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Peering ahead toward the ‘fiscal cliff’

President Obama today announced he has invited congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle to come to the White House next week to discuss how to handle the tax increases and spending cuts now scheduled to take effect automatically in January.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded:

John Boehner“The year 2013 should be the year we begin to solve our country’s debt problem through entitlement reform and a new tax code with fewer loopholes and lower rates. The president has an historic opportunity to lead both parties in forging an agreement that averts the fiscal cliff in a manner that ensures 2013 will be that year.

“The increased tax rates that would be allowed under the Senate-passed bill are part of the fiscal cliff that economists are warning us to avoid. Those increased tax rates will destroy jobs in America by hurting small businesses across the country. Republicans are eager to get to work on an agreement that averts the entire fiscal cliff. The House has passed legislation to accomplish this vital goal. We look forward to joining the president next week and working to forge an agreement that will do the same.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, responded:

Nancy Pelosi “President Obama is exactly right: the American people voted on Tuesday for certainty for our economy and middle class families. Speaker Boehner and House Republicans can provide that certainty, and establish a sound basis for negotiations on comprehensive deficit reduction package, by taking up the Senate-passed bill to extend the middle income tax cuts. President Obama has his signing pen ready, and I am certain that, given the opportunity, Democrats in the House will vote to send the middle income tax cut to the President next week.

“President Obama reiterated today that we must work toward compromise to address our nation’s deficit, and we stand firmly on the side of a balanced approach. President Obama took this issue of tax fairness to the American people with great clarity, and the American people agreed with him. The wealthiest Americans must pay their fair share.

“The tax proposal that the President restated today is the right way to move forward, enabling us to start the conversation about a responsible, long-term deficit reduction plan. The President was clear in the campaign. The American people have spoken. Let’s sit down and get the job done. Every day we delay, adds to the uncertainty of the middle class. Let’s pass the Senate bill now and show the American people that people of goodwill can get the job done. We must.”

Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2012
Under: Barack Obama, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, taxes, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

Pen company hopes to ink deal with Obama

Zebra F-301President Obama got more than one $5 million offer this week.

The Zebra Pen Company, based in New Jersey, sent a letter to the president Thursday offering to donate $5 million to the charity of his choice if the president will publicly disclose what kind of pen – ballpoint, gel, rollerball, etc. – and what color ink he used in filling out his college application, with “bonus points” offered for presenting the actual pen.

“Mr. President, America needs to know these very ‘important’ details,” the pen company asserted.

But to seal the deal, the company said, the president also would have to name Zebra as the official pen of the commander-in-chief, the White House and the Obama campaign, and do all future bill and treaty signings with the company’s pens.

Why do I report on this craven, self-serving tactic to manipulate politics for publicity’s sake? Because it makes just as much sense as reporting on this week’s other craven, self-serving tactic to manipulate politics for publicity’s sake.

The only difference is that Zebra pens are actually sort of useful.

Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama | 69 Comments »

‘Mood meter’ says Obama won debate on Twitter

President Barack Obama kept Twitter users happier than Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney through most of last night’s debate, according to a Silicon Valley company’s analysis.

NetBase, a Mountain View-based firm that “delivers the enterprise social intelligence platform that global enterprises use to monitor, understand, and engage with customers in real time,” has created a Mood Meter: a dial updated every 10 minutes that captures and measures sentiment expressed by Twitter users about the presidential and vice presidential candidates. Here’s a screen-grab from a short while ago:

NetBase Mood Meter screen grab

NetBase’s natural language processing engine analyzes each tweet about the candidates using its technology that understands how humans speak, including profanity and slang, according to the company’s news release. So the dials represent a moment in time, a cumulative group of tweet sentiment over the past 10 minutes – a real-time look into Tweeters’ opinions.

Here’s how it stacked up during last night’s debate:

NetBase mood meter

Keep in mind that this only surveys those who are actively Tweeting – a younger-skewed demographic – and not the entire debate audience.

Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney | 38 Comments »

Tech leaders like Romney, think Obama will win

Technology leaders President Obama will be re-elected, but think Republican nominee Mitt Romney would give a bigger boost to the technology economy, according to a new survey.

The DLA Piper Technology Leaders Forecast Survey found, among other things:

    76 percent of tech leaders expect President Obama to be re-elected
    64 percent believe Romney would be better for the technology economy
    64 percent see an increased threat of regulation for the private equity and venture capital

DLA Piper, a global law firm, distributed its survey in late September and early October to senior executives and advisors in the technology industry, including CEOs, CFOs and other company officers at tech companies, as well as to venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and consultants. The study was released today in conjunction with DLA Piper’s Global Technology Leaders Summit taking place at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park.

Sixty percent of business leaders are skeptical that a second term for the Obama administration would have a positive impact on the technology sector. The partisan tables have turned since the 2008 election, when nearly 60 percent of tech executives believed that then-Senator Barack Obama would have a more positive impact on technology development and investment than his GOP opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain.

“Regardless of the election’s outcome, it seems clear that what technology leaders want out of Washington is greater clarity on regulation and tax policy. Those themes surfaced prominently in our latest version of the survey,” Peter Astiz, global co-head of the Technology Sector at DLA Piper, said in a news release.

The survey found 78 percent of respondents believe that the presidential campaign dialogue surrounding private equity – namely, attacks upon Romney’s record at Bain Capital – has damaged the reputation of the private equity and venture capital industry, and 65 percent expressed concern that this focus could likely lead to new regulation of the industry.

Most respondents – 60 percent – think letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire would negatively impact tech-sector investments; 33 percent think the tax cuts’ expiration would have no direct impact on the tech sector’s growth.

Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Barack Obama, economy, Mitt Romney | 8 Comments »

Some clips from Obama’s speech at the SF rally

President Obama strode onto the stage at 9:32 p.m. to a cheering ovation and a blinding wall of camera flashes.

He gave shout-outs to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, representatives Barbara Lee and Pete Stark, and 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and tight end Vernon Davis.

Of the athletes, he said, “I can’t help but wish them the best of luck until they play my Bears in week 11.” Good natured booing ensued.

“We’re here because everything we fought for in 2008 is on the line in 2012, and I’m going to need your help to finish what we started.”

Citing the new 7.8 percent unemployment figure, “Manufacturers are coming back to America, home values are on the rise, but we are not there yet, we are not where we need to be yet.”

“We have come too far to turn back now. The last thing we can afford now, California, is four years of the very same policies that led us into the mess in the first place.”

The centerpiece of Romney’s plan is a $5 trillion tax cut geared toward the wealthy, Obama said. “No, no – don’t boo. Vote!”

Suddenly “a guy pretending to be mitt Romney stood on a stage next to me” a few days ago in Denver and pretended that such a tax cut isn’t his plan – “Pay no attention to that tax cut behind the curtain.”

“You didn’t know this but for all you moms and kids out there you should have confidence that finally, someone is cracking down on Big Bird. Elmo has been seen in a white Suburban, he’s headed for the border. Oscar is hiding out in his trash can… Gov. Romney’s plan is to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring the hammer down on Sesame Street.”

At the debate, “what was being presented (by Romney) was not leadership, it was salesmanship.”

Romney today said ending the war in Iraq as we did was a mistake. “I disagree – bringing our troops home was the right thing to do,” he said, and we have to serve our returning veterans as well as they served us.

Gov. Romney says it’s fair that he pays less than a teacher making $50,000 a year, Obama said. “Don’t boo – vote!”

“That’s what change was about – you, all of us, coming together.”

“We cannot afford to be complacent and we cannot afford to be cynical. We’ve got to look back at the progress we’ve made and that should give us confidence.”

“Change takes time. We always said it would take more than one term or even one president. We said it would take more than one party. And by the way, no, it doesn’t just take me. That is not the deal. The deal is, it takes all of us.”

It won’t happen with “somebody who writes off half the nation before he even takes office, but it also doesn’t happen if half the nation writes itself off by not participating.”

“I’m not fighting for Democratic jobs or Republican jobs, I’m fighting for American jobs.”

The president left the stage at 9:57 p.m. to a thunderous ovation and Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own.”

Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama | 1 Comment »

Pool report from Obama’s SF dinner fundraiser

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, serving as the local pool reporter for President Obama’s fundraising dinner tonight at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco’s Civic Center, filed this report a short while ago:

The first VIP fundraiser of the evening for 100 donors, held in a hall in the Civic Auditorium, was hosted by chef Alice Waters. She was wearing a plum scarf and was present in the hall – where she presided over long wooden banquet tables decorated in a fall theme with baskets of fresh fruit and apples and tall candelabras.

Menu:
Fish tartare a la japonaise
Boudin blanc
Warm chanterelles on grilled toast
Fall tomato salad with homemade mozzarella
Fresh cheese with baked fig
Eggplant tagine with couscous
Duck confit with herb and frisee salad
Corncakes with mint and chive
Prosciutto and almonds

Guests sat on low long wooden benches in front of a tan velvet curtain, graced by an American flag and a California state flag.

Obama, in suit and tie, entered at 7:03 p.m. to cheers and a standing ovation.

He was introduced by Pam Hamamoto, a childhood friend of the president’s from public school in Hawaii.

She said both were new in the school; she had moved from another part of the state, and “he moved from Indonesia….but I like to think our experiences that first year were similar,” both learning to navigate new classes, new friendships and new teachers.

“I still remember the first time I saw him on the playground … a classmate asked me, ‘Do you know Barry? He’s a new kid too.’”

“It didn’t cross my mind at the time that this young boy with bare feet and chubby cheeks would grow up to be President of the United States,” she said.

She said that the two “grew up in the melting pot of Hawaii” where “respect and compassion for working people was just a way of life.”

She said back then, Obama was “an extremely hard worker” and “a fierce competitor,” as well as a leader, “just as he is today.”

“It’s been a privilege for me to be a part of this amazing ‘Obama for America’ team,” she said.

Obama began speaking at 7:07 p.m.

“Pam, that was the sweetest introduction I’ve had since I’ve been president,” he said. “I know that many of you are wondering, why does she look so much younger than him? All I can say is, genes,” he said to laughs.

“It’s true that the environment that we grew up in” provides us with “a certain ballast,” he said. Those who wonder about his “even keel” he said, can look to Hawaii. “You body surf, and you feel fine afterwards. It washes away all worries,” he said.

Obama said that “most of you have been great friends,” supporting him back to his U.S. Senate runs. He noted the campaign has 29 days left, and also noted that he and his wife celebrated their 29th anniversary. “It was on debate night,” he said, so they scheduled a date night on Saturday.

“We snuck out…there was a little private room,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I was giving my wife undivided attention.”

“The waiter … at the end, as I was signing the check – and yes, I still do have a credit card,” he said, “he said, ‘Mr. President…I just want you to know that you saved my mom’s life.’”

The waiter said his mother had a stroke, didn’t get qualified for Medicare, and because of the health care law “she was able to get insurance and pay for her medications.”

Obama said as the waiter left, “I told Michelle that probably once a day I get something like that.”

“It reminds me that what we do is not sport, it’s not simply about who’s up and who’s down in the polls,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s about that young man and his mom … and the belief that in this great country of ours, we’re going to make sure that every single person is treated with dignity and with respect.”

“That’s why we do this. That’s what these events are about.”

He said his friend, Pam, was right. “I am very competitive. And I very much intend to win this election,” he said to cheers.

He urged supporters to have to be “almost obsessive” over the next 29 days, urging them to talk to “cousins and uncles and friends in battleground states.”

Speech lasted just a few minutes, and pool was ushered out as questions began.

It was a much more serene scene than outside, where crowds lined up hours in advance to get into the concert at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco to hear John Legend and Oakland-born Michael Franti perform. Crowd is estimated at 6,000, tickets started at $100, but those lower end tickets were sold out early on.

UPDATE @ 8:19 P.M.: Carla followed up with this tidbit: Pam Hamamoto, the former schoolmate who introduced the president at the dinner, is a major Obama bundler from Tiburon; records show she has raised $200,000 to $500,000 for the president.

Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama | No Comments »

Updated info on Obama’s SF fundraisers

President Barack Obama will be holding a fundraising concert and rally this Monday evening, Oct. 8, in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, featuring musical performances by John Legend and Michael Franti.

Guests are being told to arrive at 5:30 p.m., although the president isn’t expected to arrive and speak until later in the evening.

Tickets had started at $100, but the cheap seats are long gone; all that remained Friday were preferred-seating tickets for $1,000 each and premium-seating tickets for $2,500 each. The photo reception, for which a ticket cost $7,500, has sold out too.

