Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's Time for Another March on Washington

The Presidents' Column:
It’s Time for Another March On Washington by George Gresham, President, SEIU 1199

We must build a united response to our nation’s crises.

This Fall, we’re going to make history in marching on Washington, D.C.

For a year, as healthcare reform dominated the Congressional agenda, groups of people took to the streets in opposition to expanding healthcare coverage to tens of millions and to curtailing insurance industry abuse. These street protests were provoked by outright lies of Fox News and rightwing gasbag politicians—remember the fear of “death panels”?—and resulted in the formation of the Tea Party, or tea-baggers. And of course the mass media gave them far more attention than their numbers deserved.

Unfortunately, we who supported healthcare reform had comparatively little public presence. Many thousands of activists lobbied members of Congress, and millions sent letters and emails, but there never really was a public mobilization. The healthcare overhaul was a tremendous step forward, but might have been much stronger had “we” taken to the streets.

When we elected President Obama two years ago, it was such an historic victory that perhaps our optimism got the better of us. We now had the President we wanted with strong Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. The new President was anxious to work with the Republican opposition to try to repair the damage of the Bush years and move the country forward.

Eliseo Medina on Arizona's anti immigrant movement

Eliseo Medina at Netroots Nation: Unite to Defeat anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic movements from Talking Union on Vimeo. Wait. It takes some time to load.

Eliseo Medina, international vice president of the Service Employees International Union, spoke at a panel on “civil rights in the modern era” at the just concluded Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas.  Medina reviewed the impact of Arizona’s SB 1070.

Medina is an honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America and was the 2004 recipient of Chicago DSA’s Debs-Thomas-Harrington Award.  He was described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most successful labor organizers in the country” and was named one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Latino Leaders” in Poder Magazine. He is currently leading the Service Employees International Union‘s efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform that “rebuilds the nation’s economy, secures equal labor- and civil-rights protections for workers to improve their wages and work conditions and provides legal channels and a path to citizenship.”  He  played a leading role in the effort to unite the unions of the Change to Win federation and AFL-CIO around a comprehensive framework for reform.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg Describes Afghan War Logs as On a Par with 'Pentagon Papers'

Published on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 by the Guardian/UK

Former US military analyst leaked documents in 1971 revealing how the American public was misled about the Vietnam war

by Richard Norton-Taylor

Daniel Ellsberg, a former US military analyst, has described the disclosure of the Afghan war logs as on the scale of his leaking of the "Pentagon Papers" in 1971 revealing how the US public was misled about the Vietnam war.

Daniel Ellsberg, the former US military analyst who compared the Afghanistan war logs with his leaking of the 1971 'Pentagon Papers'. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters"An outrageous escalation of the war is taking place," he said. "Look at these cables and see if they give anybody the occasion to say the answer is 'resources''. He added: "After $300bn and 10 years, the Taliban is stronger than they have ever been ... We are recruiting for them."

However, the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers on Afghanistan - top secret papers relating to policy - had yet to be leaked, he said.

People could read the logs to discover what they now need to ask, such as what their money was being spent on, he said. They would have an effect on public opinion, but the question, Ellsberg said, was how they would influence the US and UK governments.

He compared them to the document leaked in 2003 by the GCHQ officer, Katharine Gun, which revealed how the US asked Britain to spy on neutral countries at the UN before the invasion of Iraq. The disclosure influenced the attitude of the neutral countries who refused to vote for the invasion.

© 2010 Guardian/UK

Call Senators today: protect education jobs !

Urge Senate to Put Jobs Package in Small Business Bill
Urge your U.S. Senators to vote to add the Education Jobs Package to a pending Small Business Bill. That decision will be made today - Wednesday -  in Washington.
This package would bring another $1.165 billion in federal education funds to California. 

'Leaked Afghan Files Hid a Losing War, Not Military Secrets'

Published on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 by RussiaToday

The Pentagon's hunting for the sources behind the biggest leak in U.S. military history. The whistle-blowing website Wikileaks published some ninety thousand classified documents exposing cover-ups over the war in Afghanistan. Phyllis Bennis from the Washington Institute for Policy Studies provides her perspective on the latest Pentagon scandal and its consequences.

Monday, July 26, 2010

One Nation Working Together

Hey Folks,

Here's the info on the new national progressive coalition created by more than 170 liberal and progressive groups. Sounds promising. We should try to send a delegation of Sacramentans and other Californians to the October 2 March on Washington!

Overview: One Nation is about reordering our nation's priorities to invest in our most valuable resource- Our People.

Mission: We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve the American Dream - a secure job, a safe home, and a quality education.

