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Watchdog group unveils corporate political spending site

The Center for Political Accountability wants you to know more about how corporate America influences politics through its campaign finance activities.

It has unveiled www.politicalaccountability.net, a website that allows the public, media and shareholders to review corporate political spending disclosure documents of some of the nation’s largest companies.

The CPA is a nonpartisan watchdog group based in Washington, D.C.

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Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, a random gack of violence, from 1990’s Kindergarten Cop:

“Gack!”

Previous SVOTWs: December 16, December 9, December 2, November 25, November 18, November 11, November 4, October 28, October 21, October 14, October 7, September 30, September 23, September 16, September 9, September 2, August 26, August 19, August 12, August 5, July 29, July 22, July 8, July 1, June 24, June 17, June 10, June 3, May 27, May 20, May 13, May 6, April 29, April 22, April 15, April 8, April 1, March 25, March 18, March 11, March 4, February 26, February 19, February 12, February 5, January 29, January 22, January 15, January 8, January 1, December 25, December 18, December 11, December 4, November 27, November 20, November 13, November 6, October 30, October 23, October 16, October 9, October 2, September 25, September 18, September 11, September 4, August 28, August 21, August 7, July 31, July 24, July 17, July 10, July 3, June 26, June 19, June 12, June 5, May 29, May 22, May 15, May 8, May 1, April 24, April 17, April 10, April 3, March 27, March 20, March 13, March 6, February 27, February 20, February 13, February 6, January 30.

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Don Perata does it again, to the tune of $400,000

Apparently my report earlier this month which broke news of Don Perata’s day-after-the-election transfer of $1.5 million from his Leadership California committee — a candidate-controlled ballot measure committee for which he raised money this year ostensibly to recall state Sen. Jeff Denham and to defeat Proposition 11, the legislative redistricting reform measure — into the legal defense fund he’s using to fend off a years-long FBI corruption probe didn’t faze him a bit.

The Sacramento Bee today reports he’s done it again, draining another $400,000 from Leadership California into his legal defense fund.

It’s not illegal, but in many people’s book, raising money for one cause and then using it for another — especially another that seems to be so self-specific and self-serving — seems like a dishonest bait-and-switch. I can only guess he made the second transfer this month in order to beat the deadline on a new regulation the Fair Political Practices Commission considered this month and might enact in January to bar such transfers.

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Fox and Hounds blog blasts Buchanan

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon

Fox and Hounds Daily conservative blogger Patrick Dorinson, also the former state GOP communications chief, incinerated four newly elected Assembly Democrats including Joan Buchanan in District 15 for failing to cast either yes or no votes on recent state budget votes.

In a piece titled “Profiles in Cowardice,” he accuses the four of abstaining on the critical votes in order to avoid attack ads in those inevitable 2010 re-election campaign tying them to “tax and spend” Democrats.

“Vote your conscience but vote,” Dorinson said via telephone today. “The people sent you to Sacramento to get something done.”

Dorinson’s biting commentary begins with with:

Congratulations to new Democratic Assembly members Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills, Marty Block of San Diego, Joan Buchanan of Alamo and Manuel Perez of Coachella. In the first important vote of your careers, you demonstrated that all the fancy words from your campaigns about “changing the system” and “not a career politician” as well as “ready to go to work” and “performance not politics” were as empty as California’s bank accounts.

The four of you, joined by wily political veteran Charles Calderon of Whittier, abstained from voting on the tax hikes proposed by your own party. You didn’t vote yes or no, you abstained. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary says that to abstain means, “to refrain deliberately and often with an effort of self-denial from an action or practice”.

Is it because you all got elected from swing districts and you fear the wrath of the voters in two years? Is this about maintaining “political viability” for higher office and are worried about future campaign attack ads that would include you vote for higher taxes? Did Speaker Bass give you “get out of jail free” cards on the vote because she knew it would not pass without three Republicans, and therefore you would not have a “tax increase” vote on your record? Or is it that you don’t have the guts to stand up and vote “yes or no” because you believe it is the right thing to do, political consequences be damned?

I don’t know your motives, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that it was, dare I say the word, politics – pure politics.(Click here to read full column.)

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Is Obama No. 43 or No. 44?

Barack Obama: The 44th or the 43rd U.S. president, depending on how you count it

Barack Obama: The 44th or the 43rd U.S. president, depending on how you count it

One of my editors asked me this afternoon why everyone keeps referring to Barack Obama as the pending 44th president of the United States when, in fact, he will be the 43rd man to serve as president.

For an inexplicable reason, the commonly accepted presidential numbering system lists Grover Cleveland twice — No.’s 22 and 24 — because he served two non-consecutive terms. Hence, Obama is said to be the 44th president while only 42 other men have held the job. Interestingly, the men who served two consecutive terms are listed only once. (Check out Wikipedia’s list.)

Does anyone know how this decision to count Cleveland twice came about? (I put this question to a couple of crack U.S. presidential history buffs and I’ll let you know what they say.)

Whatever the reason, it aggravates my accuracy-is-paramount editor and even a third-grade teacher who wrote to Newsday.

“It seems to me like they just started doing it a LONG time ago on faulty logic and everybody has just fallen into step,” my editor says. “Stupid geese that we are … ”

I Googled “Obama” and “44th president” and found 2,160 entries under news.

Honk. Honk.

UPDATE: My friend Tim Farley, presidential buff extradordinaire, has this to say about the question: “A ruling by the State Department said that Cleveland should be listed as both the 22nd and 24th president as the administrations were not consecutive. They  were two different administrations all together. They had different VP’s and a different cabinet. So, the standard answer is ‘a ruling by the State Department.’ “