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Speier vs. Stein

We’re a bit late on this, but here’s a clip of Rep. Jackie Speier (shown earlier this month during a tour of Greenbox Technology in San Bruno) on the Feb. 18 edition of “Larry King Live,” where she debated Ben Stein on the merits of President Obama’s plan to help American homeowners facing foreclosure.

Digression: King introduced Stein as a “noted economist,” among other things. But Stein is not an economist, let alone a noted one. He talks and writes about the economy, yes, so you could call him a noted “commentator,” but that’s about it.

In order to be an economist, you should probably have a postgraduate degree. Stein is certainly a very well-educated man, but majoring in economics in college does not make you an economist any more than majoring in philosophy makes you a philosopher.

Speier, who is mourning the recent death of her mother, Nancy, also made some news last week by opposing the omnibus spending bill on the basis of the earmarks it contained. She has also proposed an amendment to a housing bill that would make it easier for struggling homeowners to refinance their loans.

Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Democratic Party, Economy, Jackie Speier, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

More local stimulus reaction

Here’s a link to Saturday’s Insider column, which dealt with Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier’s reactions following Friday’s House vote on the economic stimulus package.

A couple comments from Anna Eshoo didn’t make it into the column. Responding to a question about the fact that President Obama’s efforts at bipartisanship have so far been a dismal failure*, Eshoo said she doesn’t think he’ll stop trying to reach across the aisle:

“The Barack Obama I know is very genuine about reaching out to everyone,” she said. “I think it’s in his DNA. But once having done that, and soliciting viewpoints, I believe he’s a man of action.”

On the subject of how Obama appeared to have let the debate on the stimulus get away from him in the weeks leading up to the vote, during which Republicans dominated the conversation on cable news programs, Eshoo said the Obama administration simply “had a bad week” and may have been thrown off its game a bit when Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination as health and human services secretary.

“It’s a brand-new White House,” she said, referring to the fact that Obama and his advisers are getting accustomed to their new positions. “They’re still putting it together.”

Mouse trap

Speier had an Op-Ed in the Feb. 14 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle on the subject of the salt marsh harvest mouse, which became the source of much confusion after a GOP staffer made a false claim to the effect that efforts to protect the mouse would get millions in stimulus money.

Check out Speier’s Web site for that and a lot more information on the stimulus.

*In two ways. First, the general perception in the media that Obama, despite his overtures to the GOP, has somehow not been bipartisan enough. Second, the fact that Republicans have greeted Obama’s advances with hostility.

Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Speier to hold Saturday office hours

If you want to chat with Rep. Jackie Speier, just show up Saturday at her district office.

Speier will be holding walk-in office hours from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Unless there is a massive crowd, you should be able to get a few minutes to air your concerns or say hello. It’ll be first-come, first-served.

Speier’s office is located at 400 South El Camino Real, No. 410, in San Mateo. For more information, call the district office at (650) 342-0300.

Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, San Mateo, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Inauguration blogging

Warren Slocum, San Mateo County’s chief elections officer, is in the nation’s capital for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

He’s posting updates to the Twitter page of the county Elections Office. Those updates are also available at the county’s elections Web site. Not much information from Slocum so far, although he has been able to confirm that it is, indeed, cold and crowded in D.C. today.

It may be that he’s had trouble posting due to an overloaded cell phone network. We’ll follow up with him to find out.

Slocum has also posted some photos taken with this iPhone on his Flickr page.

On a “local spirit” note, we overheard a mother today telling her young daughter, who looked to be about 3 years old, over lunch at Pancho Villa in San Mateo that when they get home tonight they’ll bake an apple pie as part of Obama Dinner Night.

Meanwhile, Obama’s speech today showed that Rep. Jackie Speier may have been spot-on when we spoke to her last week about how the new president would proceed with his economic stimulus plan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, Joe Biden, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Speier backs Israel but raises concerns

Rep. Jackie Speier voted last week in favor of House Resolution 34, which recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself and reaffirmed America’s commitment to its longtime ally.

But unlike many of her colleagues, who apparently believe that Israel is infallible, Speier expressed dismay with the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli offensive against Hamas has killed scores of innocent Palestinians, including children.

The Insider has seen one disturbing photo depicting the head of a child who was decapitated in an explosion.

“I am dedicated to Israel’s long-term security, but I am dismayed by recent events in the Gaza Strip,” Speier said in a statement on Friday.

“I do not question Israel’s right to defend its territory, but we must work toward a political solution that will break the cycle of violence plaguing the region,” Speier continued. “The violence only creates more disillusioned youths to swell the ranks of Hamas, just as rockets fired on Israeli towns’ only fuel calls for retribution.”

Speier also joined 24 representatives — including fellow California Democrats Barbara Lee, Joe Sestak, Pete Stark and Lynn Woolsey — in sending a letter to President George W. Bush, urging him to press for a cease-fire and take action to help the civilians in Gaza who are going without food and critical health care.

Speier’s predecessor in the 12th Congressional District, the late Rep. Tom Lantos, was a major Israel hawk — understandably, because he was a Holocaust survivor. It’ll be interesting to see whether Speier’s more evenhanded stance elicits any criticism from her constituents.

Posted on Monday, January 12th, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, San Mateo County, Tom Lantos | No Comments »

Speier statement on auto bailout deal

Rep. Jackie Speier voted with the majority in the House on Wednesday and issued a statement about the deal:

“The American auto industry must clean up its act. Its decades-long obsession with gas-guzzling vehicles is over. The European Union has mandated that cars achieve fuel efficiency of 50 miles per gallon by 2015 and we need to make sure that the good jobs that will come from these fuel-efficient vehicles are also created here in America.

“It’s important to note that other industrialized countries are stepping up to support their automobile industries and we should do no less during this time of global financial upheaval. This is not just about the economy, it’s about national security.

“This bill is palatable only because it is a short-term bridge loan and taxpayers will have a preferred position for repayment. Longer-term support is predicated on an agreement by the car makers to restructure — or make progress towards restructuring — by March 31, 2009. The restructuring plans should demonstrate that the companies can do four things:

1) Survive and thrive against global competition
2) Meet the mandated 2020 mileage standard by 2015
3) Pay back taxpayers
4) Replace the leadership at GM and Chrysler

“Given new management, new goals and secure financing, I think the industry can thrive. But let us not underestimate the Herculean effort that must be made by everyone involved in the industry. Tonight is either a new dawn for the American auto industry or the twilight of its end. The choice will become apparent in the next three-and-a-half months. America stands ready to offer a hand up but not a hand out.”

Posted on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
Under: Aaron Kinney, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Newsweek’s 1978 Jonestown issue

The Times, in preparation for Sunday’s story on the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre, got ahold of a copy of the Dec. 4, 1978, issue of Newsweek magazine, which featured a 26-page special report on the calamity that unfolded that Nov. 18.

It was an impressive and comprehensive report, and we’ll get to it in a minute. But first we have to touch on the most remarkable thing about the issue: the advertising, which looks like was it produced on a different planet.

This single installment of Newsweek contained 23 separate full-page liquor ads, from Christian Brothers and Crown Royal to Seagram’s and Tanqueray.

One ad for Wolfschmidt vodka consists of a gauzy photo depicting a czar, his wife and an enormous dog at the foot of a marble staircase, with copy recalling an age when the czar was a “giant among men” who could “bend an iron bar on his bare knee” and had a “thirst for life like no man alive.”

(The ad reproduced above is not the same one we’re describing but it’s from the same series. Copy is the same, and the wolfman-like czar, lady and dog are the same, though the pose is different. Link to the site that uploaded the image here.)

Leafing through these ads, we realized: No wonder print journalism is in an advertising tailspin. All those politically correct do-gooders in Washington have restricted the rights of liquor companies to cater to Americans’ unslakeable thirst for booze.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
Under: Aaron Kinney, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, Jonestown, Leo Ryan, San Mateo County, Tom Lantos | 3 Comments »

From the notebook: More local reactions to Obama win

Before Barack Obama’s election win recedes too far in the rearview mirror, here’s a couple bits of local reaction that didn’t make it into the paper.

In the photo above, Karen Cunningham, sporting a Barack Obama T-shirt, was captured celebrating the Democratic Party’s historic night at the victory party for Rep. Jackie Speier in Burlingame.

Meanwhile, Bill Stewart, 70, took in the election results at an NAACP-organized party at B Street Billiards in downtown San Mateo.

Stewart, a computer consultant and member of the Foster City Association of Black Residents, grew up in Memphis, Tenn., where he participated in sit-ins during the civil rights movement.

He moved to California following graduate school to work for the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. Because of his race, he was not able to rent an apartment in Palo Alto.

On Tuesday night, Stewart said Obama’s victory struck him as “almost unbelievable.”

Stewart recalled living in the segregated South during college: “You were not allowed to try on clothes in certain stores … you couldn’t go to a lunch counter, buy a sandwich and sit down.”

“It’s a transition to a new day,” he said of the election. “What we need to do now is start working for economic parity for African-Americans.”

Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Barack Obama, Burlingame, Democratic Party, Foster City, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, San Mateo, San Mateo County | No Comments »

The Speier and Eshoo update

Before Jackie Speier learned about the handiness of the bicycle rickshaw, she wore out her feet Monday trekking from one event to the next in downtown Denver. She estimates she walked six miles that day, much of it in high heels. She was eventually forced to stop and buy a pair of flats to ease the pain.

John Kerry spoke at a delegates breakfast Wednesday morning and tore the roof off with a speech that was very much like the one he delivered later that day at the Pepsi Center. Speier said the speech reinforced her opinion that John McCain is an “extremist,” from foreign policy to abortion, and not a maverick.

At a lunch hosted by Sen. Barbara Boxer later that day and put on by none another than local Democratic Party insider Joe Cotchett, California’s junior senator regaled the crowd with stories of her interactions with McCain when she first got to Washington in 1992.

Boxer recalled seeing flashes of McCain’s anger on more than one occasion, said Speier, who like Barack Obama himself Thursday night questioned whether McCain has the temperament to be a steady commander in chief.

“The question I would ask is, do we really want someone like that holding on to the red phone?” said Speier.

Speier wanted to see her fellow Democrats go on the offensive against McCain during the convention. Rep. Anna Eshoo had a different approach, warning that bashing McCain too aggressively could produce a backlash.

“By the time the TVs are off with the closing of the convention, (voters) need to be left with the impression that it was thoughtful,” Eshoo said. “This is not about (a) bumper sticker mentality. That’s what the Republicans like to do, but that’s not enough. It’s about the future of our country.”

Nevertheless, Eshoo predicted Wednesday, by the end of the convention, “The lines will have been drawn.”

We’re trying to check in with both Speier and Eshoo today to see if the final 24 hours of the convention lived up to their expectations.

Posted on Friday, August 29th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Speier and Eshoo in Denver

[Update: We were snowed under Thursday. We'll have a full account from Speier and Eshoo, as well as San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon, on Friday. Apologies for the delay.]

We talked Wednesday afternoon to both Reps. Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, who shared their thoughts on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s speech Tuesday night, among other subjects.

What else did they talk about? Speier mentioned some interesting remarks that Sen. Barbara Boxer made about John McCain, while Eshoo offered up a vision for a successful finish to the Democratic National Convention that keeps McCain bashing to a minimum.

Check back here Thursday morning for more on those subject and few others.

Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »