October 26, 2014

CAPAC Chair on Resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki

Editor’s Note: The below is a reposting of “CAPAC Chair on Resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki” from our friends at CAPAC (Facebook, Twitter).

May 30, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Today, President Obama accepted the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), released the following statement:

“Secretary Eric Shinseki served our country in many capacities – as an officer in the Army, a General, and a distinguished public servant,” said Chairwoman Chu. “A wounded veteran and four-star general, he dedicated his career to safeguarding our nation and ensuring the well-being of our men and women in uniform.”

“Moving forward, we must return our attention to the problem at hand, which is to ensure that our promise as a nation is kept to each and every veteran. The VA faces grave and systemic problems, and we must assess them and provide the solutions our veterans need and deserve.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.

Dictionary: Shutdown

After watching this video of a Republican belitting a Parks official for turning people away …

… what could I possibly say that hasn’t already been written about this past week? Too many angles, all covered, lies included, so as inspired by this biting comment on that video, I bring back another dictionary (last time, it was about healthcare):

what extremist conservatives do what extremist Christians do
ignores any reason, debate, reconciliation to advance the goal ignores any reason, debate, reconciliation to advance the goal
take everything personally add personal attacks
burn the earth to get what you need burn the earth because God’s all that counts
use hate, meanness, anger to get what you need never denounce haters who wave the flag of Jesus
ignore criticism, stick to your guns ignore criticism, stick to your Bible
rest of the world doesn’t matter, only one’s own agenda rest of the world doesn’t matter, only those one can convert
absolutely non-negotiable and proud of it
greed & selfishness self-justified by one’s chosen party greed & selfishness self-justified by one’s chosen Christian sect

Get it?

Anyone wonder what’s so wrong about the system? An uninvolved electorate that’s so fragmented that it can only parrot one’s self-selected media intake? You elect idiots, you get parody of it could suffice anymore and even that will be still closer to the truth.

Slaughter in Egypt

Q: How do you make people more sympathetic to religious fundamentalists?

A: Make martyrs of the religious fundamentalists by slaughtering them in broad daylight.

Rep Duckworth Shames Faux Veteran For Receiving Benefits

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), the former Assistant Secretary of the federal VA and head of the Illinois VA, has a lot of experience with serving in our nation’s military, and in taking care of the soldiers who return. It’s no small wonder that she ripped into Braulio Castillo, a federal contractor, for his egregious abuse of the veterans’ preference system – he claimed a veterans’ injury that he sustained while playing football at a military high school. His company claimed $500 million of government contracts, and his application lists his “sacrifices to this country.”

Duckworth, on the other hand, lost both her legs and part of her right arm as a helicopter pilot in Iraq.

“Does your foot hurt,” Duckworth asked Castillo. “My feet hurt too. In fact, the balls of my feet burn continuously, and I feel like there’s a nail being hammered into my heel right now. So I can understand pain and suffering, and how service connection can actually cause long-term, unremitting, unyielding, unstoppable pain.”

“So I’m sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful, if also opportune, way for you to gain this status for your business as you were trying to compete for contracts.”

Duckworth’s public shaming of Castillo is one of the most thorough and justified takedowns that I have seen during Congressional testimony.

–Caroline

(Full disclosure: AAA Fund and AAA Fund Greater Chicago endorsed Rep. Duckworth in her first Congressional campaign and in 2012.)

Question of the Week

In Los Angeles, the newly elected City Council might not have any women.  Why don’t more women (including Asian American women) run for political office?

— Gautam Dutta

Federal Court Sets Hearing for California’s Top Two Primary

On Feb. 13, 2013, an influential federal appeals court will hold a hearing on whether a core part of the Top Two Primary law is unconstitutional.

In Chamness v. Bowen, a number of candidates and voters have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) to decide whether the Top Two Primary’s implementing law is unconstitutional. In short, does the State have the power to force candidates to lie on the ballot, or to disenfranchise people who vote for write-in candidates?

The Ninth Circuit appeals court will devote a full 40 minutes of oral argument for Chamness — a large amount of time it reserves for only a small fraction of cases.

