Obama! Obama! Hillary! Hillary!

marcy-759153.jpgWas it a split CA Dem Party convention last weekend in San Jose?

Shades of what’s to come at the Dem Party convention in August?

Actually, the Obama fans far outnumbered the Hillary cadre on Sunday, when both camps waved placards in front of the convention center, awaiting the arrival of Obama surrogate San Fran District Attorney Karmala Harris, an up-and-coming Dem Party star, and Mr. Charisma himself, former President Bill Clinton, there to do damage control and try to convince the already-committed Hillary super delegates not to jump ship.

Just to make sure the crowd behaved inside the convention center, Harris went first for Obama — repeating the mantra of hope, change, hope, change.

Moments later, there stood Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, at the podium, telling us America should scrap No Child Left Behind (just study what the good schools are doing and copy them), freeze the foreclosures (America can’t afford not to), and IMMEDIATELY bring the troops home from Iraq (even the generals are homesick).

Whoa, did that guy use the word IMMEDIATELY withdraw? Yup. But …

Wasn’t that the word that the CDP platform committee wrestled with the day before? Right before passing an amendment to defund the occupation and withdraw the troops without delay?

We can thank Colleen Fernald, who ran against Feinstein in 2006, for proposing the late amendment to the platform. And (impeachment) hats off to PDLA’s Michael Jay for helping to craft that anti-occupation amendment (more details below), and to PDLA delegate Maureen Cruise and her daughter Genevieve for collecting the 300 signatures needed to submit it to Christine Pelosi (daughter of Nancy, chair of platform committee, the woman wearing the black leather jacket).

It was almost like the Party leaders said to themselves, we need the progressives to rally support for our Presidential and congressional candidates in November. Let’s whip up the base. Let’s focus on broadcasting an anti-war message.

And they did everywhere — with Out of Iraq signs, and delegate packet flyers listing the cost of war in real dollars and lives — and most of all at the big Saturday night dinner, when Phil Donahue showed his riveting film Body of War. The film switches back and forth, from a veteran in his wheelchair, to the initial Iraq War Authorization vote — showing how GOP lawmakers parroted the Republican WMD talking points (also showing Hillary following suit), clarifying which Dem lawmakers voted to go to war, and elevating the Dem Party lawmakers who voted NO. When the film ended, Party Chair Art Torres asked Congress member Diane Watson and others who voted against the authorization to stand in honor.

It was a powerful moment, something we need to do more — applaud the courageous ones.

And after applauding, we need to keep pushing for what we want, what we envision for a better America.

PDLA and other progressive delegates lobbied successfully for multiple CDP platform amendments: opposition to bogus fair trade deals, support for an independent sentencing commission to overhaul sentencing laws in California, promotion of card-check certification in union organizing; recognition that paper ballots, not electronic receipts, are the ballots of record, support for instant run-off voting, establishment of a national holiday for elections, prosecution of the subprime swindlers sitting in palatial offices at large investment firms, etc. (For the complete 2008 CA Dem Party platform, scroll to the end of this email).

Excuse me. Question. Who reads the CDP platform anyway?

That was the question raised at the Progressive Caucus, one of a dozen caucuses officially recognized by the state party — and what a slugfest that was a few years ago to get the Progressive Caucus official recognition.

Mal Bernstein, one of the Progressive Caucus co-chairs, said it was time we expected our Party candidates (incumbents, too!) to at least read the platform. Mal introduced an amendment calling on our lawmakers to do just that. Read the platform. The ayes had it, so the next time you meet a candidate or an elected, ask — Did you read the CDP platform? Do you swear you will never again appropriate another dime to bomb Basra?!

Brad Parker, PDLA’s VP, officer of the Progressive Caucus, member of platform committee and an organizer of the weekend’s immigration forum.) reminded delegates of the Progressive Plan to elect more delegates like us to every level of the Party apparatus.

I spoke briefly at the Progressive Caucus, urging the like-minded to push for a freeze on prison bonds and to urge State Controller John Chiang and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer to say NO as members of the Board of Public Works . How can the state of CA, now facing a 16-billion dollar deficit, justify spending another 15-billion to lock up more of our youth?

Jerry Brown (now attorney general, future gubernatorial candidate?) got the prison message. Before or after (can’t remember) Lt. Gov John Garamendi (good guy, big advance team, next governor?) spoke, Brown spent a good five minutes of his speech Saturday morning talking about how we’ve got to get our priorities straight. (Outside the convention hall, PDA delegates raised their banners — Education, Not Incarceration; Healthcare, Not Warfare)

We need to address the high school dropout rate, said an energized Jerry, and do something about the revolving door from prison to parole back again to prison. (Could it be that Brown saw our banner or read our platform amendments calling for more dialogue about the inequity in school and prison funding? $7,000 per pupil, $43,000 per prisoner .. or that his attorneys took notes when I testified against the prison bond financing at a recent Board of Public Works meeting?) Let’s keep talking about the incarceration of our inner city. The Boys and Girls Club is. Just read a newspaper ad in which the club said 1 out of every 15 African American males is incarcerated in CA. (1 out of 4 AA men in their 20s is behind bars in CA.) And let’s get Attorney General Brown to abandon his support for California inhumane Three Strikes law.

Well, at least he’s vigorously pursuing lawsuits against the EPA for refusing to allow CA to implement former Assemblywoman (now PDLA-endorsed state senate candidate) Fran Pavely’s legislation cutting greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

Big news on the floor of the convention. Delegates overturned the caucus endorsement of Senator Carole Migden (a good friend to prison reformers and the UFW, but not a pro at campaign finance reporting. Assemblyman Mark Leno, who had strong support everywhere, wants Migden’s seat. Let’s just hope they don’t split the progressive vote in SF and throw the seat to conservative Dem Joe Nation) Another no endorsement from the floor for Cong. Berman’s District Director Bob Blumenfield, candidate for the 40th Assembly District. A no-endorsement in the 40th is good news for PDLA-endorsed assembly candidate Laurette Healey, formerly a deputy with the state controller’s office.

Other PDLA and PDA candidates in sight — Mary Pallant, running for congress in Ventura, author Norman Solomon with his eye on Woolsey’s congressional seat when it opens, labor organizer John Perez running for assembly in Nunez’s downtown district, and formerly-endorsed candidate Ferial Masry, running for assembly in the Valley

For more on the convention and the CDP platform, keep reading.

Published by the LA Progressive on April 1, 2008
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About Marcy Winograd

Marcy Winograd is a blogger, activist, and public school teacher in Los Angeles. You can follow her on twitter: marcywinograd