John Burton

May 192014

May 19, 2014

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
722 12th Street, NW
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Mr. Norquist,

I’m very concerned that our political philosophies may be starting to merge.

I commend you on wanting to name three thousand items in the country after Ronald Reagan. As you know, I was in the state legislature when Ronald was governor and I fondly remember his signing the largest tax increase in the more than hundred year history of our state. That Reagan tax increase stood as the state’s largest until of course the early 1990s, when Governor Pete Wilson signed a $7.3 billion dollar tax increase.

I also fondly remember Governor Reagan signing the bill to liberalize abortion, the Therapeutic Abortion Act.

I think it’s wonderful that you’re willing to honor somebody who has such a liberal progressive record.

Peace and friendship,


John Burton
California Democratic Party

Feb 272014
Sen. Leland Yee

Sen. Leland Yee

I got a call from State Senator Leland Yee’s campaign. He’s running for Secretary of State and seeking the Democratic endorsement along with Senator Alex Padilla and Derek Cressman.

Yee’s campaign told me that Speaker John Perez* had asked Democrats to not endorse on that race, so as to not create unnecessary divisions within the party. You’d think that if Perez didn’t want divisions he’d withdraw from the race for Controller against the better qualified Betty Yee. Anyway, Yee wants me to vote “no endorsement”.  I bet he does – he’s probably afraid the endorsement will go to Padilla.

Derek Cressman

Derek Cressman

I told the person who called me that I was planning to vote for Cressman. “Who,?” she asked. Apparently they had no idea than someone other than Padilla was running for the endorsement.  Strange, as Yee actually spoke at the Alameda County Democratic Party Unity Dinner alongside Padilla and Cressman (watch the video).

I’m sorry, but if someone who is running for Secretary of State cannot keep track of the candidates in his own race, I can’t imagine he’ll be able to keep track of all the state candidates and all state measures. Yee may be a nice guy, but he needs to bring more feng shui to his life.

Sen Alex Padilla

Sen Alex Padilla

Padilla, of course, had a lobbyst illegally throw him a fundraiser and has refused to return the ill-gotten contributions.  He has and was recently endorsed by the United Farm Workers. The latter might not sound like a bad thing, until you realize that the UFW also endorsed Mary Hayashi, she of the sticky fingers and lust for leather leggings. Padilla’s biggest claim to fame, however, is that he wants to pass a law allowing for the warrantless use of drones by law enforcement.

So Derek Cressman it is. The guy actually cares about transparency and accountability in government. Imagine that.

Apparently I misunderstood the campaign helper who called me. It wasn’t Speaker John Perez, but Party Chairman John Burton who asked candidates for statewide office to not seek the party’s endorsement.  Leland Yee must be confident that he won’t get it, so he’s heeding the request. Padilla continues to ask for it.  I’m still voting for Cressman.

Aug 292013

I agree with the 193 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are urging the President to seek Congressional approval for any military action with respect to Syria.

Congress should be shown definitive proof concerning the Syrian government’s role in the use of chemical weapons. The memory of weapons of mass destructions that failed to materialize in Iraq – which continues to undergo turmoil long after our departure – is far too fresh in many of our minds to demand anything less.

Congress must debate the wisdom of engaging in yet another military adventure in the Middle East after receiving all the independently verified facts.

John Burton

I appreciate Mr. Burton taking such a strong statement, which I support as a State party member.

Apr 162013

dronevictimsAt last weekend’s convention, the California Democratic Party issued a resolution calling for an end to extrajudicial executions and the unlawful use of drones.  I wholeheartedly hope that Democratic politicians, both in California and other states, will put it into effect.

I thank resolution co-author California Democratic Party Chair John Burton as well as Resolutions Committee co-Chair and former California Senator Martha Escutia for their commitment to have this resolution reach the floor of the Convention, where it unanimously passed.  I also thank the other co-authors of the resolution, in particular Karen Bernal and Peter Leinau, for all the work they put into drafting it.  It was one of the most efficient and pleasurable drafting collaborations I’ve experienced.

You can see this and the other resolutions passed by the Party here.

Resolution to End Unlawful Drone Strikes, Extrajudicial Executions, and Restrict Domestic Drone Surveillance

WHEREAS, the U.S. government sets a dangerous precedent as it continues drone strikes and extrajudicial killings on people in countries with whom America is not at war, the majority being “signature drone strikes,” where operators fire upon groups of men whose identities are unknown, but who are deemed “targets” based on vaguely defined “suspicious behavior” or “signatures,” including being a male of “military age,” while also utilizing the unlawful and inhumane practice of “double taps,” where rescuers of victims of initial strikes are killed by a second strike; and

WHEREAS, our drone attacks result in the disproportionate killing of 36 to 50 civilians for every one alleged combatant and, given that the Geneva Conventions prohibit attacks that “may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life… excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated” during armed conflicts, and that the extrajudicial execution of any person, whether in peace or war time, is prohibited by International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,  and knowing that the constant overhead presence of U.S. drones engenders hatred and desire for revenge among the communities under attack by terrorizing the daily lives of ordinary civilians beyond actual death and physical injury- destroying the culturally binding fabric of weddings, funerals, everyday community activities and the lives of children, many who are so traumatized they cannot go to school, and are unable to eat, sleep, play, socialize or function normally, which is a form of physiological torture and collective punishment prohibited by international law, all the while making the world and our nation less safe; and

WHEREAS, the current administration is directing the use of drones on American citizens by

1) authorizing the use of military drones to target and kill alleged  terrorists, including U.S. citizens who may not even be involved in operational plots to harm our nation, without recognizing the United States Constitutional guarantee of due process for all people, including those  accused of treason;  and

2) directing the FAA to create regulations enabling drones to fly throughout U.S. airspace including California by September 2015  for surveillance of individuals or groups in public spaces and in their homes, in direct violation of our Constitutional guarantee to privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party stands in opposition to the extrajudicial killings and use of drones as described herein, both foreign and domestic, and urges that our policies be structured within the framework of international law, Constitutional checks and balances, due process, judicial review, and transparency; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon the Congressional delegation and the White House to:

1) Make public all claimed legal justifications of present policies and practices;

2) Conduct a fundamental re-evaluation and overhaul of current practices by reforming the policies authorizing the use of American military force, both foreign and domestic; and

3) Re-institute Congressional authority and oversight with regard to war making powers and federal law enforcement.


Authors: Karen Bernal, Margarita Lacabe, John Burton, Peter Leinau, Rick Tuttle