An interview with Charlie Brown, Democratic Candidate for US. House Seat CA-4

Timothy Smith
Original Publication Date

Timothy Smith interviewed Fighting Dem Charlie Brown at the first annual YearlyKos Convention. Brown is running for the House of Representatives seat from CA- Congressional District 4 against  K Street superstar John Doolittle.

Kay Shepherd hosted the podcast interview for ePluribus Media, which can be heard at Charlie Brown 06-10-06 podcast interview

The index of earlier podcasts is at ePMedia Libsyn

Kay Shepherd for ePluribus Media: Greetings citizens and a big shout out to all you Kossacks. Welcome to the ePluribus Media podcast. It’s Saturday, June 10, 2006. I am your host, Kay Shepherd and you are listening to our third edition from the YearlyKos Convention in Las Vegas.

Today at the booth, ePluribus Media correspondent Timothy D. Smith talked to retired Air Force officer and current congressional candidate, Charlie Brown.

No, not that Charlie Brown.

This Charlie Brown is running against Republican incumbent John Doolittle in California’s Fourth District. Now what you may know about Doolittle is that he’s been something of an overachiever in the current Republican scandals; to date he is the only congressman who has been swept up in both the Tom Delay-Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham-Brent Wilkes affairs. Tim talked to Charlie today about what he is running on and the difference he intends to make in congress. Let’s listen.

Timothy D. Smith for ePluribus Media: You have met a lot of people. What do you think about what is happening here?

Charlie Brown: I think the most exciting thing about this is the wide variety of people who are here. This is -- a lot of people when they think of blogging think of young college kids or computer geeks – and this is a group of all age ranges, all walks of life, all shapes, sizes, and to a large extent, a lot of different political backgrounds.

TDS: So tell us about the Fourth District. Describe the Fourth, if you would, for us.

CB: The Fourth Congressional District is the northeast corner of California. If you go just east of Sacramento, draw a line up to Lake Tahoe and move that line north to the Oregon border, you have the Fourth Congressional District. The whole California side of Lake Tahoe, the beautiful Sierras, it’s a beautiful area to be in.

TDS: What towns are in your district?

CB: The main population centers are the Sacramento suburbs of Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln, then El Dorado Hills, Truckee, then the towns get smaller as we move up north, Quincy, Susanville, and a little gerrymandered loop that comes down and takes in Oroville.

TDS: So why are you running? Why should the folks living in that area choose you instead of the current inhabitant of that seat.

CB: John Doolittle, the current inhabitant of that seat, has said that I am the most liberal Democrat that he has run against. My response to that is that he is the most corrupt politician that I have ever run against. This is about We the People of the United States. Thirty-seven (37) years ago I took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States and the constitution says that this is a country by and for the people and I am one of those people. And I want my country back, away from the lobbyists, away from the large corporations.

TDS: You were in the Air Force.

CB: 26 years in the Air Force

TDS: You are a Lieutenant Colonel, retired. Were you a pilot?

CB: I was Air Force Rescue helicopter pilot; then I changed over to fixed wing aircraft. My wife is also an Air Force veteran; she was a nurse. And my son is currently an Air Force pilot.

TDS: Did he see action?

CB: My son has done three rotations in Iraq. He is a C-130 pilot.

TDS: What would you say is the most pressing issue that your district is facing right now, other than the fact that you have one of the most corrupt politicians in the Congress.

CB: The district needs a lot of infrastructure improvements. And John Doolittle consistently tells cities that ‘if you need something out of Congress, if you need something out of me. Hire a lobbyist.’ So the biggest problem the district has is a representative who is not representing the district. He wants them to hire a lobbyist.

TDS: What would be the first problem that you would address when elected? What is the first major plan of action that you have on your clipboard?

CB: The first major plan of action, once we get the 15 seats so that we have a Democratic majority in congress, is to take the Congress back to where congress passes laws and the president enforces them. Until we take Congress back, you can’t move onto the next step of doing the things that the people of country needs. First we take congress back, then we quit the large tax breaks for the corporations and the top 1% of the country and start taking care of the other 99% of the people.

Once we have done that, we start looking at things like improving the educational system, affordable health care, clean air, clean water, and real security for this country.

The Republicans have been so big on dividing us with wedge issues, things that don’t affect people on their day-to-day life.

I want to concentrate on the things that we should be able to unite on. Everybody should be able to agree that we need some form of affordable health care. Everybody ought be able to agree that when you step outside in the morning that you breathe the air without coughing and choking. Everybody ought to be able to agree that we need a good quality school system for our children and everybody ought to be able to agree that we should be able to keep this country secure from enemies.

Yet these aren’t the things that Congress is debating. Congress wants to debate things that really don’t affect us in our day-to-day lives. They hold special sessions to interfere with individual rights and state’s rights. Congress needs to focus on the things that I just mentioned that unite us and bring us together to be united.

TDS: How do you feel about the Immigration question? That’s a tough issue that doesn’t go across the normal Republican/Democrat lines. Where do you stand, especially in California, in southern California it’s a huge issue, where do you stand, which side of the fence are you on?

CB: Well again, there’s really no sides to the fence here. Three-part solution to the problem. Obviously, the first we have to do is do a better job of securing our borders. They are a sieve, this is not something new. This is not a new problem, it has been going on for a lot of years. Nothing has been done in the past and suddenly it is a pressing issue.

We need to slow down and do this right instead of rushing into something we are going to regret but yes we need to secure the border and expanding the border patrol is the easiest first step we can take. There are some electronic sensor things we can do down there to get control of our borders and stop so many illegals coming across.

Then we move to the people who are coming across legally and we have better tracking of people coming in on visas. I have heard statistics as high as 30% of the people here illegally came in here legally on a visa and then overstayed. So we do something, electronic finger printing which I was involved in with the police department I worked at for seven and one-half years. You could do the electronic fingerprinting on everybody who comes across, good positive ID, easier tracking while they are in the country. So, tracking folks when they come in legally, so secure the borders.

Then we move to enforcement against the people who hire the illegals. That’s what is pulling the illegals into this country. It’s the jobs companies bring them in, pay them, it’s a cash economy, it’s under the table, and it’s not paying for the things that medical care, school systems, things that are hurting because of the illegal population. So we have some real enforcement against the corporations where they quit this cash economy thing in hiring the illegals. So, real enforcement is the second step.

Third step. Recognize that we have a large illegal population here. They are part of the work force. Again, it is physically possible to arrest 11-12 million people and deport them. They are here illegally, so identify them, fine them. $1,000 is the figure that the Kennedy-McCain bill is looking at right now, Okay folks, you are here. Misdemeanor fine, documentation; keep your record clean, then after you are here for five years, we will consider the next step which is a fine and the start of some sort of legal status. We have to give these people some basic rights, but once they have these rights, they can form unions and begin complaining against these employers who are hiring them illegally. So some basic rights, but again, tied with those rights, some responsibilities to be paying taxes, paying into the system, clean record. 3-Part system, take away any one part and it is not going to work. Gotta have all three together.

TDS: Where do you stand in terms of energy policy and what the government is doing right now in terms of our current energy problems?

CB: Well it would be nice to have an energy policy would be the starting point. Cheney held his commission shortly after this administration took office almost six years ago, there was no energy policy. There was a secret meeting. The oil people came in and they came up with something, nobody really knows what, but we have seen the results, higher oil prices, lower supplies, so we need a real energy policy for starters. Bush said, in his last state of the union message, that we needed more conservation, we need alternative fuels and then he goes and cuts 28 million dollars out of the research that would do some of that. So obviously we still don’t have an energy policy.

What we need is the start of research into alternative fuels to be looking toward the future to get off oil dependency. In the short term, we need to be looking more at alternative sources of energy: wind power, solar power, these things are out there right now. During the last part of the Carter administration, the last big energy crisis, we cut our dependency on foreign oil imports by about one-quarter.

With some minor changes, in habits, we could cut oil consumption, but people will have to get back into car pooling, merging trips together, taking a little care in what they do, we don’t have to lose our quality of life, if we just use a little common sense, get back to some common sense things. Use the existing technologies out there we could be having a lot better energy independency. Brazil has gone to Ethanol. We could be moving toward ethanol. The Air Force right now has a test program going on the B-52 to test alternative fuels on airplanes.