The president is holding a much more exclusive fundraising dinner, also at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium; contributors are paying $20,000 each to sample food prepared by celebrity chefs Alice Waters and Tyler Florence. Among those expected to attend is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith; guests will have their pictures taken with the president and John Legend.

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, campaign finance | No Comments »

Details – and tickets – for Obama’s SF fundraiser

President Barack Obama’s Bay Area fundraiser on Monday, Oct. 8 will be at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, on Grove Street in the city’s Civic Center.

Tickets for this 5:30 p.m. concert-rally – for which the musical guests are yet to be announced – are selling at $100 for “Muni;” $250 for “Cable Car;” $1,000 for “Ferry,” which includes preferred seating; and $2,500 for “Bay,” which includes premium seating. The $7,500 “Golden State” package gets you premium seating plus a photo opportunity with the president, and then you can pay an additional $2,500 for each guest you want in the photo with you. Tickets are available online.

It’s not yet clear whether this will be his only event in the Bay Area; he usually does one big rally-type event and several smaller, more exclusive and expensive events in the same visit. He’ll be in Los Angeles on Sunday, Oct. 7.

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, campaign finance | No Comments »

Obama, Romney, Biden & Ryan on 9/11

President Barack Obama, at the Pentagon (excerpt):

“This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn. Today, we can come here to the Pentagon, and touch these names and kneel beside a building where a single stone still bears the scars of that fire. We can visit the field of honor in Pennsylvania and remember the heroes who made it sacred. We can see water cascading into the footprints of the Twin Towers, and gaze up at a new tower rising above the New York skyline.

“And even though we may never be able to fully lift the burden carried by those left behind, we know that somewhere, a son is growing up with his father’s eyes, and a daughter has her mother’s laugh — living reminders that those who died are with us still.

“So as painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson that no single event can ever destroy who we are. No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for. Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

“That’s the commitment that we reaffirm today. And that’s why, when the history books are written, the true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before.”

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in a statement:

“Eleven years ago, evil descended upon our country, taking thousands of lives in an unspeakable attack against innocents. America will never forget those who perished. America will never stop caring for the loved ones they left behind. And America shall remain ever vigilant against those who would do us harm. Today we again extend our most profound gratitude to our brave troops who have gone into battle, some never to return, so that we may live in peace. On this most somber day, those who would attack us should know that we are united, one nation under God, in our determination to stop them and to stand tall for peace and freedom at home and across the world.”

Vice President Joe Biden, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. (excerpt):

“My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch. And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him. For I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand.

“I also hope — I also hope it continues to give you some solace knowing that this nation, all these people gathered here today, who are not family members, all your neighbors, that they’ve not forgotten. They’ve not forgotten the heroism of your husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. And that what they did for this country is still etched in the minds of not only you, but millions of Americans, forever. That’s why it’s so important that this memorial be preserved and go on for our children and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and our great-great-grandchildren — because it is what makes it so exceptional. And I think they all appreciate, as I do, more than they can tell you, the incredible bravery your family members showed on that day.”

Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., in a statement:

“Eleven years ago today, from Capitol Hill, I could see the smoke rising from the fires burning in the Pentagon. Like all Americans, I will never forget the moment that our homeland came under attack. For me, this is a day to remember those who perished on that day of terror, including the first responders. It is also a day to pay tribute to all those who have worked quietly and tirelessly both on the home front and abroad to prevent a repetition of such terrible events. And it is a day to give honor to those in our military who have sacrificed so much, including their lives, for the same end. Their courage and heroism and willingness to answer the call of duty have kept America safe and strong and free. We are truly the home of the brave.”

See what some Bay Area members of Congress have been tweeting about today’s anniversary, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Zoe Lofgren | 4 Comments »

Newest TV ads from Obama and Romney

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign today rolled out an ad featuring former President Bill Clinton:

“Clear Choice” will air in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s campaign launched its latest ad yesterday:

FactCheck.org hasn’t done an analysis of either ad yet, though it did post an extensive rundown on the competing claims about Medicare, including this observation:

A Romney campaign ad wrongly claims that “money you paid” for Medicare is being used to pay for Obama’s health care law. But the law doesn’t take money out of the existing hospital insurance trust fund. It cuts the future growth of spending. And in the future, seniors will still receive more in benefits than they paid in.

PolitiFact has its own rundown on Medicare as well.

Posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Mitt Romney | 12 Comments »