At our May Meeting: Dunkin’ Hunter: Replacing a Corrupt Congressman

Join us at our May 2 meeting, where we’ll talk about beating Duncan Hunter Jr., San Diego’s embattled 50th Congressional District representative, who comes with a host of ethical and financial irregularities. Hunter is up for re-election this year, and the club is backing a strong Democratic contender – La Mesa native Ammar Campa-Najjar, who’s one of our speakers at the meeting.

Our other speaker is Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, a Democratic Party activist who became famous in the 1960s and 70s as led singer for the oldies group Sha Na Na.

Hunter’s troubles started in 2016 when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) began examining his use of campaign funds for personal expenses such as video games, flying a rabbit on a plane, tuition, family vacations and much more.

Although Hunter has reviewed his campaign spending and reimbursed his treasury more than $60,000 in expenses he identified as “personal, mistaken or undocumented,” he is currently under a Department of Justice criminal investigation for alleged campaign finance violations.

Ammar-2

Ammar Campa-Najjar

Campa-Najjar left La Mesa as a boy, along with his family, for the Gaza Strip in 1998. When war made it unsafe to stay, he returned with his mother and brother to San Diego. After graduating from San Diego State University with dual bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and psychology, Campa-Najjar joined President Obama’s reelection campaign as Deputy Regional Field Director, overseeing Southern California’s grassroots operations from a headquarters in San Diego. During the Obama Administration he served in the Labor Department’s Office of Public Affairs for the Employment and Training Administration.He is a staunch advocate for unions and small businesses owned by minorities, women, immigrants and veterans. Citing bipartisan support for the Registered Apprenticeship job training initiative, Campa-Najjar has called on the Trump administration to expand and strengthen the program. His platform also includes Medicare for All, passing a clean Dream Act, investing in renewable energy, and overturning Citizens United.

Find more information about Campa-Najjar’s campaign can be found at www.campacampaign.com

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Jon “Bowzer”Bauman

Bauman, our other speaker, is the uncle of Eric Bauman, the chairman of the California Democratic Party.

Born in Brooklyn, Bauman started attending The Juilliard School at age 12 and graduated magna cum laude from Columbia College in New York.

In 1969, he partnered with several Columbia classmates to create Sha Na Na. They sang at Woodstock, and later starred on a syndicated television variety series with the same name. Bauman’s character, “Bowzer,” was a blustery, dimwitted skinny-armed greaser in a muscle shirt.

In real life, Bauman is no dope; he campaigns regularly for Democrats in special elections and endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008. He has also worked as a spokesman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and recorded wake-up calls for employees of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Bauman is co-founder of the group Senior Votes Count, a political action committee designed to elect leaders to protect and advance the rights of older Americans.

In the 2016 presidential election, Bauman endorsed Hillary Clinton and campaigned across the country.

He is currently President of Social Security Works PAC, a national organization working to elect candidates who support protecting and expanding Social Security benefits. Bauman lives in Los Angeles with his wife Mary.

Find out about Bauman’s performing career at Bowzer’s Rock N’ Roll Party.

Join us Wednesday, May 2 at 6:30 pm for social time, 7 pm for programming, at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive in La Mesa.

 

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Russia probe, human trafficking to highlight April 4 meeting

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By Yahairah Aristy and Jeff Benesch | La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club

A great, informative meeting is planned for members and guests of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club (LMFDC) on Wednesday, April 4. Because of the full program that evening, we’ll be opening the doors a half-hour earlier than normal at 6 p.m. and beginning our meeting at 6:45 p.m.

Regular viewers of MSNBC will know former U.S. attorney and current professor of political science at UCSD, Harry Litman, from his frequent appearances as an expert commentator on the Trump White House, and the Mueller investigation into financial shenanigans and pre-election and post-inauguration irregularities among West Wing comrades. Litman will spend his time with us diving into the deep details of the dysfunctional Trump administration and the mixing of family businesses and executive authority.

Are there impeachable crimes being committed? Did Russian interference alter the outcome of the election? Will Robert Mueller divulge more discovery of indictable offenses? Litman will attempt to bring us up to date on all the latest information from this ever-changing Washington imbroglio.

We will follow the Litman address with a panel exploring an explosive local and national issue that affects every community around us: human trafficking. What used to be called “the world’s oldest profession” is now a local $800 million criminal enterprise run by well-organized international gangs that exploit and enslave over 8,000 of the most vulnerable populations among us.

In San Diego alone, there are over 100 gangs involved in the commercial exploitation of people. Human trafficking is a tragedy that affects immigrant communities, the poor, the young and the most susceptible, and involves millions of dollars in illicit monies paid to cartels and crime syndicates that have become adept at recruiting and transporting “assets,” hiding the money, and abusing and manipulating the innocent. We’ll learn from experts how the victims of this formerly “victimless” crime are rescued and treated, how johns are processed in a forgiving legal system, and how this criminal enterprise is fought in the legal and justice system, here and elsewhere.

