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Former President Barack Obama, center, waves to the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally to support Democratic California congressional candidates, Josh Harder, T.J. Cox, Gil Cisneros, Katie Porter, Harley Rouda, Mike Levin, from left, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

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2019 California Democratic Party State Convention, May 31 – June 2, 2019

 

Date: Friday, May 31 – Sunday, June 02, 2019 Address: 747 Howard St. Ticket(s) Required: No

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The President Has Not Been Exonerated- In addition to demanding the release of the Mueller report, Congress must examine actions by William Barr that call into question the AG’s objectivity. By John NicholsTwitter

 

https://www.thenation.com/article/mueller-barr-exoneration-trump-nadler/

Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by the president and those around him was summed up by House Judiciary Committee member Jamie Raskin. “I don’t want to read the Cliff notes version of Macbeth,” observed Raskin. “I want to read Macbeth itself.”

In other words, Barr’s interpretation of the Mueller report is just that: an interpretation. It’s not the real thing

It is suspect, as such. And it is suspect because of the past partisanships and positionings of its author regarding the issues that arise from presidential obstructions of justice. Unfortunately, as former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams observed Monday, relying on Barr’s summary is “like having your brother summarize your report card to your parents.”

Trump partisans may imagine that to be a harsh critique. It’s not.

On Sunday, Barr released a subjective statement on the findings from Mueller’s investigation, which featured two takeaways. First, the attorney general wrote that the narrowly focused Mueller project “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Second, “the report sets out evidence on both sides of the [obstruction of justice] question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”

Trump’s response to Barr’s response to Mueller’s report took the all-too-predictable form a caps-lock tweet: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.”

That’s false. “President Trump is wrong. This report does not amount to a so-called total exoneration,” says Nadler. “It is unconscionable that President Trump would try to spin the special counsel’s findings as if his conduct was remotely acceptable.”

Based in part upon Barr’s statement, the president is peddling a fantasy that serves his political ends. Congress cannot permit this lie to obstruct accountability. This is why Barr must release the full Mueller report, as well as testify before the Judiciary Committee.

That second part of the equation is essential. Barr, who has a history of taking a dim view of efforts to hold presidents to account, wrote a memo last year (before Trump nominated him to replace Jeff Sessions) in which he complained about the Mueller inquiry and a “fatally misconceived” theory of how President Trump might have obstructed justice. Now, as the man Trump tapped to serve as attorney general, Barr is giving Trump a pass.

That’s an issue that cannot be allowed to get lost amid all the wrangling and pontificating over this report. As former White House counsel John Dean noted on Sunday, “Having re-read William Barr’s June 2018 Memo critiquing Mueller’s obstruction investigation and now his summary of Mueller’s Report, it is clear that Richard Nixon would not have been forced to resign his office if Barr had been Attorney General. Barr wants a POTUS above the law.”

Nadler, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chair Adam B. Schiff, and Committee on Oversight and Reform chair Elijah E. Cummings have responded appropriately. “After reading the Attorney General’s four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s findings, we reiterate our call for the release of the Special Counsel’s full and complete report and all underlying documents. We also call for Attorney General Barr to come forward to testify before the House Judiciary Committee without delay,” they announced on Sunday. “Far from the ‘total exoneration’ claimed by the President, the Mueller report expressly does not exonerate the President. Instead, it ‘sets out evidence on both sides of the question’ of obstruction—including the evidence that President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.”

The key committee chairs are right: “It is unacceptable that, after Special Counsel Mueller spent 22 months meticulously uncovering this evidence, Attorney General Barr made a decision not to charge the President in under 48 hours. The Attorney General did so without even interviewing the President. His unsolicited, open memorandum to the Department of Justice, suggesting that the obstruction investigation was ‘fatally misconceived,’ calls into question his objectivity on this point in particular.”

‘There Is Going to Be a War Within the Party. We Are Going to Lean Into It.’

The Justice Democrats helped get Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elected. Who are they after next?

February 04, 2019

David Freedlander writes about politics and culture. He lives in New York.

Maybe you’ve heard the warning: The country is beset by a menace. A fringe conservative minority is holding Congress hostage, extracting radical policy concessions over the will of the majority. And it’s leading the nation to fiscal, environmental and moral ruin.

Maybe you haven’t heard this part: These dangerous conservatives are Democrats.

“I am talking about the radical conservatives in the Democratic Party,” said Saikat Chakrabarti. “That’s who we need to counter. It’s the same across any number of issues—pay-as-you-go, free college, “Medicare for all.” These are all enormously popular in the party, but they don’t pass because of the radical conservatives who are holding the party hostage.”

Not long ago, this would have been an outlier position even among American liberals. Today, it’s the organizing principle of a newly empowered segment of the Democratic Party, one with a foothold in the new Congress.

Chakrabarti is chief of staff to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the closest thing to a new celebrity Congress has had in years—a 29-year-old former activist and bartender who, on the most recent Martin Luther King Day, sat on the same New York stage as the rapper Common, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and MacArthur “genius award” winner Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Although it’s Ocasio-Cortez who gets all the headlines, she arguably wouldn’t be in Congress in the first place without the group Chakrabarti founded: Justice Democrats, a new, central player in the ongoing war for the soul of the Democratic Party. It was the Justice Democrats who recruited her in a quixotic campaign early on, providing a neophyte candidate with enough infrastructure to take down a party leader. And it is the Justice Democrats who see Ocasio-Cortez as just the opening act in an astonishingly ambitious plan to do nothing less than re-imagine liberal politics in America—and do it by whatever means necessary.

If that requires knocking out well-known elected officials and replacing them with more radical newcomers, so be it. And if it ends up ripping apart the Democratic Party in the process—well, that might be the idea.

“There is going to be a war within the party. We are going to lean into it,” said Waleed Shahid, the group’s spokesman.

The top Democrats in Congress have their hands full already, trying to use their new control of the House of Representatives to fight President Donald Trump, expand their majority in 2020, and maybe even capture the Senate. But they also find themselves with real anxieties about their left flank for the first time in memory. Justice Democrats is one of a handful of groups that represent a new and restive spirit in the party, a Tea Party-like populist coalition of voters awakened by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ cannonball run in 2016 and united by their superprogressive politics and a millennial disdain for the establishment.

Not all of their efforts have been successful—of the slate of 2018 candidates Justice Democrats recruited, only Ocasio-Cortez won—but they’ve been undeniably disruptive, and unafraid to go after people on their own side of the aisle. Nervous members of the Democratic establishment and leadership are watching, asking: Could they hurt the party as it tries to leverage its first majority in years and defeat Trump in 2020? And do they even care?

***

Four years ago, Ocasio-Cortez was waitressing at a Union Square taqueria, Donald Trump was the host of a fading reality-TV franchise, and Chakrabati was a digital entrepreneur who had nothing at all to do with politics. He was living in the San Francisco Bay Area and working for a digital payment processing company when he suddenly, unexpectedly found himself electrified by a 73-year-old presidential candidate named Bernie Sanders. “I liked what he was saying. He seemed like he was one of the people,” Chakrabarti says. “It wasn’t just that he was a progressive, but that he really cared about building a movement around these ideas.”

He reached out to Claire Sandberg, the digital organizing director of the Sanders campaign, who was arranging “Bernstorms” around the country, getting previously apolitical activists together to host phone banking and door-knocking parties.

Eventually, it became clear that Bernie wasn’t going to win. But it felt clear to Chakrabati that the political revolution Sanders had stoked was close to coming to fruition. He began meeting with a small group of his fellow Sandersistas to figure out how to channel that energy in the next election.

Like Chakrabarti, they were entirely from outside government, and mostly outside politics altogether. Corbin Trent was a political neophyte who’d been volunteering for Sanders in Knoxville, Tennessee; when the food truck he owned burned down, he left Knoxville and joined the campaign in Vermont. Alexandra Rojas was a student in community college in Orange County, Calif., when Sanders announced his run — “It was the first time I got excited about politics,” she said — and started volunteering on campus.

Today, she’s the executive director of Justice Democrats, and Trent, the group’s co-founder and former communications director, is Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesman. The group’s current communications director and perhaps fiercest firebrand is Shahid, the only member in its leadership who had any experience in politics before the Sanders campaign.

As the 2016 primary got underway, Shahid was working at an immigrants rights legal aid group in Philadelphia; people would come in—asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants—and Shahid recalls telling them, day after day, to just keep watching CNN because Obama was bound to pass something clarifying their status sooner or later. “It was the most demoralizing, uninspiring time of my life,” he said.

Disappointed with Obama, Shahid got a job with the Working Families Party, which was all-in for Sanders, and after the election began trying to figure out how to make big systemic changes in politics, or “cultureshifts”—not just winning arguments, but changing the terms of the whole debate.

“The idea is that you bring moral questions to the public’s attention, and have the public rally around it,” he says. “Reframe the issue so that the choices are stark, and let the public decide rather than people in power.” He points to how the “99 percent” became a buzzword after Occupy Wall Street; how Obama and Hillary Clinton eventually came to oppose the Keystone Pipeline after supporting it; how “Abolish ICE” quickly went from a fringy Twitter slogan to one embraced by mainstream Democrats. Either you favor ripping kids from their homes, or you don’t. And if you don’t, suddenly the policy choices aren’t incremental: They’re rather stark.

The group started meeting up even before the 2016 primary was over, and its members began looking ahead to the 2018 midterms—figuring that any Democratic president would need a very different Congress to get anything done. Along with Cenk Uygur, the progressive activist and founder of the liberal media company The Young Turks, they started a group called Brand New Congress.

The original idea was thrilling in its ambition, if absurdly unworkable: They would create a slate to replace Congress entirely, recruiting 435 people across both parties to run for the House, while BNC would serve as the back office for all of them, handling mail, digital, and press.

Chakrabarti, Uygur and others saw the effort begin to founder under its own weight. And in the wake of Trump’s shocking win, the notion of a nonpartisan effort to replace every member of Congress with some nonpolitical person didn’t seem as important as creating the sharpest possible counterweight on the left. And so after the election, Chakrabarti, Trent, Rojas, Uygur and others split off to found Justice Democrats.

This time, the goal was far more modest: Push the Democratic party closer to Sanders’ politics by challenging centrist Democrats in their primaries. The idea was to recruit 12 working-class candidates to confront incumbents, muster some of that Sanders-style populist energy on a local level and push incumbents to the left. If a couple of breaks went their way, they might even score an upset or two.

“After the election, was I mad at Donald Trump? I guess, kinda,” said Uygur, who ended up leaving the group when a series of previously deleted misogynistic blog posts were unearthed. “But mainly I was mad at the Democratic Party for blowing it. How could you lose to this guy?

“I came to realize Democrats are never going to learn,” he said, “and that the only way to make a difference is to defeat the corrupt corporate Democrats. They get paid to lose. The corporate donor pays them to be weak, and pays Republicans to be strong.”

The group didn’t have many litmus tests for candidates they were willing to support, but they drew a few red lines. One was a ban on all corporate PAC money, something that soon became standard fare for 2018 candidates. On policy, if you weren’t for Medicare for all, “it usually meant you weren’t our type of candidate,” said Uygur.

Even now, Justice Democrats is a shoestring operation. It has no headquarters, no major benefactors and raised less than $3 million in the 2018 cycle, mostly small dollar donations from people not used to much political giving. But it built a 300,000 strong email list by engaging with young activists on the ground and online.

A typical “big donor” to the group is Arden Buck, an 84-year-old retired research engineer in Colorado who gave $10,000 after receiving a windfall insurance payout. I found him through public fundraising records; when I asked him how he found about Justice Democrats, he said he saw them mentioned on MSNBC and that he was driven by concern about greenhouse gases and wanted to give money to groups that could use it the most. “I am focused on climate change. If we don’t take care of the environment, social justice is beside the point,” he told me.

For all its passion, the group might have been just another voice in the political wilderness if it hadn’t been for the success of Ocasio-Cortez. She had come to the founders’ attention in 2016 when her brother, Gabriel, who had heard about Brand New Congress, nominated her to be one of its candidates. Chakrabarti was still with BNC, and he told Business Insider earlier this month that the group didn’t really see her district as a likely target: It was occupied by Joe Crowley, the powerful 10-term incumbent from Queens, and seemed unwinnable. But after a few phone calls and a meeting, he had a different thought: “Holy Crap. You are an incredible candidate.”

As her race heated up, and it became clear that this 28-year-old was actually gaining ground on one of the most powerful Democrats in the House, Shahid encouraged the entire leadership of Justice Democrats to momentarily abandon their other efforts and go all in on running her campaign.

The challenge of running a young, underfunded working-class candidate became apparent early on. When Shahid joined Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, she was still working four nights a week as a bartender in Manhattan. He would set up meetings with community leaders only to have Ocasio-Cortez say that she couldn’t do them because they interfered with her work schedule.

“I would get so frustrated with her. ‘You can’t do this full-time bartending thing and run for Congress!’ And she would say, ‘What do you want me to do? I have to work.’”

They thought they were going to get 30 percent of the vote. Ocasio-Cortez would text Shahid excitedly whenever there was a report that Crowley had moved a little to the left—embracing Medicare for all, for example. That was proof, as they saw it, that their mission was advancing. Shahid says he felt more than a twinge of regret for leading people on.

“We would go to these fundraisers in the Bronx, and there would be ex-cops in the room and they would have tears in their eyes. It was a double thing for me. I had just come off the Bernie campaign and here AOC was, she was so fucking inspiring and so charismatic that grown men are crying and I would think to myself, ‘We just have no chance here. Everyone is going to be so disappointed!’”

***

At one level, Justice Democrats’ strategy failed. Their original goal was to recruit 12 candidates, provide them with media, field and fundraising help as needed, and try to pick off a few vulnerable seats. Of those candidates, 11 lost.

But they also notched a success beyond anything they’d planned for. Ocasio-Cortez took on one of the most powerful congressional Democrat not named Nancy Pelosi, and by a decisive margin, she unseated him—shaking the party’s power structure and getting nationwide attention for a democratic socialist newcomer who embodied nearly everything that thrilled young movement voters. Several other candidates they’d endorsed, but weren’t as closely involved with, also won, including Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.

The Crowley defeat brought to mind Dave Brat’s surprise 2014 victory in Virginia, taking out Republican majority leader Eric Cantor by primarying him from the right. Shahid looks back at the power of what a single race can do, recalling the Politico headline that ran at the time: “Eric Cantor Loss Kills Immigration Reform.”

“It was just one fucking race,” he said. “One fucking race and suddenly immigration reform was dead.”

The Sanders race had established the existence of a populist Democratic base eager to vote against its own party’s establishment. Now there was an organization willing to lead the charge. “It’s remarkable,” said Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which started a decade ago as a liberal alternative to what it saw as its stodgy counterparts in Washington. “Everybody is so concerned about clout and about relationships, and they have no relationships, so they just go for it, taking big chances.”

The fact that Ocasio-Cortez, and for that matter Pressley, Tlaib and Omar don’t hail from the traditional background in a body in which the median wealth is over $1 million is very much part of the point. As Ocasio-Cortez faces criticism for her bank account, her wardrobe and her supposed lack of knowledge of the details of policy, the strategy from Justice Democrats and her team has been to face it head on.

“Our theory is that when a working-class person wins, when a person without a political background wins, there is going to be a backlash—you don’t have experience, you don’t know anything, you are dumb,” said Shahid. “All of this happened with Ocasio.”

This, as he sees it, is the culture shift, a way of turning the lens around to reveal the now stark choices. “That is an awesome story for people to see, because the way the D.C. media and the conservative media in particular tear into AOC around being a working-class person or a person of color or a Puerto Rican, I don’t think the public likes it very much,” he said. “The public sees a Cinderella story, a bartender who goes against the machine and wins. And you see the way she is dragged by the D.C. establishment and the media, we lean into it, as if to say, ‘If that’s what they think about her, what do you think they think about you?’”

In Congress, fellow Democrats don’t know quite what to make of AOC or the Justice Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez’s bark may not be as serious as her bite; although she livestreamed a sit-in of Pelosi’s office, she also voted for her for Speaker and has been supportive of her fellow Democrats. It’s not lost on her colleagues, however, that the group that helped vault her into place—and who have two founders leading her office—is the sworn enemy of the establishment she needs to work with.

“In person, she is lovely and is trying to get along with her colleagues,” said the House Democrat. “But she is going to have to navigate the fact it was the Justice Democrats who brought her to prominence, and their currency is going to be continue to shake up what they call the establishment and run primaries against people.”

David Hopkins, a professor of political science at Boston College, says systematically targeting fellow Democrats really crosses a line in American politics. “I mean, even the Freedom Caucus doesn’t do that,” he said. “We sort of know how stuff happens in Congress. It requires a lot of negotiation and compromise. Starting a bunch of internal fights within your party is not usually step one.”

Some people in Congress closely aligned with the group have publicly distanced themselves from any effort to cast a wide net of insurgent challenges. Ro Khanna, a second-term congressman from Silicon Valley who himself defeated an eight-term Democrat in a primary in 2016, sent Justice Democrats a direct message on Twitter to join the cause soon after they formed. The group considers him, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, to have been their closest allies in the last Congress; Khanna was the only sitting member of Congress to endorse Ocasio-Cortez. But today he said the party needs for all of its component parts to keep their eyes on the real prize. “Our primary focus has to be stop Donald Trump, to defeat the Republicans, particularly in the Senate. That is the single most effective thing we can do to advance progressive politics,” Khanna said. “I have been encouraging our party to save our fire for Republicans rather than on intraparty disputes.”

Ocasio-Cortez herself has sent mixed messages on this score. According to a report in POLITICO, New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone, a moderate Democrat, fought with Ocasio-Cortez on her idea for a select committee on a Green New Deal in a closed-door meeting of Democrats in November. Rather than embrace the narrative of being a firebrand, Ocasio-Cortez, who hadn’t yet been sworn in, denied the story was true. A few weeks later, POLITICO also reported that Ocasio-Cortez and allies were eyeing a primary challenge to Hakeem Jeffries, a young Brooklyn lawmaker who angered progressives in part for taking Joe Crowley’s position in the leadership over the more liberal Barbara Lee in California. Ocasio-Cortez took issue with the story on Twitter, without denying it, lamenting that the article was “printed + distributed to **Congressional offices**” and only later, when pressed by one of her followers, saying it wasn’t accurate.

Jeffries’ camp noted, pointedly, that the story didn’t include an on-the-record denial from Ocasio-Cortez herself. They also told me she hadn’t reached out to Jeffries herself to deny it. Jeffries himself was quoted citing the lyrics of Notorious B.I.G: “Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way.”

“That quote was sending a message,” said one Jeffries supporter in New York. “I am from Brooklyn. Don’t fuck with me.”

***

For now, it is still unclear where Justice Democrats will fit in among the various groups that emerged in big numbers out of the 2016 election, including Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible, Brand New Congress, Swing Left and the Sunrise Movement, just to name a few. Justice Democrats made a bet that a single giant felled would rewrite the political landscape, and so far they have been proven right.

The Green New Deal, a joint production of Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, has 45 co-sponsors and is embraced by several Democrats running for president. Justice Democrats helped galvanize support, getting 150 people to sit in at Nancy Pelosi’s office just after the midterms.

Shahid, the group’s spokesman, predicted that, besides further agitation on the Green New Deal, the group would attempt to push for free college and an end to mass incarceration. And to force some support, they won’t be afraid to threaten primary challenges against anyone unwilling to sign on.

“We already are a pariah in Washington, D.C.,” he said proudly. “It’s about attention. Either it helps you gain leverage because people are scared of you or you lose leverage because people are annoyed with you. We will see.”

So far, the results of this aggressive outside game are mixed, at best. Despite the group’s success attracting support for the Green New Deal, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied calls for a select committee on the idea. And 45 co-sponsors is a long way from the 218 needed to actually pass something.

“You are not going to make 218 people in one session of Congress afraid,” said Hopkins. “How much leverage does Ocasio-Cortez have? If she can wave her hand and endanger the reelection prospects of even pretty liberal members, then that is one thing. They may not like it, but they will be forced to get in line. But does she have that kind of power? If you take a shot and miss, you are very much likely going to be worse off than even if you didn’t take a shot at all.”

“I view these outside groups like this skeptically. Are they trying to build a movement or start a riot?” said Colin Strother, a Texas operative and an adviser to Representative Henry Cuellar, one of Justice Democrats’ top targets in 2020. “I never heard anything about Justice Democrats until a few weeks ago. Are the people running it political professionals? Groups like them, they come along for a cycle or two, they disappear and something else crops up in their place. Democrats do best when we keep our disagreements around the kitchen table instead of in the front yard where everybody can see.”

Buck, the Colorado donor, says he is thrilled with Ocasio-Cortez—“She is fabulous”—but wary of what Justice Democrats want to do next. “It is little tricky. People without experience can shake things up, but I worry that they will be sitting ducks for the Republicans.”

As they move into the next election cycle, their hope is that Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Tlaib and Omar form more of a unit, one in which they share staff, best practices and strategy, and care less about personal brand-building. Justice Democrats plans to provide cover with its 350,000-person email list and active social media feeds.

Limited resources mean that playing in the presidential primary will be difficult, but the energized new left has already seen some of what were once considered its most outré ideas—the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, Abolish ICE and free college—become a central part of several likely presidential campaign platforms. Next cycle, members of the group plan to target from five to 10 House Democrats who occupy safe blue seats. Some names of the targets have already been floated out, like Henry Cuellar, but Sean McElwee, a liberal activist and co-founder of Data for Progress, where he works closely with Justice Democrats, listed a handful more who are vulnerable to a Crowley-sized challenge, including Kathleen Rice of Long Island, Jim Cooper of Nashville and Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore. (Shahid, asked if they were targets, declined to list any names.)

Strother, the Texas operative, said people from outside Cuellar’s South Texas district—a place where guns and gas drilling are a way of life and an economic driver—don’t understand the absolutism. How, he asked, could a party that prides itself on being welcoming now try to kick apostates out of the tent?

“The Republican Party went through a lot of these same fights after they won in 2010, and they were not well-served by them,” he said, “and the Democrats should learn that lesson.”

“Diversity is one of the values of our party,” he said. “We have Muslims in our party, we have Buddhists in our party, we have Baptists in our party, we have everything under the sun in our party. We say you can worship what you want, you can love what you want and you can be what you want. Then how is it that we are going to tell people you can’t think what you want?”

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/02/04/the-insurgents-behind-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-224542

California Dems offer preview of party’s 2020 agenda

California Democrats are putting the finishing touches on what may be the most ambitiously liberal session in decades, offering a potential preview of the national party’s agenda ahead of the 2020 presidential contest.

The legislature’s agenda this year includes expanding access to higher education and health care, parental leave, environmental initiatives aimed at reining in carbon emissions, massive infrastructure spending and added protections for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Some measures are meant as a direct challenge to the Trump administration, as California Democrats set themselves up to be the face of the resistance. Others could have been cribbed from Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign.

On Wednesday, the legislature passed a bill that would make the first year of community college free for first-time students, a step toward free college proposals Sanders and others have proposed.

The Assembly gave final approval to a bill that would require most businesses to give employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave. And legislators passed a bill to require insurance companies and state health plans to provide information about the costs of prescription drugs.

Before adjourning on Friday, the legislature is likely to pass a bill that would limit state law enforcement officials from interacting with federal immigration officials, making California a sanctuary state for immigrants.

Senate President Kevin de Leon (D) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) said this week they would also allocate $30 million for legal defense funds for state residents covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump has said he will wind down.

The state Senate is likely to give final approval to a measure that would add a third gender option on birth certificates and driver licenses, alongside options for male or female. That measure would also streamline the process for changing one’s gender identity with state agencies.

“The culture wars are over in California today. It’s just no contest,” said Thad Kousser, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego. “We’ve seen a real solid Democratic coalition on anything that involves the culture wars or immigration.”

The measures aimed at protecting immigrants were borne of what political analyst Dan Walters called “the anti-Trump fervor that’s sweeping the Capitol.”

“I think California did establish itself as a center of resistance in rhetorical terms, but not especially so in real terms,” said Walter, a former columnist at the Sacramento Bee who now contributes to the nonprofit political site CALmatters.

The rush to finalize the progressive wish list comes after Democrats passed a measure earlier this year extending the state’s cap and trade program, and another that raised the gas tax to fund infrastructure projects. At the same time, legislators set aside extra money for Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), who has hired new lawyers for his legal battles against the Trump administration.

Brown has said he will approve the sanctuary state bill and the new funding for legal assistance for DACA recipients. He has not commented on several other measures pending his signature, though he vetoed a parental leave bill last year.

Republicans, relegated to the sidelines by Democratic super majorities in both the Assembly and the Senate, say the Democratic agenda has made California too expensive.

“Starting from the gas tax increase to now, you’re going to have someone pay more at the gas pump, their electricity bills are going up, they can’t afford a home,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong, a Republican serving his first term in Sacramento. “You’ve got more taxes, more regulations, more fees.”

But Democrats faced a major schism over the top priority for liberals in California, a proposal to establish a single-payer health care system. The measure passed the state Senate earlier this year, but Rendon shelved it over the summer over concerns about funding mechanisms.

The bill is backed by the California Nurses Association, the largest union that backed Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign. Don Nielsen, the union’s government relations director, said the issue is becoming a “litmus test” for Democrats in Sacramento.

“California is going to lead the way, and we’ve led the way up to this point,” Nielsen said. “This is mainstream.”

“There are still limits to California’s liberalism, and that was best shown earlier this year when the Speaker, at great personal peril, had to put to death the unfunded single-payer bill,” Kousser said. “We’re not yet Bernie Sanders’s America.”

Sixteen Democratic senators, including California’s Kamala Harris, co-sponsored a similar single-payer bill Sanders introduced on Wednesday. Kousser said the difference between the Senate’s version and California’s version is that the California bill actually has a chance of becoming law — and that chance is what raised concerns in Sacramento.

In the U.S. Senate, Democrats “know it’s a free vote. They know it’s not going to become reality in any kind of near-time horizon. Whereas Democrats in California had to say ‘no’ to a similar measure when faced with the challenges of implementing and taking responsibility for it,” he said. “There are things you can do when the politics are symbolic, and you have to pull back from them when it’s going to be your party that’s responsible for putting it into policy.”

Some Assembly Democrats predicted the measure, which could cost as much as $400 billion to implement, would make a comeback next year.

“We will, out of the Assembly, have a solution for California that we’ll be able to pay for, and more importantly that Californians will accept,” said Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D), who heads the progressive caucus.

Help the Homeless this Holiday Season

The Chino Valley Democratic Club has agreed to partner with Senator Connie Leyva SD20 to collect clothing and sundry items to help the homeless in the region. Club members are encouraged to bring clothing items, socks, canned food, and blankets to the Holiday Potluck Party event on Dec. 10. Location available on request.

The receiving organizaton, T.O.U.C.H Ministries of Ontario, is recognized by Senator Leyva as “non-profit of the year”. T.O.U.C.H. Ministries provides hot meals and backpacks with food, clothes, hygiene items and other important items to homeless persons. The ministry also focuses on providing services to seniors, at-risk youth, recently released inmates and the working poor.  Contact Marian at chinovalleydems@gmail.org or 909-591-1864 for more info.

Congratulations to our local Chino Valley Democratic Club endorsed winners!

Congressional District 35- Norma Torres

Congressional District 39- Gil Cisneros

 

CA Assembly District 52- Freddie Rodriguez

CA State Senate 20- Connie LeyvaChino Valley Unified School District, Member, Governing BoardChristine Gagnier

City of Chino, Member, City Council, District 1- Paul RodriguezCity of Montclair, City Council- Trisha Martinez

 

California Democratic Party Statewide Office Endorsements | Ballot Proposition

CLICK TO ACCESS ENDORSEMENT AND BALLOT INFO

http://www.sanbernardinodemocrats.org/

Fazli Recants Her Accusations Against Cisneros; Now Young Kim Should Apologize

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Melissa Fazli — whose accusation of sexual misappropriateness (not illegality, not even misconduct) against CA-39 candidate Gil Cisneros has been the lifeline of Young Kim’s campaign in that district — has withdrawn those accusations after a meeting they held with Cisneros’s former top rival for the nomination Andy Thorburn and Democratic activist Mirvette JudehAs OJB concluded at the time, the exchange between them seems to have been a misunderstanding over the political, as opposed to sexual, meaning of the phrase “what will you do for me?” — at a time when Fazli’s endorsement could have been critical to Cisneros’s candidacy and it was clearly an endorsement, rather than a fling , that was on Cisneros’s mind.

I don’t doubt Fazli’s sincerity in her interpretation of what was said to her, nor her courage in bringing it forward if that’s what she believed — all I can say is that sometimes it pays to check with a few more people prior to making an incendiary accusation without the a sufficiently compelling factual foundation to back it up.  (The contrast between what Fazli said happened, and the factual allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez against Brett Kavanaugh, could not be more stark.)  There are worse things that can be said about someone that they’re perhaps a bit too innocent to recognize the difference between a sexual proposition and a political one — and even if she was mistaken it testifies to Fazli’s character that she had the spine to bring it up if she believed it was wrong.

But now there has to be a reckoning — and we need apologies from House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan, whose PAC has unleashed vicious and distorted attacks on Cisneros, and Cisneros’s opponent Young Kim. who has stood silently ready to benefit from them.

Republicans have been getting hammered this year over sexual scandals — wait, let’s not call them “sexual,” but “sexual violence and assault” scandals — from Donald Trump to Brett Kavanaugh and beyond.  Polling and voting results have shown that it has been killing them particularly among suburban women — that is, women in districts like CA-39, which centers on Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Diamond Bar, and Chino Hills.  So Fazli’s accusations have been like manna from heaven for them.  But let’s be very clear what those accusations are — and what the Republican campaign twisted them into.

Fazli said that Cisneros tried to invite himself into her hotel room at the state party convention (true) ,she believed seeking sex (not true, it was to talk to her about an endorsement), and that when she asked him for a campaign contribution his answer was that he conditioned such a contribution on either her giving him sexual access or spying for him (not true at all).

In its widely distributed ads in support of the Young Kim campaign , Paul Ryan’s PAC interprets this with these words: as “sexually harassing a fellow California Democrat, inviting himself to her hotel room and demanding sex in exchange for campaign funds.”

It’s that last phrase that is chilling — and that has no doubt cut into Cisneros’s margin against Kim.  And it is so misleading — defensible only through technical use of a legal term — as to be downright evil.

The word “demand” is carefully chosen there.  In law, a “demand” is “an indication of what one will accept in exchange for an offer.”  If Cisneros said “I will donate to your campaign if you endorse me, he was in that limited technical sense issuing a “demand” — but it was not a “you do this OR ELSE” kind of a demand, it was a “you do X and in return I will do Y” kind of demand, something that was entirely benign.

Paul Ryan — with Young Kim’s complicity — cunningly made this sound like “an attempt to extort sex from her — in other words, “sexual assault.”

Get it?  Sex was supposedly part of the “demand” in a quid pro quo bargain — and therefore (some repulsive political advertiser realized) they could technically accuse Cisneros of “demanding sex.”

You know, “demanding sex” — like putting a knife to someone’s throat and demanding sex from them.  That’s what they were (with some evident success!) implying to suburban voters.

All I can say to that is:

GOD DAMN THEM FOR THAT!

Sexual assault is serious enough a crime that one should NEVER make an accusation of it against someone by playing WORD GAMES.

By saying that Cisneros “demanded sex” from Fazli — knowing that people would not construe that phrase in its non-contractual bargaining sense, but as in “YOU GIVE ME SEX NOW!” — Paul Ryan’s team trumped up not only a #metoo accusation out of nothing, but an accusation of violent sexual assault.  (That Cisneros is Mexican, and therefore this would evoke Donald Trump’s infamous claim that “Mexicans are rapists,” Paul Ryan’s team no doubt saw as just a subtle racist bonus.

And — LET’S NOT FORGET — Young Kim sat there silently in implicit approval of it all!

Here’s what has to happen now:

(1) Paul Ryan’s team has to fire whoever in his PAC came up with and approved the disgusting “he demanded sex from her” assertion.

(2) They must IMMEDIATELY cancel all ads making this vile and bogus claim.

(3) They should run ads retracting and apologizing for that claim.

(4) Young Kim has to apologize for sitting idly by while someone was defamed in one of the worst possible ways just so she could win an election by their lying to voters.

Young Kim’s campaign office’s phone number is 562-448-3003.  You can call her and ask her if she will apologize and demand that the PAC cancel the vile and bogus ads it has been running to help her.  You can also ask her to do this on Twitter: @YoungKimCD39.  (And if you’d like to ask her if she believes the women accusing Brett Kavanaugh, given the standard used in accepting Fazli’s accusations of actors that at their worse were magnitudes less serious, please do that too.)

[Cisneros’s press release appears in the first comment below.]

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker’s rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You’ll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn’t directly profit from her work and it doesn’t affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)

5 Comments

  1. Greg Diamond

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2018

    RELEASE: Melissa Fazli Withdraws Misconduct Allegation, Denounces CLF Ads

    Fullerton, Calif. – Yesterday, Gil Cisneros and Melissa Fazli met to discuss the claims that Fazli made in May. Also present for the meeting were Andy Thorburn and community leader Mirvette Judeh. Judeh helped arrange the meeting following her speaking out against the Congressional Leadership Fund for airing false, sexualized content during children’s programming.

    Fazli and Cisneros released the following statements:

    “I appreciate Mirvette Judeh opening a line of communication with myself and Gil Cisneros and arranging a meeting to discuss our previous interactions,” said Fazli. “I misunderstood the conversations that I had with Gil Cisneros at the Democratic convention and after. I don’t believe that Gil sexually harassed me. The Congressional Leadership Fund lied. Rather than standing with victims and survivors of harassment and assault, they are weaponizing my story for their own political gain. I denounce their ads. Emotions, anxiety, and stress have multiplied 100-fold for women like myself during this MeToo movement. I believe Mr. Cisneros has a good heart and is truly sorry for the handling of my accusations.”

    Fazli also tweeted the following:

    “This past week, seeing the pain of Dr. Ford and so many women and the dismissiveness of both Judge Kavanaugh and Washington Republicans, I felt it was important to reach out to meet with Melissa,” said Cisneros. “I have defended the truth against millions of dollars in false attacks that both lie about the claims made and weaponize her story. I believed it was important to listen to her and to open up a line of communication. We sat down and heard each other, found a clear case of misunderstanding, and are both ready to move forward.”

    “I arranged this meeting because I truly believe that this has been a misunderstanding,” said community leader Mirvette Judeh. “I’m outraged that Paul Ryan and Republicans in Congress are twisting this claim and airing sexualized content in front of my children. Their hypocrisy is stunning. For the good of this district, our country, and the MeToo movement, I wanted to put this misunderstanding behind us.”

    About a month ago, the Congressional Leadership Fund weaponized Mrs. Fazli’s allegations against Mr. Cisneros in the form of three commercials and sent three mailers with Mrs. Fazli’s professional real estate photo and name without her permission. She contacted the CLF to immediately cease any more use of her name and photo. Mrs. Fazli changed her license plates on her car because she feared for her and her family’s safety and also added extra security at her home.

    ###

    Gil Cisneros is a veterans and education advocate. During his service as a U.S. Naval Officer he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (2), the National Defense Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for his exemplary service to his country. Since leaving the Navy, he has continued to fight for our nation’s veterans. Gil is a co-founder of The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation, an organization committed to providing increased access to educational opportunities for our nation’s students and veterans. Gil’s dedication toward philanthropy began when he purchased a winning California Mega Millions lottery ticket in 2010. Gil’s commitment to education led him to be appointed to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative’s advisory board, on which he still serves, and President Obama’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

    California’s 39th Congressional District, split between Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties, is one of the most competitive districts in California. Hillary Clinton won the district by a whopping nine points, the DCCC labeled it a first-round target on its battlefield map and the Cook Political Report changed the district’s status from Lean R to Toss Up.

    http://www.cisnerosforcongress.com

    Twitter – Facebook

    Paid for by Cisneros for Congress [NOTE: DOES NOT APPLY TO THIS PJB COMMENT!]

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    • Ryan Cantor

      . . .

      Try not to get too dizzy from all that spin.

      • AUGGIE

        This SMELLS!

        Look for the victim to get a plum position………with someone.

  2. Donovan

    “Paul Ryan’s team has to fire whoever in his PAC came up with and approved the disgusting “he demanded sex from her” assertion.”

    That would be Fred Malek, chairman of the Congressional Leadership Fund. Interesting gent. He’s certainly had quite a few posts…and longstanding ties from Nixon on…

    “Trump picks ‘Jew counter’ at center of Nixon-era anti-Semitic campaign to lead powerful think tank”
    https://thinkprogress.org/trump-appoints-man-responsible-for-campaign-against-jews-761cd9168338/

    • Greg Diamond

      Well, yes, in the “the CEO is responsible for everything that happens sense” — but I’m still interested in who came up with it and approved it at lower levels. Their heads might roll a little more readily than Malek’s.

  3. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I WILL TELL ALL OF YOU WHO DOUBT THIS: THIS IS THE TRUTH. I WAS THERE WITH GIL THE NIGHT OF THE ALLEGED INCIDENT. I PREVIOUSLY POSTED MY BLOG COMMENT IN MAY REFUTING THE ALLEGATIONS AND SHARING MY OBSERVATIONS.
    I praise Melissa for realizing the seriousness and consequences that had been created and recognizing that sometimes, in the excitement of the moment, especially at a convention, we can misinterpret communications from our fellow delegates and candidates. I had been with both parties, (as well as others), off and on over the three days and observed the ebb and flow of many communications that were fired up by political passion. This incident should never have amounted to what it did.

    What really smells is how the Kim campaign associate PAC has made a nasty, twisted, lying smear of all of this. They do no care about women’s rights or sexual assault or harassment. They only use it to their advantage when they are clearly losing! This weak attempt to put out hateful, spiteful ads that attack a good candidate, who will represent all of us, is despicable. I encourage all Progressives and Democrats of goodwill to stand up along with myself and Melissa Fazli for our next Congressman, Gil Cisneros! Let’s put Gil on the Hill!

Where California would head if Gavin Newsom is governor By Angela Hart ahart@sacbee.com

Where California would head if Gavin Newsom is governor

Updated June 06, 2018 02:27 PM

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article212649649.html#storylink=cpy