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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 »

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 »

Swanky Speier

carolands-2.jpg

Mr. and Mrs. Insider paid a visit to the Carolands Chateau on Friday, at the invitation of Burlingame attorney Joe Cotchett, to attend a campaign party he threw for former state Sen. Jackie Speier, who is running for the congressional seat occupied by Rep. Tom Lantos until he died in February.

Roughly 100 to 150 people circulated around the second-floor of the mansion — which is a succession of rooms off a central atrium — sipping white wine and cocktails (no red wine allowed, for fear of stains) and munching on hors d’oeuvres.

Among those the Insider spotted at the party: San Mateo County Supervisors Mark Church and Adrienne Tissier; San Mateo police Chief Susan Manheimer; former county sheriff, and current member of the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors, Don Horsley; and Robert Foucrault, the county coroner.

Speier herself, wearing a red dress with a black sash, posed for photographs with supporters in the chateau’s ridiculous wood-paneled library. Sometime after 7 p.m., guests were ushered into the ballroom for the evening’s presentation.

Cotchett spoke first, thanking the chateau’s owners, Ann and Charles Johnson (who bought the estate in 1998 and spent millions refurbishing it). He said the Johnsons were “equal opportunity employers,” since they hosted a Republican fundraiser with President Bush in late January in the exact same room.

Cotchett then introduced the emcee for the night, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who interrupted a tour hawking his memoir, “Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times,” to be there for Speier, a friend and colleague from their years together in the state legislature.

Brown said he owed many votes on “family values” issues to Speier, who would cast his votes for him when he was absent from the state Assembly. The Insider isn’t sure whether he was being serious, or if the practice he described is legal, but there you have it.

Brown also joked about being mortified that he was selling his books at Wal-Mart, which has become a major book retailer that helps authors get on best-seller lists, and encouraged anyone in the audience not to attend a book signing held at one of the stores.

Standing as he was within one of the Peninsula’s symbolic seats of wealth and power, Brown may have forgotten that tens of millions of Democratic voters nationwide shop at Wal-Mart because it’s what they can afford. That Willie Brown is a real champion of the working class, isn’t he?

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, also took a turn at the microphone before Brown turned the stage over to the evening’s main attraction, celebrated actress and singer Carol Channing.

As a member of Generation X, the Insider is not overly familiar with Channing’s oeuvre, but the stories and impressions from early in her career were pretty funny; and the fact that she’s still performing at the age of 87 is impressive.

One thought that came to mind following the party was that Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig proved how smart a guy he is by deciding not to enter the race against Speier, despite the pleas of online supporters.

Because the roster of Jackie-ites Friday in Hillsborough was further evidence that whoever steps in front of the Speier juggernaut this spring will be squashed like a bug.

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, Aaron Kinney, Adrienne Tissier, Anna Eshoo, Assembly, Board of Supervisors, Coroner, Democratic Party, Hillsborough, Mark Church, San Mateo County, Tom Lantos | No Comments »