The human trafficking panel will include the chair of the County Commission on the Status of Women and Children, Maria McEneany. Joining McEarney will be Jamie Quient, president and managing attorney of Free to Thrive, a nonprofit organization that empowers survivors of human trafficking.

Also joining the panel will be our endorsed candidate for District Attorney, long-time Public Defender Genevieve Jones-Wright. Jones-Wright has made it her mission to not only bring justice to the victims of human trafficking, but to break the cycle of crime by working collaboratively and innovatively with public safety entities to intervene early and prevent criminal enterprises from exploiting and hurting our most vulnerable communities.

Several other key figures in the battle against the blight of human trafficking will also be on the panel.

The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets the first Wednesday of every month at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, just north of University Avenue in La Mesa.

Meetings are open to all members and guests, and are free, but we encourage all attendees to support our candidates and programs by joining the club for as little as $30 per year. For more information, visit lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com.

— Yahairah Aristy is president and Jeff Benesch is vice president of programming of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Reach them at jeffbenesch@gmail.com.

Rafael Castellanos to discuss the State of the Port of San Diego in 2018 at the March General Meeting

Posted by Mission Times Courier: February 9th, 2018 | Columns, Featured, La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club By Yahairah Aristy and Jeff Benesch

At the February meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club (LMFDC), we learned about the many details of the competing ballot measures on the future of the stadium site in Mission Valley. While many of us live in close proximity to either Mission Valley or SDSU, virtually all county residents are affected by what happens to the large plot of land many of us still refer to as the “Q.”

And we’re following up that wonderful teaching moment with another on Wednesday, March 7, at 7 p.m. — one that we’ll refer to as a “State of the Port” with new Port Chairperson Rafael Castellanos. And like the stadium forum, this one will also feature a key ballot measure, yet another referendum on the expansion of the Convention Center.

And while there are many countywide areas of interest, few are more impactful than the Unified Port District and its hundreds of tenants and near-shore neighbors with powerful influence on our daily lives. Do you use the airport? Attend games and events at Petco Park? Comic-Con? Conventions at the Convention Center? Go to dinner or shop in Seaport Village or Liberty Station? Ex-Navy or Marines in the family that trained at MCRD or NTC? How about cruise ships, the Midway, the Embarcadero, Summer Pops, Spanish Landing, Coronado Tidelands or South Bay coastal parks? Affected by the thousands of tons of non-container cargo that comes into our 10th Avenue Marine Terminal every month? Cars, bananas or pineapples anyone? You get the idea. Everyone is greatly affected by our stewardship of the Port of San Diego and the economic and tourism engine that it drives.

And what exquisite timing for Chairperson Castellanos to appear: A bond measure is headed to the November ballot about Convention Center expansion; the port is still leading the way towards a countywide climate action plan (with electric loading vehicles being used on the docks); the airport is continuing its expansion (with international terminal renovation and parking structure completion this year); homelessness and the hep A outbreak are centered on Port District lands; and public access to bayfront lands, parks and views are a frequent battle between developers and environmental groups.

In addition to being the Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners of the Unified Port of San Diego, Castellanos is also chair of the Port’s Environmental Advisory Committee. Chairman Castellanos’ theme for 2018 is “Ocean Optimism,” which is the belief that the ocean economy, also known as the Blue Economy, is one of the San Diego region’s greatest sources of opportunity. The region is known for its innovation, but much of its success has been directed eastward, away from the ocean. The 21st century is also about looking west, at the swelling importance of the Blue Economy’s aquaculture, blue technology, and alternative energy industries. If we’re successful, then just like the Santa Clara Valley came to be known as the Silicon Valley, perhaps one day the San Diego Bay will come to be known as the “Blue Technology Bay.”

 

 

Being Had.

Larry Howe is the Past President who now lives in Italy with his wife Arlene.

Larry Howe, LMFDC Past President

 

As a nation, we are being confronted with the unthinkable reality that a foreign power intentionally injected influence into an election for the Office of the President of the United States. Compounding that issue is the concern as to whether the candidate who won that election knowingly collaborated with a foreign power in that effort or whether that candidate became an unwitting beneficiary.

A third more complex and realistic probability is that Donald Trump became compromised through the exploitation of his own entrepreneurial greed in his business dealings with that foreign power. Then comes the issue of what the result of that compromise might have entailed. The resolution of these critical issues is made more difficult by the seeming unwillingness and incapacity of the Trump enterprise to entertain serious reflection on the consequences of their actions. Self-aggrandizement appears to be the only overarching consideration they can consider.

A proposition could be made that the easiest people to con are greedy opportunists. The exploitation of an opponent’s own weaknesses for use against them is a well-established strategy.  It is beginning to look like the Russians have a gift of a predatory instinct that enables them to spot easy marks to prey upon. And the Russians have used it well against the United States in the undermining of the political process.

            But to what end? In a strategic contest between major world powers, any success in creating instability within the governing structure of a potential adversary works to the benefit of the orchestrator of the instability.  It would be a mistake to underestimate the residual animosity that exists within Russia over the perceived role of the U.S. in encouraging the fall of the Soviet form of government. The U.S. arming and encouraging the Afghani resistance brought the already existing deficits of the Soviet government into sharper focus. And then following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the heavy-handed approach to Russian economic reform taken by the U.S. administration under Ronald Reagan was taken as an attempt to further weaken Russia and ensure U.S. dominance. That was followed by a significant enlargement of NATO incorporating former countries of the Warsaw Pact which Russia saw as a buffer between it and a hostile west. To understand this larger dynamic is to better understand the underlying lingering animosity that orchestrates the Russian well played strategy against the interests of the U.S.

            Emerging evidence demonstrates the carefully executed strategy employed by the Russians to undermine the confidence of the American population in their governmental processes.  To be sure, the Russians recognized the reality that the American political process had already sown the seeds of its own collapse.  The fomenting of extreme political division changed politics from an arena for open debate and collaboration toward the best solutions for the common good to a ‘zero sum – winner takes all’ power contest.  Extremism in various quarters has become the dominant reality in American politics over the past thirty to forty years. And those divisions have only fed on each other resulting in the virtual breakdown of informed, collaborative political dialogue.

            The Russians did not initiate that process in America, we did it to ourselves. But that breakdown in effective political process created the tempting opportunity for the injection of ‘active measures’ to exacerbate the growing crisis of governance in the U.S.

            The growing extremism within the Republican Party fed on the manipulation of legitimate discontent and disappointment of large segments of the U.S. population. Many Americans recognized their government was complicit in the conditions that permitted big money interests to take unreasonable speculative risks and to engineer a cornucopia of bizarre mechanisms to lure the unsuspecting into bogus ‘get-rich-quick schemes’ (i.e. The Derivatives Market).  The outcome was world-wide economic disruption and the loss of significant life savings by so many of us. Added to that, was the further failure of the government to take meaningful, corrective action. Small wonder there is a rampant level of cynicism toward government in the U.S.

            Populism is one of the easiest movements to coopt. The successful demagogue is the one who listens to the anxieties in the population and plays them back to the masses in seeming affirmation and personal identification with their distress. In conditions like that, most people want to feel listened to, “Thank you for understanding I am pissed-off!” The aggrieved are in an elevated emotional state and have neither the inclination nor are they necessarily equipped to evaluate complex issues of economic structural reform necessary to correct the problems. Too often, affirmation of distress is sufficient to get a following. Sound bites, slogans and political stunts carry the day.

            The Republican Presidential Primary illustrated a mad rush to court the Populism sentiment with candidates each trying to appear more ‘anti-establishment’ than the next. Enter Donald Trump. This seventy-year old entrepreneur has existed by sniffing out opportunities to be exploited for his own personal gain. He instinctively gravitates toward market dynamics built on exposure.  Publicity is the meat of entrepreneurial opportunity. Looking for exposure, why not a presidential campaign stage?

            If you were looking for someone to back to be President of the United States who would be the least effective person to have in office and further promote discontent with democracy, from that field, who would you have chosen?  If you wanted to undermine the candidacy of the person with the best experience and best insights into your self-serving objectives, which of the potential candidates would you have wished to undermine?

            It remains to be seen and may never be sufficiently clear the extent to which the Trump campaign knowingly collaborated with Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election process. Elements of the Trump entourage were courted and enticed into what appeared to be promising commercial opportunities. The reality that they could be compromised in a political context would first have be recognized if they were even open to recognizing it.  A vulnerability of an entrepreneur can be the delusion you are conning the other party more effectively than they are conning you.  Trump was good at it in dealing with contractors working on his properties but dealing with the Russian state apparatus might have injected him into a contest even beyond his guile.

            There is an impression Donald Trump has embedded into our awareness that he is a man seemingly incapable of dealing with his own fallibility.  His inability to control his emotional reflexes and impulses is an extremely worrisome component in a president’s emotional profile. The responsibilities of the President of the United States require a person of calm disposition ready to see world affairs as extremely complex and nuanced. The individual must be able to control impetuosity and must gather around them people with broad depth and perspective who are encouraged to speak truth rather than acting as sycophants.

            Donald Trump is immersed in a swamp of his own creation and is flailing about using elements of the government to attempt to cover and justify his serious errors in judgement revealed in his impetuous pronouncements.   In a recent case in point, whether wittingly or not, to further his own ends he has deliberately weakened the credibility the investigation being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. By compromising Committee Chair, Devin Nunes, he has cast doubt on the capability of the House of Representatives to impartially protect the interests of the American people.  The Russians could not have done a better job of undermining faith in elements of American democracy.

            On its face, in accomplishing that outcome, Donald Trump has furthered Russian interests. To give him the benefit of doubt, it is likely his own personality deficits are more responsible for that outcome than any orchestration by a hands-on Russian effort.

            And so, it appears in the entire Trump debacle, the personality deficits of Donald Trump have been ready made to be manipulated by a foreign power to their benefit.  Cynicism is growing and distrust of American core governmental functions is being eroded on an almost daily basis.

