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An Oakland Clintonite at the convention

Oakland attorney Meredith Brown, the Democratic National Convention delegate whom I quoted last week as hoping Hillary Clinton would be Barack Obama‘s vice presidential pick, is now in Denver and sent me some early observations a few minutes ago: “Hillary supporters at the convention are concerned that the Republican Party is interpreting strident support for Clinton as a rejection of Obama. Many women are recounting experiences with reporters questioning their proud display of the Hillary tee shirts that they have worn for the last 8 months.”

Her full report, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, August 25th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

Hope springs eternal for Hillary loyalists

While covering state Controller John Chiang’s speech to the Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club today, I was chatting with club vice-chairwoman Meredith Brown; she’s about to ship out to Denver as a first-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

She’s a Hillary Clinton delegate from the 9th Congressional District, and she said she’s still hoping to see Clinton picked as Barack Obama‘s running mate.

“18 million votes, man,” she said. “And ideologically, they’re not far apart… It’s more of a personality difference. Whoever he can’t woo, she can woo… We need them both.”

But my money’s still on Evan Bayh. We’ll know soon.

Posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »

Dianne Feinstein won’t be at the convention

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been laid low by an ankle injury and won’t be able to attend the Democratic National Convention next week in Denver.

Her statement:

“Last Friday — the day before the Lake Tahoe Summit — I slipped and broke my left ankle while I was on a walk with Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher on the Meeks Bay Trail in the Tahoe forest.

“My doctor has advised me not to travel in the short-term, and so, regretfully, I am unable to attend what will surely be an historic convention in Denver.

“I was very much looking forward to chairing the California Delegation, and I offer my best wishes to California’s delegates in this vital nomination process.”

Hmmm. A noted Hillary Clinton endorser suddenly can’t make the convention… but, to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a broken ankle is just a broken ankle.

Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
Under: Democratic Party, Dianne Feinstein, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Bark Obama, meet John McCanine

For all you collectors of obscure political paraphernalia, dog owners, or both, Fat Cat Inc. of North Hills, Calif., is offering presidential campaign chewy toys.

From the news release:

These three Political Animals are just what the doggy constituents in our country are beggin’ for. Choose from Bark Obama, John McCanine and Capitol Hillary. We’ve included a briefing on each candidate’s political platform below to help with voting!

Bark Obama – Tell your mama, it’s Bark Obama! Ready for a friendly debate with your doggy, but tough enough for even a few, uh, nips at the heels, Bark’s just the ticket to change up your dog’s outlook on playtime and politics. Woof!

John McCanine – Seriously, folks…Go ahead and talk about THIS elephant in the room. Guaranteed to start some good ol’ fashioned doggy droolin’ debates, there’s no need to be conservative with this flyboy at playtime.

Capital Hillary – Even if you don’t support her Bill, don’t try to deny the frenzied thrill your dog’s gonna find on Capitol Hill…ary! Perfect hair, sensible shoes…and she’s fully loaded with a perky little squeaker – it’s enough to keep just about any dog giddy all the way through election time.

Any ulterior political motives behind these? Probably not. Fat Cat Inc. – founded by husband and wife John and Anne Lika – was acquired last year by Bamboo, the pet-care division of baby-product manufacturer Munchkin Inc. I don’t see that the Likas; Amy Osete, the Munchkin vice president in charge of marketing for Bamboo; or Munchkin President and CEO Steven B. Dunn have given any money to any presidential candidates this cycle (although Dunn did give $1,000 to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, in March — betcha he’s having second thoughts now).

Posted on Wednesday, August 6th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain | No Comments »

JibJab: “Time for some campaignin’”

I’ll be on KQED’s “This Week in Northern California” tonight discussing the McCain, Clinton and (virtual) Obama appearances in the Bay Area this past week. But honestly, instead of having me on the show, they probably could just air the latest clip from those clever guys at JibJab:

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Chillin’ like Bob Dylan. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Posted on Friday, August 1st, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain | No Comments »

Hillary’s back, neither gone nor forgotten

Hillary Clinton will be making her first big Bay Area appearance since dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination this Thursday morning, as she addresses the national convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. (Al Gore is speaking there Wednesday, but that’s completely closed to the press – what gives?)

Later Thursday, she’ll be feted at a private “unity” fundraiser in Los Altos Hills, organized through Barack Obama‘s campaign and aimed at retiring her campaign debt; the requested contribution is $500. Former Menlo Park Mayor Gail Slocum had this to say in announcing the fundraiser on Obama’s blog:

“I was originally an Edwards supporter/fundraiser, and I’m keeping the big picture strategy in mind here for electing Barack: The RNC and McCain have about a $40 million advantage over our side’s combined funds on hand as of the end of June. Without the strongest possible enthusiastic support from Hillary’s and all the candidates’ fundraising and organizing leaders over the next 3 1/2 months, we will not realistically be able to run a winning 50-state Presidential campaign (as well as widen Dem margins in Congress). I am also mindful that Hillary’s debt is owed to many small business people who provided campaign services. Finally, Hillary has kept her promise to support Barack and urge her supporters to do so too, and this is a concrete way to say thank you. We need unity now to win and show McCain that they can’t divide us this time.

Plus, on a more personal level, I plan to bring our 9 year old daughter to meet Hillary and witness personally the remarkable leader who made women’s history this year and has already influenced our daughter’s perspectives greatly “Mommy, WHEN I’m President, I’ll…”).

Posted on Monday, July 28th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards | No Comments »

How they voted on FISA telecom immunity

The U.S. Senate today passed a bill amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 so that telecommunications companies which cooperated with the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping will receive retroactive immunity from lawsuits. The final vote came after several amendments seeking to strip out or curtail that immunity were defeated.

And how did the Senators whom Californians presumably find most important cast their votes? Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, R-Ariz., was absent for the vote, out on the campaign trail. And as for Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama:

S.Amdt.5064, introduced by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., to strike the section of the bill granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program:
Boxer: Yes
Feinstein: No
Clinton: Yes
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 32-66 (defeated)

S.Amdt.5059, introduced by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to limit retroactive immunity for providing assistance to the United States to instances in which a federal court determines the assistance was provided in connection with an intelligence activity that was constitutional:
Boxer: Yes
Feinstein: No
Clinton: Yes
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 37-61 (defeated)

S.Amdt.5066, introduced by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., to delay any claim of retroactive immunity until 90 days after the date the final report of the Inspectors General on the President’s Surveillance Program is submitted to Congress:
Boxer: Yes
Feinstein: Yes
Clinton: Yes
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 42-56 (defeated)

Motion to invoke cloture (ending debate and bringing the bill to a vote) on H.R. 6304, amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978:
Boxer: No
Feinstein: Yes
Clinton: No
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 72-26 (passed)

On passage of H.R.6304, amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978:
Boxer: No
Feinstein: Yes
Clinton: No
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 69-28 (passed)

American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony Romero calls the bill “not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American;” the ACLU plans to sue to challenge it as soon as President Bush signs it into law.

UPDATE @ 5:10 P.M. WEDNESDAY: The liberal blogs are abuzz with dissatisfaction…

Glenn Greenwald at Salon: “With their vote today, the Democratic-led Congress has covered-up years of deliberate surveillance crimes by the Bush administration and the telecom industry, and has dramatically advanced a full-scale attack on the rule of law in this country.”

DownWithTyranny: “…enough Democrats were bribed by the telecom companies to hand Bush the victory he lusted for…”

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster: “…gutted the Constitution… trashed the Fourth Amendment…”

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake: “We need to punish those who stood against us.”

So it would seem Dianne Feinstein might have some ‘splainin’ to do to many of her constituents… but apparently not to the California Democratic Party, even though Chairman Art Torres late last year said Feinstein wouldn’t vote this way:

I said I think it’s important that you hear this from me because there’s also concern about the telecom immunity issue which will come before the senate judiciary committee. Don’t believe me, ask my friend Senator Dodd, who will tell you that she led the effort along with him to make sure that that wasn’t in the FISA bill that emerged from the senate judiciary committee. That bill as you know does not include the telecom immunity issue, which was a very important issue for me, and I’m proud that she listened, because she does.

So I contacted the party today to see if Torres would comment on today’s votes. I got a callback from party political advisor Bob Mulholland, who noted Obama voted for immunity today too as a compromise. “Our attitude as a political party is, let’s win the election and we can start cleaning up the constitutional mess Bush gave us,” Mulholland said.

With retroactive immunity, that is.

Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
Under: Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Civil liberties, Dianne Feinstein, General, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

A journey of a thousand miles…

…begins with a single step, Lao-tzu said.

California will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples at 5 p.m. today. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will officiate his city and county’s first legal same-sex wedding (civil rights leaders Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, together for 55 years) at that hour at San Francisco City Hall, while Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums will preside over Alameda County’s first ceremony at 6 p.m. in Oakland City Hall; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and other elected officials will witness the latter.

But lest we forget, Newsom and Dellums endorsed Hillary Clinton for president this year while Lee endorsed Barack Obama, and neither of those Democratic presidential candidates stood in support of same-sex marriage, only civil unions. This may be the dawning of a new day in California — a very happy, blessed day for many — but the national debate rages on.

The step that so many couples will take to the altar in coming weeks isn’t the first step of their thousand-mile journey — this voyage has been underway for decades — but it’s not the finish line, either, and the road ahead remains long and rocky for those on both sides of this issue.

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Gavin Newsom, Hillary Clinton, Oakland, Ron Dellums | No Comments »

Political Haiku, Vol. 3

Hayashi votes not,
yet her light goes on and off.
Ghost voting’ scares me.

Ted Strickland says no
to vice-presidential nod,
yes to “cornhole tour.

Feinstein hosted meet
for former Dem opponents.
“No blood on couch, please.”

Knowing bad b-ball
doth not a president make.
Hear me, Ralph Nader?

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
Under: Assembly, Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, haiku, Hillary Clinton, Mary Hayashi, Ralph Nader | No Comments »

Feinstein renews call for Obama-Clinton ticket

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., were on CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer” today, and Feinstein — who on Thursday night hosted a closed-door, one-on-one meeting between presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his former rival, Hillary Clinton — said she still wants to see Obama pick Clinton as his running mate:

feinstein.jpgI believe he should. I think there are 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling that say, yes, do it. I think Hillary had something that is a bit unusual. She has a very committed woman constituency, female constituency right now. She has proved herself. She has grown in the campaign. She has some constituencies that he needs.

Now that’s not to say he can’t get them with others. He can. And he can get them with himself. But it’s such a natural to put these two together and to move on and then to go into what Kay says, the issues which are out there and they are big and they are major. And as I look at it, America stands at the point of crisis. It’s either more of the same or we change.

Meanwhile, CNN reports its poll released Friday found 60 percent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for Obama, but 17 percent said they would vote for McCain and 22 percent, said they would not vote at all if Clinton were not the nominee; that question’s margin of error was plus or minus 7.5 percentage points. And CNN found 54 percent of Democratic voters would support a Obama-Clinton ticket while 43 percent would oppose it, with a 4.5-percentage-point margin of error.

Hmmm. As an observer, I still don’t see the wisdom of an Obama-Clinton ticket. I don’t think it brings Obama any states he wouldn’t win anyway, as I believe far more Clinton supporters will be actively supporting him by November. And while vice-presidential canddiates are supposed to support but not overshadow the top of the ticket, I just don’t see Hillary (and Bill) Clinton as back-seaters.

Posted on Sunday, June 8th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, Elections, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »