Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for June, 2008

What Wesley Clark didn’t say about John McCain

Tongues are wagging about what retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, said yesterday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” about presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain‘s military record.

Here’s what he didn’t say: that McCain’s service was anything less than honorable and heroic. Therefore, let us put all “swiftboating” comparisons aside right here and now.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How can you say that John McCain is untested and untried, General?

CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable.

John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world.

But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle this publicly? He hasn’t made that calls, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Well, General, maybe — could I just interrupt you?

CLARK: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences, either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean…

CLARK: Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

See it here:

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
Under: Elections, John McCain | No Comments »

Jerry Brown’s 2010 campaign raises serious cash

That soft “whump” you might’ve heard if you were listening reallllllly hard yesterday was the sound of $205,000 being reported into Attorney General Jerry Brown’s “Jerry Brown 2010” campaign committee. All of it was raised in the second half of June, in increments of $12,000 or less, from an assortment of labor unions, attorneys and FOJs (Friends of Jerry).

The former Oakland mayor, elected to his current job in 2006, has been saying for a while that he might make a run for governor in 2010. (He can do so because the two terms he already served as governor, from 1975 to 1983, were before California’s term-limit law was enacted in 1990.) It’ll be a crowded Democratic primary field — among those confirmed or suspected to be interested in a 2010 gubernatorial run are, in no particular order, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, former state Controller Steve Westly, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez — but many say Brown is the man to beat, given his enormous name recognition and fundraising capabilities. This sudden burst of cash could be evidence that’s true.

See a list of all the donations reported Sunday by Jerry Brown 2010, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
Under: Bill Lockyer, Elections, Fabian Nunez, Gavin Newsom, General, Jack O'Connell, Jerry Brown, Sacramento | 1 Comment »

Schwarzenegger and Brokaw on ‘Meet the Press’

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was on “Meet the Press” this morning, and new host Tom Brokaw — in his first outing since replacing the late Tim Russert — wasn’t pitching softballs. In two parts:

Posted on Sunday, June 29th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Media | No Comments »

Barbara Lee helps get Mandela off terrorist list

Didja know Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress were still on the United States’ list of organizations considered to be terrorists?

But not for long. Congress has sent a bill, H.R. 5690, to President Bush’s desk that would take them off the list. Among the bill’s co-sponsors is Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, whose office says she’s been working hard with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, D-North Hollywood, to get it passed. Inclusion on the list has meant that Mandela and members of the ANC have had to obtain a visa waiver under the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to enter the United States.

“Despite his legacy as a hero of the anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and his election as President of South Africa in 1994, Nelson Mandela continues to be included on the United States terrorist watch list due to his leadership and participation with the African National Congress,” Lee said on the House floor last night.

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | No Comments »

This week in campaign contributions

State Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, received $40,000 from card-room owners Wednesday for his campaign for lieutenant governor: $12,000 from El Dorado Enterprises Inc., which operates the Hustler Casino in Gardena; $6,000 from Robert Carter of Vista, managing partner of the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens; $6,000 from Bicycle Casino co-owner Haig Kelegian of Newport Coast; and $6,000 from Daniel Dreger of Carlsbad, manager of the Ocean’s Eleven Casino in Oceanside, in which Kelegian is a partner as well. That’s atop at least $168,000 he’d already pulled down from card-room- and racetrack-related donors in 2008. Florez chairs the state Senate Governmental Organization Committee, which oversees gaming.

((UPDATE @ 4:00 FRIDAY: Just got some card-room licensing info from the state, so I thought I should clarify: Robert Carter is a partner in Carter LCP Partership Ltd., which is a shareholder in the Bicycle Casino; he and Daniel Dreger also are parnters in North County Gaming Inc., which shares Ocean’s Eleven Casino’s license. Haig Kelegian is listed as a managing general partner and shareholder of Bicycle, too; both a Haig Kelegian Sr. and a Haig Kelegian Jr. are listed as partners in Ocean’s 11 Casino Inc., which shares that casnio’s license with North County Gaming. El Dorado/Hustler Casino’s sole shareholder is Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.))

Big money continues to roll in for the campaign against the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, Proposition 2 on this November’s ballot, which “requires that an enclosure or tether confining specified farm animals allow the animals for the majority of every day to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up, and turn around.” Farm companies gave almost $566,000 on Tuesday: $216,287.50 from egg producer Gemperle Enterprises of Turlock; $185,006.10 from egg producer Demler Enterprises of Wasco; and $164,484 from livestock feed manufacturer J.S. West Milling Co. of Modesto.

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008
Under: California State Senate, Elections | No Comments »

Cal’s John Yoo grilled by Judiciary Committee

University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law Professor John Yoo — a former Justice Department attorney and torture-memo author who seems to have painted a bulls-eye on the Fourth Amendment — testified today before the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on interrogation rules applied by the Bush Administration in the war on terrorism.

And it wasn’t pretty.

From Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.:

From Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who has been chairing the interrogation-technique hearings:

From Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Nadler:

I’d guess there’ll be lots of talk about this at the “No To Torture! John Yoo Must Go!” town-hall meeting tomorrow (Friday, June 27) night in Berkeley.

Posted on Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Under: Berkeley, Civil liberties, War on Terror | No Comments »

McNerney defends FISA vote to constituents

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, just wrapped up an hour-long telephone town hall meeting with a few hundred constituents in which he took questions on issues from gas prices to veterans’ benefits to transportation planning and beyond.

And yes, he even took a question (hooray for “Neil from Tracy”) about his controversial vote last week in favor of a bill amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – a bill that critics said effectively grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

“The FISA bill is a good bill,” McNerney told the few hundred constituents on the call, because it helps the intelligence community “track down terrorists who are trying to hurt us, and we’ve learned we can’t be lax about that,” while also strengthening civil-liberties protections by reiterating and reinforcing the need for court-issued warrants for all domestic surveillance. As for immunity, he said, the bill gives authority for investigating violations to the courts “where it should be, I think that’s the proper venue for investigating when laws have been broken.”

Critics say the bill does nothing more than instruct federal courts to grant immunity to any telecom company that received a written directive from the Attorney General, regardless of whether the company believed its actions to be lawful.

Anyway, McNerney’s first town-hall-by-phone (Pete Stark did one a few weeks ago) seemed to go swimmingly. Andy Stone, McNerney’s communications director, said these teleconferences are “certainly not a replacement” for his many face-to-face events in the district (the next of which is scheduled for this Saturday) but rather “just another way for him to stay in touch with you, his constituents.”

McNerney made only very brief remarks at the top of the hour, choosing to go straight to constituents’ questions. More on a few of those, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Under: General, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Activists step up efforts to oust John Yoo

Activists are stepping up their grassroots effort to get John Yoo — the former Justice Department attorney not only wrote memos advocating the possible legality of torture and denying enemy combatants protection under the Geneva Conventions, but also rode the Fourth Amendment hard and put it away wet — fired from his job as a UC-Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law professor.

Yoo will testify tomorrow, Thursday, June 26, before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its ongoing investigation of the Bush Administration’s interrogation rules.

A day after that, the National Lawyers Guild and The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime! will convene a new coalition with a town-hall meeting at 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, entitled “No To Torture! John Yoo Must Go!” (They! Sure! Do! Like! Their! Exclamation! Points! Don’t! They!?!) It’ll be in the Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, 1924 Cedar St. in Berkeley, with admission costing $5 to $20 on a sliding scale; nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. The event will feature Stephen Rohde, past president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, and audience members will be invited to comment and debate.

