Archive for 2015

Op-Ed: Why Unions Back Bonilla Over Glazer

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

susanbonillaBy Mike Durant
Special to Calbuzz

Much has been written about campaign spending in the East Bay’s 7th  State Senate district race, from the record-breaking $1.1 million that L.A. businessman Bill Bloomfield,  a big-time contributor to top Republicans, has given to Steve Glazer’s campaign or union-supported Independent Expenditure committee efforts to elect Susan Bonilla.

As Calbuzz noted last week, however, voters seeking clear-cut distinctions between the two Democrats need not look too far. There are significant differences in the policy positions, backgrounds, and accomplishments between the two rivals.

steveglazer1Bipartisan Bonilla: Experience is one reason labor backs Bonilla. A former high school English teacher, she has built a reputation in the Capitol as a workhorse who tackles tough issues. Susan has teamed up with Gov. Jerry Brown on a landmark restructuring of the state’s local education funding formula, and won bipartisan praise for her handling of the “Uber” bill last year as chair of the Assembly’s Business and Professions Committee.

Glazer talks about working both sides of the aisle, but Bonilla, the former mayor of Concord, has done it. Many of her bills – on education, health care and the environment – have won bipartisan support. She has worked to help balance the budget, put a Rainy Day fund in place and pass the Prop. 1 water bond.

She not only has been endorsed by Democrats like Congressman Eric Swalwell, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, but also won the backing of Republican Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson, the sheriffs of Alameda and Contra County counties and several rank-and-file police groups. She also appeals to moderate Republican women and independents.

Although California Republican Chairman Jim Brulte recently called Glazer a “pro-tax liberal Democrat,” he actually burned Democrats by endorsing conservative Republican Assembly member Catharine Baker last year, put a Tea Party political consultant on his campaign payroll and accepted a $1,000 contribution from the creator of the Harry & Louise anti-health care ad

breadandbutterBread and butter issues: On policy, organized labor sees many reasons for Democrats to favor Bonilla over Glazer.

On income inequality, Glazer has refused to support an increase in the minimum wage, a bread-and-butter Democratic issue supported by Bonilla, not to mention President Obama and Gov. Brown.

When Glazer was asked about the minimum wage at a candidate forum last year, he replied that, “Most of these jobs are being provided by small business people in our communities. I think you should talk to them. I think they’ll tell you things aren’t so grand,” hardly what we expect from someone running as a Democrat anywhere, especially in one of the wealthier enclaves of California.

Glazer also has angered environmentalists by suggesting that he’d push for unspecified major changes in the state’s landmark California Environmental Quality Act (better known as CEQA). By contrast, Bonilla, scored 81 percent on the California League of Conservation Voters scorecard.

On fiscal issues, Glazer says he would not support extension of  Prop 30, which has helped to balance the state budget. His website offers only consultant-speak for the state’s budget challenges: “I will work to see we live within our means and avoid new state tax burdens.”

Republicans shouldn’t be fooled: Although Glazer now calls himself a “fiscal conservative,” Republicans also have reason not to trust him: the Los Angeles Times called him the “mastermind” behind the largest tax increase in California history just three years ago. (Editor’s note: this is a terrible restaurant – the food stinks and the portions are too small!)

Republicans also should know he worked against conservative interests by trying to keep Rose Bird on the California Supreme Court and also favors gun control.

Do these positions on both sides of the political fence make Glazer a “centrist” – or an opportunist?

mikedurantBill Clinton, Jerry Brown and Dianne Feinstein are all moderate Democrats. But none has crossed labor like Steve Glazer. He is pushing policies that damage the middle class and reflect the California Chamber of Commerce‘s agenda. His victory would signal that there is not much difference between Democrats and Republicans on economic issues. That is precisely what corporate interests want in California.

Mike Durant is a Senior Deputy Sheriff with Santa Barbara County Sheriffs Department and President of the Police Officers Research Association of California.

Why Flip-Flopping Rand Paul Hasn’t Got a Prayer

Monday, April 13th, 2015

randpaul1By Dick Polman
From NewsWorks.org

I’m loath to make predictions, because, in politics, you never know. Nevertheless, here I go:

Rand Paul’s prospects of ever being president are on a par with the Phillies’ odds of winning the pennant. If he somehow makes it to the Oval Office, I will personally climb Mt. Everest and chisel his curly locks into the rocks.

Last week he joined Ted Cruz on the growing Republican roster of doomed losers. I say this not because he’d be anathema to the general electorate — although that’s certainly true, given his libertarian philosophical hostility to civil rights laws and all kinds of federal help — but because he won’t get the GOP nomination in the first place.

blowing in the windBlowin’ in the wind The big reason is that he comes off like a lightweight blown by the wind.

Paul rose to prominence as a rare Republican skeptic of military interventionism, but lately he has tried to “evolve,” to make himself more palatable to the party’s predominant hawks. Problem is, the hawks don’t believe him; they think he’s just a flip-flopping phony. Meanwhile, many of his original supporters are ticked off; they think he has abandoned his principles. Here’s libertarian activist Justin Raimondo: “For the life of me, I can’t figure out what he really believes – where he really stands, especially when it comes to foreign policy.”

Raimondo got that right. Paul already has a rhetorical record that is Romneyesque.

In 2011, as a newbie senator, he said he wanted to “eliminate foreign aid to Israel,” so that Israel could “support itself without the heavy hand of U.S. interests.” But a Republican who seeks the presidential nomination cannot afford to say such a thing, lest he incur the wrath of neoconservatives and Sheldon Adelson. So, in 2014, Paul insisted that he had never argued for the elimination of foreign aid to Israel: “I haven’t really proposed that in the past” and “I haven’t proposed targeting or eliminating any aid to Israel.”

iran_7Iran is (is not) a threat In 2007, while defending his father Ron, he criticized the neoconservatives as warmongers. He said that he was “against the Iran war, the one that hasn’t started yet.” He said that “Iran is not a threat.” But this month, he insisted that Iran is a threat and that “any deal must make clear that Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Indeed, back in January he advocated for diplomacy with Iran – and mocked the GOP’s war lobby: “Are you ready to send ground troops into Iran? Are you ready to bomb them?….I’m a big fan of trying to exert and trying the diplomatic option as long as we can. If it fails, I will vote to resume sanctions and I would vote to have new sanctions. But if you do it in the middle of negotiations, you’re ruining it.” Then, two months later, he signed Tom Cotton’s Iran letter, which was a blatant bid to ruin the negotiations.

There’s more. In June 2014, he argued in a Wall Street Journal guest column that we shouldn’t fight ISIS: “Why should we choose a side, and if we do, who are we really helping?” Then, within months, he swiveled his stance and proposed that Congress declare war on ISIS. And he opposed airstrikes on ISIS until he reversed himself.

No foreign wars? He used to rebuke America for “unlimited involvement in foreign wars.” But last October he said that “America cannot disengage from the world,” and that despite the pitfalls of being involved, “ultimately we must be willing and able to defend our country and our interests.”

So he ends up satisfying nobody. His libertarian base (which isn’t big enough to win the delegate-rich primaries) thinks he’s trimming his principles, and traditional party hawks distrust his trimmings.

In fact, the hawks are already attacking Paul in an ad that’s slated to air starting today in the early GOP primary states. The ad’s sponsor, the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America dickpolman (one of those outside groups that isn’t required to disclose donors) features an old Paul quote about Iran: “You know, it’s ridiculous to think they are a threat to our national security.”

It strains credulity to believe that a guy who looks wobbly on interventionism can win the GOP nod. Blowing with the wind is a loser. Republicans learned that with Mitt Romney.

Dick Polman, former political writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, blogs at  www.newsworks.org, where this column originally appeared.