Monday, June 04, 2012

Tomorrow... Our Future


For those of us in Wisconsin, California, Montana and New Mexico, let's keep these words by Elizabeth Warren in our minds when we vote

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5, could be an historic day. First and foremost, there's Wisconsin-- a chance to replace a destructive anti-democracy shill of the one percent, Scott Walker, with a decent Democrat whose career in politics has always been in support of working families, Tom Barrett. In 2010, Walker campaigned on creating jobs and economic development, decided to pit neighbor against neighbor in an effort to drum up support for the radical Koch agenda, and ended up losing more jobs than any other state in the country. Tomorrow, of course, all hinges on turnout. It's going to be close. There are plenty of Wisconsinites who get their information from Fox and from Hate Talk Radio. They'll be out in force for Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch. Will ordinary working folks be able to overcome the 30-1 spending advantage the right put into this race?

If you live in Wisconsin, or if you have friends or family in Wisconsin, here's where you can find your polling place. Polls open at 7am and stay open 'til 8pm. In Wisconsin voters do NOT need an ID to vote and can still register at the polls as long as they bring proof of their current address. Democrats are also attempting to replace a gaggle of reactionary state senators. Good idea! Walker hasn't been able to carry out the Koch/ALEC agenda on his own. And among the Democrats most worthy of winning a seat is Lori Compas, who's running against Scott Fitzgerald, Walker's Senate henchman.
Few in Wisconsin are more identified with the grassroots resistance than Lori Compas, a 41-year-old wedding photographer and mother of two. With no assistance from the state Democratic Party, Compas led an unlikely yet successful drive to recall the Senate majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald, Walker’s most essential and visible ally. Compas lives in Fort Atkinson, a small town 30 miles east of Madison, and has never run for office before. She is now Fitzgerald’s improbable opponent.

Would that ever be icing on the cake!

The other big races tomorrow are primaries in Montana, New Mexico and California, where Blue America has outstanding progressives going up against run-of-the-mill, garden variety Democratic hacks in most cases. The exception is in CA-25 (Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley and Simi Valley-- the northeast corner of L.A. County) where Democrats-- along with many independents and even some Republicans-- have completely united around Dr. Lee Rogers in a grassroots effort to oust corrupt corporate shill Buck McKeon. In California's "jungle primary," everyone, regardless of party, runs on the same ballot and the top 2 vote-getters go on to the November general election. There are 3 Republicans plus Lee and the latest poll from the Antelope Valley Press shows Lee leading the pack with 46.25% and McKeon struggling to stay in second place with 25%.

One of the most respected and admired Republicans in the Santa Clarita Valley, Scott Wilk, is running for an open Assembly seat. Wilk was formerly McKeon's district chief and there's no one who knows McKeon and how he operates better than Wilk. One of his opponents in the primary, although she appears to be coming in a distant fourth, is McKeon's batty wife, Patricia. My theory has always been that she's never been a serious candidate for office-- she's 70, unaware of any serious issues facing the state legislature and best known for her reply to a question about California's budgetary problems during a debate by stating the obvious, "I have no idea"-- but that her candidacy was a way to funnel illicit campaign dollars from the Military Industrial Complex into the McKeon household. Anyway, Wilks is running against Patricia but over the weekend he penned an editorial about the single biggest issue that is leading to a collapse in support for Buck-- the CEMEX Mine.
On Thursday, our community reaped what its federally elected leadership sewed.  When the CEMEX truce expired with the City of Santa Clarita, our worst fears became a reality.  With nothing to stop them, CEMEX could begin their mega-mining operation in Soledad Canyon any day.  And our Congressman continues to insist that he cannot help us because of a clause in a rule that he voted for.  Its time to make right on his mistake.
CEMEX’s projected mine in Soledad is not merely another issue facing our community. It is THE issue facing us. The scale of the mining project is nearly 20 times larger than what is currently mined in Soledad Canyon today, and it will last for 20 years. The daily operation of the mine will result in 18-wheelers and gravel trucks entering and departing from the mine every 2 minutes, which will add an additional 1200 trucks traveling each day on our local freeways and roads. The dust created by the project will greatly harm the air quality of our city and will exceed acceptably safe levels by nearly 200 percent.
The City of Santa Clarita has done its part.  They have spent millions on advocacy, on legal wrangling, and frankly begging Congressman McKeon to do what is right and stop this mine.  This issue transcends partisanship and is simply about protecting our community’s quality of life.  
Unfortunately, the current federal leadership has failed to prevent today from happening.  Our community is one step closer to an ecological disaster because of this failure.  According to Mayor Bob Keller, Senator Boxer has pledged to do all that she can to help us.  Its time for Congressman McKeon to do more than lip service on the topic.  Its time for him to introduce the companion bill and stop this disaster from happening. 
Congressman McKeon likes to tout that he stopped Elsmere Canyon from becoming a landfill, well why is it that this is so much harder than that?  It took him three years to make that legislation reality, in ten years, the Congressman failed to even achieve a hearing on this issue in Washington.

...It is time for leadership on this issue.  It is time for action.  In our community’s time of need, I ask Congressman McKeon to put community ahead of partisanship and quality of life ahead of politics.  For if the mine is to become a reality, our community will face an ecological disaster unrealized to date.  It is time to make right with this community.

Last week we saw Jason Schaff executive editor of the district's biggest newspaper, the Santa Clarita Valley Signal explain why they had decided against endorsing McKeon, for the first time in his entire two decade-long congressional career. He said CEMEX is the most important issue to many voters in the district, but so is anger against incumbents. “I think it goes back to the mood locally, and throughout the country about incumbents. And is 20 years too long to be in Congress?” Washington Dems don't "get" this race. I suspect they will after tomorrow.

Northern California has a completely different dynamic to deal with in the primary to replace the retiring progressive champion Lynn Woolsey in the 2nd CD. This primary will result in two Democrats facing off against each other in November. There are 8 Democrats, 2 Republicans and 2 independents in the primary. The latest polling shows Assemblyman Jared Huffman, author and progressive activist Norman Solomon, Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams, and wealthy hobbyist Stacey Lawsen as the top contenders, in that order. Lawsen is widely viewed as a junior Meg Whitman type candidate. She's got a lot of money she lucked into and has never been involved with politics but needs something to do with herself and got the idea of moving up to the district to run for Woolsey's seat. Huffman has sown himself to be a captive of the corporate interests who have financed his career. Adams is a respectable Democrat who would make a reasonable alternative if CA-2 didn't already have one of the single most outstanding candidates running for Congress anywhere in America, Norman Solomon (the Blue America endorsee). Thursday Jackson Browne played a concert to help Norman raise funds to counter the last minute influx of money from Lawsens' bank account in her desperate and rather pathetic attempt o buy the seat. And yesterday Dennis Kucinich barnstormed with him up and down Marin and Sonoma counties. Kucinich:
"Norman will be an instant leader in Congress-- on war, on bloated military spending, on Wall Street, on threats to Social Security and Medicare (from either party). Norman Solomon was an advocate for the 99%-- challenging the 1%-- before there was an Occupy Wall Street movement. Every supporter of mine should be a natural supporter of Norman. Help him carry on the legacy of strong peace and justice advocacy in the U.S. Congress.”

Virtually every important progressive leader in America has endorsed Solomon, including Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, John Conyers (D-MI), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Dolores Huerta, Glenn Greenwald, and countless others looking for innovative, independent-minded leaders to implement a peaceful and prosperous agenda for this country.

The link above for Glenn Greenwald, also references Rep. Franke Wilmer's race in Montana. It's an at-large district-- so, it's for the whole state, like a Senate race-- and it's an open seat. Like Norman Solomon, Lee Rogers and Eric Griego, Franke is the Blue America-backed candidate. I'll let Greenwald explain:
This Montana candidate’s biography is almost as impressive as her views on key issues. In the 1980s, Wilmer was a single mother raising her daughter, working as a waitress and a carpenter while putting herself through college. Typically working two jobs at the same time, it took her 16 years to finish. Now she’s a full professor at Montana State University, a third-term state legislator, and an author who specializes in solving international problems without resort to war. She spent substantial time in the former Yugoslavia as it was falling apart.

...She’s running in a Democratic primary against two corporatist, Blue-Dog-type candidates of the kind that has helped make so much of the Democratic Party worthless or worse. She wrote an essay for Klein about the basis of her worldview and why she’s running that’s as provocative and smart as it is inspiring. As soon as I read it, there was no question for me that she’s an extraordinary candidate and person; as but one example, she explains that her work in the middle of the horrific war in Yugoslavia led her to devote herself to an examination of “the question of dehumanization (and psychoanalytic explanations for it) as a political dynamic that rationalizes political violence,” both domestically and internationally.

Wilmer told us that she’s ”very concerned and deeply troubled by the notion that the policy that led to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki essentially defends the practice of extrajudicial execution,” and added that the “suspension of habeas corpus for American citizens [in the NDAA] is equally troubling.” She cited to us a remarkable op-ed she wrote in the Great Falls Tribune on September 12, 2001-- less than 24 hours after the attack, when most people were in full-on panic and vengeance mode-- that calmly warned of the dangers of excessive reactions. The whole op-ed is amazing: it describes her experience with war in Yugoslavia to warn how brutal and savage it is, and ends this way: “Only by the rule of law, only through a just response which punishes the individuals responsible, can we preserve what cannot be destroyed through violence, our commitment to democracy.” There are all too few people demonstrating that perspective even now, more than a decade later; she was urging this on the day after the 9/11 attack.

Wilmer compares current threats to militarily attack Iran with the attack on Iraq, arguing that both are examples of invalid “preventive war” dogma; “instead,” she argues, “what we need is to invest time and resources in the development of an effective and enforceable international non-proliferation regime based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty.” She questions the legality of unmanned CIA drones (“Under international law weapons must be able to discriminate between civilian and military targets and drones do not do that“), and argues that drones are “military weapons” and thus “should only be used in military operations, and military operations, in turn,necessitate a declaration of war by Congress.“ She decries the lack of Wall Street prosecutions: “I don’t believe the investigations have been rigorously pursued, nor have those responsible been held accountable.” And as former Chair of the Montana Human Rights Commission, she has worked extensively, in a not-very-friendly environment, to secure equal rights for LGBT citizens and same-sex couples.

Truly, she’s not just an extraordinary Congressional candidate but an extraordinary person. She combines impressive academic research and theory with all kinds of practical, brave real-world activism. But she’s also been an accomplished legislator, which means, as she explains in that Klein essay, that she’s quite strategic about enacting legislation. There would literally be nobody like her in Congress.

And that brings us to Albuquerque, where progressive champion, state Senator Eric Griego is up against a couple of corrupt careerists, Marty Chavez (corrupt and conservative) and Michelle Lujan Grisham, whose disgraceful and self-serving record of Director of Aging and state Secretary of Health should disqualify her from any elective office anywhere. She's perfect for EMILY'S List, the least trustworthy component of the corrupt DC Democratic Establishment. Griego has been endorsed by women in Congress who are actually trying to work for the protection and safety of American women, like Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME), as well as by Dennis Kucinich, Alan Grayson and Raúl Grijalva. In end of the campaign rallies in New Mexico this weekend Griego sharpened the distinctions between himself and his two mediocre (at best) opponents:
We have to “send people to Congress… who are willing to stand for what we say we believe in, even when it’s tough… we’ve got to stand for something as Democrats, that’s what people are yearning for,” Griego said to the packed crowd. “We need someone who’s like us, has our values. Who wants to fight for Social Security, fight for the environment, take on the special interests and Wall Street.”
“One race is not going to do it, but if we add my voice to Elizabeth Warren’s… and we send 15 or 20 vertebrates up there, then the conversation has to change,” he continued, emphasizing his commitment to fight for New Mexico’s working families.

Kucinich is showing himself once again as an important national leader. Last week he came out swinging for Eric. "Let me introduce you," he wrote to his own supporters, "to a champion for Wall Street reform, Eric Griego. Eric is running for Congress in New Mexico's first district, and he is the first candidate in the nation to run a television ad saying, 'Wall Street bankers who broke the law belong in jail.' That's a bold stand for a congressional candidate. Since Eric is shaking up the status quo, he's come under attack by his more conservative opponents. With just four days left before his primary, he needs our help.
"Eric has a record of standing up for what we believe as Democrats. He passed public financing on the City Council and a green jobs bill in the State Senate-- he's one of the few candidates in the nation who can say that. In Congress, he wants to put Americans back to work by passing a real jobs bill-- rebuilding crumbling schools, wiring the country with high-speed internet, and investing in 21st century energy and transportation projects."

Eric Griego, Franke Wilmer, Norman Solomon, Lee Rogers... 4 champions of ordinary working families we hope to be fighting for all the way through November. But first, they have to win their primaries tomorrow. Do you pray? In case you missed it Saturday night, here's some inspiration from Wisconsin musicians Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons:

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