Don’t expect anyone at this event to take Yoo’s side, however. The coalition says it has been founded “to demand that John Yoo be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted for war crimes;” it aims to rally the campus community, the legal community and the East Bay at large to demand Yoo’s ousting. It’s planning a “war crimes tribunal” for this fall and a public advertising campaign, among other things.

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Under: Berkeley, Civil liberties, War on Terror | No Comments »

Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Stark says Medicare Advantage worse than we knew: Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, today released a Government Accountability Office report showing that private Medicare Advantage plans spent less than they projected in their 2005 bids on medical care for beneficiaries, which in turn earned them $1.14 billion in additional profits over what was expected. “This report confirms that the ‘deal’ offered to Medicare beneficiaries and American taxpayers by these private plans is even worse than we thought,” Stark said in his news release. “Private plans in Medicare spend even less on medical care than they report to CMS — to the tune of over a billion dollars in one year alone. These funds go directly into the pockets of big insurance companies — not toward medical care for beneficiaries.”

McNerney urges gas-pump checks, meets the masses: Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, sent a letter yesterday to California Attorney General Jerry Brown urging him to probe whether the state’s gas pumps are accurate, lest consumers get shortchanged; a similar probe in New Jersey, the results of which were announced last week, turned up massive discrepencies. Meanwhile, McNerney will be holding an hourlong teleconference town hall meeting — like that which Stark held a few weeks ago — tonight, inviting a few hundred constituents to listen in and ask questions. And he’ll have another “Congress at Your Corner” meet-and-greet from 11 a.m. to noon this Saturday, June 28, at the Lucky supermarket at 21001 San Ramon Valley Blvd. in San Ramon.

Lee nominates local programs for national awards: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, today announced she has nominated the Berkeley Unified School District’s Network for a Healthy California Garden and Cooking Program, and People United for a Better Life in Oakland (PUEBLO), for the national Victory Against Hunger Awards, presented by the bipartisan Congressional Hunger Center. The annual awards — $1,000 grants which will be given this summer — go to programs that battle hunger and work to improve a community’s health through education and hands on experiences. “I am particularly happy to nominate these two groups for their fine work in addressing hunger in our communities,” Lee said in her news release.

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, General, Jerry Brown, Jerry McNerney, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Will the ‘Predator’ political charm hold?

First Jesse Ventura got himself elected governor of Minnesota. Then Arnold Schwarzenegger swept into power in California. Now Sonny Landham is trying to make it a trifecta.

Sonny who?

Sonny Landham, who played the fierce, brooding American Indian commando “Billy” beside Schwarzenegger’s and Ventura’s characters in 1987’s “Predator.” Landham, 67, is running on the Libertarian ticket against U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to the Associated Press:

Landham refers to McConnell, a four-term Republican, as “Boss Hogg” after the corrupt politician from “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV show. He bluntly called Democratic candidate and millionaire businessman Bruce Lunsford an “elitist.”

Even President Bush is a target: “He took us into a war on lies,” Landham said, claiming the actual intent was “to put ‘Big Oil’ back into Iraq.”

To qualify for the November ballot, Landham must collect at least 5,000 valid petition signatures by Aug. 12. State Libertarian Party Chairman Ken Moellman said the petition drive began recently and he believes Landham will make it.

But the bid includes some campaign baggage that seems scripted for Hollywood, instead of socially conservative Kentucky. Early in his acting career in the 1970s, Landham bared it all in adult films.

I’ve sought a comment but received no response from Gov. Schwarzenegger’s office as of this hour.

((UPDATE @ 11:30 A.M. WEDNESDAY: “He has no position on this race. He’s focused on governing California,” says Aaron McLear, the governor’s press secretary. And that, we can safely say, is that.))

Let’s see, a Libertarian actor who once did porn and is still embroiled in a legal battle in which he did federal prison time for allegedly threatening his wife (his conviction later was overturned), taking on the Senate’s most powerful Republican. Think he’ll do much better against McConnell than Billy did against the Predator?

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elections, General, U.S. Senate | No Comments »