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Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Lee speaks out on poverty, AIDS: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, spoke today at a Poverty Prayer vigil in Washington, D.C.: “With the help and guidance of the faith community we can as a Congress, and a country, seize this opportunity to finally and truly address the needs of our most vulnerable. Record enrollment for food stamps and increasing demand at community food banks and homeless shelters have stretched our communities’ social safety nets to their breaking point. Because 37 million Americans living in poverty is 37 million too many. Because 47 million Americans without access to healthcare is 47 million too many. And yet again, our minority communities bear the greatest burden. 31.6 percent Hispanic children under 5 and an astounding 40.7 percent of African American children under 5 grow up under the shadow of poverty. That is why we have gathered here today, because working together we will change all that. We, as a nation, must commit to breaking this cycle of poverty.”
Also, Lee has followed up her call for a national AIDS strategy by introducing a resolution to that effect in cooperation with U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. Said Lee: “The sobering new statistics on HIV and AIDS in the United States show that this disease continues to take a heavy toll right here at home –particularly in minority communities. It is unacceptable that we are not doing more to address the epidemic in populations where infections rates are highest.”

Woolsey blasts DC gun amendment: Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, had harsh words today for a proposal to lift some gun-control provisions for Washington, D.C. She said an amendment offered by Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., to H.R. 6842, the National Capital Security and Safety Act — a bill revising DC’s gun laws to comply with the Supreme Court’s repeal of the city’s handgun ban — would repeal the District’s semi-automatic weapons ban and registration requirements, letting people who’ve been convicted of some crimes, committed to mental institutions or are under 21 buy firearms. Said Woolsey: “Allowing people to go out and buy a gun the day after they are released from a mental institution is reckless, not reasonable. Putting in their hands the same weapons that killed 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech and 13 students and teachers at Columbine is reckless, not reasonable. Removing the requirement that they register these guns is reckless, not reasonable. I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this amendment because the safety of every person who steps foot in this city depends on it.”

Stark wants Medicare truth in advertising: House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, wrote yesterday to Kerry Weems, Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urging strict enforcment of newly released final and interim rules for marketing of private Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans. Said Stark: “Given the insurance companies’ propensity to put their needs ahead of seniors and people with disabilities, it’s important that CMS take the steps needed to ensure truth in MA and Part D advertising. However, given that the Inspector General just recently pointed out CMS’s failure to enforce existing regulations, we’ll be paying close attention to make sure these new regulations are more than just another press release.”
In other news, Stark today announced his selection of Fremont’s Rodney Clark, executive director of Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments, to receive a 2008 Angels in Adoption award sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute; this lets members of Congress honor individuals from their community who enrich the lives of foster children and orphans. Said Stark: “Each day, through the work Mr. Clark does, he positively impacts the lives of foster children, orphans, and children in at-risk families. He is helping to ensure that all children in our community are kept safe, are provided the tools needed to thrive and become healthy, educated, and productive adults.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, General, Hillary Clinton, Lynn Woolsey, Pete Stark, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

The big lie about Obama’s ‘lipstick’ comment

I struggled with whether to even write about this, lest I lend a lie undue credence.

Yes, I called it a lie. I know politicians and reporters often avoid the “L-word” when describing false political statements, preferring to call them “spin” or “exaggerations” or “mistruths” or some other euphemism.

But this idea the McCain/Palin campaign is pushing, that Barack Obama was referring to Sarah Palin when he spoke of “putting lipstick on a pig,” is just simply a lie.

If “lie” seems too strong, and you absolutely must have a euphemism, try “tripe,” “bull” or “a load of crap.” Obama clearly was talking about McCain’s policies.

Was it inappropriate for Obama to use the “lipstick on a pig” metaphor at all? John McCain certainly didn’t think it was inappropriate when he was talking about Hillary Clinton’s health-care platform last year.

And yet, because Sarah Palin said the word “lipstick” last week and Obama said the word “lipstick” this week, McCain/Palin churned out this ad so the conservative blogosphere could tremble with outrage that Obama is so “sexist.” I got an e-mail moments ago from Mike Huckabee’s PAC:

“Last night, while on Hannity & Colmes I cut Barack Obama some slack on his reference to ‘lipstick on a pig.’ Now I personally don’t think he was referring to Gov. Palin, but if he was he should apologize immediately.”