            The resolution of this crisis is going to require the emergence of true statesmanship coming from some other quarter than the Office of the President. Donald Trump has demonstrated he lacks the depth of personal character to see beyond his own personal aggrandizement to the larger interests of the United States.  The likelihood of his resigning is a fantasy.  His potential removal by Congressional action will be drawn out and messy.  We are in for a very uncertain future in a very complex world. The Russians could not be more satisfied with their efforts in contributing to this outcome.

            We have all been had.  We brought a lot of this on ourselves. Concentrations of financial power in the U.S. were part of the manipulative process that helped con many in the electorate. Narrow political opportunists who have sold out to those concentrations of financial power continue to do their bidding. We offered the Russians a wide-open opportunity to exploit our weaknesses and they took it.

            If there was ever a time to break down political division and have voices of collaborative moderation take charge, it is now.  God protect and defend the United States of America from what we have done to ourselves!

 

Tom Steyer, and Executive Director Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coalition.

 

Local Dem Club to Host April Appearance

Longtime Collaborator Diane Takvorian to Lead Off

 

Standing room only is expected for the Wednesday, April 5th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Keynote speakers will be leading renewable energy advocate Tom Steyer, and Executive Director Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coalition.

 

In just 45 days, the new administration under Donald Trump has wreaked havoc on the environmental advances made under the previous administration. We’ve seen executive orders weakening the Clean Water Act, allowing mining operations to pollute drinking water sources with fewer regulations and oversight. The Keystone Pipeline has been given new life and will now transport dirty oil from Canadian tar sands to American ports. The inevitable catastrophic pipeline breaks will foul drinking water in the upper plains states for generations. And Exxon Mobile, recent home of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has been given the green light to expand operations worth billions of dollars in drilling and refining of oil and gas in the fragile ecosystem along the Gulf Coast, still recovering from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We have yet to see any commitment to renewable energy development that would alter our horrific future of global warming and continued dependency on fossil fuels.

The April 5th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club will continue our Resist Series with the appearance of California’s best known environmentalist, Tom Steyer.

Steyer is a business leader and philanthropist who believes we have a moral responsibility to give back and help ensure that every family shares the benefits of economic opportunity, education, and a healthy climate.

 

In 2010, Tom and his wife, Kat Taylor, pledged to contribute most of their wealth to charitable causes during their lifetimes. That same year, Tom worked to defeat Proposition 23, an attempt by the oil industry to roll back California’s historic plan to reduce pollution and address climate change.

 

Tom founded a successful California business, which he left to work full-time on non-profit and advocacy efforts. He now serves as President of NextGen Climate, an organization he founded in 2013 to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for all Americans. Tom also served as co-chair of Save Lives California, the coalition to prevent teen smoking and fund cancer research.

 

Tom’s dedication to public service is greatly inspired by his wife, Kat, the co-CEO of Beneficial State Bank in Oakland. They founded this nonprofit community bank in 2007 to provide loans to people and small businesses shut out by the traditional banking system. Unlike most banks, by statute Beneficial State Bank invests any profits back into the community. Tom and Kat live in San Francisco and have four children.

Tom will be introduced by his friend and long time collaborator, Diane Takvorian. Takvorian has led the struggle for social and environmental justice for over 30 years. She is Executive Director and co-founder of Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an environmental justice organization based in the San Diego/Tijuana region. Founded in 1980, EHC works to protect public health and the environment threatened by toxic pollution through efforts that create a just society.

 

In 2010 Tom Steyer and NextGen Climate worked with EHC and the California Environmental Justice Alliance to defeat Proposition 23 – the oil company effort to repeal AB 32 – California’s Global Warming law.   In 2012, they worked together to pass Prop 39 when California voters stood up to corporate interests and closed a tax loophole previously available to large energy companies. EHC targeted precincts voted to pass Prop 39 by 74%. To date, Proposition 39 has put nearly a billion dollars into California schools and clean energy projects, saving millions of dollars in annual energy costs.

 

EHC’s community organizing and policy advocacy work with disenfranchised communities have eliminated many health risks and enabled thousands of residents to develop into community leaders. Diane has served on international, national, state, and regional advisory boards. In 2016 California Assembly Speaker appointed Takvorian to the California Air Resources Board. In 2009, President Obama appointed her to the Joint Public Advisory Committee for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. In 2008 Diane received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for her “creative and inspirational leadership benefiting the people of California.” Takvorian is also a cofounder of the California Environmental Justice Alliance. Diane holds a Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis on public policy and community organizing.

 

The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets the first Wednesday of each month. While we welcome all members and guests to our meetings and events, for this special event, we are asking all attendees to donate $10.00 at the door to offset costs of the program.   Join LMFDC for as little as $30 a year and become involved. We serve the communities of La Mesa, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, the College Area, Mt. Helix, Santee, Casa de Oro, and other nearby East County communities. We meet at the very nice La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just off University Ave. in La Mesa. Social time begins at 6:30 PM with the meeting and program kicking off at 7 PM. We adjourn at 8:30-ish. Follow us on Facebook, and check out our website for updates and news at lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com.

