress.  ACVOW’s response follows. It’s a bit lengthy, but I hope you read it.

Dear Sir;

Yesterday, outside of a Stater Bros. store a gentleman from your organization was soliciting signatures for a ballot. This is not a problem, and your program is probably worthwhile. However, the persons endorsing your program, in my opinion, are a not good representatives to promote your cause. If Bob Filner & Susan Davis lent their support or name to any organization I would never contribute any amount of money. I would not ask any friends or relatives to contribute either because Filner and Davis, in my opinion, are disasterous for San Diego and CA. When I saw their names I knew immediately that I would not contribute. There are others that believe differently, but I do know that there are many who also believe as I do.




Yes, I remember speaking with you and frankly, I apologize for losing my demeanor. It was unprofessional for me to do so. Frustrated with the ease at which many people dismiss our young warriors with a wave of their hand, I had lost my patience when you suggested American Combat Veterans of War was not a legitimate organization simply from our support by certain public officials.

Under the surface of our great young warriors lurks an enemy for which many lack the training to fight. Having served our country on the battlefield, they are rewarded with an economy that has little room for them and trauma that continues to haunt. The combat veteran volunteers of ACVOW have been mentoring and healing our young warriors suffering from combat stress since 2001. Our presence at supermarkets is to remind our community of the sacrifices our troops continue to make for our country on and off the battlefield. If I have spoiled anyone’s shopping experience by asking for a signature, be certain that I lose no sleep over it.  

Many people want the freedom to go to the market without being pestered by petitioners. In our case, however, it is the very men and women requesting signatures that have given us that freedom. I am sure you would agree that American combat veterans have sacrificed considerably for America and yet, rather than spend their weekends at picnics or summer barbeques, our volunteers choose to stand their post with clipboards ready, to remind you that without commitment, the faded yellow ribbon on the back of your Chevy Tahoe remains an empty gesture.

It is unfortunate that some Americans cannot remove their personal political prejudices from our national interest to ensure our young warriors are treated with the dignity and honor they have earned. You will not contribute to ACVOW because Bob Filner, Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives and a Democrat, has endorsed our work. You will not contribute to ACVOW because Susan Davis, Chair of the Personnel Subcommittee for the House Armed Services Committee and a Democrat, recognizes us as an asset to our young warriors. We gladly and enthusiastically accept their recognition of our services as we do with Congressman Brian Bilbray and Mayor Jerry Sanders as well as City Council members Kevin Faulconer and Carl De Maio, all conservatives. Your decision not to support us says more about you and the political climate reverberating from partisan politics than it does about the legitimacy of American Combat Veterans of War.

Are you so uncompromising with your political rivals that even our warriors must suffer from the ideological fallout? I hope yours is not a common position as you suggest and that the contentious partisan divide that has beleaguered the debate on health care does not creep its way into care for the treatment of our troops.

American Combat Veterans of War is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and by law, completely nonpolitical. That does not mean our individual members do not embrace their own political beliefs, however. You may be surprised to know that even as veterans, we are evenly divided, Democrats to Republicans, in our group. On our own time we enjoy political discourse over a beer or two like everyone else, but when it comes to our mission and care for our troops, politics plays no role whatsoever, allowing us to effectively help thousands of young warriors. May America heed such a lesson.

As I write this-indeed this very moment-our Camp Pendleton Marines are fighting courageously in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, protecting people for which they share almost no common interest, just so they have the freedom to vote at the polls-a luxury you and I may have taken for granted at times in our lives. And yet, when these kids return from the battlefield as changed men and women, suffering from an invisible wound with which they will struggle the rest of their lives, you refuse to contribute, not because of our political views, but because of your own.

The Veterans Administration estimates that twenty percent of our military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from some level of post traumatic stress. We believe that estimate to be far too conservative. It is not too late for you to help them, Libby. You can make a contribution at www.acvow.org and you do not have to compromise your political beliefs to do so. You just need the courage and wisdom to rise above them to see our warriors in need. May God bless them all.