One Nation seeks to transcend our superficial differences and bring us together in a common quest for equal opportunity and justice for all


Facebook Page:!/pages/One-Nation-Working-Together/130038760366906?v=wall

NAACP prepares for ‘One Nation’ march

Activists look to press case against tea party racism

Published Friday, July 23, 2010 10:04 am
by Hazel Trice Edney, NNPA

WASHINGTON – On the heels of the NAACP’s call for an end to the racist wing of the political tea party movement, the organization pushed forward this week with plans for a national march and rally in D.C. on October 2.

“We have to celebrate this victory,” NAACP President Ben Jealous said in a brief telephone interview with the NNPA News Service on Monday. “People are now depressed and they need signs of light and signs of strength. And the fact that we just got the tea party to push out an entire faction of the Tea Party because of racism is something that needs to be noted.”

Jealous was referring to the fact that the controversial National Tea Party Federation announced that it has expelled Mark Williams, the former chairman and spokesman of Tea Party Express, for his satirical letter from a “colored” person to President Abraham Lincoln in which slavery was called a “great gig.”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Save teachers Jobs; contact your Senator

Save Almost 14,000 Teaching Jobs
Urge Sen. Feinstein to Vote for the Education Jobs Bill
The House of Representatives has already approved the education jobs bill. This package would bring another $1.281 billion in federal education funds to California. The measure is expected to come before the U.S. Senate some time before Congress recesses for its summer district work period on August 6th.

It is urgent that phone calls be made now to California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to urge her to support the education jobs bill.

Tell Senator Feinstein:

  • California schools are in crisis, and we need her help! 
  • More than $17 billion in cuts have already increased class sizes; reduced student access to libraries, nurses, and counselors; and cut education programs. 
  • Failure to act will only deepen the looming crisis in public education: class sizes rising to 35-40 students, cutting back to four-day school weeks, narrowing the curriculum to exclude the arts and physical education, eliminating pre-kindergarten programs and critical academic support for the neediest students.

 Vote YES on the Education Jobs Bill.

 Make Contact by Phone, E-mail, and Text:

Senate breaks Republican filibuster on Jobless benefits

WASHINGTON — The Senate broke a stalemate on Tuesday over extending unemployment benefits for Americans who have been out of work for six months or more, voting to override Republican objections that the bill’s costs would add to the federal deficit.
On a 60-to-40 vote, the Democratic-led Senate agreed to cut off debate on the $34 billion plan to distribute added unemployment compensation through November for those who have exhausted their standard 26 weeks of aid.
The 60 yeas were the minimum needed to overcome the threat of a filibuster and advance the bill to a final vote, expected later on Tuesday, when it is all but certain to pass. Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, joined 56 Democrats and two independents in voting for the legislation; 39 Republicans and one Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, opposed it.
An estimated 2 million Americans have seen their benefits run out over the past two months while the legislation has been stalled in the partisan impasse.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Republicans, deficit hawks, make the economy worse

Christopher Hayes. The Nation.
First, the facts. Nearly the entire deficit for this year and those projected into the near and medium terms are the result of three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts and the recession. The solution to our fiscal situation is: end the wars, allow the tax cuts to expire and restore robust growth. Our long-term structural deficits will require us to control healthcare inflation the way countries with single-payer systems do.
But right now we face a joblessness crisis that threatens to pitch us into a long, ugly period of low growth, the kind of lost decade that will cause tremendous misery, degrade the nation's human capital, undermine an entire cohort of young workers for years and blow a hole in the government's bank sheet. The best chance we have to stave off this scenario is more government spending to nurse the economy back to health. The economy may be alive, but that doesn't mean it's healthy. There's a reason you keep taking antibiotics even after you start to feel better.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finance Reform bill passes - finally

The bill is not as strong as it should be. But, it took several compromises to get the needed 60 votes in the Senate.
See the list in the prior post. 
The Senate just passed Wall Street reform. The bill will become law the moment President Obama signs it.

This reform represents the boldest financial regulations since the aftermath of the Great Depression -- and the strongest consumer protections in history.

In a “historic shift of power” from Wall Street to Main Street, the Senate this afternoon approved sweeping Wall Street reform legislation and sent it to President Obama for his signature.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, says the bill, which will rein-in some of the most reckless Wall Street/Big Bank practices that shoved the nation’s economy over the cliff,
represents a historic shift of power—away from big bankers and CEOs to working families and Main Street.  For years, Big Banks have profited on the backs of working families. Millions of working families lost their jobs and still can’t find work because of the reckless and selfish actions of Wall Street and the big banks.

Update: Unemployment benefits vote on Tues.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that the Senate would vote move forward with reauthorizing unemployment benefits on Tuesday morning, after the replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) has been sworn in.
Republicans and Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson have been preventing a final vote on the bill because of its $33 billion cost. Reid said the GOP filibuster, which has prevented more than 2.1 million people from receiving checks, is designed to crater the economy. "They're betting on failure. They think the worse the economy is come November, the better they're going to do election wise," said Reid. "Almost two million people who are long-term unemployed. These are not numbers. They are people."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tell the Senate: pass Unemployment extension

Remember recess? I do. Dodgeball, Simon says, freeze tag, foursquare, tetherball, hopscotch, red light-green light and on and on and on. Those were good times. 

But before we could go out and play, my teachers gave us a list of what we needed to get done first. From cleaning up our desks, to handing in our morning worksheets, we knew that if we didn't check everything off our list, we couldn't go out and play.

Unfortunately, our senators don't seem to have learned that lesson.

Due to procedural roadblocks put up by the Republican minority, the Senate is in danger of leaving for its August recess without passing critical legislation necessary to help the millions of America's working men and women who are suffering in this extended recession. From the almost 2 million workers whose unemployment insurance has run out to the hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses and firefighters whose jobs are in danger, we need the Senate to act now. 

America's workers need your help. Contact your senators today and demand they complete our pre-recess checklist before they go home: 

*Senate Pre-Recess Checklist* 
 * Extend unemployment benefits for the millions of long-term unemployed. 
 * Reform Wall Street. 
 * Save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers. 
 * Provide aid to cash-strapped states to protect vital services, including nurses and firefighters, and save more than 900,000 additional jobs.

America's working men and women have waited long enough. Contact your senators today - - and tell them to get to business helping America's working men and women before they go on recess. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

A new progressive alliance

Progressives hope 'One Nation' coalition can recapture grass-roots fervor
By Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 12, 2010; A03
 If imitation is the highest form of flattery, the "tea party" movement must be honored.
In an effort to replicate the tea party's success, 170 liberal and civil rights groups are forming a coalition that they hope will match the movement's political energy and influence. They promise to "counter the tea party narrative" and help the progressive movement find its voice again after 18 months of foundering.
The large-scale attempt at liberal unity, dubbed "One Nation," will try to revive themes that energized the progressive grass roots two years ago. In a repurposing of Barack Obama's former campaign slogan, organizers are demanding "all the change" they voted for -- a poke at the White House.
But the liberal groups have long had a kind of sibling rivalry, jostling over competing agendas and seeking to influence some of the same lawmakers. In forming the coalition, the groups struggled to settle on a name. Even now, two of the major players disagree about who came up with the idea of holding a march this fall.
In this respect, at least, the liberal effort already resembles the fractious tea party movement. In February, some tea party groups skipped a long-planned gathering in Nashville in protest of alleged profiteering by convention organizers. Tea partiers have also argued about which candidates represent the movement.
Despite the friction among liberal groups, the effort behind One Nation was born of a certain necessity: At one of the first meetings, Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, said, "Raise your hand if you can push your part of the agenda all by yourself."
No hands went up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

7 Lessons Saul Alinsky Would Give Progressives Today

[My Note: Very interesting article, definitely worth the read. But Alinsky von Hoffman is wrong about #1, regardless of what Alinsky would say. We should call ourselves "progressives" because this term better captures our coalition and agenda than either "liberal" or "radical," and because polls show that it's popular with the general public. You can tell it's an effective label because it drives Glen Beck bonkers. : ) -- Paul B ]

By Nicholas von Hoffman, AlterNet
Posted on July 4, 2010, Printed on July 8, 2010

Editor's Note: The author recently published Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky.

Floating around in the Internet cosmos is a Web site with a headline asking, “Is Miley Cyrus an Alinskyite Mole Sent to Brainwash Country Music Fans?” It is not known if Ms. Cyrus has the faintest idea who Saul Alinsky was -- he died in 1972 -- but people in politics now know the name well.

Alinsky, a genius at political tactics, invented community organizing. He is said to have been a major factor in forming Barack Obama's ideas and to have provided the Obama campaign with the organizational template used in the 2008 presidential campaign. Some place Alinsky's book on organizing the powerless, Rules for Radicals, on the same level as military classics like Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

The far right is both hypnotized and terrified of the non-socialist Alinsky whom it brackets with Karl Marx in some of its more hysterical offerings. A better pairing would be with Tom Paine as both were in-the-trenches small "d" democrats. Today literally hundreds of grassroots organizations here and in other countries trace their origins to Alinsky, his ideas and his organizing.

So, if Saul Alinsky were around now, what seven pieces of advice might he offer today's progressives?

Bill Hedrick House Party -- Sunday, July 18

Dear Southern California Progressives,

We have seen time and time again how important it is to have bold progressives in Congress who are willing to fight for our values. As we struggle with an economic crisis, environmental catastrophe and two wars, we need these leaders more than ever.

That’s why I hope you’ll be able to join me Sunday, July 18th at 2pm for a fundraising event for progressive champion Bill Hedrick. I am working with Peace Action West to build support for Bill’s grassroots campaign to take on Republican Ken Calvert in California’s 44th district.

Bill Hedrick was the first major congressional candidate to come out against the war in Afghanistan. He has been a teacher for more than 30 years and president of the local school board--not a typical politician. He wants to see our tax dollars taken out of misguided wars and spent in our communities on education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Even in a Republican-held district, he is not afraid to express his progressive values. A victory for Bill would send a message to the Democratic Party that we do not need to back away when faced with Republican opponents—we can fight for real progressive values and win over voters around the country. He came within 3 points of Calvert in 2008, so we know a victory is possible, but only with your help for his grassroots, people-powered campaign.

The best way you can understand how special Bill Hedrick is as a candidate and a person is to meet him. At the event, we will have an opportunity to hear from him directly and ask questions.

Please click on this link to RSVP (you will receive detailed directions once you fill out the RSVP form). If you are unable to attend, you can still donate to his campaign through this page:

If you have any questions about the event or Bill Hedrick’s campaign, feel free to contact me or Peace Action West’s Political Director Rebecca Griffin at 510.830.3600 x113 or
I hope to see you on July 18th. Please click here to RSVP and receive detailed directions:

Please join PDA endorsed candidate Bill Hedrick as we join with Peace Action West for this fundraiser!
In Solidarity

PDA California
Rebecca Griffin
Political Director
Peace Action West
510.830.3600 x113

Republicans block unemployment extensions

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties

A California polling place sign is written in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese.

By Ruy Teixeira | June 16, 2010
Center for American Progress

The tectonic plates of American politics are shifting. A powerful concatenation of demographic forces is transforming the American electorate and reshaping both major political parties. And, as demographic trends continue, this transformation and reshaping will deepen. The Democratic Party will become even more dominated by the emerging constituencies that gave Barack Obama his historic 2008 victory, while the Republican Party will be forced to move toward the center to compete for these constituencies. As a result, modern conservatism is likely to lose its dominant place in the GOP.

The bulk of this paper provides a detailed analysis of the demographic shifts transforming the electorate. This analysis is followed by a brief discussion of the geographical dimension of these changes. It concludes by exploring the long-term implications of these changes for the parties.

Key findings on the electorate’s demographic transformation are examined below.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Frederick Douglass, "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro"

[Note: Here is the full text of one of the most powerful speeches in American history, delivered by the legendary Abolitionist Frederick Douglass in Rochester, New York on July 5, 1852. Although much has changed for the better since the era of Douglass and Lincoln, much work still remains to be done, and Douglass' message is still thought provoking and worthy of reflection.]

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory....

...Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Senator Steinberg, schools and schools budgets

 Sacramento Senator Darrell Steinberg  has authored and promoted SB 1285 that changes seniority rules for the lay off of teachers.  He  seems to listening to Ed Voice and the corporations promoting the wrong assumption that seniority causes problems in schools.  Lets see.  There are low performing schools – most of them in poverty neighborhoods.  There are high performing schools – most of them in middle class neighborhoods.  They both have the same seniority system.  Seniority is not the problem – poverty is. ( See prior posts on this).
Legislators  should provide  every student a high quality education by providing the adequate funding that schools need.  California fails at this.  We rank 46th. out 50 states in per public  spending.  ( See the excellent new report by the California Budget Project, Race to the Bottom That is a legislative decision. Adequate funding would allow schools to keep libraries open; hire back laid-off teachers, nurses, and counselors; and reduce class sizes to provide students with needed attention.

Senator Steinberg claims in a letter to constituents this week, “Since I became leader of the Senate eighteen months ago, we have been able to increase Proposition 98 funding by  $1.6 Billion.  This claim is puzzling. 

The appeal worked

The appeal below worked.  The House passed the bill funding teachers jobs. It is a stimulus.
Now, on to the Senate.  As you know getting anything through the  U.S. Senate is tough.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Call Congress tonight. Protect Teachers Jobs!

Save 13,701 Teaching Jobs
Urge Congress to Vote Yes on Education Jobs Bill


The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Thursday night – tonight -- on the education jobs bill that would bring another $1.281 billion in federal education funds to California.

It is urgent that phone calls be made now to all members of Congress ...Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. 

DIAL 1-866-608-6355 and Ask EVERY member of Congress to support the jobs bill.

Tell your member of Congress:  Vote YES on the Domestic Emergency Funding Package.

Send emails to every education supporter you know urging them to make calls right now....

Congress could go late into the it is not too late to call!!! Keep the calls coming until you receive an email saying to stop.

Make Contact by phone, e-mail, and text:

  • Dial 1-866-608-6355 to call Capitol Hill. Ask to speak to the member who represents your district in the U.S. House of Representatives. 
  • Email the U.S. House of Representatives. Tell your representative to pass the Emergency Supplemental Funding Bill now!
  • Text...send SpeakUp to 77007. Texting will get you on the list for updates on education issues before Congress.