TDS: I didn’t know that. That’s an interesting point. Do you think they will go anywhere with it?

CB: Well the Air Force is definitely serious about it or they wouldn’t be doing the rewiring of the fuel system on the B-52s so that they can run a couple engines of an ethanol-based technology.

Simple things that we can do just for starters. Take Hoover Dam, not that far from where we sit here in Las Vegas today, generators, the wiring systems on Hoover Dam have not been upgraded since it was built. Some of the engineers I talked to today say that by upgrading the generators on our existing hydroelectric plants, upgrading the electrical systems there from belts and wheels to turbines, some of those dams you could almost double the electrical output. Some of them would be down around 20%. Some of them would go as high as doubling the electrical output. There are things that we can do now, without causing any more damage, if we just invest a little bit in the infrastructure that we have right now in this country for energy.

TDS: That’s another thing that I didn’t really know about. That’s great. I really only have one more question. Again we are talking with Charlie Brown who is running for Congress in California’s Fourth District. John Conyers in Michigan has already stated that if and when the Democrats regain the majority, that after the November elections, he would open hearings and he would get a special prosecutor to investigate the Weapons of Mass Destruction claims that the Administration used in bringing the United States into war with Iraq. With the obvious intent, then therefore if the proof is indeed in that pudding, that impeachment proceedings would likely follow. How do you stand on that?

CB: Well let me give you a two-part answer to that question. First on the Weapons of Mass Destruction and the intelligence that got us into Iraq. I was active duty Air Force for 26 years. In the 90's, I had two three-month rotations in Iraq, sat on the General's staff at Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia. I scheduled all the airborne reconnaissance that overflew Southern Iraq. Sat in on the General’s briefings every morning. Talked to the targeters that are planning what are we going to bomb tomorrow if we go to war. I personally knew, the people on the General’s staff knew, the General knew; there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by 1995 because those programs had been shut down.

So the real intelligence people knew in the mid-90s that Saddam’s WMD programs were shut down.

So I have been speaking out against the Iraq war Weapons of Mass Destruction excuse since the day Bush first started talking about it.

Now the other question here is Conyers talking about holding hearings and putting people under oath. The biggest problem we have in this government right now, this goes back to taking back our constitution and Congress is that we don’t know what’s been going on in this country the last six years. Go back to the starting point of Cheney’s secret energy commission, we don’t know what happened there. We don’t know what this government has been doing the last six years because they have kept everything secret from us.

We need real congressional hearings with people put under oath to find out what is going on. Certainly we need to be looking at what got us into this war. We could look at simple questions like “Hey, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, did your grandparents, excuse me, did your great-grandparents come into this country illegally?”

He won’t answer that question right now. You asked me about illegal immigration, let’s start with the Attorney General of the United States' great-grandparents and how they came into this country. So we need real hearings, with people under oath. The House of Representatives essentially serves as the investigative body for impeachment hearings until we have real hearings, we really don’t know what has been going on, whether there are grounds or not. But it needs to be looked at.

TDS: All right. Charlie, thank you very much. It has been a pleasure having you here, and good luck in your race.

CB: Thank you, Tim. I would just like to encourage everyone to go to the website, Take a look at things. Get the word out on what’s going on. We need to take back the House, no matter what district you are in.

This is national.

We need 15 seats to hold real hearings in Congress.

Kay Shepherd: You know we have really collected so much material over the past three days that we could do a new podcast every day for the rest of the month. We will see how that works out, but in the meantime, we will be broadcasting one more time from the Rivera hotel tomorrow, Sunday, June 11th, for now we are signing off for a Saturday evening.

This has been the ePluribus Media podcast. I have been your host, Kay Shepherd. Thanks for listening, stay subscribed and remember:

It’s not them, it’s us.

Photo credits and copyright Timothy D. Smith.
Podcast compliments of Kay Shepherd.
Proofreading credits: Amy Warren
Assistance from: Kay Shepherd, Kfred, BarbaraS, TXSharon, Avahome,
Standingup, roxy317
All mistakes in transcription are solely the responsibility of cho.