Sunday, May 20, 2007

Once in a while, Dana gets it right.

In the interest of being fair, I should remind everyone that even Rohrabacher is right on occasion. This time, he directed his stings at General Alberto Gonzales. According to a March 16 story from Attorney The Hill...
There’s been a pattern of arrogance in this Administration,” Rohrabacher said. “They’ve demonstrated contempt for Congressional oversight and now we see a misuse of FBI authority, heavy-handed firings of U.S. Attorneys along with the ruthless prosecution of Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean.
Now that Congress is exercising that oversight, calling not only Gonzales to testify but also most of his immediate staff, even offering immunity to Monica Goodling, I wonder if Rohrabacher is willing to join the Republican chorus calling for Gonzales to resign, as he seemed to be hinting. It's time to find out if he is the independent free spirit he says he is.

Why Care About Corruption?

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

OK, so perhaps people in Southern California are finally starting to notice the immense corruption of members of Congress like Gary Miller, Ken Calvert, and Dana Rohrabacher. However, these everyday citizens and typical voters wonder how all this corruption applies to their typical everyday lives.

Why should they care about whatever Gary Miller did with some Lewis Group company in Upland? Why should they care about some land that Ken Calvert owned near March Air Force Base that just happened to benefit from Ken Calvert's earmarks? Why should they care about Dana Rohrabacher's Hollywood deals? How does any of this matter to people's everyday lives?

When all else fails, voters often choose the party of their choice by default. And though the Republican Party is becoming less attractive nationwide, a good plurality of voters in this area still identify themselves as Republican. They still think the GOP is the party of low taxes and fiscal responsibility. They pretty much set their political compass to autopilot, and they just don't have time to think too much about some silly politics in Washington.

And after all, who has the time to pay attention to these crazy political scandals? Who has time to drop everything in between the PTA meeting and the kids' soccer game, after a hard day of work and before that fancy dinner that's supposed to impress the new client, just to learn more about politics? Why does any of this matter?

That's the challenge here. In order for us to defeat these corrupt Republicans, we have to get our family, friends, and neighbors to realize how all of this corruption is personally affecting them. We have to let them know that all these earmarks that go to these pet projects that just happen to be near their real estate holdings mean money that's NOT being spent on real efforts to relieve traffic, such as improving local freeways and federal aid for commuter rail. We have to let them know that when these members of Congress try to weaken environmental laws, they are just taking away the parks and open space that we all love to hike through, bike through, and camp at, just so that they can make a little more money on their development projects. We have to make that personal connection, and make these folks realize that all that corruption in Washington really is making life more difficult for them at home in Fountain Valley and Mission Viejo and San Clemente.

That's the key here. We have to show to them that all this federal money being spent on these shady earmarks is money that's NOT being spent on the things that we care about. That money should go to our schools. That money should go to our parks. That money should go to our roads. Basically, that money should actually be spent toward helping our communities. These members of Congress should NOT spend that money, OUR MONEY, on projects solely meant to enrich themselves. They're wasting our time, and they're wasting our money. That's why we need to kick them out of Congress!

If we want to defeat Dirty Gary and Crazy Dana and Creepy Ken next year, we need to get these voters in these districts out of their comfort zone of apathy, and force them to see the futility of sending these scumbags back to Congress. We need to get these voters to start caring again. After all, what we don't like about politics will never go away if we never do anything to change it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rohrabacher should explain his vote

Dana Rohrabacher was one of only 34 Representatives to vote against HR 1700, the COPS Improvement Act of 2007. This act would enhance the funding for COPS on the BEAT programs across the nation and remove the restriction that it only apply to Cities with population over 150,000. This latter change would allow cities like Costa Mesa or Fountain Valley to apply for funding.

I am not sure what motivations Rohrabacher had, but as someone who spends so much time talking about the police problems associated with illegal aliens, this vote does not make a lot of sense. Then again, many things he does do not make a lot of sense to anyone other than Jim Gilchrist.

According to Hank Shaw, writing in the Stockton Record, the COPS program has been found to be "effective".
Critics of COPS say its effectiveness is overrated, although the federal Government Account-ability Office says otherwise. The GAO report found that from 1998 to 2000, new officers hired were responsible for stopping between 200,000 and 225,000 crimes, one third of which were violent crimes such as homicide, rape and robbery.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When Green is in...

As someone who has tried to educate myself on the environment and on environmental issues since I was in school back in the 1950's, I find it amazing that members of Congress like Senenator James Inhofe (R. OK) and Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R. CA-46) continue to allow the words come out of their mouths that they do. Let me cite the latest quotation from Rohrabacher.
You know that there are hundreds of scientists who object to this. For example, Dr. Timothy Ball, a very respected man, "Believe it or not global warming is not due to human contribution of carbon dioxide. This is the greatest deception in science." The earth is getting a little warmer. Since 1850 there's been a 1 1/2 degree temperature rise. They don't mention that 1850 happened to be at the tail end of a 500 year decline in temperatures. Not something we should be concerned about. When Greenland was green, it was in fact a very wonderful time for the Earth, crops flourished, population expanded. In and of itself, temperature rise is not a problem. Just like the warming on Mars and other planets. Probably due to sunspots. That said, we need to do things aimed at energy and cleaning the air. We are now vulnerable to foreign potentates and terrorists who want to do us harm. Not because the air is any warmer than it was 300 years ago. Is there not a parallel direction here, for those of us interested in human health that draws us together, and that the global warming thing, we may not have to be in agreement here?
Such a statement could have been predicted with even more accuracy that we can predict tomorrow's weather.

What Rohrabacher does not tell us is that Dr. Timothy Ball is dependent on funding from Exxon-Mobil. I find that the full extent of this dependency has been documented pretty well by another blogger.
Closer to home, one of the 19 Canadian signatories to the skeptics letter is Tim Ball, a retired professor of climatology from the University of Winnipeg, now living in Victoria. As a global-warming sceptic, he is in high demand by the front groups sponsored by the fossil fuel industry.

Ball's particular niche is the argument that since 1940, the world's climate has actually been cooling. The conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reached by over 2,000 climate scientists, that the world is heating up is wrong, he says, because it used "distorted records."

Undistorted records in hand, Ball is promoted by the National Center for Public Policy Research ($225,000 from Exxon Mobil), and Tech Central Station (which also receives support from General Motors). He's a hot topic on the Coalblog web site, sponsored by the coal companies. In the past year, he's given policy briefings to the Fraser Institute and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg.

You could have found him and Baliunas at a conference in Ottawa in November 2002, just days before parliament ratified the Kyoto Protocol. That conference, urging the government not to proceed with ratification, was paid for by Imperial Oil (Exxon Mobil's Canadian subsidiary) and Talisman Energy and put together by public relations firm APCO Worldwide.
OK, if Dr. Ball is dependent on Exxon-Mobil, then maybe we should ask what we know about the company who makes huge profits out of our gas guzzling ways. To begin with, we have known for years that Exxon-Mobil has funded pseudo-science to protect their interests. Chris Mooney, a journalist reporting on Science, detailed this for Mother Jones.
Forty public policy groups have this in common: They seek to undermine the scientific consensus that humans are causing the earth to overheat. And they all get money from ExxonMobil.
Not one to drop the issue, Mooney has now authored a new book, Storm World, in which he documents the current understanding of the relationship between climate change and the rate, intensity and time of year appearance of tropical storms. Even today, he comments at Science Blogs about the out of season appearances of tropical storms Andrea (Atlantic) and Akash (N. Indian Ocean). The point is that Mooney is not just an average reporter doing an average job.

It would seem that Crazy Dana continues to mouth the old platitudes from the Exxon-Mobil playbook while everyone else has moved beyond that. If Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox News, understands climate change and is willing to spend money on being "green" you might wonder what Rohrabacher's constituency will now be hearing from their favorite news source. Even Exxon-Mobil is changing it's stance. Will Crazy Dana now be out of step with the rest of his constituency or will he continue to try and play with our minds?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In case you missed the point.

UPDATE: I posted this today. Just before I posted, I double checked the Daily Pilot and still could not seem my comments there. Now, they are present and what I implied about media bias below my not be true. It may be that they just check this stuff once a day. Or, it may be that they found my post. I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

When I posted my comments on Frank Barbaro's Open Letter to Dana Rohrabacher last night, I also went over to the Daily Pilot and posted a comment there, to the effect that Barbaro was right to ask the voters to of the 46th CD to check his record. I gave the example of Rohrabacher's votes against our disabled veterans.

The Daily Pilot chose NOT to publish my comments, even though I received the response from their site that the comment has been accepted.

The Daily Pilot rightfully sets some rules for feedback.
Reader comments must be free of obscenity, profanity or content of a questionable nature. The Daily Pilot reserves the right to edit or delete reader comments that do not meet its publishing standards.
My comments were definitely free from profanity. They were also free of obscenity, unless the word Rohrabacher now falls under that definition. That means that my comments must be considered "of a questionable nature."

To begin with, there is not a single thing that I said in the comments which was untrue. I did make reference to the votes against our veterans which you can see from the link above. So, that can not be it. It might be just because I don't live in the district. However, I did make the point that when a Congressman makes the kind of statements that Mr. Barbaro was referring to, statements that underscore the arrogant attitude of some Americans that is losing us friends around the world, we all live in Rohrabacher's district.

I don't think that they suppressed the post for those reasons. I think that they suppressed the post because I agreed with Mr. Barbaro. Note: Every other comment that they allowed was in support of Rohrabacher. With this kind of even handed media support, I guess the Rohrabacher does not even need to campaign. I mean, why even waste taxpayers money to hold the election, just anoint him Congressman for Life.

If you think this was media bias, why don't you post to the Daily Pilot yourself.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Who is this Democrat?

At last, OC Democratic Party Chairman, Frank Barbaro, had managed to get an Open Letter to Dana Rohrabacher into the Daily Pilot.
For someone who purports to be a champion of patriotism, nothing is so un-American as an inability to listen to different points of view. A similar stubbornness has not served President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney well over the last six years.

It is only a matter of time before the residents of your district look beyond your status as an incumbent and consider your record and leadership qualities.
It is about time, I was beginning to wonder if any Democrat was willing to speak up about Dana's Craziness. Now, all Barbaro has to do is to find a candidate who is willing to take up the challenge. We started this blog because we agree 100% with Barbaro's final statement. It is about time that someone looked past his reputation as a "libertarian troubadour" or Reagan speech writer and went through his votes, item by item, issues by issue and tried to make sense of what you find. To begin with, I have found that he talks one way and votes another, especially on the issue of supporting our servicemen who have fought Bush's silly war n Iraq. Read my earlier post on his lack of support for veterans or those who are injured in combat.

You are right on, Mr. Barbaro. Now, in you are really serious, get a real candidate going.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Crazy Dana & the Taliban

(Photo courtesy of OC Weekly)

Yes, you heard me right: Dana Rohrabacher has had a VERY LONG HISTORY of being a little too close to Islamist extremists in the Middle East. Now why should this worry us? Perhaps because Dana Rohrabacher can't really determine who are our real friends and who are our enemies? Perhaps because Dana Rohrabacher shouldn't be making important foreign policy decisions on our behalf in Washington if he can't even tell right from wrong?

Don't believe me?

Here's an oldie-but-goodie from the November/December 1996 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:

The potential rise to power of the Taliban does not alarm Rohrabacher, because the Taliban could provide stability in an area where chaos was creating a real threat to the U.S. Rohrabacher says that under the previous situation Afghanistan was becoming a major source of drugs and a haven for terrorists “an anarchistic state of narco-terrorism.” In contrast, the Taliban leaders have already shown that they intend to establish a disciplined, moral society.

