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Archive for February, 2013

Recalling Ted Nugent’s ‘greatest hits’

Rock star Ted Nugent – an (ahem) outspoken advocate of Second Amendment rights – is attending President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight as the guest of Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Tex., who released this photo a few hours ago:

It hardly seems five and a half years have passed since we wrote about the “Motor City Madman” directing some heated rhetoric (and some anatomy?) at Obama and others who support gun control. At a concert in Oroville, Nugent gave this diatribe:

“…I was in Chicago last week I said—Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these you punk? Obama, he’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on one of my machine guns, let’s hear it for them. And then I was in NY and I said hey Hillary—you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. Since I’m in California, how about Barbara Boxer, she might wanna suck on my machine gun. Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions? FREEDOM!

Classy, no?

Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, gun control, Obama presidency | 3 Comments »

Protesters to target Chris Christie in Palo Alto

Protesters intend to besiege Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s home tomorrow while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is there doing some social networking and campaign cash collection.

CREDO is organizing the protest at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday outside 1456 Edgewood Ave. in Palo Alto. Activists will be “protesting against Zuckerberg’s support for the governor, citing Christie’s repeated efforts to gut women’s reproductive health care services and defund Planned Parenthood,” according to a news release. Christie is seeking re-election this year, and is thought to be a prime contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Organizers note that although more than 58 percent of Facebook users are women, Christie defunded Planned Parenthood by cutting $7.4 million from women’s health care, including funding for life-saving cancer screenings, breast health exams and birth control. The $7.4 million in cuts led to the closures of six women’s health clinics in New Jersey.

Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Under: campaign finance, Republican politics | 1 Comment »

Barbara Lee among earliest SOTU ‘squatters’

Cox Media Group Washington correspondent Scott MacFarlane tweets that Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., are the first two members of Congress to arrive in the House chamber today to save seats for tonight’s State of the Union address.

Lee arrived eight hours early to camp out along the center aisle, according to MacFarlane’s tweets, “wearing midnight blue suit has folders of papers to occupy her during long wait in House chamber, saving prime seat.”

Lee’s office hasn’t yet responded to my inquiry of whether there’s something specific Lee intends to say to the president as he moves by. If I had to guess, I’d say it’ll have something to do with drone warfare and Lee’s ongoing effort to repeal the use-of-force authorization Congress passed in Sept. 2001. Of course, she’ll have to be rather succinct.

The Washington Post has a fun story today about congressional “squatters” who arrive many hours in advance to claim prime seats in order to claim five seconds of national television time with the President of the United States as he enters the chamber.

Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Obama presidency, U.S. House | No Comments »

Lawmakers bringing gun-violence victims to SOTU

Some California lawmakers now embroiled in the nation’s gun-control debate will bring gun-violence victims with them as guests to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who has introduced S. 150, a bill to reinstate an updated and expanded federal ban on assault weapons, will host Josh Stepakoff, 20.

Stepakoff was six years old in 1999 when he was shot in the leg during the North Valley Jewish Community Center shooting in Granada Hills, near Los Angeles. The gunman was a white supremacist who fired more than 70 rounds from a semi-automatic assault rifle, injuring five people including three young children.

Now a Cal State Northridge student, Stepakoff is a member of the board of Women Against Gun Violence and is involved with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

“Josh is a remarkable young man whose life was forever changed by a senseless act of mass gun violence.” Feinstein said in a news release. “Since his tragic experience, Josh has become a voice for young victims across the country. It is important for members of Congress to see the faces behind these tragedies of gun violence.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, who led House Democrats’ gun-violence task force, will host Elvin Daniel of McHenry, Ill., whose sister, Zina Daniel, was shot and killed by her husband in October inside the Azana Salon and Spa in Brookfield, Wisc. Two others were killed and four were injured in the shooting.

“Whether you’re an NRA member like Elvin, a hunter and gun owner like me, or one of the millions of Americans who have never fired a gun, we can all agree that we need to do everything we can to keep firearms out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them,” Thompson said in a news release. “Elvin has dedicated himself to helping the victims of gun violence and it is my high honor to host such an extraordinary man at the State of the Union.”

Shortly before she was killed, Zina Daniel had been granted a restraining order against her husband which prohibited him from purchasing a gun. Nonetheless, he was able to buy a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun online two days after the restraining order was issued. In Thompson’s news release, Daniel noted his sister’s killer “was able to buy a firearm from a private seller without a criminal background check.

“As a gun owner and an NRA member, I support common-sense reforms to fix our broken gun laws,” Daniel said. “It’s time for our leaders in Washington to act, so that others do not have to experience the grief I’ll live with for the rest of my life.”

Other lawmakers bringing relatives of gun-violence victims at the State of the Union include Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.; Rep Diana Degette, D-Colo.; Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.; Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I.; Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.; Rep. Eleanor Norton, D-D.C.; Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo.; Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.; Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

The president’s State of the Union address will be broadcast live at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on most channels. I’ll be tweeting at @Josh_Richman, and later posting some reactions here.

Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Under: Dianne Feinstein, gun control, Mike Thompson, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

“I only have eyes… for blue…” (Or red)

Don’t tell Mary Matalin and James Carville, but researchers have found that online daters time and time again choose to pursue romantic relationships with people from their own political party and with similar beliefs.

Stanford Graduate School of Business Associate Professor Neil Malhotra and Yale University political science Professor Gregory Huber analyzed thousands of interactions from an online dating website. Their findings, presented last fall in a research paper titled “Political Sorting in Social Relationships,” show political affiliation rivals education level as one of the most important factors in identifying potential mates.

“We underestimate how much politics affects our daily lives,” Malhotra said in a news release issued Monday. “After an election is over, we don’t think about it, but in fact our political affiliations strongly affect other aspects of our lives, such as our romantic choices.”

And that has important implications beyond the households that politically similar individuals may form, he says.

“At the highest levels within our political system, we increasingly see that people are unwilling to work and communicate with each other,” he said. “Simply put, our society has become more and more polarized, and we wanted to explore if political preferences in romantic relationships could begin to explain part of the divide in America.”

So, Democrats – take a Republican out to dinner this Valentine’s Day. You’ll be striking a blow for bipartisan cooperation and the future of the Republic. And hey, you might get lucky, too.

When people pair with individuals of similar political beliefs, their households can become echo chambers that transmit extreme views to the children, Malhotra said. In fact, research shows that children are more moderate if their parents have differing political viewpoints. There is a genetic story at play, as well: Studies of twins demonstrate a genetic predisposition for certain political beliefs, which suggests that offspring of like-minded individuals may be predisposed to more extreme beliefs.

So Malhotra and Huber launched a laboratory experiment in which they presented participants with online dating profiles. Participants evaluated profiles more positively (e.g. had greater interest in dating the targeted individual) when the target had their same political ideology and level of interest in politics. Study participants even found online candidate profiles more physically attractive if they shared similar political beliefs.

Gipper loveTo validate these results, the researchers partnered with an online dating website, which provided the team a unique window to observe people’s beliefs and preferences before they meet and interact in a marriage market. It also provided a wealth of data since, according to a Pew Research study, 74 percent of single Americans seeking partners have used an online dating site.

The team developed a set of seven new questions that users were asked when signing up for the online dating service. The questions measured three different political characteristics: political identity, including party affiliation; issue positions; and political participation. Most users opted to keep their answers to these questions private, meaning that other users could not proactively search for potential mates using these criteria.

Still, after assessing how men and women interacted via the site’s messaging function, Malhotra and Huber found that — in line with the results from the lab study — shared political characteristics increased the messaging rates in statistically significant ways above a baseline rate. Shared partisanship increased messaging rates by 9.5 percent, shared levels of political interest increased messaging rates by 10.7 percent, and shared ideas about how to balance the budget increased messaging rates by 10.8 percent.

These are similar to the messaging boosts found from shared educational background and height; slightly lower than race; and lower than religion. But since political characteristics were not disclosed — unlike these other publicly disclosed characteristics — it shows “how strong the political effect is, and how easy it is for people to pick up on cues about political beliefs,” Malhotra said.

Malhotra said their findings indicate reduced political disagreement within households, which can lead to the rise of political enclaves, which means “partisan polarization could get much worse.”

Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2013
Under: Democratic politics, Republican politics | No Comments »

Open thread: state Senate Dems’ gun control bills

I had many more quotes than I could use for our story about the big gun-control package rolled out today by state Senate Democrats. Among them, from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee:

“Violence does not know city borders and no single mayor can stop gun violence alone. But if we work together – as a region, as a state and as a nation – we can make a real impact. Under the leadership of President Steinberg, the Senate has taken a comprehensive look at existing law, strengthening what’s there and addressing loopholes, while addressing the enforcement backlog so that we can reduce gun violence and make Californians safer. We must do everything we possibly can to prevent another tragedy.”

And, from Chuck Michel, attorney and spokesman for the California Rifle and Pistol Association:

“This radical agenda proves what self defense civil rights advocates have been saying all along; all of the infringements until now were just a start, and this latest extreme civilian disarmament effort won’t be the end. Despite learning from PR professionals to pay lip service to the Second Amendment in order to placate and factionalize gun owners, these proposals show the true motive is to take away any meaningful choice of a firearm appropriate for defending one’s self or family, and to pull the Second Amendment’s teeth in the process.”

Thoughts, readers? Sound off, but keep your comments civil toward one another.

Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2013
Under: California State Senate, gun control | 5 Comments »

Texas Gov. Rick Perry to visit Bay Area next week

Hot on the heels of his radio ad buy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will visit San Francisco, the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Orange County next week in an attempt to poach California businesses.

Perry’s office says he’ll be in California from Sunday through Wednesday, meeting with business leaders in the high tech, biotechnology, financial, insurance and film industries. His will be paid for by TexasOne – no tax dollars will be used for his travel and accommodations.

The governor, along with Texas Economic Development Corp. Chair Bruce Bugg, several local economic development officials and business representatives – including Oncor, BNSF Railway, and the cities of Allen, Amarillo, Austin, Brownsville, Conroe, DeSoto, Frisco, Houston, Lubbock, Midland, McKinney, Pflugerville, San Antonio and Schertz – also will host a reception for some business leaders who have contacted the Perry’s office since the radio ad began running.

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday said Perry’s small ad buy was “not a serious story, guys. It’s not a burp. It’s barely a fart.” Wonder what he’ll say, if anything, about Perry’s impending visit…

Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2013
Under: Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

Lee says drone memo should drive Congress to act

The Obama Administration’s newly revealed legal rationale for using drones to kill U.S. citizens involved in anti-American terrorism should help convince Congress to repeal the broad use-of-force authorization it in 2001, Rep. Barbara Lee said today.

Lee, D-Oakland, was the lone vote against that authorization on Sept. 14, 2001.

“We must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target,” she said that day, later calling the authorization “a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the Sept. 11 events – anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit. In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration.”

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)Lee has been trying to get Congress to repeal the authorization ever since, and believes it’s the basis for policies such as those allowing drone strikes against U.S. citizens. She said Wednesday she was happy to hear President Obama affirm in his Jan. 21 inauguration speech that “a decade of war is now ending” and “we, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”

But to end perpetual war, “one of the steps that has to be taken is repealing that terrible resolution … an overly broad blank check that has been used over and over and over again to keep us in a state of perpetual war,” Lee said. “I’m going to fight until we get it done.”

She said she’s seeking co-signers on a letter asking the administration for a more specific explanation of its legal justifications for the drone strikes. Getting more information means raising awareness, Lee said, and that can lead to more support from both sides of the aisle.

Lee’s H.R. 198 says the September 2001 authorization of military force “has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war and make all laws for executing powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.” It would repeal the authorization effective 180 days after the bill’s enactment.

Introduced Jan. 4, the bill has five cosponsors: John Conyers, D-Mich.; Donna Edwards, D-Md.; Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.; and Walter Jones, R-N.C.

Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
Under: Barbara Lee, Obama presidency, U.S. House, War on Terror | 59 Comments »

State GOP files complaints vs. Ami Bera, Raul Ruiz

The California Republican Party has asked the Federal Election Commission whether two California congressmen, their campaigns and a Democratic super PAC violated federal law by having the congressmen appear in the PAC’s video.

But an election-law expert says it’s a weak case, and the House Majority PAC says state GOP chairman “Tom Del Beccaro’s swan song amounts to a baseless, politically-motivated complaint not worth the paper it’s printed on.”

“This laughable effort is the period at the end of the sentence that defines Del Beccaro’s embarrassing term as GOP party chair,” PAC spokesman Andy Stone said Wednesday.

The House Majority PAC’s recent video featured members of Congress including freshmen Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, and Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Springs, thanking the PAC for its involvement in their 2012 campaigns.

“We were grateful to see House Majority PAC formed so we could actually have allies on our side that were helping us get our message out,” Bera said in the video. “That in many ways was the difference in the outcome and one of the big reasons why we won this time.”

“When we got word that Darth Vader himself, Karl Rove, and the Crossroads was coming in and you had to recruit the team to fight back that Death Star,” Ruiz said in the video. “We fought back, and we won.”

Text at the video’s end invites viewers to visit the PAC’s website “to learn more about our work and join our efforts.” The video also carries disclaimers noting the House members are “not asking for funds or donations.”

In letters (Bera, Ruiz) sent to the FEC, Del Beccaro notes that “committees that solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, political committees, corporations and labor organizations for the purpose of making independent expenditures are prohibited from making direct contributions to federal political committees. The FEC defines a ‘contribution’ to include ‘any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by a person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office’ (emphasis added).”

The complaints say the cost of creating the video is an in-kind contribution to Bera’s and Ruiz’s campaigns – a contribution House Majority PAC is prohibited from making, and Bera and Ruiz are prohibited from taking. (Remember, super PACs can’t give directly to candidates – they can merely work on a candidate’s behalf, so long as their work is independent and not coordinated with the candidate’s campaign.)

The FEC in 2011 split 3-3 on whether there was a problem with comparable situation involving U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

“Nevertheless, it takes the affirmative vote of four commissioners to pursue an enforcement action. I don’t see four votes on the commission agreeing with the California GOP’s interpretation of the law,” Paul Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., said Wednesday.

Ryan said the FEC “has a fairly detailed (yet ineffective) regulation” on whether a public communication such as the House Majority PAC video constitutes an in-kind contribution. To qualify as such, the ad must meet both prongs of a two-prong test—the “content” prong and the “conduct” prong, he said.

“The House Majority PAC video clearly meets the ‘conduct’ prong, because the officeholders were directly and materially involved in filming the video,” Ryan said.

But for ads distributed more than 90 days before a House/Senate election or more than 120 days before a Presidential election, the “content” prong is only met by ads that contain campaign materials produced by the candidate, or by ads that expressly advocate the election or defeat of the candidate.

“The House Majority PAC video seemingly contains neither,” Ryan said. “It appears that the PAC produced the entire video (i.e., no candidate materials were used), and the video does not expressly advocate any candidate’s election. On the contrary, the video is all about officeholders expressly advocating the value/importance of the PAC.”

The content standards are more easily met during the 90 days right before a congressional election, Ryan noted: Even identifying a specific candidate in such a video during that time period would run afoul of the rules. But released after the election as this video was, it seems above-board.

Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
Under: Ami Bera, campaign finance, U.S. House | No Comments »

Pelosi congratulates Ravens on Super Bowl win

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco – but a Baltimore native – spoke on the House floor today to congratulate the Baltimore Ravens on their victory against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII:

Nancy Pelosi“I want to, Madame Speaker, to congratulate, I was going to call him Dutch, but Congressman Ruppersberger and the other Members of the Maryland delegation, more importantly, join them in congratulating the Ravens on a – they beat a mighty champion at the Super Bowl. As a proud 49er fan, who grew up on Johnny Unitas in Baltimore, going to those games as a teenager, and raising my own children on Joe Montana and Steve Young, you can just imagine how exciting this game was for me.

“But I think you quoted, Mr. Ruppersberger, you quoted coach Harbaugh. I will quote him in another way. They asked him after the game: ‘Was it hard coaching against your brother, your very own brother in the Super Bowl?’ He said: ‘It was hard; it was very hard. The only thing that would have been worse is if one of us were not coaching in the Super Bowl.’

“So, while it was hard to lose to the Ravens, it would have been even harder to lose to someone else. If someone had to beat the 49ers, I congratulate the Ravens on a game well played. I was in the stadium. I wondered who on the Baltimore side decided to pull the plug on the electricity. They were wondering who on the 49ers side did. In any event, there was good spirit. I think if you were there, and you saw that delay of game, not, not term of art, but like it, and you saw the mood of the people there, it was a real tribute to the people of New Orleans, who had extended such gracious hospitality in every way. That people were in a good mood, and they rode out that, that time.

“I want to join you in commending the leadership, the ownership, to Steve for his leadership of the, of the Ravens. But I also want to acknowledge the wonderful leadership of Art Modell. He passed away in the fall after being such a great leader in the Baltimore community, bringing the Ravens to Baltimore, and in being a part of the city in philanthropic and other ways. He was a great man and it was wonderful to see the Ravens with the ‘Art’ on, and everyone else – including Governor O’Malley and Mayor Rawlings-Blake with their ‘Art’ on their lapels throughout, throughout the weekend.

“So, to Art Modell’s family, to the ownership of the Ravens, congratulations. To the people of Baltimore, I know how exciting it is, and what it means to Baltimore. So I extend congratulations, and I also don’t have a bet because I said: ‘While I’m rooting for the 49ers, I would never bet against Baltimore.’ So, congratulations to all concerned. Thank you. I yield back the balance of my time.”

Pelosi’s Baltimore ties run deep. Not only was she born and raised there, but her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was a Maryland congressman from 1939 to 1947 and Baltimore’s mayor from 1947 to 1959; her brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, was Baltimore’s mayor from 1967 to 1971.

Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
Under: Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »