July 12, 2014

DC, July 21: AAAF’s Political Speednetworking Event

Editor’s Note: Join the Facebook Event at our Facebook Page.

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Asian American Action Fund * Asian American Action Group * America’s Opportunity Fund * PowerPAC+
Present
Political Speednetworking Event: Midterm Elections: Where and How Do I Help the Democratic Cause?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work on a political campaign, or how to become a fundraiser, campaign manager or press secretary? Do you want to know how working on a campaign can further enhance your job prospects once Election Day is over?

AND most importantly, ARE YOU READY to help Democrats win back the House and keep the Senate?

Bring your resumes, be part of the 2014 election cycle resume bank AND JOIN the Asian American Action Fund and other leading progressive groups for a very special professional speednetworking event! We know for Democrats to succeed, we need to have both candidates and campaign staff that reflect the diversity of America. Learn how you can get involved in this critical 2014 political cycle and come hear first-hand candid advice from distinguished political veterans who have been on the campaign trail and in Washington!

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:

Raghu Devaguptapu, Principal with Adelstein Liston, first Asian American to be named Political Director of a national party committee, first at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and then at the Democratic Governor’s Association

Panelists confirmed include:

Jessica Byrd, Manager of State Strategies, EMILY’s List, former Obama for America 2008 staff

Lisa Changadveja, LGBT Americans Director/Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Director at Ready for Hillary

Joon Kim, Vice President of New Partners Consulting, New Mexico Statewide Field Director, Kerry for President 2004

Alissa Ko, Deputy Director at Ready for Hillary, Former Organizing for America Operation Vote Director – VA

Parag Mehta, Former Director of External Communications and Director of Training for the Democratic National Committee

Madalene Mielke, Principal, Arum Group, Former Director of Training and Curriculum for the Ron Brown-Paul Tully Institute for Political Action

Oscar Ramirez, Principal, Podesta Group, DNC Member and First Vice Chair, Maryland Democratic Party

Mario Salazar, Coordinated Campaign Director at Democratic Party of Virginia, Former Operation Vote Director for Obama for America – Nevada

Nina SmithPress Secretary for Governor Martin O’Malley, former publicist for TheRoot.com

Brandon Thompson, National Training Director, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

DATE/TIME: Monday, July 21
Pre-event networking: 5:30 PM, Program promptly starts at 6:15 PM

LOCATION: Hunton & Williams, LLP, 2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Foggy Bottom Metro, directions)

RSVP REQUIRED: Seating is limited, RSVP for free online

Bringing back earmarks?

There is an argument to be made that Congress functions better with earmarks than without. The latest version comes from Jim Dyer, a Republican who worked under Presidents Reagan and Bush, and served as Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee. His point is that part of the reason that the Veterans Administration was not reformed before is that Congress hasn’t been able to use earmarks to microtarget problems and fund solutions.

After all, what good is a national transportation policy if we can’t fix the potholes on Main Street? What good is a national recreation policy if our local parks are unsafe? And while we debate climate change, can we at least repair specific cities and towns ravaged by hurricanes, floods and fires? And, if we are going to rightfully allocate $1.5 billion more in funds to the VA this year than last because our postwar era needs exceed prewar demand, can’t we at least arm the custodians of the purse with the power to ensure it is spent wisely? (Politico)

I am not wholly convinced that earmarks are the only way to go to fix the VA because let’s be honest, the issues there are systematic and very long-standing and precede the current moratorium of the past three years. However, there are so many issues that Congress has not moved on (such as reauthorization of unemployment insurance benefits or a larger jobs bill) that benefit Americans of all stripes and if it takes funding pet projects in districts to get bills passed, folks are questioning previous disdain for earmarks. Some writing from left of center argue that at this point, Congress is broken enough that we just need some levers to get it moving again. And if earmarks can spur action, so be it.

“There is no question that sometimes, to get bills through, you have to ask people to vote for things that are going to cause them political pain at home, and you ease that pain by compensating them with earmarks,” said former Massachusetts representative Barney Frank in an interview. Today, he added, there are other things a party leader can do to build support for legislation, but “earmarks were the best.” (Boston Globe)

Additionally, it’s not as if the process of earmarking has ended, it’s just gone underground as “lettermarking.” Or elected officials threaten to withhold votes for agency funding or appointees unless their pet project gets money. Or, in the worst case scenario, Congress just shuts down government.

While earmarks required publication of a pork project—along with the amount of taxpayer money being spent and identification of the elected official proposing the earmark—lettermarking allows for such expenditures without any identification of the project, sum and sponsoring legislator whatsoever. (Forbes)

No one wants bridges to nowhere, but Congressional dithering on other common sense issues such as transportation reform and VAWA that have previously passed with large bipartisan majorities could make progressives and conservatives alike rethink earmark opposition. Needless to say, federal funding spurs job creation and workforce training in the states. Sometimes the only thing worse than pork is a complete standstill.

–Caroline

The pitchforks are coming

This is a very well-written piece by billionaire entrepreneur Nick Hanauer in Politico on why wealthy Americans should support an increased minimum wage and better conditions for the working class. It is also, surprisingly, a more common sentiment amongst not just the 1% but also the 0.001% than you would think. I know Managing Directors of banks who support a $15 minimum wage and who want to bring back Glass-Steagall.

It’s not everyday that you see common cause between certain Wall Streeters and the LaRouchies, but the shared belief is that in order for America to remain functional, that there has to be some modicum of regulation, oversight, and reining in of loopholes. Food for thought.

–Caroline

Why Do Both Parties Fare so Badly with the Public?

Sen. Mike Lee, a co-founder of the Senate tea party caucus. Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography

Some is image, some is reality, some is tough times – but neither will crack that on their current path.

The GOP knows it has an image problem. It regularly polls below anything this side of toenail fungus. So the party elders have spent a lot of energy considering how to fix their messaging. The real problem, though, doesn’t seem to lie as much with the messaging as the message. The GOP in practice is for all intents and purposes the party of the one percent (or the point one percent). Some of its principles are positive messages – freedom, entrepreneurship, and so forth. What it actually does, however, is advocate for the elite at the expense of everyone else – and it really doesn’t even propose, much less seriously push, anything that helps the everyman. The public seems to get that – maybe imperfectly, but they get it. In their mind, the GOP has become the party of the plutocrats – with an antiscientific and often wilfully blind crowd of Fox News viewers cobbled on. This is not an appetizing portrait. In fact arguably the mystery is not why the GOP doesn’t do better, but why it does as well as it does while acting so consistently to the detriment of most of its own voters.

So why don’t liberals clean up? Because they don’t look too great themselves. Substantively they haven’t delivered on their promises. Maybe that is, as Kuttner says, because of conservative obstruction to a greater or lesser degree. But the average voter doesn’t seem to care nearly as much about the why as about the what – and the what is a lack of major improvement. Worse still, many see them as just throwing tax dollars away on different interest groups – and when those groups are not them, it’s unfavorable. This is particularly bad when times are tight – people seem more willing to be generous with the poor when they are in good shape themselves, but when people are straining to make ends meet, it’s harder to favor payments to anyone else – particularly those who are perceived as working less hard (or not at all). Liberals also have the problem that they are identified with government, which people generally think doesn’t work. Ok, partly they think that because conservatives are doing their best to make sure it doesn’t work. But government is also pretty good at botching things up even when no one is deliberately throwing wrenches into the gears. Take Healthcare.gov. So liberals look to most of the public as maybe closer in heart to the middle class than conservatives, but ineffective, catering to the indolent with money the country doesn’t have, and not a very positive alternative in themselves.

The negative views of both sides are exacerbated by gridlock and polarization. Between the very deep divides that exist and the quirks of the political process, (gerrymandering etc) it is very difficult for either side to really do things. There have been major exceptions, true (eg the Bush tax cuts or Obamacare). Still, it’s so much easier to stop then to do that neither party can end up with much in the way of trophies. Even when something gets done at all, it’s complicated, messy, and usually unsatisfying in one way or another. There seems to be an absence of “grand triumphs” that anyone can trumpet. This leads to even greater disaffection and disappointment, as well as a political culture of persistently running on not being the other guy rather than having a positive message. With the possible exception of Obama in 2008, it’s rare that anyone wins for who they claim to be rather than who they aren’t. The last several *waves” have all been incarnations to one level or another of “throw da bums out”, with no real mandates for (or even really approval of) their replacements.

Maybe part of this is that when things are on a general downward slope, everyone is dissatisfied – the opposite facet of the rising tide lifts all boats trope. We’re currently coping with a whole series of trends – the soaring costs of health care and college, the hollowing out of certain sectors, the sluggish job situation, etc, etc – that have been building for years. Taken together, they create a generalized and quite justifiable angst in the electorate – especially given that most were raised in better living standards than even relatively good jobs can support now. That angst lies behind much of the Tea Party frustration (though whether that angst has been targeted in the right directions is another question entirely). On top of that, really turning things around is exceedingly difficult especially given a toxic political climate and often postrational debate environment, where actual facts matter less and less to a disturbingly high fraction of the politicians and the people as well. With a chronically disappointed electorate, elections seem to boil down to picking lesser of two evils in all but the most unusual cases.

The bottom line is that both parties have severe image problems – but that really isn’t the core of the problem. To a much greater degree, they have substance problems (maybe in the literal sense too for some members) underlying them. Both have to operate in a difficult environment against a backdrop of tremendous angst. And both have opportunities to change where they stand and how they see things going – but they aren’t likely to be able to really fix anything on their own either, so victories will remain fleeting and the battle will continue to be second worst until the game changes.

– Dale Edmondson

Republican Opponent Jim Cunneen Endorses Rep. Mike Honda

Editor’s Note: The below is a reposting of “Former Republican Opponent Jim Cunneen Endorses Congressman Mike Honda” from our friends at Mike Honda for Congress. We endorsed his 2014 campaign. Mike is an AAA-Fund Honorary Board member.

Mike Honda for Congress

Silicon Valley, CA – Today, prominent Republican Jim Cunneen endorsed Congressman Mike Honda in California’s 17th district following Vanila Singh’s 3rd place finish in the June primary. Former Assemblymember Cunneen was Congressman Honda’s Republican opponent during the 2000 Congressional election. Cunneen is also a former President and CEO of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, and has held executive positions at Applied Materials and Cisco Systems (both headquartered in CA-17).

“I am proud to support Congressman Honda this November,” said Cunneen. “I’ve admired Mike for as long as I’ve known him. In the Assembly, we worked together on technology and education issues. Most of all, Mike’s integrity and good character have served our region well. His hard work and seniority has consistently delivered for Silicon Valley, including his bipartisan work to secure funding for the BART extension that is delivering thousands of jobs. As a previous supporter of Republican Vanila Singh, who is no longer in the race, I ask that other Republicans join me and switch their support to Mike Honda, who will continue working hard to represent all of us in Silicon Valley.”

Mr. Cunneen joins local Republican elected officials that have endorsed Congressman Mike Honda, such as: Sheriff Laurie Smith, County of Santa Clara; Vice Mayor Jim Davis, City of Sunnyvale; Vice Mayor Jerry Marsalli, City of Santa Clara; Councilmember Patrick Kolstad, City of Santa Clara; Councilmember Tara Martin-Milius, City of Sunnyvale; Trustee Khoa Nguyen, Berryessa Unified School District; Commissioner Cyndy Mozzetti, Fremont Planning Commission; Director Bernard Stewart, Washington Township Healthcare Hospital System; and Former Mayor Denny Weisgerber, City of Milpitas.

The latest public poll available in this race, commissioned by CBS and cited in Ro Khanna campaign memos, has Honda currently leading among registered Republican voters (19% to 18%). The poll also shows a huge lead for Congressman Honda in key demographic groups for the district, such as Moderates (44% to 26%) and Democrats (57% to 21%). Full poll results are available here.

Voters in California’s 17th Congressional District made it clear on June 3rd that they overwhelmingly support Congressman Mike Honda to any of his opponents by 20%, despite being outspent by Ro Khanna’s campaign by a more than 2 to 1 margin. The Honda campaign now has more resources than Khanna, and is in a good position to continue building upon this lead.

Clay Pell for Governor

Clay Pell for Governor

Exciting news about 1 of my childhood heroes when I heard Michelle Kwan’s husband Clay Pell is running for Rhode Island Governor. Yes, that’s the same Pell as in the famed scholarship program, the Pell Grants, which has funded the college education for a number of our readers including yours truly.

Putting aside Kwan’s star power, here’s why I’d vote for him if I were a Rhode Island voter:

  • accepting neither lobbyists’ nor PAC’s monies to avoid legalized corruption/bribery
  • Harvard undergrad & Georgetown Law School show the best education
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education at US Department of Education; White House Fellow 2011-2012; director of strategic planning for President Obama’s national security team; active duty Coast Guard officer
  • more important than the still good party support is his on-the-ground support; if polls speak to some political industry insiders, then he’s also +9% there
  • he doesn’t lie, whether you want to use experience reading news about him, his PolitiFact page, factual defense of the usual dumb accusations during campaigns, etc.
  • doing what progressive & smart economies are doing, funding professional internships
  • this past Tuesday’s debate showed how he’s not a career poltician in style, thought & treatment
  • sure his Republican opponent is an Asian, but Allan Fung is conservative and harmful to the state proving how supporting the greater good may take us outside our Asian roots

Learn more about Clay at ClayPell.com, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Or update the race’s Wikipedia or Ballotpedia pages.

Justice for Danny Chen 3/3

Pvt. Harry Lew, whose killers are even less unprosecuted.

Pvt. Danny Chen, US Army

On October 13, 2011, Private Danny Chen, a Chinese-American active duty private in the US Army, died while deployed in Afghanistan. The circumstances surrounding his death are outrageous and illegal (even in military law, a largely unknown beast): racially-biased hazing both physically and emotionally over months prior to his death. Suicide or murder, we can’t tell. His superior, Sgt. Holcomb, spent 30 days in jail & a weak admission of race-based hazing are the results. Not good enough. We take it to the court of public opinion to embarrass the DoD by:

  1. re-highlighting the intense and un-sustained media attention, especially during the military trial
  2. outing misperceptions & cultural myths by clarifying hazing vs murder
  3. list what rights one has once one enlists so those enlisting & enlisted have; we can’t bust military culture, but we can expose it as light shines most where there is darkness
  4. showing how to contact Congress & DoD to end race-based hazing

We’ll coordinate with the Organization for Chinese Americans (OCA) NY chapter as we did when the news first broke. To quote the Angry Asian Man, “In the end, all of this is work to ensure that another tragedy like this never happens again.”

Related

Lord’s Resistance Army’s Un-Christian

With all the bad news from Iraq thanks to so many failures from so many overpaid corrupt folks enjoying an Iraq time, I thought it useful to visit another failed state. So many to choose from, so let’s try Uganda, #22 on the Failed States Index, 1 better than North Korea (ouch).

Some are concerned that our sending military advisors to Uganda last year worsend the US’ might or our image in central Africa. Some falsehoods & truths:

Falsehood: Rush Limbaugh said the LRA (“Lord’s Resistance Army”) are Christians. They fight the Muslims in Sudan. They’re on our side. Obama’s a Muslim so he wants to fight Christians.
Truth: The LRA is not “Christian”. They are agnostic. It is not fighting “the Muslims”. It is killing, abducting and torturing ordinary citizens, originally in Uganda, now mainly in South Sudan, DRC and CAR. Most of its victims are Christians or followers of African traditional religions. The oppressive Islamist regime in Khartoum supports the LRA openly and officially with all sorts of support: logistical, governmental, militarily and legally.

Falsehood: The US sent soliders to fight their war.
Truth: These advisors are forbidden by international law and our mission from firing (except in defense) or being in direct combat. For something that doesn’t sound like it came from a press officer, we’ve too little to gain by breaking the law because they’ve not enough oil to satisfy any American corporate lobbyists.

Falsehood: The US is getting involved in war & we’ve no oil to gain anyways.
Truth: See above. Seriously. And Uganda’s our friend not enemy. Conservatives like the world black and white: no oil, no troops.

Falsehood: The Lord’s Resistance Army is the Lord’s work.
Truth: Just another Christian terrorist group waving the flag of Jesus to justify their personal flaws & equally flawed ideology.

Falsehood: The US is getting into messy alliances with people we can’t trust.
Truth: Luckily, we owe the LRA & Uganda government little.

Falsehood: We need to stop the terrorists.
Truth: The situation is so local, even professionals in international policy don’t understand the true nature of this fight.

I note the danger of listening to politically extreme radio personalities who don’t deal in truths but rather whatever is entertaining which can include falsehoods because few know the truth and fewer fact-check because they’re intellectually lazy.