Rohrabacher calls the sensational media reporting of the “harsh” imposition of strict Islamic behavior, with the underlying implication that this somehow threatens the West, “nonsense.” He says the Taliban are devout traditionalists, not terrorists or revolutionaries, and, in contrast to the Iranians, they do not seem intent on exporting their beliefs. Rohrabacher would have preferred to see a negotiated compromise among the various factions (but with no role for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar) rather than a bloody confrontation. But in the absence of such a compromise, he believes a Taliban takeover would be a positive development.

Still don't believe me? Crazy Dana probably violated the law to meet with Taliban officials in Qatar in 2001. Here's an oldie-but-REALLY-goodie from Talking Points Memo from August 2002:

[...] In April 2001, Rohrabacher travelled to Doha, Qatar to attend a conference on "Free Markets and Democracy." While there, he met with a Taliban delegation led by Muttawakil. Al Jazeera reported that the two discussed Osama bin Laden, the situation of women and civil liberties. Rohrabacher told Agence France Presse that the conversation was "frank and open." And he told the Associated Press that Muttawakil's response to his plan was "thoughtful and inquisitive."

Now the Logan Act prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. But that's a rather technical matter. So let's pass over that for the moment.

It turns out there's more. The Muttawakil meeting was attended by several members of the United States Congress, according to AP and AFP reports. Who those other members of Congress were is not clear. They don't seem to be jumping forward. Who are they? I'd like to know.

Still more interesting are the two groups who sponsored Rohrabacher's trip: the Egypt International Forum and the Islamic Institute. Those who follow Republican politics will recognize the Islamic Institute as the group Republican power broker Grover Norquist established to help corral American Muslims into the Republican party. Norquist has been a close friend and political ally of Karl Rove for a couple decades and he is now a close advisor to President Bush.

OK, so you still don't believe me? Check out this scary story from OC Weekly. And what makes this so scary is that it's all true.

As a speechwriter and special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, Rohrabacher played a key role in the late 1980s getting money and arms, including U.S.-made Stinger missiles, to Afghan holy warriors, then at war with the Soviet Union. He once bragged of being "certainly a major player" in a coalition inside the White House that supported anyone "opposing Communist domination around the world." In November 1988, he even visited the Afghan front lines during a five-day hike with an armed mujahideen patrol in eastern Afghanistan. Among those fighters he encountered, he later recalled, were "Saudi Arabians under a crazy commander named bin Laden." [...]

A veteran U.S. foreign-policy expert told the Weekly, "If Dana's right-wing fans knew the truth about his actual, working relationship with the Taliban and its representatives in the Middle East and in the United States, they wouldn't be so happy." [...]

Evidence of Rohrabacher's attempts to conduct his own foreign policy became public on April 10, 2001, not in the U.S., but in the Middle East. On that day, ignoring his own lack of official authority, Rohrabacher opened negotiations with the Taliban at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha, Qatar, ostensibly for a "Free Markets and Democracy" conference. There, Rohrabacher secretly met with Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, an advisor to Mullah Omar. Diplomatic sources claim Muttawakil sought the congressman's assistance in increasing U.S. aid—already more than $100 million annually—to Afghanistan and indicated that the Taliban would not hand over bin Laden, wanted by the Clinton administration for the fatal bombings of two American embassies in Africa and the USS Cole. For his part, Rohrabacher handed Muttawakil his unsolicited plans for war-torn Afghanistan. "We examined a peace plan," he laconically told reporters in Qatar.

To this day, the congressman has refused to divulge the contents of his plan. However, several diplomatic sources say it's likely he asked the extremists to let former Afghan King Zahir Shah return as the figurehead of a new coalition government. In numerous speeches before and after Sept. 11, Rohrabacher has claimed the move would help stabilize Afghanistan for an important purpose: the construction of an oil pipeline there. In return, the plan would reportedly have allowed the Taliban to maintain power until "free" elections could be called.

The idea was outlandish and even provocative. Though he is a member of the same ethnic tribe as the Taliban leadership, the 87-year-old exiled former king—who lost his throne in 1973—is known not for his appreciation of democracy, but for his coziness to Western corporate interests. With good reason, he was considered a U.S. puppet by the Taliban.

Actually, why should ANY OF US be happy with the fact that our member of Congress has had such a close working relationship with CRAZED TERRORISTS?! Why should any of us be happy with the fact that Crazy Dana Rohrabacher would agree to give more aid to a government harboring known terrorists? Why should any of us be happy with the fact that Crazy Dana was once comfortable with the Taliban continuing to hide Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan? Why should we be happy with the fact that Crazy Dana had once felt all that sympathy for the Taliban for so long, yet he now simply tries to deny that any of this ever happened?

This should trouble all of us. Dana Rohrabacher tried to unilaterally alter US foreign policy in order to make a deal with a government known to harbor terrorists. Dana Rohrabacher just could not give up his own old sympathies for his old mujahideen buddies, even after everyone else had realized that they were never really the "freedom fighters" that they had claimed to be. And if Dana Rohrabacher still can't deal with this mistake now, then how can we expect him to learn from other grave mistakes?

Shouldn't we be at least a little concerned about Crazy Dana and his very scary friends?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Where to start?

One of the problems that I have with writing this blog is finding a starting point. To understand what Dana Rohrabacher is really doing, to establish whether or not he is part of the malignancy that grew around the Republican Power structure in Washington or just a good ol' boy along for the ride, you need to write the narrative of his involvement (or non-involvement) in each element.

There are many starting points to this narrative, but if you are just beginning to read the narrative of Dana Rohrabacher, then I suggest that you start with the diary that dengre posted on dailKos today. I warn you, this is not easy reading. If you can read that diary without a sense of outrage welling up inside you, you are a very cold person indeed.

What I want to do is to connect Dana Rohrabacher to the events that dengre has so painstakingly laid out in his series of posts on Jack Abramoff and the destruction of human dignity that took place in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Let me lay out the CNMI narrative for you in Readers Digest short version.

Hong Kong businessman, Willie Tan, recognized that there was an opportunity for self enrichment when the US government established that goods manufactured in the CNMI could be sold with the Made in the USA label. This was clearly described in the New Republic.
The textbook example involved the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (cnmi). An archipelago of Pacific islands captured by the United States in World War II, the cnmi acquired a unique status in the U.S. economy. Even though U.S. labor and minimum wage laws didn't apply in the cnmi, manufacturers had permission to stamp cnmi products with made in the usa labels and to evade trade quotas. Taking advantage of this loophole, Chinese entrepreneurs flocked to the island, bringing with them 32,000 workers, many of them indentured and forced to live in horrifying camps. According to a 1997 federal report, "Violations of labor standards and other abuses appear common.... Chinese contract workers allegedly work under 'shadow' contracts signed in their home country that subvert their rights under the U.S. Constitution.... Foreign contract workers report being victims of such crimes as rape, assault, and forced prostitution by those who have recruited them to work in the cnmi." To protect the $1 billion per year garment industry and stave off legislation that might correct some of these conditions, the cnmi and its business interests hired Abramoff

He established dual citizenship (Hong Kong and CNMI) and proceeded to build a sweatshop empire based on importing labor from other Asian countries, keeping them in near slave conditions for the fortunate. Others were forced into prostitution, even forced to have abortions if they were unfortunate enough to get pregnant. All of this is clearly documented, but our government has done little or nothing to protect the workers in the CNMI. Even when California Congressman George Miller tried to have US labor laws extended to the CNMI, the legislation was bottled up by Tom DeLay.

In fact, there is a video recording shown on 20/20 of Willie Tan referring to the fact that DeLay would not allow this to happen. Why could Wilie Tan get away with this? Consider that the CNMI Governor through a good portion of this time was Ben Fitial, once a Vice President of Tan Holdings.

As long as the Republicans were in charge of Congress, nothing happened that would affect the CNMI and Willie Tan. In fact, that is still true. Consider that from the 2006 effort to raise the minimum wage, the clauses that would have raised the minimum wage in the CNMI were stripped out of the bill in between the time it was approved in committee and when it was voted on the floor of the House. Tan's reach is still powerful even though Abramoff and DeLay are gone.

Where was Dana in all of this?

Well, we know that the CNMI was loudly proclaimed as a triumph of Free Enterprise. The Libertarian Free State Project considered re-focusing as a Free Territory Project and considered the CNMI to be a good "target". I would like to ask Dana whether he chose to see the CNMI though some sort of funny colored glasses. How could he have made fact finding trips to the CNMI in 1996/7:
The trip was from 12-27-1996 through 1-4-1997. Joining Jack Abramoff and Brian Bilbray on the New Year's Eve Holiday Congressional trip to CNMI were Bilbray's wife, Patrick Pizzella, Cong. Rohrabacher, Dana's fiancé Rhonda Carmondy, and Cong. Duncan (R-TN) and his wife.
and again in 1999:

and not to have been aware of what was going on?

Maybe it was Dana's friendship with Abramoff. After all, Abramoff used Rohrabacher as a reference to secure the loan for buying SunCruz, the fraudulent deal which ultimately landed Abramoff in jail. If Dana was on first name relations with Jack, then we have to ask if he was swallowing the swill that Abramoff was handing out regarding the CNMI.

There is no one so blind as the man who chooses not to see.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

How deep is the Balckwater?

Thanks to a tip from an OC friend, I started to look at the connection between Dana Rohrabacher and Blackwater, the mercenary soldier of fortune organization that was founded by Erik Prince, himself once a Navy Seal. I did not have to look very long.

I have not thought very much about civilian armies. I know that the militia stories that circulated all over after Oklahoma City bombing were scary. Maybe we have all been anesthetized by the military entertainment complex churning out Rambos or Delta Force or television's 24 Hours or The Unit. But I grew up on a higher class of movie. More like The Manchurian Candidate or Dr. Srangelove.

The result of all of that is I don't always trust the government and I surely don't trust the creation of an army created precisely because they don't have to play by the rules of engagement. We have seen the results when America's forces step over the line: Abu Graib for example. Even when it was not intentional, like today's US Air Strike that hit an Iraqi school, it turns the non-committed into committed enemies. So, Blackwater's army lets us do the dirty work without taking the blame... except that everyone knows who these "contractors" are.

How difficult would it be to take that same Blackwater force and to start it operating within the US? That is where the television series would take us. We should not be hiring thugs to do what we don't want to have blamed on us. We should be wary of government officials who have anything to do with them.

It was easy to find direct connections between Blackwater and Rohrabacher. According to a story posted recently at Democracy Now, Prince once interned with Rohrabacher. There is no clear definition of exactly what he did for Dana, but there are plenty of examples of an ongoing relationship.

This is from the Democracy Now source:
But also, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater worked as an intern for Representative Dana Rohrabacher, another California Republican. In fact, when Blackwater was founded, both Dana Rohrabacher and Representative John Doolittle were brought out, at the company's expense, to be at Blackwater's grand opening. So these are deep Republican ties in California that Blackwater has.
Those deep Republican ties also includes Duncan Hunter.

This is going to be an long story. Rohrabacher has left a trail behind him that should be easy to follow. For example, did he actually account for that trip to the big show by his one-time intern? The FEC filings do not show it and the other online source of records of Congressional travel American Radio Networks, does not go back before the year 2000. There is probably another story for someone who wants to go through all of those trips. I would bet you could like a few to the Taliban photo I have heard about.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Data to back up Andrew's Comments

Andrew made an appeal to all good Democrats to come to the aid of their party, even in districts where there is not an immediate, obvious payback. I thought that I would add some data to show what is really happening in the 46th CD.

The Secretary of State's office published voter registration numbers for the state on several regular schedules. In February of odd numbered years, they publish what is called an Odd Year Report. These generally represent bed rock voters in the district as the number of registered voters will increase as we get closer to major elections, especially presidential elections like we will have in 2008.

So, let's compare voter registration number in the 46th CD in 2005 and 2007. I added 3 of the smaller parties as they really complete the profile of the district. The table below show that there was a 2% drop in both Republican and Democratic Registration and a 4% rise in the numbers who Declined to State their party connection. The only one of the smaller parties that gained in registration was the American Independent Party (AIP), an illustration of the role that the immigration issue plays in this district. The AIP is essentially a single issue party.

My conclusion is that the profile of the district is changing and that, while the Republicans are losing registration, no other party has been able to capture the voters that left. That would argue for a very low turnout in 2006, which is exactly what we had in the Congressional election. Give the voters an alternative to the same old Dana, someone with fresh ideas and enthusiasm, someone with a compelling narrative as to why they challenging to status quo, and this district will respond.

Democratic 121.254
Republican 186,271
DTS 69,191
Libertarian 3,040
Am. Ind. Pty 7,670

Democratic 119,015
Republican 181,880
DTS 72,280
Libertarian 3,043
Am. Ind. Pty 7,801

Sunday, May 6, 2007

How to Turn This "Red District" Blue

Why should we be going after Gary Miller? Why should we bother with Dana Rohrabacher? Why should we be investing in building Democratic infrastructure in such "hopelessly red places" like South Orange County? Why should we be growing the progressive grassroots in such "strongly Republican towns" as Yorba Linda and Huntington Beach? Why should we even be talking about organizing in such "red counties" as Orange County?

Perhaps we should be organizing in these "red counties" because they are not actually as "hopelessly Republican" as we think they are. Perhaps we should take a second look at these red areas because they are fast turning purple, and have the potential to turn blue. Perhaps we should look at these areas because their populations are growing as the populations of such "safe blue areas" as San Francisco and Los Angeles are stagnating. Perhaps we should do something in these "red areas" because these regions are the key to keeping California blue.

So what can we do?

How about conversing with voters about environmental protection instead of talking down to them about it? Perhaps instead of simply lecturing voters in these regions on why we must protect our environment, talk with them about how environmental protection enhances our quality of life. Talk about preserving all those lovely ocean views, and about how a balanced climate is ultimately good for business. Believe me, people will listen. Huntington Beach has signed onto the US Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement. Brea has embraced the principles of "smart growth". And of course, Laguna Beach has always been a leader on environmental preservation. People here do value their quality of life. They appreciate clean beaches, clean water, pretty parks, and plenty of open space... And so do Democrats. We can make a connection here.

How about talking with voters about government's duty to protect the public good, and NOT to meddle in people's private lives? Many so-called "conservatives" in places like Orange County are really libertarian-minded people who just don't want government making decisions regarding their personal lives. Look at all the places in Orange County where Prop 85 lost. Many people here really are pro-choice, and they don't appreciate government involving itself in women's private medical decisions. People here really don't mind the gay and lesbian couples living in the neighborhood. However, they DO MIND government snooping in people's sex lives. People here appreciate safe neighborhoods, but they don't appreciate government searching their homes and businesses without any court warrant. People here want government to focus on such basic matters as keeping the neighborhoods safe, paving the roads, and beautifying the parks. They don't want government to intrude upon private personal matters. People in these "red counties" value freedom and civil liberties, and so do Democrats. We can make a connection here.

How about talking to voters about how tough it is for small businesses to make it these days? There are many small business owners in "red counties" like Orange County, and there are many things on their minds. These folks are concerned about providing health care for their workers, and they are concerned about their own health care. These folks are concerned about big-box stores like Wal-Mart moving into the community, and they don't know if they can compete with these big box stores and all their government subsidies. They are wondering how to stay competitive in such a tough business environment. These small business owners are concerned, and so are Democrats.

So why can't we connect better? Well, we haven't really tried before. Our state and national parties have never really bothered before to take another look at the "red counties", and see the purple inside. All too often, many Democratic leaders would rather just ignore places like Orange County while they continue to chase after a narrower and narrower set of "swing voters" in "swing regions". Well, how about expnading our base for once? How about investing in new areas, like Orange County, the Inland Empire, and San Diego County, where there are new opportunities for Democrats. Times are changing, and so are these communities. Let's start working here, and perhaps we change these corners of the map from red to blue. : )

Friday, May 4, 2007

A House Cleaning is in Order

I never seem to get around to reading the NY Times. Maybe I should. When a friend of mine sent me this link to an Adam Cohen editorial today, it made me stop and think a bit.

