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Mike Moloney: A powerful voice

Republican challenger Mike Moloney and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, recently visited the Times for a joint interview with editors in advance of the Nov. 2 election.

Moloney, who’s run several times for the 12th Congressional District seat that Speier currently occupies, may not have a chance in this race, but he’s certainly good for a quote. He made several unusual comments in the course of the forum – most of them amusing, one of them a little off-color.

Moloney

One thing you need to understand  is Moloney does not shy away from referring to himself in the third person.

“If a guy like Mike Moloney gets the microphone, you will hear truth,” the Foster City resident said at one point, later adding, “Mike Moloney is a powerful voice.”

Toward the end of the session he leaned over and told Speier, “I admire your courage for coming in here today and going up against Mike Moloney.”

A couple times he made it clear he has nothing against Speier personally, he just disagrees with her positions on policy.

“I have to go after you (because) you’re hanging out with the wrong people, man!” he told her.

The comment that came off as inappropriate also had to do with how he likes Jackie as a person.

“If I met her in high school, I’d probably be president by now,” he said.

This struck as sexist, in a behind-every-successful-man-is-a-woman sort of way. When we called him to ask what he’d meant by it, he said he hadn’t intended any disrespect. He said Speier’s former mentor, the late Rep. Leo Ryan, was a hotheaded Irishman, just like he is, and he feels a certain kinship with her partly on that basis.

Besides, he told us, “I like flirting with Jackie Speier.”

Unclear how she feels about it.

Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Under: Democratic Party, Foster City, Jackie Speier, Republican Party | No Comments »

Whither Jackie Speier?

Montara2

UPDATED BELOW

As you probably know, Rep. Jackie Speier (pictured above at a town hall meeting last year in Montara) is pondering a bid for California attorney general after a poll showed her having an advantage over other Democratic candidates, and with the candidate filing period opening Feb. 15, a decision is expected soon.

So which way is she going to go? It’s clear she’s fed up with Washington and the Senate in particular. Being a junior member of the House at a time of partisan gridlock has been difficult for her, especially when financial reform proposals she’s worked hard to pass are being tossed aside in the Senate, where Sen. Chris Dodd is in the process of caving in to Republican demands.

On the other hand, there is still a slim chance to enact historic health care reform legislation as well as contribute to a moment of great importance for Democrats, who have as good a shot as they’re going to get to enact significant policies on climate change and other issues. San Mateo County residents need leadership from Washington as far as stimulating the economy and creating jobs. And doesn’t every newbie in Washington have to pay his or her dues before rising in influence and seniority?

But Speier, 59, doesn’t have unlimited time left in public office. So she has to figure out how best to use that time, and maybe spending five years working her way up the ladder in the House isn’t it. And perhaps Capitol Hill really is so “dysfunctional,” as she put it, and the Senate is so corrupt and useless, that there’s no legitimate hope of winning important legislative battles or making a difference there.

If she runs for attorney general and wins, Speier will be able to spend much more time with her husband and two children — Jackson, 21, and Stephanie, 15. The commute to and from Washington has been a strain for her, newly hired spokesman Nathan Ballard confirmed this week. As attorney general, she’d also be able to focus on many of the consumer protection issues that are so important to her.

The hunch here is that Speier will run for AG. Maybe she’ll decide she has unfinished business in Washington. Perhaps her family could talk her into sticking with it, if that’s what they feel. But if we had to guess, we’d say her clear distaste for what’s going on in D.C., particularly the sausage-making that takes place in the Senate, combined with the need to be closer to her family, will tip the scales in favor of leaving the House and heading back to Sacramento.

UPDATE: Wrong! Speier released a statement today saying she will not run for attorney general.

“I am thankful that so many supporters came forward to urge me to run for statewide office, but after talking it over with my family, I have decided to stay in Congress,” Speier said in a statement. “I am convinced it is the right thing to do for my family, and I believe I can best serve my constituents by remaining in Congress and working hard on consumer protection, financial reform, jobs, and health care.”

So don’t ever listen to us again.

Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Under: 2008 Presidental Race, Barack Obama, Corruption, Democratic Party, Health care, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

House passes Haiti tax bill

Rep. Jackie Speier sent out a statement today saying she’s signed onto a bill to make donations to Haiti for earthquake relief eligible for itemized tax deductions on people’s 2009 tax returns.

The legislation, which also allows people who give money via cell phone text messages to use phone bills as proof of their donations, passed unanimously. 

“Bay Area residents know, all too well, the devastating aftermath of earthquakes,” Congresswoman Speier said in a statement.  “What makes this situation all the more distressing is how little the people of Haiti have even in good times.  I am heartened that the Congress came together on a bipartisan basis to support this worthy piece of legislation.  I urge my friends, neighbors and constituents to dig deep – as I know a great many already have – to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti.” 

We also have a call in to Speier’s office regarding the election in Massachusetts that has sent Democrats into a tailspin.

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Under: Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, Republican Party | No Comments »

Eshoo on health care reform

So here, finally, is an account of our recent conversation with Rep. Anna Eshoo on the issue of health care reform.

We wrote on June 10 that Eshoo had been pilloried as a flunky for the health insurance industry by a writer at The Daily Kos, the prominent liberal blog.

Eshoo had been quoted as saying there aren’t enough votes in Congress for a singer-payer option, which is progressives’ great hope for establishing univeral health coverage.

(It should be noted that since we spoke with Eshoo, prospects for the inclusion of a robust public option in a health care reform bill, which seemed dire, appear to have improved.)

Eshoo — who as a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health will have a hand in shaping the House bill — was adamant when we spoke that the bill will contain a public option and that everyone will be included, meaning coverage will be universal. Critics, however, say that, unless the option is single-payer, meaning the government would set up a single fund to cover the expenses of those involved in a government plan, it is unlikely to actually achieve full coverage.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Health care, Republican Party, San Mateo County | 1 Comment »

San Mateo holds a tea party

Could the humble tea bag slingshot the Republican Party into the 21st century?

This week’s latest news frenzy, beating out swashbuckling Somali pirates and even the swirling maelstrom surrounding Bo, the First Family’s hypoallergenic new ball of fur, came courtesy of the modern-day tea party tax protest.

It’s probably the most exciting thing to ever happen on April 15 since the Titanic sank back in 1912. And the Insider was grateful that there was something to distract us from the looming task at hand, namely, procrastinating on doing our taxes until the last minute Wednesday night.

In San Mateo, it was no different. A tea party to protest excessive government spending was held on El Camino Real, on a thin strip of sidewalk in front of the Hillsdale Shopping Center. By 2 p.m., the number of protestors — many in historical-era costumes — had swelled to around 250, turning the sidewalk into a tightly packed corridor of fiscal-responsibility loving, flag-waving tax protestors.

Demographically, the crowd tended toward the older end of the age spectrum. Many seemed new to the whole “protest” thing.

“This is my first time getting involved in activism,” said Sara Dumont, a 76-year-old from South San Francisco. “I’ve always been interested but this one really got me.”

Dumont said she had gotten notice of the protest by e-mail, and advance notice of the event was posted on message boards like the conservative website Freerepublic.com.

And while there has been constant debate over the whether or not the tea parties represent a true grassroots movement or are merely a cynical political device for the Republican party, the important thing to note is that using the tools of grassroots organizers, the events organizers were able to pull in an impressive number of attendees, many in their 60s and 70s, in a predominately Democratic district.

And while the protestors’ passion was apparent (And yes, we mean you, wiry guy in the baseball cap screaming “How do you guys all like that change now!” while maniacally laughing), the thing that struck us was the sense of relief and belonging that swept over the crowd.

That everyone in attendance was thrilled to find like-minded people was obvious. Complete strangers would excitedly jump into a conversation about the dubious origins of President Obama with a comment about the broken immigration system.

It was like witnessing the simultaneous appearance of a bunch of gophers who had cautiously popped their heads out of their holes, only to be overcome with surprise … at seeing other gophers! Or like the end of that Blind Melon video, the one with the girl in the bee costume.

Back near the Hillsdale Caltrain station, we came across one lone man in a nearby parking lot, pacing in front of a black SUV. When asked what he thought of the spectacle across the street, he replied matter-of-factly, “Hey man, it’s part of what this country does, gets pissed off and then tells everyone else about it.”

And even though we knew we would be cursing the federal government later that evening as we sweated over W-2s and 1099s and piles of receipts that had faded like the summer sun, at that moment we couldn’t help but think, “God bless America.”

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, Economy, Republican Party, San Mateo | 5 Comments »

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 »

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.

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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 »

Eshoo on Ayers

One of the big questions in advance of tonight’s third and final presidential debate is whether John McCain will bring up William Ayers, the former member of the radical Weather Underground with whom Barack Obama has had intermittent contact during his political career.

McCain and running mate Sarah Palin have made a major issue of Ayers recently on the campaign trail, but McCain didn’t bring up the subject during the second debate, despite the urging of many Republicans.

Afterward, Obama and running mate Joe Biden subtly and then not-so-subtly taunted McCain for lacking the gumption to bring up the association to Obama’s face. McCain practically boiled with rage when Charles Gibson of ABC News repeated what Obama had said.

Now that McCain’s been provoked, will he talk about Ayers? Perhaps moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS, whose June interview with Wes Clark has made him a member of Talking Points Memo’s “Tire Swing” club, will bring it up on his own.

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Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2008
Under: 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Joe Biden, John McCain, Political Campaigns, Republican Party | No Comments »

More local reaction to Gov. Sarah Palin (expanded Web version)

Here’s a longer, more in-depth version of Saturday’s print version of the Insider.

For those who follow politics closely, it feels like a long, long time has passed since Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin stepped onto the national stage Aug. 29 as Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

After several days of negative media attention, the storm dissipated last Wednesday when she gave a sharp, snarky and smoothly delivered speech that electrified the party faithful at the Republican National Convention, dispelling some doubts about her addition to the ticket.

The long-term effects of her entry into the race remain unclear. Will the shine of her speech fade as voters learn more about her history in Alaska, from Troopergate to tax hikes? Will McCain’s fourth-quarter substitution of family values for national security boost or destroy his chance for an upset? (The answer so far is: boost.)

Local Republican Greg Conlon, who is running for a House seat against Jackie Speier, was inside St. Paul, Minn.’s Xcel Energy Center Sept. 3 when Wasilla Mooseburger breathed life into what had been a low-wattage convention. It was “spontaneous combustion when Palin hit the floor,” Conlon recalled on Friday.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
Under: 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Greg Conlon, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »