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MoveOn targets Bay Area officials’ offices today

Activists are descending today upon the offices of federal officials across the Bay Area, and across the nation, to deliver petitions urging the protection of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits from cuts proposed by President Obama.

Organized by MoveOn.org, it appears there’ll be gatherings at noon at the offices of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in Oakland, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, Rep. Eric Swalwell in Pleasanton, Rep. Jackie Speier in San Mateo, Rep. George Miller in Concord, Rep. Zoe Lofgren in San Jose, and Rep. Jared Huffman in San Rafael.

“I supported President Obama for reelection, but I won’t support him cutting Social Security,” said Frank Burton of Castro Valley, co-organizer of the event at Swalwell’s office. “Seniors depend on Social Security, and the cut in the cost-of-living adjustment is based on false logic. Seniors need the full cost-of-living adjustment because of huge increases in medical costs every year.”

Clark Sullivan of San Francisco said he helped organize the event at Pelosi’s office “because most people collecting Social Security are already starving for several days at the end of the month.

“Cutting benefits would increase the already unacceptable level of human misery for Americans who have paid a lifetime of taxes to support Social Security,” he said. “The Social Security Act has been one of the most successful federal programs ever enacted and is more solvent than it ever has been. There is no need to tamper with its current success.”

Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 15 Comments »

Boxer’s new bill would require labels for GE foods

The Food and Drug Administration would be required to clearly label genetically engineered food, under legislation introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Boxer said in a news release. “This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”

Boxer’s office says surveys have found more than 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of genetically engineered foods. The FDA now requires labeling of more than 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but in a 1992 policy statement allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not “materially” different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.

But Boxer notes that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes, and more than 1.5 million Americans have filed comments with the FDA urging the agency to label GE foods.

Bozer’s and DeFazio’s “Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act” would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood; the FDA would be directed to write new labeling standards consistent with other U.S. and international standards. So far, 64 nations already require labeling of GE foods, including all the member of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.

Boxer’s office described the legislation as bipartisan, but of the nine senators and 22 House members who are original co-sponsors, the only two Republicans are U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. The House cosponsors include Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.

California voters in November narrowly defeated Proposition 37, which would’ve required labeling of genetically engineered food with some exceptions.

Posted on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate | 13 Comments »

Reactions to Boston Marathon bomb explosions

The Bay Area is reacting to horrific news of a bombing near the Boston Marathon’s finish line today that killed at least two people and injured at least 100.

Oakland Police said that although they have no reason to believe there’s any threat here, they’re keeping officers apprised of the situation in Boston and will have a more visible presence at tonight’s Oakland A’s and Golden State Warriors games in collaboration with BART Police, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies.

Elected officials are weighing in, too.

From President Barack Obama’s live press briefing at the White House:

“We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake – we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.

“Today is a holiday in Massachusetts – Patriots’ Day. It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation. And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition. Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones in these horrific explosions in Boston, and I am praying for the recovery of all those who were injured.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“Words cannot begin to express our sorrow for the families who are grieving so suddenly right now. The House of Representatives offers its prayers to the victims and the city of Boston. We also give thanks for the professionals and Good Samaritans who prevented further loss of life. This is a terrible day for all Americans, but we will carry on in the American spirit, and come together with grace and strength.”

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

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston today and with the families of all of the victims of this brutal attack. We pray for the health and recovery of those injured, for the witnesses to the explosions, and for the first responders who arrived on the scene to tend to the wounded and secure the area.

“Words are inadequate to console the loved ones of those lost at the Boston Marathon. But we will do what we can to care for them. We will ensure that justice will be done.

“Members of Congress stand ready to assist our partners in Boston and Massachusetts as they respond to this unspeakable tragedy. The entire nation will stand as a source of support and comfort to this community in the days to come.”

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (who is California’s acting governor during Gov. Jerry Brown’s ongoing trip to China):

Jennifer and I are deeply saddened by the tragic events in Boston today and our hearts go out to the victims’ families and their communities. There’s no indication of any threats to California or our local communities at this time. However, these events are a reminder to remain vigilant and always report anything unusual to your local law enforcement agency.

