Friday, February 10, 2006

Democrats stand up for your rights and give back to their community. With the attention on Coretta Scott King's funeral this week, we had the opportunity to remember a woman who was both a true defender of people's rights and liberties, as well as someone who took pride in giving back to her local community. It is worth reminding ourselves that Democrats do this in ways big and small every day, and taking time to honor those who embody the Democratic vision of looking out for our neighbors.

To that end, please take a look at this Lompoc Record feature about Art Hicks, a Democratic Central Committee member who has stood up for our rights and liberties, and who has given back to his community, for decades. Art was a Lompoc School Board trustee for 12 years, a teacher at Cabrillo High School, and a pioneer in defending African Americans' civil liberties, both as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and with the Elks' fraternal organizaiton.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Who stands with the President? News that the President authorized thousands of wiretaps on American citizens has been out for days now. The President has admitted repeatedly violating your civil liberties, in what amounts to at least 30 violations of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA). Even though the secret court set up by FISA has rejected only four warrant requests out of 15,000 since it began in 1979, the President violated the law because, as Senator Russ Feingold said, "[W]hen this revelation came out, no one claimed that the FISA procedure wasn't adequate; they just simply decided to do their own thing."

What can we do locally? We can get every one of our elected officials in Congress and the Senate on record as to whether they support violations of Federal law, and your Fourth Amendment rights, by the President. I encourage you to start with Representative Elton Gallegly, member of the majority and a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Here are some questions you can consider asking him:

Of course, you should also ask at least the first of these questions to any representative who has not made a public statement, including Representative Lois Capps.

Your Senators have already spoken. You may want to thank Senator Barbara Boxer for taking a stand against illegal wiretaps by the President. Please thank Senator Dianne Feinstein for her efforts, too.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Push poll alert. I just received an automated "poll" from a company named FEC Research. It's parent company is called ccAdvertising, so it is not a true polling firm. A little Googling shows that it has a history of being involved in conservative push polls.

By traditional push polling standards, this was pretty tame. The main questions for the special election regarded Prop 73 and Prop 75, and the language was only mildly biased in favor of the propositions. It also asked for a favorable/unfavorable rating of Arnold, which is standard fare when doing a slice-n-dice of polling results.

What surprised me were some of the other questions that followed these. It made me wonder about whether this was a push poll or a test for future conservative causes. Other questions included:

If this is just a Republican-funded poll fishing for campaign angles in the June primary, very few of you will get a similar call. If this is a push poll, however, many of you will hear the same thing. Please use comments to tell us if you receive a polling call from FEC research, or if you know more about who funded this poll.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bait and switch? A few hours ago, I visited the KEYT television studios to view Arnold's reelection campaign announcement and provide a local Democratic response. The event was late in getting started, opened with a yawner of a warmup from state finance director and former Congressman Tom Campbell, and then lapsed into more boredom as the absentee governor was increasingly late. He finally arrived, spoke about three of the doomed propositions on the special election ballot, and then turned the event over to a moderator for questions from the handpicked audience of 200 Republican hacks.

Something was missing. Did Arnold actually ever announce his candidacy?

KEYT started interviewing me before the Q&A got started, and I was out of there before I could get a chance to listen to what was billed as a town hall. Driving away, I scrambled to get radio coverage to hear the words that have been hyped for almost an entire week. Nothing.

I finally found a Sacramento Bee piece (free registration required) that caught the announcement, made almost as an afterthought, at the very end of the discussion. But the hype had been all about the next election, and today's speech was about nothing more than this election. Were the media hoodwinked into covering this event so that Arnold could get free publicity for his lagging pet propositions?

It reminds me of something that happened during the Presidential campaign last year. George Bush, lagging in the polls as John Kerry's message started to take hold, announced that he would deliver a major policy address on terrorism and requested network media coverage. What reporters heard was nothing more than his standard stump speech, delivered to a hand-picked sympathetic audience. The national media never really showed outrage at having been tricked into covering a partisan campaign speech as a major news event.

Will our media pick up the hint this time? Will they be on guard for bait-and-switch Arnold events over the next few months that turn out to be nothing more than standard campaign pablum?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
What a wonderful world we live in. Through the magic of the internet, one can experience that magical feeling of nausea that only the editorial page of the News-Press can deliver anywhere in the world. Editorial chief Travis Armstrong took a break for a while, but recently he's been back with a vengeance, albeit an increasingly desparate one. The most recent antics over there include digging through an (apparently leaked) copy of the Mayor's email account.

This has to be yet another new low. It has been calculated that an average 2k email costs 1/500th of a cent. If she'd borrowed a pencil from the office for a couple of nights, that would have cost the taxpayers more.

We here at Heeyah! can't let this moment of crossing the Rubicon and pulling the bus right into the downtown loonyland parking lot go by without marking it in some way. I've been casually compiling my personal list of the worst, most low down rottenest things the News-Press has done since I've been following this, and in honor of this most unauspicious occasion, it's time to run it.

The top 10 lousiest, low-down things the News-Press has done since 2002

10. Going 0 for 3 in the 2003 SB City Council race and endorsing Arnold "Worst Governor Ever" Schwarzengger. It's fine to be wrong, but to be that wrong and that completely out of touch with your readers ought to be a little embarrasing.

9. Name calling. Who can forget "taxin'" Jackson, and "SB CAN'T". Such wit! No wonder they like Governor Schwarzenegger so much!

8. Attempted annointing and kingmaking, like endorsing Bob Pohl five times, while hardly mentioning the glaring conflict of interest they had with Pedro Nava.

7. Using data that was completely fabricated and counterfactual in one of their five endorsements of Bob Pohl.

6. Generally being completely out of touch with the political community: In the two years I was involved I probably went to 200 meetings, and I saw News-Press staff at exactly one of them. Instead, they prefer to get all their information from one or two leaky pipes, their annointed ones.

5. Afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable. Putting quotes around housing "crisis" in an editorial made me so crazy I couldn't bring myself to respond.

4. Repeated, vicious and baseless attacks on local elected leaders, such as Susan Rose, Hannah-Beth Jackson and Congresswoman Capps, and now Mayor Blum. (funny coincidence that so many of their targets are women, isn't it?)

3. Engaging in letter jockeying: not publishing letters & reactions, holding op-eds and then running them when they would most embarass the author, and refusing to print rebuttals.

2. Dumpster diving Mayor Blum's email account, finding nothing and running with it anyway.

1. Aligning with the nastily racist and anti-democratic Coalition for Sustainable Planning.

I had high hopes of affecting some kind of positive change in the leadership at that paper. I know Ms. McCaw and the vast majority of the people who work at the News-Press are good people, there's just something not quite right over there. They probably need an exorcism more than a firing or three, but they should go for the firings anyway since it's hard to find a good exorcism priest.

In the meantime, it is time for me to move on. This will be my last post in this space, at least for a while. I hope something good happens with the News-Press soon, and there are new channels that might yet make that happen. Santa Barbara is a beautiful place and full of a lot of really good people, but that editorial page is like an anchor bumping along the bottom and catching every once in a while: it can't quite hold things in place, but it can sure slow things down. Hopefully someone's going to have the good sense to heave it in soon.

Thursday, July 07, 2005
When not to trust your doctor. You've heard all those scary stories about how rising medical malpractice insurance is driving your doctor out of business, right? And of course, you've heard that it's because the number of malpractice claims and the size of jury awards is skyrocketing, which means we need to cap jury awards for malpractice, right? Wrong.

This study (summarized in press release here) shows that during W's first term of office, malpractice claims did not increase during a time that malpractice premiums went up 120%. The percentage of revenue that malpractice insurance companies paid out for claims actually decreased 25% to 51.4% of premiums.

This article summarizes the study and includes critical reactions from insurers (surprise!) and from the head of the American Medical Association. No one likes to pay higher insurance rates, and no one likes to be sued, so you'd expect physicians to want legal reforms that they think will lower premiums and limit their malpractice losses. There's another reason why physicians are so eager for "tort reform," though; the largest malpractice insurance companies are owned by physicians and their medical societies, so they've profited hansomely from premium increases over the past four years!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Be your own boss. Party boss, that is.

The Democratic Central Committee is the official body of the Democratic Party in Santa Barbara County. It is responsible for recruiting candidates for county and local races, chartering Democratic clubs, operating coordinated campaigns for state and national races, and increasing voter registration and turnout.

The Central Committee currently has one vacancy for residents of the 1st supervisor’s district, two vacancies for residents of the 2nd district, and another two vacancies for residents of the 4th district. In addition, virtually all of our seated members need alternates. Alternates work actively on Central Committee projects and represent their district at Central Committee meetings when their corresponding member is absent.

For more information on joining the Central Committee, please call our hotline at (805) 965-8030, or use the contact page on our website,

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