The House of Representatives has long been a place where the perks of a little bit of power seem to play to the worst impulses of greed people. The players change, even the parties involved change, but the story never does.

The overall cleanup of the House promised by Newt Gingrich never happened. The scandals that brought down Dan Rostenkowski and the House Democrats in the early 1990's are now the scandals that are playing havoc with the Republicans who stayed hanging around long after their idealist slogans were tarnished, turned green with money.

No where has that been more the case more than with the California House Republicans. For every person of principle there have been two made in the image of Duke Cunningham. For some reason, Southern California seems to be the spawning ground for this sort of graft and corruption. The first to fall was "Duke" Cunningham. Then, up in No Cal, the supposedly powerful Richard Pombo lost the CA 11 seat to a guy whom even the Bay Area House Democrats said "can't win."

The Republican Party needs to start asking itself just how far they will let the likes of Cunningham pull them down, as the winds of shame are swirling around Jerry Lewis, Gary Miller and Dana Rohrabacher, the self-styled Libertarian Troubadour and (later) Reagan speech-writer.

I ran across the following description of Rohrabacher's early career, laid out in a discussion of Totaliarianism Today.
The final step was provided by an anti-communist free-market anarchist named Dana Rohrabacher at the St. Louis YAF Convention. He was a charismatic campus activist, radicalized by Robert LeFevre who provided him with small funding to travel the country with his instrument and folk songs from campus to campus, converting YAF chapters into Libertarian Alliances and SIL chapters. Alas, later he fell into politics, but not the LP. The Libertarian billionaire Charles Koch supported him in two failed Republicans primary campaigns, and after Rohrabacher put in time as Ronald Reagan's speechwriter, he got his reward of a safe seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Orange County. He is still in office today, with growing seniority. There are few issues on which he is still Libertarian, certainly fewer than, say, Ron Paul holds.
It looks more like the attraction of money eventually ate away at those Libertarian Values that he once held dear.

I wonder how many more reference to the old Rohrabacher, the one who lived his value (on other people's money) I can find and whether they will prove embarrassing to the new Rohrabacher. Or maybe the one we see is the one that was there all along and all that Libertarian stuff was just an act, a young man, a guitar and an act to take on the road. He surely seems to have come a long ways from the ideas of Robert LeFevre or the late Samuel Edward Konkin III.

I would guess that we should give Rohrabacher the benefit of the doubt. That at one time he really believe in what he was doing. But then, we have a good measure of just how long it take the power and money flowing through Washington to reach someone, to change the way that they look at the morality of the things they do. Only the very strong seem immune and I don't see that Rohrabacher is all that strong. Those two failed races for office as Libertarian spouting Republican must have taught him that to gain and keep, that power, you have to go along. So he went along to the Marianas Islands with Tom Delay.

Where else did he go along? We will keep the travelogue running.

Crazy Dana = Anti-Choice

Let's face it: Crazy Dana Rohrabacher is completely out of touch with us when it comes to women's reproductive rights. He simply doesn't accept a woman's right to choose.

Let's look at how Planned Parenthood rates Dana. They see him as 100% anti-choice. He opposes insurance coverage for contraceptives. He opposes confidential family planning services for minors. Actually, he opposes ANY access for family planning services.

So why should we care? We should care about this because Crazy Dana is more interested in scoring cheap political points than he is in ensuring that women's private medical decisions remain private, between a woman and her doctor. We should care because Dana would rather have Washington politicians meddle in women's health decisions than to allow a woman to choose what's best for her own health.

Crazy Dana talks the talk on fighting for individual rights, but he certainly doesn't walk the walk. He has consistently acted to prevent women from making their own decisions about their own bodies. I guess he just doesn't think that women know what's best for themselves. And no, I wouldn't call taking away a woman's right to choose "fighting for individual rights". I just call BS.