 

Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP Programming

Environmental Heroes Headline Dems Feb Meeting

Environmental Heroes Headline Dems Feb Meeting

Nicole Capretz, Georgette Gomez Featured

Saving our Planet is Theme

 

 

On Wednesday, February 1st, ten days into the president Trump era, local Democrats will hear an all star forum discuss the steps we need to take to resist the attack on our climate goals, our clean air and water, and our ongoing transformation to renewable energy sources. Who best to create opportunities and action plans than the Executive Director of the Climate Action Campaign, Nicole Capretz? Or the newly elected San Diego City Councilperson from District 9, Georgette Gomez? Or the Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper, Matt O’Malley? Masada Disenhouse of SD350.org will also join our panel, as will Brian Elliott of the Sierra Club. And our moderator will be none other than our friend, and former Exec. Chair of the San Diego Sierra Club, Davin Widgerow.

 

Why our urgency to sound the alarm and expose and resist what is likely to be in store for the next 4 years in the environmental community?

 

Per the Guardian: “Trump has assembled a transition team in which at least nine senior members deny basic scientific understanding that the planet is warming due to the burning of carbon and other human activity. These include the transition heads of all the key agencies responsible for either monitoring or dealing with climate change. None of these transition heads have any background in climate science.”

 

Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency is noted climate change denier Scott Pruitt. And Trump is expected to name Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers to head the Interior Department. She is noteworthy for claiming that Al Gore “deserves an ‘F’ in science.” And let’s not forget that Trump’s choice for Secretary of State is none other than the head of the largest oil company in the world, Rex Tillerson. It’s plain to see that our new President has little regard for ending our dependency on oil, coal, tar sands, and other fossil fuel sources.

 

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club serves the communities of Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, the College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Casa de Oro, Santee and other nearby East County locales. At nearly 300 members, it is one of the largest and most active chartered Democratic Clubs in San Diego County. We meet on the first Wednesday of each month at the spacious La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Ave. in La Mesa. Our meetings start with a social ½ hour at 6:30 PM with snacks, desserts and beverages supplied by club members, and then the business meeting and program begins at 7 PM. All members and guests are welcomed!

 

Our February meeting is the second in our series we are calling Write, Advocate and Resist, 48 months of learning to cope and overcome the already dire Trump administration. Trump’s inauguration coincided with the lowest approval ratings of any modern incoming president. His shocking appointments to executive positions on his staff and in his Cabinet are filled with unqualified, inexperienced and self-serving individuals who have little in common with the people or departments they are intending to lead, a veritable who’s who of reactionary and far right thinkers beholden to the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers.

nicole_red_300x300

 

On the other hand, our Environmental Heroes are long time advocates and scholars, the best and brightest in their fields.   Nicole Capretz is an environmental attorney with 20 years of as an energy and climate policy advisor for local governments and the nonprofit sector. Nicole was the primary author of the City of San Diego’s groundbreaking, legally binding 100% clean energy Climate Action Plan adopted in late 2015. She now serves on the San Diego’s Climate Action Plan Implementation Working Group, as well as the City of Solana Beach’s Climate Action Commission.

 

Nicole advocates for local and state renewable energy legislation, participates in state administrative proceedings, serves as an expert witness in state policy hearings and is a regular speaker at energy and climate conferences and hearings. Nicole’s duties as Executive Director of CAC include overall strategic and operational responsibility for the organization’s staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission.

 

Previously, Nicole served as the Chair of San Diego’s Economic and Environmental Sustainability Task Force for three years while being the Associate Director for Green Energy/Green Jobs at Environmental Health Coalition, an environmental justice organization in National City, California. She has also worked as a policy advisor for the San Diego City Council.

 

Nicole’s work on San Diego’s Climate Action Plan earned her numerous accolades among which are:

 

New York Times Top 10 Californians of the Year (2016)

“Voice of the Year” – Voice of San Diego (2015, 2016)

“Best People of San Diego” – San Diego CityBeat (2016)

“Bike Advocate of the Year” – San Diego County Bike Coalition (2016)

“Leadership Award” – San Diego County Democratic Party (2016)

Finalist for San Diego Magazine’s 2016 San Diego Woman of the Year (2016)

Finalist for San Diego Business Journal’s 2016 “Women Who Mean Business” Awards (2016)

georgette-gomez

Newly elected City Council Representative for San Diego’s District 9, Georgette Gomez, has some serious environmental chops herself. Gomez, a San Diego State alumna, is a native of Barrio Logan and a current resident of City Heights. She was associate director of Toxic Free Neighborhoods for the Environmental Health Coalition, and is well-known as a community organizer who has fought for a number of environmental issues. Georgette was a very impressive participant on our candidates’ forum at the beginning of 2015, and received the endorsements of the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Todd Gloria and David Alvarez among others for her run to replace Marti Emerald. She has spoken out vociferously against downtown special interests. Her campaign revolved around her status as a City Hall outsider anxious to shake up the status quo. She will especially focus on repairing District 9 infrastructure including city streets and lights, address homelessness, create more affordable housing options and increase public safety.

matt-omalley

Matt O’Malley is the Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper. Matt joined Coastkeeper in January of 2014 as Legal and Policy Director, where he leads the advocacy work of the organization and protects the water bodies of San Diego County by utilizing local, state, and national laws and regulations, and through community engagement. Having represented environmental groups in the federal, state, and local arenas, Matt has experience in areas such as the Clean Water Act and NPDES permits, land use and growth management laws, CEQA, the Endangered Species Act, groundwater, soils, and sediment remediation, and environmental justice, to name a few. Matt currently serves as Legal Committee Chair and Board Member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, and he is actively licensed to practice law in California, Florida, and Washington State.

masada

Masada Disenhouse is a repeat visitor to LMFDC and founder of SanDiego350.org, a very active climate action advocacy group. 350.org is an international environmental organization encouraging citizens to action with the belief that publicizing the increasing levels of carbon dioxide will pressure world leaders to address climate change and to reduce levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million. It was founded by author Bill McKibben with the goal of building a global grassroots movement to raise awareness about human-driven climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide in order to slow the rate of global warming. 350.org takes its name from the research of Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist James E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.

 

Brian Elliott works locally for Congressman Scott Peters but also chairs the Political Committee for the local chapter of the Sierra Club. Brian’s start in San Diego Democratic politics came while he worked for the California Democratic Party as the environmental organizer on Congressman Peters’ 2014 re-election effort. He quickly went on to utilize his environmental expertise to advocate for local clean energy as the campaign organizer for Climate Action Campaign, and is now serving in Peters’ district office. Since arriving in San Diego, Brian has been an active member with Sierra Club and the greater environmental community as a volunteer and professionally, focusing on energy, water and climate policy matters.

 

Moderator Davin Widgerow is an environmental lawyer whose work is focused on toxic contamination remediation. He earned his BA (Political Science) from Berkeley, and his JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Davin was admitted to the California Bar in 2011. He began his law career interning for a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and advocating for disabled individuals. Until recently, Davin headed the Steering Committee for Sierra Club San Diego, which is tasked with coordinating Club projects, activities, finances, and administration. He also served as Chair of the Political Committee, which engages political candidates and environmental activists to further Sierra Club’s conservation efforts.

 

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club is in the midst of our 2017 membership drive. For as little as $30 per year, members enjoy 12 general meetings featuring outstanding speakers and programs, our monthly newsletter, weekly updates of news you can use, special events like the La Mesa Flag Day parade, Octoberfest, and our Party in the Park, and priceless camaraderie with fellow progressives and activists. Join us now to learn more about the current threats to our Democracy and the Future of our Planet. Be sure to visit our website at lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com or friend us on our Facebook page.

 

Linda Armacost, President

Jeff Benesch, VP Programming

Thoughts on Inauguration Day 2017

They Thought They Were Free

The Germans, 1933-45

But then it was too late:

I first literally first heard of the book They Thought They Were Free, a study of the lives of a group of ordinary Germans under the Third Reich, by Milton Meyer, when Thom Hartmann read excerpts on his radio show. The Germans interviewed had ‘ordinary’ jobs one was a professor for example. The subjects were not part of the military nor government and told their stories as observers not participants I think this is such an important book and Meyer’s accounts of folks ‘waking up and being under a Fascist regime; are harrowing for two reasons; 1. Fascism’s complete control of Germany was done bit by bit, a slow insidious process of rules and changes that seemed benign individually. By the time these Germans ‘caught on’, it was too late. 2. We are witnessing the very same sort of ‘Fascism Creep’ right now, and we had better pay attention and work like hell to prevent it!

Hartmann; “One of his closing chapters, “Peoria Uber Alles,” is so poignant and prescient that were Mayer still alive today I doubt he could read it out loud without his voice breaking. It’s the story of how what happened in Germany could just as easily happen in Peoria, Illinois, particularly if the city were to become isolationistic and suffered some sort of natural or man-made disaster or attack that threw its people into the warm but deadly embrace of authoritarianism. [President Trump’s election]

The [Peorian] individual surrenders his individuality without a murmur, without, indeed, a second thought – and not just his individual hobbies and tastes, but his individual occupation, his individual family concerns, his individual needs. The primordial community, the tribe, re-emerges, it’s first function the preservation of all its members. Every normal personality of the day becomes an ‘authoritarian personality.’ A few recalcitrants have to be disciplined (vigorously, under the circumstances) for neglect or betrayal of their duty. A few groups have to be watched or, if necessary, taken in hand – the antisocial elements, the liberty-howlers, the agitators among the poor, and the criminal gangs. For the rest of the citizens – 95 percent or so of the population – duty is now the central fact of life. They obey, at first awkwardly, but, surprisingly soon, spontaneously

Among Mayer’s stories are some of the most telling aspects of how the Nazis came to take over Germany (and much of Europe). I first quoted them a year ago in a Common Dreams article linked from BuzzFlash titled The Myth of National Victimhood*. I noted that Mayer told how one of his friends said:

What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security….

As a friend of Mayer’s noted, and Mayer recorded in his book:

This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. …

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it – please try to believe me – unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, “regretted,” that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these “little measures” that no “patriotic German” could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

In this conversation, Mayer’s friend suggests that he wasn’t making an excuse for not resisting the rise of the fascists, but simply pointing out an undisputable reality. This, he suggests, is how fascism will always take over a nation.

“Pastor Niemoller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing: and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something – but then it was too late.”

“Yes,” I said.

“You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not? – Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

“Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

“And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. …

“But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jew swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God.” …

Mayer’s friend pointed out the terrible challenge faced then by average Germans, and today by peoples across the world, as governments are taken over by authoritarian, corporatist — fascist — regimes.

“How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men?” Mayer’s friend asked rhetorically. And, without the benefit of a previous and recent and well-remembered fascistic regime to refer to, he had to candidly answer: “Frankly, I do not know.”

This was the great problem that Mayer’s Nazis and so many in their day faced.

As Mayer’s Nazi friend noted, “I do not see, even now [how we could have stopped it]. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice – ‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men?”

By Robert Kagan Fascism comes to America

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post.

The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well.

Of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

To understand how such movements take over a democracy, one only has to watch the Republican Party today. These movements play on all the fears, vanities, ambitions and insecurities that make up the human psyche. In democracies, at least for politicians, the only thing that matters is what the voters say they want — vox populi vox Dei. A mass political movement is thus a powerful and, to those who would oppose it, frightening weapon. When controlled and directed by a single leader, it can be aimed at whomever the leader chooses. If someone criticizes or opposes the leader, it doesn’t matter how popular or admired that person has been. He might be a famous war hero, but if the leader derides and ridicules his heroism, the followers laugh and jeer. He might be the highest-ranking elected guardian of the party’s most cherished principles. But if he hesitates to support the leader, he faces political death

This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.

And here we are.

*Eugene Robinson: Myth of white victimhood continues to gain strength

WASHINGTON — If there really were a “war on whites,” as a Republican congressman from Alabama ludicrously claims, it wouldn’t be going very well for the anti-white side.

In 2012, the last year for which comprehensive Census Bureau data are available, white households had a median income of $57,009, compared to $33,321 for African-American households and $39,005 for Hispanic households. The white-black income gap was almost exactly the same as in 1972; the gap between whites and Hispanics actually worsened.

According to an analysis by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, the average white family has six times as much accumulated wealth as the average black or Hispanic family. Other authoritative data show that African-Americans and Hispanics are far more likely than whites to be unemployed, impoverished or incarcerated.

Yet Rep. Mo Brooks feverishly imagines whites are somehow under attack and that the principal assailant is — why am I not surprised? — President Obama.

Asked whether Republicans were alienating Latino voters with their position on immigration, Brooks said this to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham:

“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things.”

Author, Milton Mayer, reared in Reform Judaism, was born in Chicago, the son of Morris Samuel Mayer and Louise (Gerson). He graduated from Englewood High School, where he received a classical education with an emphasis on Latin and languages.[1] He studied at the University of Chicago (1925–28) but did not earn a degree

Mayer’s most influential book was probably They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, a study of the lives of a group of ordinary Germans under the Third Reich, first published in 1955 by the University of Chicago Press. (Mayer became a member of the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers while he was researching this book in Germany in 1950; he did not reject his Jewish birth and heritage.) At various times, he taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Louisville as well as universities abroad. He was also a consultant to the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

 

What can we do-The Indivisible Guide

WHO IS THIS DOCUMENT BY AND FOR?

We: Are former progressive congressional staffers who saw the Tea Party beat back President Obama’s agenda.

We: See the enthusiasm to fight the Trump agenda and want to share insider info on how best to influence Congress to do that.

You: Want to do your part to beat back the Trump agenda and understand that will require more than calls and petitions.

You: Should use this guide, share it, amend it, make it your own, and get to work.

Donald Trump is the biggest popular vote loser in history to ever call himself President- Elect. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the members of Congress (MoCs) who would do his bidding. Together, we have the power to resist — and we have the power to win.

We know this because we’ve seen it before. The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism — and they won.

We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.

To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents. The guide is intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve.

We believe that the next four years depend on Americans across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda. We believe that buying into false promises or accepting partial concessions will only further empower Trump to victimize us and our neighbors. We hope that this guide will provide those who share that belief useful tools to make Congress listen.

 

Here’s the quick and dirty summary of this document. While this page summarizes top-level takeaways, the full document describes how to actually carry out these activities.

CHAPTER 1 How grassroots advocacy worked to stop President Obama. We examine lessons from the Tea Party’s rise and recommend two key strategic components:

  1. A local strategy targeting individual Members of Congress (MoCs).
  1. A defensive approach purely focused on stopping Trump from implementing an agenda built on racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.