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

Posted on Monday, April 15th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Gavin Newsom, Jackie Speier, John Boehner, John Perez, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, Terrorism, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Feinstein, Boxer endorse Mike Honda for 2014

Add California’s U.S. Senators to the cavalcade of Democratic stars giving early endorsements to Rep. Mike Honda as he tries to neutralize a potential challenge from a fellow Democrat.

“I’m proud to endorse Congressman Mike Honda,” U.S. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a news release issued today by Honda’s campaign. “He works tirelessly for the people he represents and is an important leader on issues such as helping to create jobs and improving our schools. He is a champion for Silicon Valley and I’m glad to offer him my support.”

“The people of the 17th Congressional District need Mike Honda’s strong voice now more than ever,” U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in the same release. “I am proud to endorse such an effective leader for education, innovation, and families throughout the region and country.”

Ro Khanna, a former Obama administration Commerce Department official with $1.26 million in his campaign coffers, is rumored to be announcing a 2014 campaign against Honda soon. He declined to comment on the senators’ endorsements Monday, just as he had when Honda rolled out endorsements this year from President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the chairs of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and others.

Honda thanked the senators for their support. “We all agree that the formula for growth in Silicon Valley jobs is straightforward. It requires smart and targeted incentives to help companies locate and grow here while accessing our unique and diverse workforce, and providing our students with the education they’ll need to compete.”

Honda issued poll results last week showing he had a 52-point lead over Khanna – not surprising, considering Honda, 71, has served in Congress since 2000 and Khanna, 36, hasn’t even declared his candidacy yet.

Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Mike Honda, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 14 Comments »

Boxer: Santa Cruz cop killer was military snafu

At a U.S. Senate hearing today on sexual assault in the military, Sen. Barbara Boxer cited the deadly shootings of two Santa Cruz detectives by Army veteran Jeremy Goulet as an example of military justice gone awry.

Boxer, D-Calif., testified before the Boxer testified at the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel’s oversight hearing.

“Last month, an Army veteran shot and killed two Santa Cruz police detectives who were attempting to question him over a sexual assault allegation,” Boxer said. “In the aftermath of this shooting, we learned that even though the former soldier had faced two separate rape charges while serving in the Army, charges against him were dropped and he was discharged without a conviction as part of a plea bargain.”

“Now what is it going to take to convince the military that sexual assault is a violent and vicious crime and that those who perpetuate it are capable of other violent crime—including murder?” Boxer asked. “What is it going to take? It is a vicious, violent crime, and those capable of that vicious crime are capable of other crimes—yes, murder.”

Boxer’s comments echo those that former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made last week at the two slain officers’ funeral.

“We do know that he had a history of sexual violence both in and out of the military. And for whatever reason, people somehow always looked the other way,” Panetta had said, acknowledging that military sex offenders were not always prosecuted for the offenses they committed. “And at some point, somebody pays a price.”

Posted on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Gun controllers push their message, momentum

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 today to pass a bill that would require all gun sales be subject to background checks, and congressional Democrats and their allies are looking to maximize their gun-control momentum and messaging.

Today, Mayors Against Illegal Guns released a new advertisement featuring religious leaders demanding that Congress act to pass gun law reforms.

The ad concides with the start of the Papal Conclave in Vatican City, and comes just ahead of this weekend’s Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend – organized by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Cathedral and PICO – in which congregations across the nation will gather to reflect and act on preventing gun violence including requiring background checks for all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and making gun trafficking a federal crime.

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francsico; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; and other women in Congress will join Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, for a Capitol Hill news conference “to highlight the urgency for common-sense gun violence prevention legislation to protect our communities, families, and schools.”

On Thursday – the three-month anniversary of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. – members of MomsRising, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Million Mom March (part of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence), Reston-Herndon Alliance to End Gun Violence, and other concerned citizens will deliver a petition with more than 150,000 signatures on it to National Rifle Association President David Keene at his Fairfax, Va. office. The petition urges the NRA to support common-sense gun safety laws.

On Friday, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, will chair the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force’s hearing on “The Need for Background Checks: Preventing Criminals and the Dangerously Mentally Ill from Getting Guns” at the Capitol. Panelists are expected to include Carol Gaxiola of Arizona, the mother of gun violence victim; Dr. Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Joseph Bielevicz, a detective with the Pittsburgh Police Firearms Tracking Unit; Austin, Texas, Police Chief Art Acevedo; Joe Deaser, owner of the Capital Gun Club in Roseville, Calif.; and Jesse Ogas of Colorado, a hunter, sportsman, gun owner and former NRA Member.

Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, gun control, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 10 Comments »

Lawmakers: Add Stornetta to national monument

California’s U.S. Senators and two Bay Area House members this week urged President Obama to add the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument.

The region around Stornetta in Mendocino County gets about 1.75 million visitors each year, the vast majority of whom are from the Bay Area and Sacramento. The California Coastal National Monument, designated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, protects small islands, exposed reefs and pinnacles off the 1,100 miles of California coastline.

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, along with Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, noted in their letter to the president that this would be the first land-based connection to the national monument.

“Beyond the natural benefits the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands provide to our families and our communities, the region has a significant economic impact as well,” the lawmakers wrote. “Tourists drawn to Mendocino County to visit Stornetta and Mendocino’s south coast support nearly 5,000 jobs and generate more than $110 million in economic activity annually.”

Visit Mendocino County, the local tourism bureau, said the business community there strongly supports adding the land to the monument. “Over 50 local businesses signed a letter to Interior Secretary Salazar last month and emphasized that adding the Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument would have a strong economic benefit to our region,” president and CEO Scott Schneider said in a news release.

Thompson last summer had introduced H.R. 4969 to add the lands to the monument, but the bill never made it out of committee.

Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Barbara Boxer on the Chuck Hagel filibuster

U.S. Senate Republicans defeated a motion today to end debate and call a floor vote on confirming former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as U.S. Secretary of Defense.

The 58-40 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to end the Republican filibuster. Republicans are saying they intend to allow a floor vote at the end of this month, but Democrats say this is the first time there has ever been a filibuster – however temporary – of a defense secretary nominee.

Four Republicans joined with Democrats in voting for cloture today: Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Here’s what U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said on the Senate floor before the vote:

Barbara Boxer“Mr. President, I am glad we are voting today on the President’s choice for Secretary of Defense, our former colleague, Chuck Hagel. I stand here as a Senator who has had a number of questions as well about some of the things he said in the past, some of the votes he has cast, and some of his philosophy. And what I did, as soon as I learned he was the President’s pick, was to ask those questions. Remember the President is the Commander in Chief. This is a critical appointment. It has to be someone he has faith in, puts his trust in, and he picked someone. He picked a brave hero who served in Vietnam.

“So I wrote all my questions down, and believe me, they covered some tough ground on women’s rights, gay rights, Iran, and Israel. There were a number of questions.

“I asked if it would be all right if when the answers came we could put them online so people could see the answers. The answer that came back was absolutely yes. The answers to my questions were very clear and very strong.

“Senator Hagel has evolved on certain issues. He admitted to a mistake on a couple. That is the hardest thing for any politician to admit. There are four words politicians hate to say – ‘I made a mistake.’ He admitted to that on a couple of issues.

“I just think the way he is being treated is so sad. It is so sad. When I watch some of the questioning from my colleagues — not all of them, a couple of them, and I am not referring to my dear friend, Senator Inhofe – it was reminiscent of a different time and place when someone would say: ‘I have here in my pocket a speech that you made on such-and-such a date,’ and, of course, nothing was in the pocket. It was reminiscent of some bad times.

“I am so glad we are voting today. I know it is going to be a close vote. I don’t know what the outcome will be. I do believe eventually this good man will be the Secretary of Defense. I believe that in my heart. If anyone is still undecided on this vote, let’s understand that never in history have we had a 60-vote requirement – to my knowledge – for a nominee for Secretary of Defense. If I am wrong, I hope to be corrected. There is a reason for it.

“Lord knows I was one of the key voices of dissent on the Iraq war, and I was not happy about a lot of the people who were put into place by George W. Bush. Believe me, I didn’t want to see them continue in those positions. I think they led us astray in Iraq, and it led to so many thousands of deaths. However, I never dreamed of requiring a 60-vote majority. In my view, this is not a good day for the Senate.

“I know my friend, Senator Inhofe, is very sincere. I am on the Foreign Relations Committee; I am a senior member of that committee. We have listened to the State Department on Benghazi. We have had briefings and hearings and answers came in. We had secret briefings that were highly classified. We had open hearings.

“I have to say, what more are you trying to get out of this? Benghazi was a crisis. It was a disaster. It was terrible. There should have been more security there, but don’t blame the brave Americans for it. Blame the terrorists who did this. As the facts became available, those facts came right out. Why are we trying to stop this good man because of something he had nothing to do with?

“In closing, I hope if you are on the fence, you will vote today for Chuck Hagel, and a ‘yes’ vote on cloture.”

Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Obama presidency, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

Bay Area lawmakers react to SOTU

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

honda.jpgI applaud the President’s talk tonight regarding jobs and technology. We must ensure the resilience of the American worker, and the adaptability and innovation inherent in our economy, to keep us at the forefront of global competitiveness.

This is the Silicon Valley way of life and business, where the manufacturing sector employs 1 in 5 workers (more than twice the national average), where breakthrough ideas are cultivated, and where the world’s most successful visionaries and businesses call home.

If we renew our national commitment to winning the manufacturing jobs of the future, bringing Silicon Valley sense to Washington, and employ strategies that play to our nation’s natural strengths, we should see a new golden age of American manufacturing.

That is exactly why my legislative platform, introduced this week, will reinvigorate a critical component of our national economy by focusing on three components: Next-generation technologies, startups and small manufacturers, and re-shoring production lines from overseas.

• The Market Based Manufacturing Incentives Act empowers an apolitical commission of private-sector experts to designate the next generation of disruptive, market-changing technologies.

• The Scaling up Manufacturing Act, endorsed by the American Small Manufacturers Coalition, the American Chemical Society, and Silicon Valley’s own Applied Ventures, provides support to this nation’s entrepreneurs at the most critical stage of their business’s growth. This proposal stops offshoring before it ever starts, keeps our bourgeoning businesses here at home, and helps turns ideas into success stories.

• The Re-Shoring Bonus Deduction Act is a draft proposal aimed at promoting growth in domestic manufacturing among this nation’s most established and global enterprises. We should reward companies that bring jobs back to the United States and contribute to our nation’s economic growth by employing American workers.

Additionally, my STEM agenda for the 113th Congress supports Obama’s SOTU call for leadership in these fields. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be infused into our public school curriculum, emphasized within the clinical teaching preparation programs and applied into vibrant learning experiences in the classroom.

In order to keep Silicon Valley competitive and stocked with highly-skilled, creative workers, we must improve STEM education coordination on a national scale. For our nation to remain a leader in scientific advancement and technological innovation, this is what is required of us, nothing less. It is time to step up and STEM it.

From Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa:

Mike Thompson“The state of our union is getting stronger, but we have more work to do. Whether it’s creating jobs, getting our fiscal house in order, fixing our broken immigration system, or putting policies in place that respect the Second Amendment while also reducing gun violence, our nation faces big challenges. We won’t overcome these challenges as Democrats versus Republicans – we must meet them together as Americans.

“We need to put people to work fixing our roads, bridges, overpasses and waterways while also building an economy that can compete long-term by investing in new industries like clean energy. To get our fiscal house in order, we need a balanced approach that focuses on job creation, makes sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck, and reforms our tax code so everyone pays their fair share. We need to avoid manufactured crisis that do nothing but hurt our economy. And, we need a bipartisan, comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system.

“Finally, tonight President Obama once again called on Congress to pass legislation that will reduce gun violence. Last month the President acted by signing a series of executive actions that will have a meaningful impact on reducing gun violence. But as we know, the policies that would have the greatest impact require congressional action.

“Whether you’re an NRA member like Elvin Daniel, the guest I hosted at tonight’s State of the Union, 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 when thirty-plus people die every day from gun violence that it’s time for Congress act. My task force is already acting. Last week we released a comprehensive set of policy principles that both respect the Second Amendment Rights of law-abiding Americans and will prevent gun violence. We’re using these policy principles to develop and influence legislation in both the House and Senate and are working to get legislation based on these principles signed into law.

“But this can’t just be a Democratic effort. It’s time for our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to work with us and use the principles we developed to put laws in place that respect the rights of lawful Americans to own firearms and make our schools, neighborhoods, communities and country safer.

“As the 113th Congress moves forward, I will continue working to overcome the challenges we face. And I am confident that if we put the partisanship aside and work together then our nation has even better days ahead.”

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

Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Under: Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, John Boehner, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 27 Comments »

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 »