Category: US

My Progressive Guide to the 2018 California Primanies

 

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The 2018 midterms will have a monumental impact on the future direction of America and the primaries are just as important as the general election.  The following is my guide for who to vote for in California. I also have my preferences for local candidates in Santa Clara County listed. My preferences are based on how progressive a candidate’s positions are, what they already have achieved, how their campaigns are financed, and whether I like those who have endorsed the candidate or proposition.  Elections that apply to the whole state are underlined.

The California primary is on Tuesday, June 5th!

Make sure you get out and vote for a better California!

 

Governor of California:

I support Gavin Newsom, the current Lieutenant Governor.  He has a proven progressive record on gun control and has progressive positions that break with the current governor.  He opposes fracking and supports medicare for all and free community college.

 

Lieutenant Governor:

Jeff Bleich has my support.  He is endorsed by numerous strong progressive individuals and groups including Sierra Club and Congressman Ro Khanna.

 

California Secretary Of State:

Alex Padilla has done a good job so far.  He has my support.

 

California State Controller:

Betty Yee has not messed up so far at her job.  I believe that she will do a good job in a second term.

 

Treasurer:

Vivek Viswanathan is running a clean campaign without corporate donations and has a progressive platform of increasing funding for education and healthcare.

 

Attorney General of California:

Xavier Becerra has done a great job suing the Trump Administration to keep California’s environment protected and to keep immigrants safe.  He will continue doing great in a second term.

 

Insurance Commissioner:

Ricardo Lara is the main supporter of medicare for all in the California State Senate.  Putting him in charge of medical will help us along on the path to universal coverage.

 

Member of State Board of Equalization for District 2:

Malia Cohen has a progressive platform for a fairer tax code.  She has my support.

 

United States Senator from California:

Kevin De Leon, the President Pro Tem of the California State Senate is much more progressive than the incumbent, Dianne Feinstein.  De Leon has supported criminal justice reform for his whole career, unlike Feinstein who only started supporting reforms to racist practices last year and who took until just a month ago to support marijuana legalization.  De Leon also supports medicare for all and tuition-free public college, two positions which Dianne Feinstein still opposes. Kevin De Leon has progressive credentials including sponsoring the bill which made California a sanctuary state.  California deserves a better senator than Feinstein and Kevin De Leon will be that senator.

 

Congress:

I support all Bay Area incumbents except for Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco.  

 

If you live in District 12, please vote for Stephen Jaffe, a strong progressive berniecrat who supports medicare for all and an end to money in politics.  Pelosi gives democrats everywhere a bad name and with all due respect to her, is not at all progressive enough for San Francisco.

 

State Assembly:

Marc Berman in District 24 has a strong progressive record.  I have spoken with him in person about several issues and he has my support.

 

Recall of Judge Aaron Persky:

Yes!

Judge Persky has proved himself to be unworthy of his role as a judge.  He has on multiple occasions allowed extremely lenient sentences for sex-offenders while he judges other crimes based on specific circumstances.  Persky handed down the infamously weak sentence in the Brock Turner case and also sentenced a man convicted of child pornography to only four days in jail.  Aaron Persky has shown that he is incapable of taking sex crimes seriously. The recall of Judge Persky will not affect the independence of the judiciary. Instead, it will only send a message to sex offenders that neither they nor their enablers will be tolerated.  The recall of Judge Aaron Persky is supported by several prominent law professors and by elected officials including Congressman Ro Khanna and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

 

Judge to succeed Persky if he is recalled:

Cindy Hendrickson is currently the Assistant District Attorney of Santa Clara County.  She has important experience and will be a good judge if elected.

 

Superintendent of Public Instruction:

Tony Thurmond has a progressive record on education in the state legislature.  He supports tuition-free community college and increasing funding for public schools.  Thurmond also supports banning for-profit charter schools and has a detailed plan for breaking the school to prison pipeline.

 

Ballot Measures:

 

68:

A measure to authorize bonds in order to fund projects relating to water conservation, parks, protected areas, and climate change ready infrastructure.

Yes

 

69:

Requires that state revenue from transportation (tolls, gas taxes) be used for transportation infrastructure.

Yes

 

70:

Requires a supermajority vote in the State Legislature in order to uses funds from cap and trade laws.

No

 

71:

Ballot measures will come into effect within five days of the Secretary of State certifies the results of the election.

Yes

 

72:

Tax exemptions for rain capture systems.

Yes

 

Regional Measure 3:

Increases bridge tolls by $3 over time in order to fund improvements to public transportation and reduce traffic congestion.

Yes

 

Democrats Need Your Help to Win

Rohin Ghosh

May 6, 2018

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An event last week at my local Democratic Volunteer Center

Republican house seats won’t flip themselves.  The only way for Democrats to actually win elections in contested districts this November is if concerned citizens actually do the hard work of convincing the electorate to get out and vote.  Candidates like TJ Cox in California’s 21st Congressional District and Andrew Janz in the 22nd and hundreds more across the nation are on tight budgets.  These candidates are showing that they won’t be corrupted by corporate influences by refusing to take donations from corporate PACs but that does make running an effective campaign just that much harder.  The Democrats’ lack of funding combined with Republicans being bankrolled by very wealthy donors means that our candidates need all the help they can get.  If we want to see Republicans like Devin Nunes and David Valadao ousted from their seats, we Democrats need to step to the plate and volunteer for progressive candidates in whatever capacity we can.  If you care about winning back the house, senate, and state legislatures and governorships, find your local Democratic party office and get involved by phonebanking, writing postcards to voters, or even traveling to the districts themselves.  Democratic victories in November are not foregone conclusions.  The disaster that is the Trump presidency was able to happen because not enough Democrats were able to put in the time and effort to ensure victory in elections.  Let us make sure that the 2018 midterms are not a repeat of 2016.

Progressive Democrats have a Real Shot at Winning in Texas this Year

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Congressman Beto O’Rourke is mounting a serious challenge to incumbent Senator Ted Cruz in Texas.

This is huge!

Congressman Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat challenging Ted Cruz for his Texas Senate seat is raising more money than Cruz, an incumbent who has name recognition everywhere and the Koch Brothers on his side.  O’Rourke’s campaign raised 6.7 million dollars so far this year with not a single dime from corporate PACs. Beto O’Rourke is using a new strategy to campaign and is visiting small towns and rural areas that are often overlooked by both Democrats and Republicans.  He has drawn large crowds to his events even in places where Democrats haven’t won in decades. Texas is one of the few states that are already majority minority. This means that the non-white population is larger than the white population. If everyone in Texas voted, Democrats would win every election but many young or immigrant Texans either can’t or don’t vote.  In this next election, if everyone in Texas finally makes their voice heard, we have a real chance of putting a true progressive in the Senate from Texas. Beating Ted Cruz will be a very very tough fight but Democrats have a real chance.  

 

Why it is Time for a New Senator to Represent California

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California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (photo credit: Flickr)

This year, California Senator, Dianne Feinstein is up for reelection.  While the senator is widely popular and has supported several progressive causes, It is my firm belief that she is not the right senator for California.  

During her tenure in the Senate, Feinstein has been a strong advocate for sensible gun reforms and has also helped uncover CIA torture and pass legislation prohibiting it from happening again.

On other issues, however, Feinstein’s record is much more moderate or even conservative.  Senator Feinstein was one of the chief architects of the Patriot Act and she repeatedly voted to continue allowing government surveillance without judge issued warrants, something which many Americans maintain to be a violation of their fourth amendment rights.  Feinstein also continues to support the prohibition of marijuana while still advocating for failed drug war policies.

On the issue of healthcare, Feinstein has stated that she not ready to support Medicare For All and right after making that statement, the senator was at a conference with lobbyists for pharmaceutical and health insurance companies.  Senator Feinstein receives only about three percent of her campaign finances from small donations of less than 500 dollars.

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Democrat Kevin De Leon is the President Pro-Tempore of the California State Senate and is challenging Senator Feinstein for her US Senate seat. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

While Feinstein boasts a mediocre record, her main Democratic challenger has had a strong progressive record as President Pro-Tempore of the California State Senate.  Kevin De Leon has successfully gotten the State Senate to pass a Medicare for all bill to guarantee healthcare to all Californians. De Leon also helped the Disclose Act, a bill to require political ads to fully disclose all funding, pass into law.  Kevin De Leon was also the leading force in turning California into a sanctuary state and is now suing the Trump administration for abuses of power by ICE. Unlike Feinstein, De Leon supports drug policies which emphasize treatment and decriminalization, not police and prisons.  In the state senate, De Leon voted to legalize, regulate, and tax recreational marijuana in California.

These are just a few of the many great progressive accomplishments of Kevin De Leon and he has a similar record on so many issues.  From fighting to eliminate student debt to reducing income inequality to enacting common sense gun laws to fighting sexual harassment in the capitol, De Leon has proved that he believes in progress and has the energy and courage to stand up for what’s right.   

So, when the primary elections roll around on June 5th, we Californians should ask ourselves, do we want a senator who occasionally fights for our values but is often compromised by corporate lobbyist money and has been in office since the early nineties, or do we want a senator who will bring a true California progressive vision of the future to Washington and stand up to the Republicans and the special interest lobbyists.

The RAISE Act, a Thinly Veiled Attempt to Make America Off Limits to Many Immigrants

 

Rohin Ghosh

August 7, 2017

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Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA)

the White House along with President Trump, speaking in support

of the RAISE Act.  (Photo Credit: Migration Policy Institute)

 

President Trump has endorsed a bill introduced by far right senators, Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) called the “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” or RAISE Act.  This bill doesn’t target undocumented immigrants, instead, it seeks to drastically reduce legal immigration.  The bill would cap the number of people who receive green cards at 500,000, a fifty percent decrease from the current number.  The RAISE Act also proposes a change to the process that new immigrants go through to get a green card.  The bill would start using a points based immigration system.  This means that applicants for a green card would be awarded points based on job skills, proficiency in English, and other factors.   Candidates with the most points would be able to achieve residency status in the US. The RAISE Act would also place a cap of 50,000 on the number of refugees admitted to the US.  Another drastic measure which the RAISE Act will enact if it is passed is the halting of admissions of new immigrants based on family relationships in the US for siblings and adult children of Americans.

The RAISE Act would spell disaster for several sectors of the economy and would break with long-standing American policy.  The bill is a way for extreme Republican senators to appease xenophobic members of their base.   The RAISE Act would do little to benefit the economy but would devastate sectors that rely heavily on immigrant labor.  In addition, the new restrictions of refugees would make legal status harder to achieve for people who depend on it for their lives.  The Trump Administration’s anti-refugee policies have already resulted in thousands of people leaving the United States to seek safety in neighboring Canada. Proponents of the RAISE Act’s “merit based” admission system cite that this procedure is used in Canada and Australia, however, they fail to realize that both of these countries allow in more immigrants as a percentage of their populations.  Historically, most of the immigrants that have made up the backbone of the US have been poorer, lower skilled people.  The American population is aging quickly and new immigrants are crucial to replenishing the workforce as the Baby Boomer generation ages and retires.  Immigrants also start businesses at a higher rate than native-born citizens, according to the Small Business Administration.  Bureau of Labor statistics indicate that almost half of all private sector jobs are in small businesses and 64% of all new private sector jobs are in small business.  Far from taking American jobs, immigrants are constantly creating new wealth and employment opportunities for American citizens.   The new immigration system proposed by the RAISE Act would also likely change the ethnic makeup of immigrants coming to the US.  Because wealthier, English-speaking immigrants with higher education would be preferred, more Europeans would be granted legal status.  Most European countries are wealthier and have higher English speaking populations than countries in other regions of the world.  The RAISE Act would, therefore, cause much more of the immigrant population to be White.

Perhaps most ironically, President Trump’s grandfather, Frederick Trump was a low skilled immigrant from Germany.  People who seek to immigrate to the US in a fashion similar to him as well as the ancestors of other supporters of immigration restrictions would have likely not been able to enter under restrictive policies like the RAISE Act.  Additionally, President Trump’s wife, Melania Trump would have been affected by the lower number of green cards issued under the RAISE Act if she were to try to gain entry into the United States under similar laws.

Luckily, enough Republicans have declared opposition to the RAISE Act for the bill to fail.  Republicans can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate and several Republican senators have already expressed concerns about the basic premise of reducing legal immigration.  However, opponents of this disastrous legislation cannot be complacent.  There are definitely strong elements of the Republican caucus who support xenophobic cuts to immigration.  A lack of Republican legislative achievements so far also increases the likelihood that some moderate Republican representatives and senators will try to get the RAISE Act passed.

For Democrats, the best way to fight the RAISE Act is to harness grassroots opposition in states with high immigrant populations that also have Republican senators.  Senators Jeff Flake from Arizona and Dean Heller from Nevada both come from states with high immigrant populations and are running for reelection in 2018.  Other moderate Republican senators who depend on immigrant votes include John McCain (R-AZ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).  Large numbers of constituents contacting senators have helped convince senators to change their votes in the past.  Making sure that Senators from states with high immigrant populations know that a large portion of their constituents opposes xenophobic legislation like the RAISE Act can ultimately result in the defeat of this bill and other bills like it.   If you live in the following states, be sure to let your senator know that you do not approve of the RAISE Act:

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Immigrants being sworn in as new American citizens in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo credit: Murray.Seattle.gov)

 

 

 

Act Fast, and You can Help Save our National Monuments from President Trump

Visit this site to submit your comments regarding the protection of our National Monuments.  The deadline for comments is July 10.

 

 

 

Rohin Ghosh

July 8, 2017

 

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Bears Ears (left) and Carrizo Plain (right) National Monuments in Utah and California.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

 

In May, the US Department of Interior under the leadership of Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that it would be “reviewing” the status of 27 national monuments.  Some of the monuments under review include the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, as well as the  Carrizo Plain, San Gabriel Mountains, and Sand to Snow National Monuments in California.  Based on previous statements which show the Trump administration’s ideology of “money first- environment last”,  many of the monuments may be opened up for mining and energy development.

One of the most controversial decisions made by the Interior Department was to recommend to the president that the Bears Ears Monument’s size is drastically reduced.  Bears Ears National Monument contains dramatic areas of wilderness with stunning rock formations and also is home to sacred sites and rock art from five different Native American nations, the Navajo (Dine), Hopi, Zuni, and Ute.  When President Obama created the monument using his authority to protect sites with natural or historical importance under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the conservation and management plan for Bears Ears was set up by a coalition of the different Native tribes in the area.  This was the first time that several Native tribes were able to jointly conserve an area of wilderness.

Another monument under threat is the Carrizo Plain in California.  Carrizo Plain is one of the last remaining untouched areas of arid California Valley Grassland.  These grasslands once stretched all across the south-central portion of California.  The desert of Carrizo Plain bursts into dazzling displays of wildflowers each spring turning hillsides yellow and purple as they become covered in the blooming flowers.  The plain also hosts the last herds of pronghorn in California that still inhabit their ancestral Valley Grassland habitat west of the Sierra Nevada as well as being the home of over a dozen threatened or endangered species including the San Joaquin Kit Fox.  Carrizo Plain also contains geological wonders including the San Andreas Fault and historical sites including the remains of old ranch buildings and Native American petroglyphs (rock art).

Sadly, both Bears Ears and Carrizo Plain National Monuments are suspected to contain oil reserves.  Oil companies have been seeking leases on these treasured lands for years and now both Bears Ears and Carizzo Plain, as well as 25 other national monuments may be up for grabs for destruction at the hands of oil, gas, and mining companies.  If the Department of Interior decides to open these monuments up for resource extraction, the last remnants of our arid California Valley Grasslands and the wildlife that inhabit them will only exist in books.  The sacred Native American sites of Bears Ears or the stunning geological formations of the Grand Staircase-Escalante may be swept away to history.

Several environmental organizations and Native American tribal governments have already filed lawsuits saying that revoking status for monuments can violate the Antiquities Act.  These lawsuits are backed by several companies that sell outdoor equipment and have a vested interest in preserving public lands.  Some of these companies include REI, Patagonia, and the North Face.  The Department of Interior has also allowed citizens to submit comments regarding the “review” of monuments.  The best thing that we can do to protect our National Monuments is to submit sincere comments to Secretary of Interior Zinke.  Several groups have made it easier to submit comments but act fast, the deadline for comments is July 10.

 

Visit this site to submit your comments regarding the protection of our National Monuments.

Tom Perez Elected to Lead DNC; Progressives, Please don’t Panic!

By Rohin G.  February 26, 2017

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Former Labor Secretary and new DNC chair, Tom Perez

Photo Credits-Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday, February 25, former labor secretary Tom Perez narrowly beat progressive congressman, Keith Ellison for the post of chair in the Democratic National Committee.  Many staunch progressives, including myself, who had supported Congressman Ellison for DNC chair were disappointed by the results of the day’s vote.  Not only had our favored candidate lost the race to become chair of the DNC, the delegates present also voted down a resolution which would ban corporate lobbyist donations to the party.  Tom Perez was the Secretary of Labor during President Obama’s second term and led the civil rights division of Justice Department during Obama’s first term.  Although Perez is considered by many to have been one of the most progressive members of the Obama administration,  many also consider him to be a member of the Democratic Party’s establishment wing.

Although the results of the DNC elections are disappointing to many progressive activists, there has been significant progress in the DNC.  Although the delegates voted not to ban lobbyist donations to the party, new chair, Tom Perez has expressed concern over the “corrosive influence of money in politics”.  Perez has also praised the small dollar fundraising practices used by Senator Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign, stating in an interview with the Huffington Post, that he wanted to look into implementing fundraising practices that draw upon small donations instead of donations by large corporations and super-PACs.  Chairman Perez has also been an advocate for empowering activists and protesters against President Trump’s agenda.  Perez has supported a strategy by the DNC that involves working in all states and not just during election years.  This strategy based on local parties will help reduce that harmful effects of President Trump’s policies and help the Democratic party stay relevant with voters across the country.

Probably the Best thing for progressive activists that the new chair, Tom Perez has done so far, is naming Congressman Keith Ellison as deputy chair.  Now, a staunch progressive is at the table to make decisions at the DNC.  This morning, Perez and deputy chair, Ellison held a joint press conference.  In showing a sign of party unity, they wore each other’s campaign pins.  In addition to this, Tom Perez stated that he supports healthy primary contests for incumbent democratic candidates, opening the door to more progressive candidates.  It is quite clear that chair Tom Perez is ready to work with progressive members of the Democratic Party.  Although progressive activists’ top candidate lost the race for DNC chair, this DNC is one of the most progressive we have seen.  So, fellow progressives, stay strong and keep fighting for a better America.