Dino Maiolo

National Communications Director


Thirteen CA Legislators Rewarded by Carrots, Not Sticks Initiative

A new initiative organized by Howie Klein, Jane Hamsher, fellow Calitician Dante Atkins and myself to verbally and financially reward Congressmembers who pledge to vote down any healthcare bill that does not include the public option is catching fire today.  The objective is to use carrots as well as sticks to achieve progressive goals.  As I said in the diary kicking off this intiative at DailyKos:

Human beings are psychologically predictable creatures, much like Pavlov’s famous canine.  We do respond well to punishment, but we respond just as well if not better to positive reinforcement.  Do nothing but beat a dog with a stick, and the dog is likelier to be aggressive than lovingly loyal.  Do nothing but scream at a child, and the child will eventually fail to respond to her abusive parent.  Senators and Representatives, no matter how elevated, are still just people: the rules of psychological conditioning still apply.  If all we can do is scream at people who don’t do what we want, eventually no one will listen to us at all.

Utilizing Jane Hamsher’s signatory list, Howie Klein set up an ActBlue page called They Took the Pledge.  Spurred on by Jane Hamsher’s post, my dkos diary, Dante’s dkos diary, and Howie Klein’s efforts at Blue America PAC, the online effort has raised over $60,000 since this morning, becoming ActBlue’s top fundraising page.  And the media has begun to take note, with stories on CBS Online, Politico, and The Plum Line.

On the list are 13 deserving CA Legislators who could use your dollars and/or words of encouragement:

Judy Chu (CA-32)

Sam Farr (CA-17)

Bob Filner (CA-51)

Mike Honda (CA-15)

Barbara Lee (CA-09)

Grace Napolitano (CA-38)

Laura Richardson (CA-37)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34)

Linda Sanchez (CA-39)

Jackie Speier (CA-12)

Maxine Waters (CA-35)

Diane Watson (CA-33)

Lynn Woolsey (CA-06)

If you have the resources, please consider donations to our excellent California legislators.  For those who can’t chip in, DFA has a thank you action item to thank our healthcare heroes.

With an approach that uses more carrots and less sticks, hopefully we can encourage others in California and across the country to join these brave progressive leaders.

No Occupancy for Blackwater

I work for the Courage Campaign

The City of San Diego has decided against issuing a certificate of occupancy to Blackwater (pdf):

Dear Mr. Bonfiglio,

The City will not issue a certificate of occupancy for the above referenced project pursuant to Section 129.0114 of the San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC). The portions of the building identified for use as a shooting range and vocational/trade school shall not be occupied until a certificate of occupancy has been issued for this change of use or occupancy pursuant to SDMC Section 129.0113.

Which basically means that Blackwater can’t open up shop until going through a full public review process as ordered by the Mayor (replacing the previously planned stop-work order).  In the meantime though, San Diego’s development services director Kelly Broughton continues to play dumb, telling KPBS “I don’t see that I would have had any other choice but to approve it because it complied with our municipal code and the California Building Code.” Of course, it doesn’t comply at all, which is why Rep. Bob Filner, several members of the City Council, the City Attorney and Mayor have all now stepped in to correct the flawed process.

For his part, Blackwater spokesman Mike Neil is grasping almost laughably at straws in response:

Neil said Blackwater’s own analysis shows that the company is entitled to occupy the Otay Mesa facility and a delay could jeopardize Blackwater’s long-standing contract with the Navy to train sailors in anti-terrorism tactics. A delay could damage the company’s business reputation and “cause harm to national security.”

I’m really not impressed that Blackwater has decided that Blackwater is right. And if Blackwater is so concerned about hanging onto this contract, they might have wanted to engage in this process honestly. But at least they continue to blow off even the pretense that this would be a vocational school.  Not even lip service to the notion.  Finally, for all the lame bluster about the threat to national security if Blackwater loses this contract, let’s not lose sight of the fact that, even if this were true (obviously it’s not true and is in fact absurd), it’s not a good thing.  Blackwater’s contention is that San Diego should break its local government because the military can’t handle its own training.

Well that’s exactly what Donald Rumsfeld had in mind back in 2001 when he decided it was time to save the Pentagon from itself by privatizing everything in sight.  As I remember it, the ensuing years have demonstrated that Donald Rumsfeld is not right about very much, and this is one example. So even if Blackwater were right that its vital to military readiness- that would just be all the more reason to put the training back in the hands of the military. Blackwater has been nothing but trouble, and cementing any “necessity” for them would be wrong on so many levels. Good for their bottom line- which is what they care about- but not good for San Diego, the U.S. military, the country overall or the world at large.  Less Blackwater is the goal.

Jerry Sanders gets the Block Blackwater Message

Full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign

Local leaders gathered today outside the office of Mayor Jerry Sanders to present him with more than 2,500 signatures to the letter from San Diego Democratic Party Chair Jess Durfee calling for an investigation into Blackwater’s permit process.  There was a somewhat unexpected air of celebration to the event as it was announced yesterday that Mayor Sanders is calling for the city’s Chief Executive Officer to conduct a full review of the Blackwater permit process (of course now we’ll see what comes of it).

The stage was shared by Jess Durfee (who noted he knows a few things about vocational schools courtesy of a Master’s degree in vocational education), Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs, Humberto Peraza- district Chief of Staff for Rep. Filner, Francine Busby and Ray Lutz from Citizens’ Oversight Projects.

All the parties involved have been instrumental in the rapid and effective response to this new Blackwater situation.  Remember it’s been barely two weeks since the news originally broke of this new facility, yet here everyone was gathered to mark and celebrate a significant people-powered success story.

Today was a great opportunity to cement in no uncertain terms the coalition to Block Blackwater which has formed rapidly and forced action from the Mayor.  And we’re just getting warmed up.  There have been recent revelations that Blackwater is looking to expand operations at current facilities and open a new training facility in Idaho.  Why? Because they see the writing on the wall.  They know that Iraq isn’t going to last much longer, partly because they’ve behaved so criminally and partly because the war is such a debacle.  They know that their survival depends on diversifying and establishing new roles in a post-Bush/Iraq system.  It’s why they’re looking for a few good hundred million in new investment capital.  It’s because there’s no natural place for them to exist once they can’t get anymore handouts from the Bush Administration and their cronies.

Today was a victory. Tomorrow we’ll likely need another. But we’re developing the methods that win.

Rally to Block Blackwater Friday Morning

Full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign

When nobody was paying attention, Blackwater found another way into San Diego.  After watching every friendly politician in Potrero get recalled handily in February, Blackwater West quietly started pursuing permits to open a facility in the City of San Diego just three blocks from the U.S/Mexico border.  61,600 square feet, zoned for a vocational school but which Blackwater plans to use for training Navy personnel in terrorism response.  To echo recent comments by Councilmember Ben Hueso to local news, Blackwater has no business in the City of San Diego unless and until someone can say definitively what laws they are bound by.  And certainly, setting up shop on the border raises all sorts of extra red flags.

The local response has been fast and furious this week.  And thanks to leadership from Congressman Bob Filner, there will be a rally at the proposed site of the new Blackwater facility tomorrow (Friday) morning.  Rep. Filner will be joined by Councilmember Ben Hueso, San Diego City Council President Scott Peters, Carol Jahnkow of the Peace Resource Center, Raymond Lutz of Citizens’ Oversight Projects, and Sierra Club’s Jeanette Hartman at 10:45am at 7685 Siempre Viva Road in Otay Mesa in opposition to Blackwater’s latest shady dealings.  Blackwater discovered once that San Diego isn’t friendly territory. They’re sticking around for a reason, and best guess is, it’s not just for a Navy subcontract.

Among other organizations, the Courage Campaign is encouraging all local San Diegans to attend if they’re able.  If you want to read the email from Rick Jacobs, you can check it out here.

Keep Blackwater Out of California, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Diane Feinstein

(video is great earlier coverage of Blackwater West from KNBC)

Despite the well deserved outrage over Blackwater’s repeated atrocities in Iraq, the company is moving forwards with their plans to open up a new base in San Diego.  LAT:

Anne Tyrrell, spokeswoman for the Moyock, N.C.-based company, said Blackwater was not altering its Potrero proposal in light of the controversy. Last week the company announced it had dropped negotiations to buy land in North Carolina for a training site. That decision, Tyrrell said, was not a result of the controversy.

Rep. Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista) has introduced legislation to block “mercenaries” from training on non-federally owned property.  This would essentially can Blackwater West before they get a chance to break ground.  Where are Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer on Blackwater West?  Silent, despite Courage Campaign delivering over 8,500 petitions to them.  That is unacceptable.

Thanks to activists within the California Democratic Party’s executive board, the party is now on record officially opposing Blackwater West.  It’s time for Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer join their party in stopping Blackwater from operating in California.  Take Action: sign the new letter to Senator Boxer and Feinstein and give them a call if you can.

Below the fold is the email we sent Courage Campaign members earlier today.

Dear Julia,


That is perhaps the most appropriate word to use in describing the menace that is Blackwater USA — the private “security” firm that just murdered 17 innocent Iraqis, sending another 24 to the hospital, in a rampage on the streets of Baghdad.

Blackwater, the same private firm of paid thugs whose incompetence cost the lives of American troops in Fallujah in 2004, now wants to build a base on California’s border to train mercenaries.

The consequences are ominous: Imagine Blackwater “defending” our border with Mexico in a vigilante action. Or providing emergency “security” to urban areas in California after a natural disaster.

No way. No Blackwater. Not in California. Not in America.

The security of California and our citizens is at stake. That’s the message that needs to be heard — loud and clear — by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Barbara Boxer.

With activists converging to protest Blackwater in San Diego County this weekend, it’s your turn to take action. Please sign our NEW letter to Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer and/or make a quick call to follow-up. Then tell us about the results of your calls at the following link:


Blackwater’s plans to build a private mercenary training facility in San Diego County are simply unacceptable. Consisting of 15 firing ranges, a helipad, a heavy vehicle operator’s course covering the equivalent of 10 football fields — and populated by 360 staff and “students” — this dangerous base is just the beginning of Blackwater’s infiltration of our state’s security.

We hoped Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer got the message when the Courage Campaign delivered 8,543 of your previous petition signatures to their offices. We hoped they got the message when the California Democratic Party passed a resolution — putting the party on record — opposing Blackwater’s base. We hoped they would take a stand with their party and with us. But we haven’t heard a word.

Tell Senators Feinstein and Boxer to join the California Democratic Party in opposing Blackwater’s base in San Diego County. Then tell us what they told you:


The details now emerging from Iraq are deeply disturbing. The New York Times describes the beginning of last week’s massacre:

It started out as a family errand: Ahmed Haithem Ahmed was driving his mother, Mohassin, to pick up his father from the hospital where he worked as a pathologist. As they approached Nisour Square at midday on Sept. 16, they did not know that a bomb had gone off nearby or that a convoy of four armored vehicles carrying Blackwater guards armed with automatic rifles was approaching.

Moments later a bullet tore through Mr. Ahmed’s head, he slumped, and the car rolled forward.

The car, with Mr. Ahmed’s dead body pressing on the gas pedal, sped towards the Blackwater guards. They filled it with bullets and grenades, setting it on fire. Then continued to shoot at anything in sight. People ran away and cars turned around, desperate to get out of the hail of gunfire. But bullets continued to fly, cutting down 17 innocent civilians and wounding 24 more.

Killed in their cars. Shot in the back.

As Blackwater’s founder — right-winger Erik Prince (Mitt Romney’s campaign co-chair) — testified in Congress this week, these mafia-like mercenaries are still insisting they “acted appropriately at all times.” Despite the latest atrocities, the State Department continues to pay Blackwater hundreds of millions of dollars to operate in Iraq, even though the Iraqi government insists they should leave.

The Iraqis may not have the power to kick them out of their country, but we have the power to keep them out of California. And we need Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer to lead the way.

It’s time for our Senators to stand up with us and the California Democratic Party and shut down Blackwater. Take action now: sign the NEW petition and/or call your Senators. Then tell us what they said:


The movement to stop Blackwater in California and the country is growing exponentially by the day. 

Congressman Bob Filner (D-San Diego) introduced a bill in the House last week that would allow the training of “mercenaries” only on property owned by the federal government — which would keep Blackwater out of California.

Meanwhile, this weekend, hundreds of local activists will be gathering at the proposed site for Blackwater West in San Diego County. The Courage Campaign will be sending a blogger to San Diego County to represent you and tell all of us about it on the Courage Campaign blog.

Time is running out. Please tell Senators Feinstein and Boxer to join us, the California Democratic Party, Congressman Filner, and grassroots activists in leading the way to keep Blackwater out of our state… before it’s too late:


Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to stand up against Blackwater.


Rick Jacobs

P.S. Three months ago, KNBC in Los Angeles filed a special in-depth report exposing Blackwater. With the Courage Campaign taking an early stand on opposing Blackwater’s base, I was interviewed about their plans to set up shop on our border.

Click here now to watch the YouTube version of KNBC’s report — it’s as good as investigative journalism gets: