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Dems urge creation of gun-violence committee

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 at 2:58 pm in gun control, John Boehner, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House

For the “Fat Chance” file: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi asked outgoing Speaker John Boehner on Friday to create a Select Committee on Gun Violence, one day after a man armed with five handguns and a rifle killed nine and wounded nine more at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College.

House Republicans have steadfastly resisted all calls for more stringent gun controls in the wake of other mass shootings in recent years. And with Boehner on his way out this month and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, trying to shore up his conservative bona fides as a successor, it’s hard to see Pelosi’s plan as anything other than a total nonstarter.

Besides the six firearms recovered at the massacre’s scene, investigators found seven more firearms – two handguns, four rifles and a shotgun – at the slain gunman’s home, said a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokeswoman. All the guns were legally obtained, obtained by the shooter or family members over the last three years through a federal firearms dealer, she said.

“Prayers for the victims, families, students, & faculty at Umpqua Community College, & the community of Roseburg, Oregon,” Boehner tweeted Thursday.

In her letter to Boehner, Pelosi, D-San Francisco, also said the select committee she proposes should have to report its recommendations to the House within 60 days, “in time for a vote before the third anniversary of the Newtown shooting this year.” She also urged Boehner to see that the House hears and passes a bipartisan bill – heretofore ignored by most Republicans – to require background checks for all firearm sales.

“The epidemic of gun violence in our country challenges the conscience of our nation. Mass shootings and gun violence are inflicting daily tragedy on communities across America,” Pelosi wrote. “As of today, nearly 10,000 Americans have been killed by guns in 2015 – more than 30 gun violence deaths a day. Yesterday’s terrible attack at Umpqua Community College in Oregon marked the 45th school shooting this year alone.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, House Democrats’ point man on gun-violence issues and co-author of the languishing background-check bill, wrote to Boehner on Friday, too.

“Every single time a mass shooting happens we go through the same routine. Thoughts and prayers are sent. Statements are made. Stories are written. And nothing changes,” Thompson, D-St. Helena, said in a news release. “Yesterday it was nine people at a community college. A month ago it was a news reporter and cameraman in Virginia. Two months before that it was a prayer group in Charleston. Mass gun violence has become as commonplace as it is tragic.”

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Congressional Republicans have done nothing over and over again and, predictably, the results have been the same: more innocent lives lost, more families forever changed, and more mass gun violence,” he added. “Republicans have a majority in Congress, and a White House and Democratic Caucus willing to work with them. All they need to do is get off their hands and act. Let’s have this time be different. This time, let’s actually pull together and do something to make our country safer.”

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White House confirms upcoming Obama visit to SF

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 at 2:35 pm in Barack Obama, Obama presidency

As previously reported here, the White House now confirms President Barack Obama will return to the Bay Area next week to raise money for his fellow Democrats.

“On Friday, the President will travel to the Seattle, WA area to attend an event for Senator Patty Murray and the Washington State Democratic Party and a DNC event. Later in the day, the President will travel to the San Francisco, CA area for a DNC event. The President will remain overnight in San Francisco,” a White House official said. “On Saturday, October 9, the President will attend a DNC event and travel to the Los Angeles area for DNC and DSCC events. Further details about the President’s travel to Washington and California will be made available in the coming days.”

No comment from the White House on the president’s potential “come to Yeezus” moment.

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Politicos mourn former Rep. Don Edwards

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 at 12:36 pm in U.S. House

California politicos are paying tribute to former Rep. Don Edwards, a Democrat who represented part of the South Bay from 1963 to 1995; he died at age 100 on Thursday at his Carmel home.

From House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, with the passing of former Congressman Don Edwards, America has lost a venerable civil rights champion who dedicated his life to promoting peace, defending liberty, and securing justice for all people. He was a principled leader, a kind and trusted friend to many, an august statesman, and a proud Californian who was committed to preserving our environment and pursuing equality for women, people of color and all American families.

“Whether in his service as an FBI agent or as a Navy officer during World War II, Congressman Edwards labored with dignity, led with integrity and lived with courage. As Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights for more than twenty years, he strived to ensure that all Americans enjoyed equality of opportunity. During his 32 years in the House, Congressman Edwards helped changed the course of history by championing the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and fighting to protect freedom of speech and the privacy rights of citizens. Congressman Edwards, the long-time dean of the California Democratic delegation and conscience of the Congress, strived to move our country forward.

“As Americans enjoy the pristine view and tranquility of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, may we remember the man who dedicated his life to preserving our environment and our ideals for future generations. May it be a comfort to his family and all who loved him that so many mourn the loss of a consummate public servant and proud American.”

From Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose:

“After working for Congressman Don Edwards for nearly a decade, and having the honor to succeed him in Congress, I feel a profound sense of loss upon his passing.

“Don spent his life in service to the state of California and to our country as a Member of Congress for 32 years. His contributions will live on for many generations through the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, through his stalwart defense of the Constitution, his profound dedication to civil rights, his tireless advocacy for the rights of women as the ‘Father of the Equal Rights Amendment,’ and his lifelong efforts for a peaceful world. He will be always be remembered for his exemplary service in Congress and love for the South bay.”

From state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“I am saddened by the passing of Mr. Edwards, a man I respected greatly for his intellect, thoughtfulness and commitment to our country. Working for Congressman Edwards in Washington is one of the highlights of my years in public service. His integrity, his courage to fight for his beliefs, and his fierce defense of all Americans’ civil and constitutional rights are traits I will always remember and respect. Mr. Edwards would fight fiercely with Congressional opponents, but always with civility.

“People come from all over to visit the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in my district and it’s a great testament to his commitment to our environment.

“I visited him often in Carmel to solicit his input on legislation I was carrying in the California Legislature. We need more people like him in public service. I will miss him dearly.”

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Senate contender touts tax pledge, flat tax plan

By Josh Richman
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 at 12:15 pm in Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette has sought to amp up his U.S. Senate campaign in the past few weeks by focusing on the reddest of GOP red meat: taxes.

Tom Del BeccaroHeading into the state GOP’s convention Sept. 18-20 in Anaheim, Del Beccaro staked out his place to the field’s right side by challenging his GOP rivals – Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; fellow former state party chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills – to join him in taking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. As of Wednesday, they’ve not done so.

Crafted by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the pledge commits a candidate or officeholder to oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses, and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

This week, Del Beccaro rolled out his plan for a flat tax, which includes replacing current personal income tax brackets with a flat 15.5 percent rate on wages and salaries, capital gains, dividends, interest and inheritance; replacing current corporate taxes with a 15.5 percent net business income tax with immediate expensing for business purchases and deductibility of wages and salaries; and eliminating all itemized deductions while doubling the standard deduction.

He touted the plan at fundraising events this week in Riverside, Newport Beach and Diablo, accompanied by his economic advisor Stephen Moore, co-founder and first president of the conservative Club for Growth.

In an interview Thursday, Del Beccaro said he’s working with the Committee to Unleash Prosperity – a conservative group founded this summer by Moore, two-time Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, economist and CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow, and economist Arthur Laffer – to preach the flat-tax gospel in the Golden State.

“A simple flat tax takes government out of the business of picking winners and losers and will allow the economy to grow,” he said, declaring it the best way to help those still struggling in the Great Recession’s wake. “We’ve tried just about every spending mechanism possible and they’re still falling behind …The key is economic growth – otherwise people get stuck where they are.”

Critics of flat-tax plans argue they penalize the poor, in that everyone must spend on the same necessities of life – housing, food, clothes, health care and so on – but those earning less have less money left over after those necessities with which to pay taxes. That is: a 10 percent tax would be a much bigger proportional hit for someone earning $50,000 per year than for someone earning $5 million.

Del Beccaro said that’s why his plan would exempt a family of four up to a household income of $48,000: “It gives them a start.” He also said talk of redistributing wealth via progressive taxes to close the vast income and wealth gap that has opened in recent decades is divisive and unproductive.

“Class warfare is never good, pitting one group of Americans against another is terrible,” he said. arguing that wealth inequality is a product of economic stagnation and overreaching government. “The key is always economic growth.”

Two prominent Democrats – California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana – also are running in next June’s top-two primary to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. A fourth prominent Republican, Santa Monica businessman and two-time former senate candidate Al Ramirez, is exploring a run.

Del Beccaro said he’d gladly debate his plan with any of his rivals from either party. “They’re running for the office, I’m running for the ideas. … I’m trying to elevate this into an actual discussion.”

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Dave Jones to run for Attorney General

By Josh Richman
Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at 5:50 pm in Attorney General, Dave Jones

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced Thursday that he’ll run for state attorney general in 2018.

Dave Jones (Oct.2015)That could set up an interesting situation, as Gov. Jerry Brown might well have to appoint someone in 2017 to fill the rest of current Attorney General Kamala Harris’ term if she’s successful in her campaign to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer next year.

Having a statewide constitutional officer’s hat already in the ring for the office could nudge Brown to appoint a “caretaker” – someone not inclined to seek election in 2018 – to the potential vacancy should Harris go to the Senate.

But plenty of others covet the post, too. Those who’ve filed statements of intention to run for attorney general in 2018 – not a commitment, just a sort of placeholder that lets them keep money in campaign committees – include former state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, who has $183,405 banked for the race; former state Sen. Lou Correa; D-Santa Ana, who has $384,982 banked; former Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-La Canada Flintridge, who has $657,535 banked; Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, who has $2,980 banked but other money spread across other committees (including one for a 2016 state Senate run); and San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, a Republican who has $74,975 banked.

Jones starts the race with $2.6 million cash on hand in his prior campaign account, which can be used for the Attorney General race, and a base of support throughout the state, according to a news release from campaign consultant Parke Skelton.

Jones, 53, was a Sacramento councilman from 1999 to 2004 and a state assemblyman from 2004 to 2011, when he began the first of his two terms as insurance commissioner.

“I am very excited at the prospect of working to make California’s communities safer,” he wrote in an email to prospective supporters Thursday. “I will hold accountable all who commit crimes, including corporations, corporate leaders, and public officials who violate the public trust. I will continue my work protecting consumers. And I will work hard to help all Californians succeed in an economy that is increasingly characterized by haves and have nots.”

Jones wrote that his Insurance Department already investigates major insurance crimes and protects consumers, his more than 300 law enforcement officers making more than 3,800 arrests since he began his tenure there and working closely with district attorneys across the state. He wrote that he’s starting his campaign so early due to “the reality of the cost of campaigning in California and the amount of Super PAC money likely to be spent against me by special interests.”

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Dianne Feinstein decries Planned Parenthood arson

By Josh Richman
Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at 12:00 pm in Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate

The flames of an arson attack at a Planned Parenthood health center in Thousand Oaks were fanned by recent rhetorical attacks on the women’s health organization by anti-abortion-rights politicians and activists, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday.

“The toxic rhetoric directed at Planned Parenthood has dangerous consequences. It sends a signal that using violence to close clinics and intimidate health care professionals and women is ‘ok’. It is not,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in an emailed statement. “I’m grateful that no one in Thousand Oaks was hurt. My thoughts today are with the clinic’s staff, who provide compassionate care in spite of challenges no health care provider should have to face.”

Unfortunately, there’s a long history of violence against women’s health-care clinics that provide legal abortions, Feinstein noted.

“There have been more than 200 arsons and bombings over the past 40 years. These acts are serious crimes at the state and federal level, and the criminals who perpetrate them must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” she said. “Going forward, I hope that my colleagues think about the ramifications of their words. Doctors, nurses, clinic staff and patients should not be terrorized, threatened and put in harm’s way.”

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George Shultz to co-chair Sundheim’s Senate run

By Josh Richman
Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at 9:02 am in Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate

Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz will serve as a co-chair of Republican candidate Duf Sundheim’s campaign for U.S. Senate.

Duf SundheimShultz, of Stanford, “is one of the most knowledgeable and respected public servants in our lifetime. He has served our nation with distinction and honor,” Sundheim, a former California Republican Party chairman from Los Altos Hills, said in a news release. “He has been a mentor of mine for over a decade. I can think of no higher honor than to have him play such an important role in our campaign.”

Shultz said Sundheim embodies the idea that “there is no limit to what a person can achieve if they do not care who gets the credit. … He has the integrity, compassion and resolve to be a great Senator.”

Shultz is one of only two men to have served in four different Cabinet positions: as Secretary of Labor (1969-70), Treasury (1972-74) and State (1982-89) and as director of the Office of Management and Budget (1970-72).

Sundheim is vying with fellow former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro; Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, in next June’s top-two primary to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Another Republican, Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez, is exploring a run.

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Boxer, DiFi urge Obama to act on Port Chicago 50

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 at 10:37 am in Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Obama presidency, U.S. Senate

California’s U.S. senators asked President Barack Obama on Tuesday to take executive action to exonerate 50 African American sailors wrongly convicted of mutiny after the worst home-front disaster of World War II at the Port Chicago Naval Base in Concord.

“Port Chicago serves as a stark reminder of both the sacrifice of the brave service members who served there and of the painful legacy of a segregated military,” Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote in their letter to the president. “We urge you to take executive action to restore justice to these 50 sailors who signed up to serve our country in World War II but were instead victims of racism and unjust convictions.”

Port Chicago disaster aftermath (NPS photo)On July 17, 1944, a group of young African-American sailors was assigned to load bombs and ammunition onto naval ships at the segregated naval base at Port Chicago. Insufficient training and hectic loading schedules led to an explosion of nearly 5,000 tons of ammunition, killing 320 servicemembers including 202 African-American sailors who were loading the munitions.

After the blast, white officers who ran the base ordered African-American sailors immediately back to work loading munitions, but many refused, citing unsafe conditions. The Navy arrested hundreds on various charges, and 50 – known as the “Port Chicago 50” – were charged with mutiny. All were convicted.

Thurgood Marshall – later a U.S. Supreme Court justice – took up the case and, although Marshall was unable to have the convictions overturned, President Truman gave the 50 clemency after the war ended. A later review of the trial confirmed that race played a significant factor in the harsh sentences handed down, and in 1999, President Bill Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, one of the surviving members of the Port Chicago 50. But the records for the 49 other sailors remain unchanged.

That’s a “grave injustice,” the Senators wrote, and exonerating all 50 sailors “would demonstrate our commitment to a just and equal society for all Americans.”

President Obama in 2009 signed into law legislation introduced by Boxer, Feinstein and former Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, to designate the Port Chicago Memorial site as part of the National Park Service.

Read the full text of the senators’ letter, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

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Donald Trump wins another Bay Area straw poll

By Josh Richman
Monday, September 28th, 2015 at 1:44 pm in 2016 presidential election

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, despite a drop in his national poll numbers in recent weeks, has taken first place in another Bay Area straw poll.

The San Mateo County Republican Party polled 135 attendees at this past weekend’s Pacifica Fog Fest; respondents weren’t asked their party affiliation.

Trump topped the list with 29.6 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 20 percent; Carly Fiorina at 11.1 percent, Ted Cruz at 10.4 percent and Jeb Bush at 9.6 percent.

County GOP chairman Chuck McDougald noted this was the third street-festival poll the county GOP conducted this summer, and results have been “just as fluid as the national polls. It shows that this race is really just beginning. And, it’s interesting to note that the respondents in this poll overwhelmingly broke for the three perceived outsider candidates, just as they are in national polling.”

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Kevin McCarthy makes his case for Speaker

By Josh Richman
Monday, September 28th, 2015 at 1:01 pm in John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, U.S. House

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy promised his Republican peers Monday that if they elect him speaker, their caucus “will have the courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people.”

Kevin McCarthy“But we will also have the wisdom to listen to our constituents and each other so that we always move forward together,” McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, wrote in a memo seeking GOP members’ leadership votes – a reference to the fractious intramural politics that led to the resignation of current Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Per my article Friday, McCarthy – in only his fifth term – would be the least-experienced Speaker in more than a century, yet that’s catnip to conservatives who want someone not fully co-opted by Beltway politics. He’s also popular with many Silicon Valley executives, with whom he has been cultivating ties since his Assembly tenure.

Here’s McCarthy’s memo in its entirety:

“Our conference has been through a lot together. We are a part of the largest Republican majority since 1928. We have made real progress towards shrinking an overgrown federal government and reforming our broken entitlement system. But our work is far from done. We can’t ignore the differences that exist, but we can and must heal the divisions in our conference with work, time, and trust. That is why I have decided to run for Speaker of the House and graciously ask for your support.

“You all know me. We’ve spent late nights on the House Floor together. I’ve visited your districts and met your families and constituents. More importantly, I have gotten to know your ideas, your goals, and your vision for our conference and our country.

“I am running to be your Speaker because I know that the People’s House works best when the leadership you elect listens to members and respects the legislative process entrusted to committees. In short, I am guided by something Ronald Reagan once said: “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

“But I am also sensitive to what is happening outside of the Beltway. I want us to be much closer to the people we represent, and I want them to once again feel like this is their government, they are in charge, and we are here to serve them.

“If elected Speaker, I promise you that we will have the courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people. But we will also have the wisdom to listen to our constituents and each other so that we always move forward together.

“Over the past weekend, I reached out to every one of you to listen to your opinions and ask for your advice. I know that you ran for Congress to make a difference, to leave a better country for your kids and grandkids. There are challenges ahead, but unified we have an amazing opportunity to make lasting conservative change. And I know when we work together under the banner of freedom and opportunity there is little that is out of our reach.

“I look forward to fighting with you for our shared conservative principles.”

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