Where is Feinstein on Dawn Johnsen?

As Christy points out, Senator Feinstein has been deliberately ambiguous in her statements on Dawn Johnsen’s confirmation, specifically targeting Johnsen’s ‘activism’ on the actions of the Bush OLC. I personally suspect that the senator is in no particular rush to see her confirmed. Johnsen’s statments regarding torture lend weight to efforts for investigations, something which Feinstein actively opposes. I’ve emailed the senator’s offices expressing my support for Johnsen’s confirmation, but haven’t received a response. You should too.

Published in: on April 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Where is Feinstein on the EFCA?

The Courage Campaign is asking people to tell Senator Feinstein to join the rest of the California Democratic Congressional delegation and co-sponsor the Employee Free Choice Act. From their email:

The Employee Free Choice Act is an essential piece of our national economic recovery program. It allows workers to organize a union more easily and free from employer interference, giving them the power to more successfully negotiate with large corporations to protect the middle class during this severe recession.

This is one of the most important pieces of legislation this year. President Barack Obama supports it, as do most Democrats, including Senator Barbara Boxer. A Gallup Poll last week found that a clear majority of Americans support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Senator Feinstein, however, has refused to take a position on the bill — even though she co-sponsored it and voted for it in 2007.

It is nice that the Senator co-sponsored the bill when it didn’t have a chance of getting out of the Senate. Things have changed, though, and her silence is deafening. Go sign the letter, here.

Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Disappointed in Dianne

From Calitics, Dianne Feinstein is the only member of the California Congressional delegation not to have co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act. The senator has an unfortunate history of caring more about corporations than about her constituents. Feel free to call her offices and ask them why she is putting corporations before Californians.

Published in: on March 13, 2009 at 12:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Accountability Now: About Time

The New York Times has an article on Accountability Now, a new PAC formed by progressive bloggers in alliance with the SEIU and MoveOn.Org. The goal of the PAC is to sponsor primary challenges from the left to excessively ‘moderate’ Congressional Democrats who hail from safe or liberal districts. For a long time, one of the strengths of the Republican party has been its ability to exercise party discipline, largely through the efforts of outside groups like the Club For Growth. It is about time that something similar was formed for Democrats.

Now, I think there exists the obvious danger of imposing excessively rigid ideological tests on Democrats, especially those from competitive and moderate districts or states. Ben Nelson, though his fetishistic centrism tasks me, nevertheless hails from Nebraska and is probably the best Democrat we can expect from his state. At least he doesn’t go on Fox News to trash the party *cough* Joe Lieberman *cough*. Dianne Feinstein, on the other hand, has repeatedly sold out her constituents in favor of corporate interests and is one of the key forces in the Senate that pushed for collaboration with the Bush administration’s unconstitutional national security policy. She is out-of-line with the current political leanings of California, and has increasingly taken to dodging public appearances. She notably hid away last year over the 4th of July to avoid the inevitable protests over her position on the FISA legislation. I would love to see a primary challenge against her in 2012.

All-in-all, I’m glad to see a move toward imposing some accountability on Democrats, and, while I will want to see how the PAC picks targets in 2010, in the meantime I’ll be cautiously supportive.

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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California and the Stimulus

There are a couple of interesting stories on the stimulus package and California today. Starting with this one (h/t Calitics):

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), chaired by Congressman Chris Van Hollen, today announced the DCCC is launching a Putting Families First ad and grassroots campaign in 28 targeted Republican districts.  The ads focus on the Republicans out of step priorities by putting bank bail outs and building schools in Iraq before the needs of the Americans in the struggling economy.

Targeted California Congressmen include:

Representative Dan Lungren                         CA-03
Representative Elton Gallegy                         CA-24
Representative Ken Calvert                            CA-44
Representative Brian Bilbray                         CA-50

I’m especially happy to see Calvert targeted. I campaigned for Bill Hedrick in the past election and was pleasantly surprised to see how well he performed. I don’t expect that the ads will target the Orange County part of the district. I do think, however, that Hedrick will have to work to tighten the gap in Orange County if he wants to be able to win.

Update: This is exactly the kind of action the California Democratic Party should have taken this summer with regards to Republican obstructionism on the budget. It is still what they should be doing now – but this summer it could have yielded dividends in the election. The state party should take note.

Moving on, I don’t often have good things to say about Senator Feinstein, but I’ll give her credit for this (from CQ):

The first amendment scheduled for debate is a proposal from Patty Murray , D‑Wash., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would boost the bill’s highway funding from $27 billion to $40 billion and its transit funding from $8.4 billion to $13.4 billion.

This is a needed amendment. The stimulus package is already weighted too strongly toward tax cuts and too small overall. Infrastructure and transit spending will help put shovels in the ground, and transit spending in particular will help advance us toward a cleaner economy. Personally, I think this stimulus package should be used much more heavily to advance the serious investment we need in clean energy.

Which is part of what makes this so disappointing:

Friends of the Earth tells Streetsblog San Francisco that Senator Barbara Boxer’s staff has confirmed that Boxer and Senator Inhofe will present an amendment to the federal Stimulus Plan for $50 billion in additional funding for highways, bringing the total to $80 billion, exactly the figure Inhofe demanded last week in a letter to the Committee for Environment and Public Works.

I’m all in favor of more infrastructure spending, and this post doesn’t indicate what the spending will be used for. There are certainly any number of highway and bridge repairs that are desperately necessary. However, I dislike seeing spending going to car-based transit and not a corresponding amount going to mass transit. Unlike others, I’m not as bothered by the cooperation with Inhofe, no matter how odious I think he is.

Finally, LA Mayor Villarigosa is going to lobby Congress for more mass transit spending for LA.

Villaraigosa wants to ensure Los Angeles remains high on the list for funding for major transportation, green-energy projects and big-ticket items such as the “Subway to Sea” as well as the mayor’s ambitious solar initiative. He also wants federal money to go directly to cities.

This may be a day late and a dollar short. The time to do this would seem to have been a week or two ago when the core of the bill was still being written. That said, I certainly believe more money needs to be spend as aid to state and local governments. Such spending may not necessarily create new jobs, but it can certainly help prevent current jobs from being lost. And when jobs are lost, the quality of government services degrade, just as more people come to rely on those services. It is a dangerous cycle of events.

Finally, one of the major objections to more infrastructure spending, and mass transit spending in particular, is that it wasn’t sufficiently ‘shovel ready’. On that subject I point to this post by Paul Krugman last week, where he argues that stimulus spending should probably continue through 2011. I am all in favor of a broader spending package even if the jobs won’t get underway immediately, especially if the spending is on projects that advance other goals, such as combating climate change. Of course, perhaps that spending should be in a stimulus round two package that can be more carefully assembled in the next couple of months.