Join us at our May 2 meeting, where we’ll talk about beating Duncan Hunter Jr., San Diego’s embattled 50th Congressional District representative, who comes with a host of ethical and financial irregularities. Hunter is up for re-election this year, and the club is backing a strong Democratic contender – La Mesa native Ammar Campa-Najjar, who’s one of our speakers at the meeting.
Our other speaker is Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, a Democratic Party activist who became famous in the 1960s and 70s as led singer for the oldies group Sha Na Na.
Hunter’s troubles started in 2016 when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) began examining his use of campaign funds for personal expenses such as video games, flying a rabbit on a plane, tuition, family vacations and much more.
Although Hunter has reviewed his campaign spending and reimbursed his treasury more than $60,000 in expenses he identified as “personal, mistaken or undocumented,” he is currently under a Department of Justice criminal investigation for alleged campaign finance violations.
Campa-Najjar left La Mesa as a boy, along with his family, for the Gaza Strip in 1998. When war made it unsafe to stay, he returned with his mother and brother to San Diego. After graduating from San Diego State University with dual bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and psychology, Campa-Najjar joined President Obama’s reelection campaign as Deputy Regional Field Director, overseeing Southern California’s grassroots operations from a headquarters in San Diego. During the Obama Administration he served in the Labor Department’s Office of Public Affairs for the Employment and Training Administration.He is a staunch advocate for unions and small businesses owned by minorities, women, immigrants and veterans. Citing bipartisan support for the Registered Apprenticeship job training initiative, Campa-Najjar has called on the Trump administration to expand and strengthen the program. His platform also includes Medicare for All, passing a clean Dream Act, investing in renewable energy, and overturning Citizens United.
Bauman, our other speaker, is the uncle of Eric Bauman, the chairman of the California Democratic Party.
Born in Brooklyn, Bauman started attending The Juilliard School at age 12 and graduated magna cum laude from Columbia College in New York.
In 1969, he partnered with several Columbia classmates to create Sha Na Na. They sang at Woodstock, and later starred on a syndicated television variety series with the same name. Bauman’s character, “Bowzer,” was a blustery, dimwitted skinny-armed greaser in a muscle shirt.
In real life, Bauman is no dope; he campaigns regularly for Democrats in special elections and endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008. He has also worked as a spokesman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and recorded wake-up calls for employees of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Bauman is co-founder of the group Senior Votes Count, a political action committee designed to elect leaders to protect and advance the rights of older Americans.
In the 2016 presidential election, Bauman endorsed Hillary Clinton and campaigned across the country.
He is currently President of Social Security Works PAC, a national organization working to elect candidates who support protecting and expanding Social Security benefits. Bauman lives in Los Angeles with his wife Mary.
By Yahairah Aristy and Jeff Benesch | La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club
A great, informative meeting is planned for members and guests of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club (LMFDC) on Wednesday, April 4. Because of the full program that evening, we’ll be opening the doors a half-hour earlier than normal at 6 p.m. and beginning our meeting at 6:45 p.m.
Regular viewers of MSNBC will know former U.S. attorney and current professor of political science at UCSD, Harry Litman, from his frequent appearances as an expert commentator on the Trump White House, and the Mueller investigation into financial shenanigans and pre-election and post-inauguration irregularities among West Wing comrades. Litman will spend his time with us diving into the deep details of the dysfunctional Trump administration and the mixing of family businesses and executive authority.
Are there impeachable crimes being committed? Did Russian interference alter the outcome of the election? Will Robert Mueller divulge more discovery of indictable offenses? Litman will attempt to bring us up to date on all the latest information from this ever-changing Washington imbroglio.
We will follow the Litman address with a panel exploring an explosive local and national issue that affects every community around us: human trafficking. What used to be called “the world’s oldest profession” is now a local $800 million criminal enterprise run by well-organized international gangs that exploit and enslave over 8,000 of the most vulnerable populations among us.
In San Diego alone, there are over 100 gangs involved in the commercial exploitation of people. Human trafficking is a tragedy that affects immigrant communities, the poor, the young and the most susceptible, and involves millions of dollars in illicit monies paid to cartels and crime syndicates that have become adept at recruiting and transporting “assets,” hiding the money, and abusing and manipulating the innocent. We’ll learn from experts how the victims of this formerly “victimless” crime are rescued and treated, how johns are processed in a forgiving legal system, and how this criminal enterprise is fought in the legal and justice system, here and elsewhere.
The human trafficking panel will include the chair of the County Commission on the Status of Women and Children, Maria McEneany. Joining McEarney will be Jamie Quient, president and managing attorney of Free to Thrive, a nonprofit organization that empowers survivors of human trafficking.
Also joining the panel will be our endorsed candidate for District Attorney, long-time Public Defender Genevieve Jones-Wright. Jones-Wright has made it her mission to not only bring justice to the victims of human trafficking, but to break the cycle of crime by working collaboratively and innovatively with public safety entities to intervene early and prevent criminal enterprises from exploiting and hurting our most vulnerable communities.
Several other key figures in the battle against the blight of human trafficking will also be on the panel.
The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets the first Wednesday of every month at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, just north of University Avenue in La Mesa.
Meetings are open to all members and guests, and are free, but we encourage all attendees to support our candidates and programs by joining the club for as little as $30 per year. For more information, visit lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com.
— Yahairah Aristy is president and Jeff Benesch is vice president of programming of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Reach them at [email protected].
The June 7th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club will feature a veritable who’s who of leading San Diego experts in the political ramifications of executive orders dealing with our economy and the environment. Furthermore, we’ll learn from a leading local expert about dark money and it’s effect on our elections. Non-profit Attorney Matt Strabone is a 2018 challenger to controversial County Assessor Ernie Dronenburg, and will not only enlighten us about special-interest influence in our electoral process, but also shady dealings in the Assessor’s Office.
Professor Alan Gin, perhaps the most visible of local economists and author of the USD’s monthly Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, is a repeat and very popular LMFDC Guest Speaker. We look forward to his commentary on the current unethical business dealings of the Trump Organization/Administration, the proposed federal budget, the effect of the newly House-passed ACHA on middle class families, the rolling back of various Obama-era financial initiatives, the proposed dismantling of consumer, economic and banking protections, the new era (and many consequences) of wealth building for the investment class under Trump, and many other informed and fascinating opinions from Professor Gin. It’s noteworthy at this point in time that one of Dr. Gin’s key interests is the business environment in Asia, and China trade in particular. Could this be more timely?
For those who attended the recent Climate March on the San Diego Bayfront most certainly heard from Jeffrey Severinghaus, Professor of Geosciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He was sounding the alarm at the drastic measures taken by the Trump Administration in rolling back recently enacted advances to combat global warming. From his bio: “Severinghaus’ research raises the question of whether the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels could also produce a rapid change in climate, rather than the slow, steady rise in temperature many computer models of global climate now predict.” We also hope to hear how Professor Severinghaus views Trump’s admission that Climate Change is a Chinese-perpetrated hoax, and how the layoffs at and dismantling of the EPA will affect research like that taking place at SIO/UCSD. And what of our proposed pull-out from the Paris Climate Agreement? These answers and much more from concerned Climate Scientist Jeffrey Severinghaus.
Alan Gin is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of San Diego. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, and his Master’s of Arts and Ph.D. degrees, both in Economics, from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Professor Gin came to the University of San Diego in 1988, after having previous taught at Loyola Marymount University and the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Professor Gin is one of the affiliated faculty members of the University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate. His other research interests include local public finance, urban transportation, and the economy of San Diego. Professor Gin’s insights on the local economy have made him a popular source for interviews, and he has given over 1,000 interviews to local and national media sources.
Jeff Severinghaus is a professor of geosciences in the Geosciences Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. His current research interests center on using trapped bubbles of gases contained in ice cores to track changes in ancient climate. Born in Kentfield, CA, on Aug. 26, 1959, Severinghaus received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Oberlin College in 1983, a master’s degree in geological sciences from UC Santa Barbara in 1988, and a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in 1995.
Current projects include construction of a “rapid access ice drill” to explore the three-dimensional interior of the Antarctic ice sheet in search of the oldest possible ice, which may allow a record of atmospheric carbon dioxide dating back 1.5 million years. This rapid access drill would allow drilling to the bed of an ice sheet in a few days, instead of the typical three to five years needed for a deep ice core.
Severinghaus has also performed extensive research in Greenland. His analysis of isotopes of nitrogen and argon contained in Greenland ice core bubbles have revealed that the earth went through a period of rapid warming at the end of the last ice age, some 11,000 years ago. He found that the region experienced a 15-degree-Fahrenheit jump in temperature in less than a decade, the impact of which was felt throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
Severinghaus is the recipient of the 2011 Claire C. Patterson Medalist of the Geochemical Society, an award given annually for a breakthrough in environmental geochemistry. Severinghaus was also awarded a Comer Science and Education Fellowship (2002), a Packard Foundation Fellowship (2001), a NOAA Climate and Global Change Graduate Fellowship (1992), and a University of California Regents Fellowship (1985). He worked in Nepal 1989-1991 to assist in a rural development project with World Neighbors.
Matthew J. Strabone is the owner of Strabone Law, a practice specializing in the representation of nonprofits, campaigns, and small businesses. He has counseled numerous campaigns for office at the local, state, and federal levels as well as a number of ballot measure committees. He has also provided guidance to President Obama, national party committees, and state and county Democratic parties.
Matthew holds a B.A., cum laude, from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from the University of Southern California Law School, where he was development editor of the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice. He is a partner of the Truman National Security Project, a board member of the North Park Community Association, and an appointed member of the City of San Diego Parking Advisory Board.
The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club is undergoing an unprecedented resurgence this year, with our membership climbing over 350 Democrats, progressives and concerned citizens, and our meeting attendance averaging over 200 each month. We meet the first Wednesday of each month at the very accommodating La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Ave. in La Mesa. We start each meeting at 6:30 PM with our social ½ hour, with snacks, salads, desserts and beverages provided by the club and members, and begin our business meeting and speakers program promptly at 7 PM. We conclude with public announcements and other notes and adjourn at 8:30 PM. We welcome all members and guests to each meeting, and remind you that this is a great time to join LMFDC for as little as $30 per year. Join your many progressive activists from San Carlos, Del Cerro, the College Area, La Mesa, Allied Gardens, Santee, Mt. Helix, Casa De Oro, and many other close by East County Communities. Please view our website for info on our participation in the La Mesa Flag Day Parade and other great local events at www.lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com and like us on Facebook.
Recent news reports published in the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, and appearing on many network news programs including Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, alluded to Russian hacking and manipulation of the 2016 Presidential Election, decidedly in favor of the Trump campaign. During the heat of the primary campaign, several website administrators of Bernie Sanders’ FB sites, including John Mattes, who many may remember from our Springtime Bernie/Hillary forum as an ardent supporter of the former, noticed a disturbing trend. Many posts and posters, hundreds of them in fact, were originating in Eastern Europe.
John Mattes is an attorney, former City Councilman, and veteran award-winning investigative journalist who spent many years with XETV and other local news outlets, as well as stations in Miami and Los Angeles and ABC World News. He’s been based in San Diego since 2002 and runs The Investigative Guy website.
Mattes first suspected outside interference in the campaign when he detected strange posts from Eastern Europeans on Bernie Sanders support Facebook pages. The posters had no profile or ties to Sanders but had dozens of faux-Sanders groups. The users who Mattes suspected were plants posted only vicious Anti-Hillary stories from American looking websites, but were strangely all located in Albania and Macedonia.
In early September, Mattes alerted several investigator friends with a list of the suspect sites he had uncovered. Digging deeper Mattes uncovered dozens of Anti-Hillary websites all hidden behind private registrations or addresses in Macedonia. Posts from the suspect websites were flooding Sanders media and online platforms nationwide in October with Anti-Hillary posts claiming Hillary was to be indicted, or had a stroke, or was involved in human trafficking.
Come late October, Mattes shared his findings with Buzzfeed where he is quoted as saying, “What is most disturbing is that the Macedonia stories worked to directly help Trump,” and, “The stories targeted Sanders supporters, creating doubts about Hillary among a key voting bloc.” Buzzfeed reported that Mattes thought this was part of a concerted effort to suppress the votes of Sanders supporters in order to help Trump win the election. “Some [of the Sanders supporters] are newly energized democratic voters,” he said, “If you have the ability to suppress and poison the well and reduce participation, that’s a win.”
After the election, Mattes expanded his investigation into the potential role of Russian tampering with the election. His findings were included in a story in the New Yorker titled “Trump Putin and the New Cold War”. Mattes’ investigation then was profiled in Huffington post and Raw Story, and now has reached numerous other publications.
In March, Mattes’ assertions were proven correct when the former director of the NSA testified that Russia had employed over 1000 trolls to plant Anti-Hillary disinformation on Sanders social media platforms. Currently, he is continuing this investigation, and working to spread his findings across the U.S. and the globe. John will present his latest findings at the next meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club on Wednesday evening, May 3rd at the beautiful La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just off University Ave. in La Mesa.
We get a bonus this month with the return of rising political superstar, Nathan Fletcher. Nathan will talk about what we can do locally to counter Trump (particularly on voting rights and ballot access) and give an update on efforts to bring home deported veterans. We also hope to hear about Nathan’s political future, and why he thinks all politics starts locally, in our cities, counties and communities and what it takes as progressives and Democrats, to get involved.
In addition to being a father of 2 boys, a UCSD Political Science Professor, former Marine, former State Assemblyman, Ironman Triathlete, marathoner, and mountain climber, Fletcher remains politically active; supporting Democratic candidates and progressive causes. He is a member of the national advisory board of Organizing for Action, the successor organization of President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.He is a member of the Statewide Leadership Council of the Public Policy Institute of California, and a member of the Aspen Institute Global Alliances Program Advisory Board. He is also a member of the National Advisory Board of the Truman National Security Project.He is a delegate of the California Democratic Party and has been active in supporting Democratic candidates and causes such as efforts to raise the minimum wage. He also remains involved in efforts to ensure implementation of Chelsea’s Law. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Human Rights. He recently married noted State Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez.
Be sure to arrive early to grab the best seats for this blockbuster program. It’s also a great time to buy an annual membership to LMFDC for as little at $30. per year. We recently were voted the County 2016 Club of the Year!
Our social activities begin at 6:30 with snacks, fruits, veggies, desserts and beverages supplied by the members, and the meetings begin promptly at 7 PM. All members and guests are welcomed, and we particularly draw crowds from San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, La Mesa, Santee, Mt. Helix, Casa De Oro, the College Area, and all other nearby East County Communities. We meet the first Wednesday of every month.
Larry Howe is the Past President who now lives in Italy with his wife Arlene.
Larry Howe, LMFDC Past President
As a nation, we are being confronted with the unthinkable reality that a foreign power intentionally injected influence into an election for the Office of the President of the United States. Compounding that issue is the concern as to whether the candidate who won that election knowingly collaborated with a foreign power in that effort or whether that candidate became an unwitting beneficiary.
A third more complex and realistic probability is that Donald Trump became compromised through the exploitation of his own entrepreneurial greed in his business dealings with that foreign power. Then comes the issue of what the result of that compromise might have entailed. The resolution of these critical issues is made more difficult by the seeming unwillingness and incapacity of the Trump enterprise to entertain serious reflection on the consequences of their actions. Self-aggrandizement appears to be the only overarching consideration they can consider.
A proposition could be made that the easiest people to con are greedy opportunists. The exploitation of an opponent’s own weaknesses for use against them is a well-established strategy. It is beginning to look like the Russians have a gift of a predatory instinct that enables them to spot easy marks to prey upon. And the Russians have used it well against the United States in the undermining of the political process.
But to what end? In a strategic contest between major world powers, any success in creating instability within the governing structure of a potential adversary works to the benefit of the orchestrator of the instability. It would be a mistake to underestimate the residual animosity that exists within Russia over the perceived role of the U.S. in encouraging the fall of the Soviet form of government. The U.S. arming and encouraging the Afghani resistance brought the already existing deficits of the Soviet government into sharper focus. And then following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the heavy-handed approach to Russian economic reform taken by the U.S. administration under Ronald Reagan was taken as an attempt to further weaken Russia and ensure U.S. dominance. That was followed by a significant enlargement of NATO incorporating former countries of the Warsaw Pact which Russia saw as a buffer between it and a hostile west. To understand this larger dynamic is to better understand the underlying lingering animosity that orchestrates the Russian well played strategy against the interests of the U.S.
Emerging evidence demonstrates the carefully executed strategy employed by the Russians to undermine the confidence of the American population in their governmental processes. To be sure, the Russians recognized the reality that the American political process had already sown the seeds of its own collapse. The fomenting of extreme political division changed politics from an arena for open debate and collaboration toward the best solutions for the common good to a ‘zero sum – winner takes all’ power contest. Extremism in various quarters has become the dominant reality in American politics over the past thirty to forty years. And those divisions have only fed on each other resulting in the virtual breakdown of informed, collaborative political dialogue.
The Russians did not initiate that process in America, we did it to ourselves. But that breakdown in effective political process created the tempting opportunity for the injection of ‘active measures’ to exacerbate the growing crisis of governance in the U.S.
The growing extremism within the Republican Party fed on the manipulation of legitimate discontent and disappointment of large segments of the U.S. population. Many Americans recognized their government was complicit in the conditions that permitted big money interests to take unreasonable speculative risks and to engineer a cornucopia of bizarre mechanisms to lure the unsuspecting into bogus ‘get-rich-quick schemes’ (i.e. The Derivatives Market). The outcome was world-wide economic disruption and the loss of significant life savings by so many of us. Added to that, was the further failure of the government to take meaningful, corrective action. Small wonder there is a rampant level of cynicism toward government in the U.S.
Populism is one of the easiest movements to coopt. The successful demagogue is the one who listens to the anxieties in the population and plays them back to the masses in seeming affirmation and personal identification with their distress. In conditions like that, most people want to feel listened to, “Thank you for understanding I am pissed-off!” The aggrieved are in an elevated emotional state and have neither the inclination nor are they necessarily equipped to evaluate complex issues of economic structural reform necessary to correct the problems. Too often, affirmation of distress is sufficient to get a following. Sound bites, slogans and political stunts carry the day.
The Republican Presidential Primary illustrated a mad rush to court the Populism sentiment with candidates each trying to appear more ‘anti-establishment’ than the next. Enter Donald Trump. This seventy-year old entrepreneur has existed by sniffing out opportunities to be exploited for his own personal gain. He instinctively gravitates toward market dynamics built on exposure. Publicity is the meat of entrepreneurial opportunity. Looking for exposure, why not a presidential campaign stage?
If you were looking for someone to back to be President of the United States who would be the least effective person to have in office and further promote discontent with democracy, from that field, who would you have chosen? If you wanted to undermine the candidacy of the person with the best experience and best insights into your self-serving objectives, which of the potential candidates would you have wished to undermine?
It remains to be seen and may never be sufficiently clear the extent to which the Trump campaign knowingly collaborated with Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election process. Elements of the Trump entourage were courted and enticed into what appeared to be promising commercial opportunities. The reality that they could be compromised in a political context would first have be recognized if they were even open to recognizing it. A vulnerability of an entrepreneur can be the delusion you are conning the other party more effectively than they are conning you. Trump was good at it in dealing with contractors working on his properties but dealing with the Russian state apparatus might have injected him into a contest even beyond his guile.
There is an impression Donald Trump has embedded into our awareness that he is a man seemingly incapable of dealing with his own fallibility. His inability to control his emotional reflexes and impulses is an extremely worrisome component in a president’s emotional profile. The responsibilities of the President of the United States require a person of calm disposition ready to see world affairs as extremely complex and nuanced. The individual must be able to control impetuosity and must gather around them people with broad depth and perspective who are encouraged to speak truth rather than acting as sycophants.
Donald Trump is immersed in a swamp of his own creation and is flailing about using elements of the government to attempt to cover and justify his serious errors in judgement revealed in his impetuous pronouncements. In a recent case in point, whether wittingly or not, to further his own ends he has deliberately weakened the credibility the investigation being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. By compromising Committee Chair, Devin Nunes, he has cast doubt on the capability of the House of Representatives to impartially protect the interests of the American people. The Russians could not have done a better job of undermining faith in elements of American democracy.
On its face, in accomplishing that outcome, Donald Trump has furthered Russian interests. To give him the benefit of doubt, it is likely his own personality deficits are more responsible for that outcome than any orchestration by a hands-on Russian effort.
And so, it appears in the entire Trump debacle, the personality deficits of Donald Trump have been ready made to be manipulated by a foreign power to their benefit. Cynicism is growing and distrust of American core governmental functions is being eroded on an almost daily basis.
The resolution of this crisis is going to require the emergence of true statesmanship coming from some other quarter than the Office of the President. Donald Trump has demonstrated he lacks the depth of personal character to see beyond his own personal aggrandizement to the larger interests of the United States. The likelihood of his resigning is a fantasy. His potential removal by Congressional action will be drawn out and messy. We are in for a very uncertain future in a very complex world. The Russians could not be more satisfied with their efforts in contributing to this outcome.
We have all been had. We brought a lot of this on ourselves. Concentrations of financial power in the U.S. were part of the manipulative process that helped con many in the electorate. Narrow political opportunists who have sold out to those concentrations of financial power continue to do their bidding. We offered the Russians a wide-open opportunity to exploit our weaknesses and they took it.
If there was ever a time to break down political division and have voices of collaborative moderation take charge, it is now. God protect and defend the United States of America from what we have done to ourselves!