 

CHAPTER 2 How your MoC thinks — reelection, reelection, reelection — and how to use that to save democracy. MoCs want their constituents to think well of them and they want good, local press. They hate surprises, wasted time, and most of all, bad press that makes them look weak, unlikable, and vulnerable. You will use these interests to make them listen and act.

CHAPTER 3 Identify or organize your local group. Is there an existing local group or network you can join? Or do you need to start your own? We suggest steps to help mobilize your fellow constituents locally and start organizing for action.

CHAPTER 4 Four local advocacy tactics that actually work. Most of you have three MoCs — two Senators and one Representative. Whether you like it or not, they are your voices in Washington. Your job is to make sure they are, in fact, speaking for you. We’ve identified four key opportunity areas that just a handful of local constituents can use to great effect. Always record encounters on video, prepare questions ahead of time, coordinate with your group, and report back to local media:

  1. Town halls. MoCs regularly hold public in-district events to show that they are listening to constituents. Make them listen to you, and report out when they don’t.
  2. Non-town hall events. MoCs love cutting ribbons and kissing babies back home. Don’t let them get photo-ops without questions about racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.
  3. District office sit-ins/meetings. Every MoC has one or several district offices. Go there. Demand a meeting with the MoC. Report to the world if they refuse to listen.
  1. Coordinated calls. Calls are a light lift but can have an impact. Organize your local group to barrage your MoCs at an opportune moment about and on a specific

 

Examining the President-Elect’s Constitutional and Immigration Dilemmas

Dems Examine Constitutional, Immigration Issues

President-elect Presents Conflict of Interest Dilemma

ACLU Director And Marjorie Cohn to Headline January Meeting

Author, Activist and Law Professor Marjorie Cohn will headline the January 4th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Marjorie is now Professor Emerita after a quarter century of teaching Constitutional Law and we are thrilled with the prospect of her examining the inherent conflicts that arise when a president elect doesn’t disassociate from his business interests while in office.   We’ve also never before had a chief executive not release his tax returns, thus failing to disclose his company’s foreign entanglements and potential conflicts of interest on a global scale. Marjorie will also discuss her recent article on the prospects and consequences of a Trump-appointed Supreme Court.

We are also honored to have ACLU Advocacy Director David Trujillo speaking about social justice and civil rights for immigrants and minorities during a Donald Trump presidency. Recently, the ACLU lauded California lawmakers for standing by immigrant communities in the face of future federal executive orders that would endanger them. (Mass deportations? Internment Camps?, Deportation squads?)

marjorie-cohn-pic

 

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught from 1991-2016, and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures, writes, and provides commentary for local, regional, national and international media outlets. Professor Cohn has served as a news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, as well as a legal and political commentator on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, and Pacifica Radio.

David Trujillo has spent his career working on issues of social justice and has years of experience in community organizing, political campaigns and the legislative process. Prior to joining the San Diego ACLU, Trujillo served as Planned Parenthood Northern California’s public affairs director. Trujillo helped pass legislation that made California the only state in the country in the last five years to expand access to birth control and abortion services. Trujillo grew up in San Diego and has a degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

With each Trump Cabinet nomination, local Democrats are alarmed at the potential back-sliding of civil liberties, social justice, environmental protections, public school education, workplace safety, wage and pension protections, banking regulation, women’s reproductive rights, affordable healthcare, middle class housing and job opportunities, income equality, Medicaid and Social Security protection, immigrant rights, and most other progressive ideals that we’ve supported and nurtured for decades. Instead of reforming Washington, DC as promised in campaign rhetoric, we’ve seen a succession of Wall Street insiders, big money donors, military mavericks, anti-science and climate change denying elected officials, fast food and professional wrestling executives, anti-union and working class enemies, anti-semitic bigots and hate mongering fake news purveyors, and fossil fuel industry proponents and lobbyists put into the highest positions of power and influence. Instead of “draining the swamp”, we’ve seen a progression of very wealthy alligators nominated for and appointed to cabinet posts and White House advisory positions.

We’ll begin our 48 months of protest and activism with a campaign to WRITE, ADVOCATE and RESIST these ultra-conservative demagogues in the best way we know how. By peacefully and stridently gathering together to spread truth, education, and social action, we can protect our communities, our planet and our children’s futures from the mindless onslaught of greed and neo-conservatism. We’ll begin with 2 excellent social justice advocates and continue with four years of outstanding programming that you’ll not want to miss. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Join the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, which serves the communities of La Mesa, the College area, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, Mt. Helix, Santee, Spring Valley, Casa de Oro and other nearby East County enclaves.

We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the spacious La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, just North of University Avenue. Our meetings begin with a 6:30 PM Social time with refreshments and drinks provided by the club membership. The programs and business meetings start at 7 PM and last about 90 minutes. We are just beginning our 2017 membership drive and new memberships are available for as little at $30 annually. All members and guests are welcomed at all meetings and other community events which are listed on our website at lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com, and visit our Facebook page for updates.