The Top Two Primary’s implementing law (Senate Bill 6) has violated the rights of Californians in two troubling ways.  First, it violated the rights of minor-party candidates, by forcing them to falsely state on the ballot that they have “No Party Preference”.  For example, Michael Chamness, who ran for U.S. Congress as a Coffee Party candidate, was forced to lie to voters that he had “No Party Preference”.

Second, Senate Bill 6 disenfranchised all voters who cast write-in votes in the general election.  Earlier, Rich Wilson and Julius Galacki cast write-in votes that were not counted.

The hearing will be held at 9 am, Feb. 13, 2013, in Courtroom 3 of the Richard H. Chambers Courthouse, 125 South Grand Avenue, Pasadena, California.

The hearing is open to all members of the public.  Parking is available in the lot opposite the courthouse.

Click here for more background on Chamness v. Bowen.

Question of the Week: Egypt

True or False:  Holding an election is undemocratic.

True — according to critics of controversial Egyptian President Morsi.

— Gautam Dutta

Just Vote

Election 2012 is here, and now it all comes down to you.

No matter which state you live in, your vote will make a huge difference:  whether for the White House, for Congress, or for your state or local area.

Will President Obama get a second term to finish all the good work that he has started?  Should California get rid of the death penalty (Proposition 34)?  Should a leader (Tim Kaine) who has reached out to Americans of all backgrounds be elected to the U.S. Senate?  Or should a politician (George Allen) who openly attacked Asian Americans be elected instead?

These are only some of the choices on the ballot tomorrow.

Make sure others don’t speak for you.  If you haven’t already done so, please vote.

— Gautam Dutta

Profile in Courage: Richard Winger

Ed. Note:  Hear this important story of public interest activist Richard Winger (as told by Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times):

Here’s a question about Charles Munger Jr. that’s been buried by coverage of his $35 million in campaign spending to pass an anti-union initiative and torpedo Gov. Jerry Brown‘s tax initiative in next week’s election: Has he been maneuvering to bankrupt a public interest activist who had the temerity to mount a court challenge to one of his previous initiatives?

That’s the picture of the multimillionaire being painted by the activist, Richard Winger, 69, who has run San Francisco-based Ballot Access News since 1985. To say Winger’s efforts to track voter-rights litigation nationwide operate on a shoestring is to insult shoestrings; he says his income in each of the last two years came to $6,000.

Now he’s been hit with a $243,000 bill for legal fees incurred by Munger, Winger’s adversary in his unsuccessful lawsuit to overturn Proposition 14. That’s the Munger-backed 2010 “open primary” initiative that turned the general election into a runoff between the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of their party.

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Experts in public interest law say the fee award, if it stands, will have a chilling effect on public advocates and community activists who use the courts to challenge government decisions and even private business deals. “If citizens who dare to challenge these corporate-funded propositions then have to pay these corporate lawyers, nobody’s going to do it,” Rosenfield observes.

The fee award astonishes even experts who disagree with Winger’s legal position, such as Richard Hasen, an election law expert at UC Irvine. In his authoritative Election Law Blog thus summer, Hasen called the award “absolutely outrageous,” arguing that such assessments against losing litigants are justified only when an action is frivolous or in bad faith. “This lawsuit was neither,” he wrote.

Read the rest of Richard’s compelling story here.

Back to the Future?

Will Obama lose the election but keep the White House?

The way things are looking, that’s not a rhetorical question.  Right now, Obama is holding onto slender leads in most of the battleground states, while Romney is leading the national polls.

What does that mean?  Obama could lose the popular vote, but win the Electoral College — just like George W. Bush did in 2000 (thanks to his 537-vote “victory” in Florida).

While some might see such an Obama victory as poetic justice, it tells me that we must get rid of the Electoral College pronto.  In this time and age, it simply defies reason — and the core principle of democracy — that anyone can win by losing.

While this election is far from over, it’s not too early to think about ways to improve how we elect our President — especially the National Popular Vote plan, which AAA-Fund strongly supports.

The rules of an election matter.  Let’s see how they’ll affect Election 2012.

— Gautam Dutta