Gee, how big of him to “cut Barack Obama some slack.” And how passive-aggressive of him to immediately suggest an apology might be in order.

Moments before Huckabee’s e-mail, I got an e-mail from McCain-Palin looking to raise funds in reaction to “the shameful attacks Senator Obama and his liberal allies have launched against our vice presidential nominee.”

Voters should realize that what’s truly shameful is lying about what was said, and then trying to raise money on the lie.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more items to this blog challenging lies told on the campaign trail. I will try to confine myself to lies told by the campaigns themselves, not their proxies, and I will actively seek those lies on both sides of the aisle; if you have one you think I should address, feel free to tell me.

But I’ll tell you quite frankly, most of the whoppers I’ve seen in this presidential campaign so far have come from McCain/Palin, from matters of policy to political track records to made-up silliness like this “Lipstickgate.” And I will reject any accusations of partisanship leveled against me simply for setting the record straight.

Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

Some thoughts on Sarah Palin

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain‘s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate is fascinating any way you cut it.

Palin is extremely popular in her state, enjoying approval ratings that’ve ranged as high as 80 to 90 percent. In a state beset by other Republicans’ scandals, she has made ethics and earmark-slashing — even her fellow Republicans’ earmarks — the cornerstones of her administration. Palin opposes abortion choice; supports capital punishment; opposes same-sex marriage but issued a veto which effectively granted benefits to same-sex partners of state employees; and is a lifetime National Rifle Association member. She’s a mother of five, the eldest of whom is in the Army and scheduled to ship out to Iraq next month, and the youngest of whom was born just this April with Down syndrome.

However, the Alaska Legislature — where Republicans control the state House and a bipartisan coalition runs the state Senate — has hired an investigator to probe whether she or her aides improperly pressured the Public Safety Department to fire her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper who’d been in a divorce and child-custody battle with the governor’s sister; Palin fired the department’s commissioner in July, but said it had nothing to do with her sister.

A chief GOP criticism of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama — who was a state Senator for seven years and now a U.S. Senator for less than four — is that he’s too inexperienced to be president. Yet McCain has picked a running mate who’s younger than Obama and whose experience consists of four years as a citycouncilman and six as mayor of a town of 6,700 people (roughly two-thirds the size of Emeryville for all us East Bay folks), and now less than two years as Alaska’s governor.

Clearly part of McCain’s calculus in choosing Palin is the hope that she’ll attract female voters — be they Democrats, independents or Republicans — who are still irked that Hillary Clinton didn’t win the Democratic nomination. And in trying to pull those Democrats and independents, he’s putting faith in the idea that gender will trump policy in these voters’ hearts and minds. Perhaps he’s also hoping that having a 44-year-old running mate will balance voters’ concerns about his own age (again, happy 72nd birthday, Senator).

The Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President blog — launched in late February 2007, less than three months after she was sworn in as governor — is beside itself with joy.

Thoughts, anyone?

Posted on Friday, August 29th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

Wednesday’s DNC video highlights

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., moves to halt the roll call and nominate Barack Obama by acclimation:

Former President Bill Clinton:

2004 Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.:

And I’ll update with Joe Biden‘s vice-presidential nomination acceptance speech — and his special unannounced guest — as soon as clean clips are available…

UPDATE @ 10:17 P.M.: Here we are:

Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry | No Comments »

Tuesday’s DNC video highlights

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio:

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

U.S. Senate candidate and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner:

And I’ll add Hillary Clinton as soon as I find a clean clip…

UPDATE @ 9:22 P.M: Here she is, in three segments:

Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
Under: Barbara Boxer, Democratic Party, Dennis Kucinich, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

Oakland Clintonite lauds Michelle Obama’s speech

Oakland attorney Meredith Brown, a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention, sent me a dispatch in the wee hours of this morning saying she was extremely impressed with Michelle Obama‘s speech Monday night: “Michelle made us love her. People cried and cheered as if Michelle was running for president. Now we, as Democrats, delegates, women and mothers are invested in the Obama family.”

Read Brown’s full report, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

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 »