Celebrate Rep. George Miller's Birthday with Rep. Barney Frank on May 5

Join Rep. George Miller and his special guest Congressman Barney Frank and friends from throughout Contra Costa County and the Bay Area to celebrate George's birthday, support his re-election, and help win back the U.S. House of Representatives.

The event will be held on Saturday, May 5, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Shadelands Ranch, 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek. Click here to purchase your event tickets!

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

Former GOP Capitol Hill staffer Mike Lofgren has written the must-read article of the weekend. In it, he explains why he finally had to end his Capitol Hill career as he watched, as he puts it, "the crackpot outliers of two decades ago" become "the vital center of the Republican Party today".

In this piece, Lofgren also does not spare the media nor Democrats (offering a thoughtful critique that fans of George Lakoff will immediately recognize).

But the thrust of the piece is about how the Republican Party in Congress has moved so far to the right that we must take notice.

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

Lofgren explains where this may be headed. It's not just Obama's presidency, the economy, or jobs, or Social Security and Medicare that are on the line: the only thing that matters is that Republicans win. At all costs. The ends justify any means. Even if it leads to the nation being damaged for the long-term. As Lofgren writes:

During the week that this piece was written, the debt ceiling fiasco reached its conclusion. The economy was already weak, but the GOP's disgraceful game of chicken roiled the markets even further. Foreigners could hardly believe it: Americans' own crazy political actions were destabilizing the safe-haven status of the dollar. Accordingly, during that same week, over one trillion dollars worth of assets evaporated on financial markets. Russia and China have stepped up their advocating that the dollar be replaced as the global reserve currency – a move as consequential and disastrous for US interests as any that can be imagined.

If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America's status as the world's leading power.

And that prospect should get all of our attention. This is a must-read piece. The question now is: what do we do to make sure this isn't our nation's future?

Congressman George Miller to Host Education Policy Town Hall Meeting on August 24

Congressman George Miller will host a Question and Answer Session on National Education Policy in Pleasant Hill on Wednesday, August 24. The event will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the Parish Hall at Christ the King Church, 199 Brandon Road, Pleasant Hill.

Congressman’s remarks and the discussion will focus on these questions:

  • How can public schools best prepare the young generation for their future roles as citizens, parents, workers, and consumers and how can the Federal Government best support their efforts?
  • What does equity in public education mean?
  • How should assessment data be used?
  • Should federal mandates in public education be federally funded?
  • What are the ramifications to the country when a student chooses to drop-out? How can drop-out rates be reduced?
  • Should the Common Core Standards be mandated of the states in order to obtain federal funding? Should there be a national assessment aligned with Common Core Standards?

The Town Hall is co-sponsored by the Christ the King Social Justice Committee and the League of Women Voters Diablo Valley.

National Debt Ceiling Fact

Since 1960, the national debt has been permanently increased, temporarily extended, or had its definition revised 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents.

Yes, you read that right.

And, of course, the national debt ceiling was increased under President George W. Bush because of his fiscally irresponsible tax cuts and his wars without any controversy among Congressional Republicans.

Interesting how nothing that happened before January 20, 2009 matters, isn't it?

First Draft of Redistricting Commission's Maps Released: Lamorinda Moved to District with 680 Corridor South to Tri-Valley

The first draft maps from the California Citizens Redistricting Commission were released on Friday. They are slightly different from the ones we saw earlier this week.

If these lines are implemented, Contra Costa's political landscape in Congress and the State Legislature will change — especially in East Contra Costa County, where Oakley is separated from the rest of the county in all three maps (click here to see the Commission's first draft maps, click here to see the maps with additional analysis from Redistricting Partners).

For example, for Congress, Contra Costa would find itself split into four Congressional Districts. Rep. George Miller's district (click here for pdf map) would fit entirely within Contra Costa County, but taking Rep. Miller to Lamorinda and Danville and San Ramon. Rep. John Garamendi would still represent a portion of Contra Costa County, but now he'd have Pinole and Hercules in a district including Yolo, Solano, and Sacramento Counties. Antioch, Brentwood, and Oakley are included in a San Joaquin District. Part of Richmond is included in an Oakland District currently represented by Rep. Barbara Lee.

For the State Assembly, Contra Costa would also find itself split into four districts. Western Contra Costa continues in a coastal district with Albany and Berkeley. Asm. Susan Bonilla would find herself in a district that drops Western Contra Costa and adding Brentwood. Oakley, Discovery Bay, Knightsen and Bethel Island would be in a district with Isleton, Vacaville, Dixon and extending up to Woodland. Asm. Joan Buchanan has been drawn into a district including Lamorinda, the 680 corridor south to Danville and San Ramon, and Alameda's Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore.

In the State Senate, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier will lose all of West Contra Costa County and Oakley, picking up Alameda's Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore in a district that is reminiscent to the one in which now-State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson defeated sitting Senator Richard Rainey in 2000. West County again finds itself in a coastal district including parts of Alameda with Sen. Loni Hancock. Oakley is included in a district that is centered to the north — including Santa Rosa to the west, Dixon and Woodland to the north, and Lodi and Galt to the east.

Districts like that last one may have been among those that prompted KQED Radio's John Meyers to tweet:

The public often told during campaigns 2 reform #CARedistricting squiggly lines = gerrymandering. Today's maps show ain't always so.

Indeed.

Like, or don't like, what you see? You still have a chance to get involved. As the Commission's web site notes:

The Commission is now soliciting public comment on the draft districts. Testimony can be submitted online to votersfirstact@crc.ca.gov, by mail to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, 901 P Street, Suite 154-A, Sacramento, CA 95814 or by FAX at 916-651-5711. The Commission will be holding 11 public input hearings in June on the draft maps. The hearing schedule and the draft maps can be found at the Commission’s website at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.