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Archive for January, 2007

Can’t get to DC? Head for SF.

As United for Peace and Justice mounts a large antiwar rally Saturday in Washington, D.C., Bay Area activists will be on the move, too.

A protest against the war and President Bush’s proposed troop surge — and demanding “an end to racist attacks on Arabs and Muslims and a halt to U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” organizers say — will start at noon Saturday at Powell and Market streets in San Francisco, and proceed with a march to Pier 31. The event is endorsed by the San Francisco Labor Council, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and other local activist groups.
Later Saturday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio — a liberal hero who’s running for president in 2008 as he did in 2004 — will speak at 7 p.m. in the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin St. (at Geary) in San Francisco. Introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, Kucinich will speak on “what can be done to bring the U.S. military occupation of Iraq to an end and return all U.S. troops to their homes and families,” according to a news release from human-rights watchdog Global Exchange, one of the event’s sponsors.

Posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
Under: Barbara Lee, General, Iraq, President Bush, U.S. House | No Comments »

Rep. George Miller now worth guarding?

Democrats are loving every minute of their new-found power as the majority party in Congress.

But here’s the real difference between Democrats moving from being in the minority to the majority: Their safety is now a matter of national security.

During each State of the Union address, one lawmaker from each party in both the House and Senate are asked to stay away from the event just in case something cataclysmic should happen to the Capitol and its occupants.

Miller, a Democratic congressman from Martinez, has been chosen on occasion to sit out the State of the Union for his party. He could watch the speech from wherever he wanted and even invite friends, according to his staff.

Not this year.

Miller was again chosen to represent House Democrats but this time, Capitol Hill police stood guard outside Miller’s office in the Rayburn building while police cars waited outside in readiness for a quick getaway.

What? No one cared what happened to him when he was in the minority?

Posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
Under: Congress | No Comments »

The Senators weigh in on SOTU

I’ve reported tonight on what the Bay Area’s House delegation had to say about President Bush’s State of the Union address, but here’s what California’s U.S. Senators had to say:

Barbara Boxer: “Tonight was a missed opportunity for the President to exert strong leadership on the challenge of global warming. By not presenting a comprehensive plan to combat global warming, the President is ignoring the consensus of eleven National Academies of Science, clear decisive action by our communities and states, and a growing coalition of businesses that realize that they have a responsibility to solve this problem.

“For me, the President’s speech was more notable for what he didn’t say on global warming than what he did say. When you get to the bottom line, there are no hard caps, no enforcement mechanisms, and we aren’t even going to start reversing the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector for 10 years.

“The President is taking baby steps to deal with a giant problem. I urge the President to listen to all of the voices that are coming before the EPW committee to confront this challenge, not just pay lip service to it.”


feinstein.jpgDianne Feinstein: “This is a President who has lost a lot of credibility. The speech was about one-half foreign policy – namely Iraq — and the other half on domestic issues.

“On the foreign policy side of it, his speech lacked any sense of a new direction. It was same old, same old, stay the course. And in that respect, despite the hyperbole and the call to patriotism, it was very disappointing.

“On the domestic side, with health care, he presented a plan that largely depends on tax deductions. Now, if you are unable to pay for insurance, tax deductions don’t do you much good. So I have a hard time understanding how those tax deductions get poor people health care coverage.

“With respect to energy, he did for the first time mention global warming — and I think that is a start. However, the problem with the President’s proposal on is that it doesn’t go nearly far enough. The fuel economy bill we have just proposed would save 19 billion gallons by 2019; the President’s would only save 8.5 billion gallons by 2017. So our bill saves more than double. The President has had the ability to make real changes to fuel efficiency with regard to light trucks for 6 years — and he hasn’t made substantial increases. Why should we trust him now?

“The only way to secure substantial increases in fuel economy is to pass major legislation. The bill we have introduced is a bipartisan bill. It can be accomplished with existing technology. And it could make a major difference with regard to reducing our dependence on oil and curbing greenhouse gases.

“Bottom line: I found that this was a very limited speech and that perhaps for the first time, that maybe this President is becoming a lame duck President. I found it very disappointing.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, General, President Bush, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Federal Marriage Amendment off the table?

The Pueblo (Colo.) Chieftain reports that Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo. — who in 2002 introduced the proposed U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — and U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo. — the measure’s main Senate sponsor last year — won’t reintroduce it this year. If nobody else does either, that’s a big haunch of conservative Republican red meat taken off the table of the Democrat-dominated 110th Congress.

It’s interesting national context as California’s gay-marriage debate advances on two fronts in 2007: the state Supreme Court will review the Court of Appeal’s October 2006 decision upholding the current statutory ban on gay marriage, while Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, will have another go at ending that ban legislatively. Leno’s bill passed the Assembly and the state Senate in 2005, but was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“At this time, I haven’t discussed it with anyone,” Allard told the Chieftain last week. “If we thought there was a decent chance to bring it to the floor for debate, I would, but with the new Congress, I’m not sure we will ever have that opportunity.”

Of course, it didn’t come close to passing when Republicans were in control and could give it all the debate they wanted. Constitutional amendments need two-thirds majorities in the House and the Senate, but this one didn’t even make it that far — the amendment’s supporters in June 2006 mustered only 49 of the 60 votes they would’ve needed to end debate and call the roll on the amendment.

“It shows where we’re going, where Americans are going,” David Buckel, national marriage project director for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, said this afternoon of the FMA’s possible fade to black.

“In state after state, this kind of legal recognition for same-sex relationships is just not bringing the sky down,” he said, noting that California, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey already have civil union or domestic partnership laws protecing same-sex relationships while Massachusetts solemnizes same-sex marriages, all with no ill effects seen. “It’s not to say, ‘Everything is rosy, we’re at the top of the mountain and it’s all downhill from here,’ … but the information is getting out there, the truth is getting out there.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007
Under: Assembly, General, Mark Leno, same-sex marriage, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Daily Kos strikes again

Wow. I’ve made Daily Kos! Check it out here.

But before you read Daily Kos’ rant, here are the facts: Yes, I made a stupid mistake in my Sunday column.

I was not working on Monday but I routinely check my e-mail remotely and as soon as I realized I made the mistake, I sent in a correction to my editors.

Unfortunately, the correction fell through the cracks and didn’t make it into the newspaper today or the online version. As soon as I realized this morning that it had not been resolved, I chased it down and fixed the online version this morning. The printed version, or so they promise me, will appear in tomorrow’s paper.

What was the error? I swapped the outcomes of the House of Representatives’ votes on the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. In the Afghanistan vote, only Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, voted no. In the Iraq War, 126 Democrats voted against it.

Absolutely, I should have caught it. The two or three editors who read the column should have caught it.

But we didn’t. Mistakes happen. It wasn’t intentional nor was it part of some grand scheme to misinform people.

Do I feel stupid? Absolutely. No reporter wants to make mistakes and we are usually a lot harder on ourselves when we make a mistake than you might imagine.

But Daily Kos, no one likes a bully.


A reader correctly pointed out that we should have shown the correction on-line as a correction rather than just make the change. If you click on the link to column, you will now see the error sentence with a line through it and the corrected sentence following it.

Here’s what our on-line editor Ari Soglin had to say when I asked him about the proper format for making on-line corrections. It did require some extra work on his part.

I agree with this bloggers’ comments about how corrections should be displayed when it’s more than just, say, a typo or grammatical fix, and it’s been online for some time.

In blogging software, it’s easy to do a strikethrough of the old text and insert new material. We don’t have a content management system that makes life that simple, which is why we don’t routinely handle corrections that way. It would be more labor intensive.

Til we have a software solution, we’d need to devote some staff resources to corrections to display them in this manner. It’s not a huge task on one correction, but it’s also not unusual to have several corrections a day.

We’re examining all sorts of priorities when it comes to devoting more resources to online, and how we handle corrections is on that list.

Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007
Under: Congress | No Comments »

Perata launches healthcare reform ad

perata-from-his-web-site.jpg State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, began airing a television ad today to build public support for healthcare reform.

“The ink wasn’t dry on our healthcare plan before the special interests started using television to try to turn the public against us,” Perata said in a news release. “If we’re going to win the fight to make healthcare more available and more affordable in California, we’re going to have to be heard.”

The 30-second spot entitled “Heartbeat” — to be aired on Sacramento and the Bay Area cable and broadcast stations over the next two weeks — notes California has more than 6 million uninsured residents, as well as spiraling costs and neglect by officials in Washington. It highlights Perata’s plan to control costs and expand coverage, and directs viewers to a Web site to learn more.

The ad was bankrolled by Leadership California — a campaign committee formed by Perata which under a different name, Rebuilding California, ran ads last year to build public support for the infrastructure bond package approved by voters in November 2006. The big contributors to that fund since November have been:

  • Sap Labs LLC, $5,000 on Dec. 29
  • Washington Mutual Inc., $50,000 on Nov. 27
  • Shell Oil Co., $25,000 on Nov. 22
  • Catholic Healthcare West, $25,000 on Nov. 22
  • California Faculty Association PAC, $10,000 on Nov. 17
  • Richland Investments LLC, $25,000 on Nov. 14
  • Longtime Perata ally and aide Sandra Polka’s consulting firm — which also headed up last year’s effort to pass the bond package — created this ad with help from the California Professional FirefightersFirestar Productions in Sacramento. Portions of the spot were shot at the UC Davis Medical Center.

    So Perata’s first on the air touting his plan. If you’re wondering how Perata’s plan stacks up against those pitched by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, the state Senate Office of Research has a side-by-side comparison.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Don Perata, Fabian Nunez, General | 1 Comment »

    Governor sells his healthcare plan in Fremont

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger met with business leaders today at Fremont’s Seagate Technology “to discuss how his comprehensive healthcare reform plan addresses the estimated $14.65 billion in hidden taxes that businesses currently pay due to the broken healthcare system,” his office said. Hear part of the meeting here.


    To the right of the governor in this photo (courtesy of the governor’s office) is Kim Belshé, Secretary for the California Health and Human Services Agency; and Herb Schultz, the governor’s senior health-policy advisor.

    Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2007
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, General | 1 Comment »

    New PAC takes aim at Tauscher

    Today saw the launch of Working For Us PAC and its lobbying wing, They Work For Us — a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of labor, trial lawyers and liberal groups that’ll target any Democrats who don’t adequately support progressive values of a living wage for all workers; more domestic jobs; retirement security; sound corporate governance; access to affordable health care; and keeping jobs here instead of shipping them overseas.

    And at the top of this PAC’s list of “offenders” is…

    #1. Ellen Tauscher, CA
    Throughout her congressional career, Ellen Tauscher has accepted more than $2 million in campaign contributions from business PACs and has voted for reforms that strip the rights of consumers in favor of big business, including voting to reform the country’s bankruptcy laws in favor of banks and credit card companies and restricting access to the courts.

    This, after Tauscher, D-Alamo, already has been taking heat from the netroots.

    Kevin Lawlor, Taucher’s press secretary, told me Monday his boss “and her 63 New Dem colleagues were in lock-step with Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leadership throughout the first 100 hours and are committed to remaining that way as we move forward in the new majority. New Dems have always, and will continue, to work within the party to promote a common-sense agenda that creates jobs and promotes America’s competitiveness.”

    “Rep. Tauscher was elected with 67 percent of the total vote last November, a number that far exceeds top-of-the ticket Democrats in her district,” Lawlor added. “Organizations like Planned Parenthood and the League of Conservation Voters, which promote policies in line with the values of the majority of residents in California’s tenth, have consistently given Ellen perfect voting records. And Ellen is going to continue to work on bringing back transportation dollars and fighting for policies that help working families.”

    UPDATE @ 4:30 p.m. Monday: Over at Calitics, Tauscher critic blogswarm notes the New Democrat Coalition’s “lockstep” with the 100 Hours Agenda wasn’t complete: John Barrow, D-Ga. , was among four Democrats who opposed H.R. 6, the bill to end oil-drilling subsidies and invest in renewable energy. And, from my own research, I now see that New Democrat Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., was among 16 Democrats opposing H.R. 3, the bill to expand stem cell research. Tauscher voted for both bills and for the rest of the agenda.

    Meanwhile, Tauscher announced today that she’ll take 2006 Florida Congressional candidate Christine Jennings as her guest to the President’s State of the Union Address to Congress tomorrow “to highlight the gross injustice of election problems in that district last November.”

    Jennings seemed to have lost the election to Republican Vern Buchanan by 369 votes, but Sarasota County’s electronic voting machines registered 18,000 under-votes in the Jennings-Buchanan race — which would mean 18,000 people failed to vote for any Congressional candidate at all. Jennings still wants an investigation, and now is appealing a lower court’s ruling denying access to the machines’ source code.

    Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2007
    Under: Ellen Tauscher, General, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

    Candidate files for ’08 Assembly GOP primary

    Judy Biviano Lloyd — Bay Area chairwoman of the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, and later U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao’s representative for California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam — just issued a news release saying she filed candidacy papers today to run for the 15th Assembly District seat in 2008, when Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, will be termed out.

    Lloyd, 46, of Dublin, now co-owns Altamont Solutions, Inc. in Pleasanton, a custom software consulting company in the health care and biotechnology industries. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 named her as an alternate to the California Coastal Commission and she was among his re-election campaign co-chairs last year, helping to wrangle his support in the business community.

    “I have been truly humbled by the outpouring of support I have received from small business owners, educators, parents, public officials, and citizens who truly care about the future of our community. As voters get to know me, they will see that I have the passion and the vision to move the 15th Assembly District forward, improve our quality of life and solve problems,” she wrote in her release. “As a mother, I see the future in my son’s eyes every day. As an entrepreneur, I thrive on the spirit that creates innovative pathways to success and a brighter future. Public service is my passion and helping people is my inspiration. I will never forget that my first responsibility is to the people.”

    She said she believes in a free market philosophy of limited government and will fight to make sure taxpayer dollars are allocated with the needs of the people in mind — not the politicians. “In Sacramento, I will be an advocate for accountability and transparency in government. I will also fight to ensure that taxpayer dollars are focused in a fiscally responsible way that will keep the East Bay thriving well into the future.”

    Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2007
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, General, Sacramento | 1 Comment »

    What do YOU want to hear?

    Bay Area House Democrats have a laundry list of what they want to hear in President Bush’s State of the Union address tomorrow, although they’re probably not holding their breath.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco: “In the first 100 legislative hours of the 110th Congress, we have set a tone of bipartisanship to address the critical priorities of the American people. I hope that in his State of the Union address, the President will offer ideas in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship, so that Democrats and Republicans may continue to work together to take our country in a new direction.”

    Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez: “The President once committed to fully fund the historic No Child Left Behind education law, but that promise is five years overdue. I hope to hear that the President is rededicating himself to this important law and in particular to re-commit himself to fully fund it.”

    Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo: “After observing in his 2006 State of the Union address that America is addicted to oil, the president has done precious little to break the pernicious grip of this polluting, outmoded and costly energy source. Democrats accomplished more with passing just one piece of legislation last week — the CLEAN Energy Act — than the White House did all year. Rather than relying on yet another ringing phrase to get attention temporarily on the issue on Tuesday night, I hope to hear the president introduce a 12-step program to end this country’s addiction to oil from overseas sources, which distorts our foreign policy and contributes dramatically to environmental destruction.”

    More after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2007
    Under: General, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, President Bush, Tom Lantos, U.S. House | No Comments »