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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 »

Dianne Feinstein hosted Obama-Clinton sitdown

It looks as if California’s own U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein hosted a momentous, closed-door, one-on-one meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on Thursday night at her home in Washington. From CNN:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday shed some light on the surprise meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that took place at the California Democrat’s Washington home Thursday night.

“I received them. Put them in the living room in two comfortable chairs facing one another and left,” Feinstein told CNN Tuesday morning.

“They talked. I went upstairs and did my work,” Feinstein continued. “They called me when it was over. I came down and said ‘good night everybody, I hope you had a good meeting.’ They were laughing and that was it.”

Among the other details Feinstein divulged:

  • - The meeting took place at 9 p.m. and lasted about an hour.
  • - Clinton called Feinstein Thursday afternoon to see if they could use her house.
  • - Feinstein served them water but nothing else.
  • - No one else was in the room with them. One person from each of the campaigns went to a separate room, a study, in the house. Security waited outside.
  • Asked why Clinton and Obama kept the meeting so quiet, Feinstein said the two formal rivals wanted “wanted an opportunity to meet together alone.”

    This is a deeply personal time too,” Feinstein added. “You’re sorting out your feelings. Hillary’s going to be giving a big speech tomorrow. Barack is trying to put things together for a major presidential campaign. ”

    “There are a lot of decompression, nerve endings, that need to come together,” she continued. “I think the opportunity to sit down, just the two of them, was positive.”

    Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

    East Bay Clinton supporter ready to move on

    Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Robin Torello of San Leandro, a Hillary Clinton delegate, said it’s time to move on.

    “I felt both of them gave really great speeches, and overall it appears Barack Obama is our nominee, and we look forward to defeating John McCain in November,” she said. “You don’t want another four years of George Bush and that’s what McCain represents.”

    “All I know is the party will be unified, no matter what. There’s too much at stake.”

    Asked what she thought of the idea of an Obama/Clinton ticket, Torello demurred. “Those people are just much much smarter than I am to figure that out, I’m just a little old person in Alameda County. Whatever is best for the party, that’s what I want to happen.”

    Posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain | No Comments »

    Jerry McNerney endorses Barack Obama

    mcnerneyportrait.jpgI just got off the phone with Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, who said he is now throwing his support as a Democratic National Convention superdelegate to Barack Obama.

    “I had made a commitment to stay out of it until after the primaries, I think that was a good thing to do… but on the other hand it’s now clear Senator Obama is going to be the nominee, and I think he’s going to be a great nominee for the party.”

    Democrats in McNerney’s district in February voted 54.1 percent for Clinton, 39.9 percent for Obama. McNerney in early March told the San Francisco Chronicle he would “make a decision when I have to… I’m going to let the voters decide for themselves.

    “I wanted to wait and let the process play out, but I don’t have any reservations,” he told me tonight. “According to the primary process, Senator Obama won fair and square over Senator Clinton with the number of pledged delgatges, and now I think it’s time for the party to come together behind the candidate.”

    McNerney said he has seen and heard an amazing outpouring of interest in and support for Obama in recent months. “Even in my district I think there’s a watershed change of support for him, so I have no reservations at all.”

    He said he spoke with both candidates as he made up his mind. “I sat down with Senator Clinton I guess about two weeks ago… I really admire what she’s done. She has run a very good campaign and she’s tough and she has good policies… but Senator Obama won fair and square and I can truly say I’m delighted to support him.”

    He said he spoke with Obama as well, reminding the candidate of his own background as a wind-energy consultant, and they agreed to confer on clean energy initiatives. “He basically said he’d be looking forward to working with me and looking for my input.”

    McNerney — a first-term incumbent who unseated House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, in a district with a shrinking Republican registration edge — is unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face former Assemblyman and Board of Equalization member Dean Andal of Stockton in November; the National Repbulican Congressional Committee has rated him among its top targets.

    Oh, and Congressman? Sorry about the haiku.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney | No Comments »

    Robert Reich: ‘An amazing ride,’ glad it’s over

    I just spoke with Robert Reich, U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton and now a University of California, Berkeley professor, who endorsed Obama in April. He said he’s glad to see the presidential primary endgame upon us.

    reich.jpg“It’s been an amazing ride — I don’t remember a primary that’s attracted more excitement and attention. People who are enormously cynical about politics have been glued to their televisions. What happens from here? Hopefully Senator Obama will make a victory speech that is extremely gracious toward Hillary Clinton, which compliments her on her campaign, gives her credit for whatever Obama can possibly find to give her credit for, and in general holds out the olive branch to her and to all of her supporters.

    “Hopefully likewise, she makes a concession speech that praises Senator Obama, focuses on what he has done right, celebrates his talents and character, wishes him the best in the general election and asks her supporters to come to support him, saying in no uncertain terms that she will fully support him. Hopefully then there is a photograph, or abundant photos of the two of them together with one arm around each other, the other raised almost as if they are president and vice president. The symbolism is very important, the graciousness is very important, the positive tone will be important.

    “Democrats have fought during many primaries; almost always they come together. The only exceptions were in 1968 when there was so much animosity, and perhaps in 1980 when Ted Kennedy ran against Carter… and both of those concerned real ideological divides. Here there is not much of an ideological divide — both candidates have stood for much the same thing. So despite the bad feelings that some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters may harbor toward Obama right now, I am confident they will disappear.”

    Did the race go on for too long?

    “I thought we were rapidly approaching the tipping point where the benefits of the excitement and enthusiasm and interest were just about to be overwhelmed by the disadvantages of not having a clear nominee this late in the game, when McCain is well into the general election.

    “But I don’t think that there would have been this much party-building had it not been for this competition between Obama and Hillary Clinton. It had an enormously positive effect on politics in terms of getting people interested again. I don’t think that’s going to end now. Obama has a very good chance of being what’s called a ‘transformative candidate,’ someone in the image of John F. Kennedy or Robert Kennedy who is seen to change the way we do politics in America.”

    Posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Berkeley, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

    Political Haiku, Vol. 2

    Perata can’t pick
    between successors, backs both.
    Vote Lonma Chancock!

    DNC decides
    to seat delegates in half.
    Clinton’s goose is cooked.

    Still McNerney waits,
    his superdelegate vote
    so soon safely moot.

    Schwarzenegger comes
    to Oakland to flog budget.
    Dellums begs for cops.

    Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2008
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Don Perata, Elections, haiku, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney, Loni Hancock, Oakland, Ron Dellums, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

    What’s left for the Democrats

    With the Florida and Michigan delegates seated with half-votes, the new threshhold to clinch the Democratic nomination is 2,118. The Washington Post says Obama has 2,052 (66 short) while Clinton has 1,877 (241 short).

    Puerto Rico votes today, with 55 delegates; Clinton is expected to do well there. Montana and South Dakota vote Tuesday, with 16 and 15 delegates respectively; Obama is expected to do well there.

    And so it’ll go to the superdelegates. Politico says the superdelegate count now stands at 324.5 for Obama, 279.5 for Clinton and 163 undecided. The undecideds include 86 Democratic National Committee members; 48 House members and 15 U.S. Senators. And of the undecideds, 14 are from California:

  • Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego
  • Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel
  • Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego
  • Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton
  • DNC member state Sen. Carole Midgen, D-San Francisco
  • DNC member and state Democratic Party campaign advisor Bob Mulholland
  • DNC member, attorney and author Christine Pelosi of San Francisco
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco
  • DNC member and labor union political director John A. Perez of Los Angeles
  • DNC member and retired chemical worker Robert Rankin of Carson
  • DNC member and state party chairman Art Torres
  • DNC member and state official Keith Umemoto of Sacramento
  • DNC member and attorney Steve Ybarra of Sacramento
  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday in San Francisco that he, Pelosi and DNC chairman Howard Dean have agreed to try to end the race by the end of this week by urging the remaining uncommitted superdelegates to weigh in.

    Posted on Sunday, June 1st, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, California State Senate, Carole Migden, Democratic Party, Elections, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    Quips and outtakes from Harry Reid

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco today, and said he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean intend to ensure that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination will be over by the end of next week.

    Here are some odds and ends for which I didn’t have room in the story:

    Asked whether his own “The Good Fight” or former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” should be the single must-buy, must-read political memoir of the year, Reid replied he’s donating all proceeds from his book to charity, but “Scott probably needs the money more.”

    Asked who’s most to blame for the subprime mortgage loan crisis, Reid said it’s former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whom he called “the J. Edgar Hoover of the financial world: He did everything he could to get in good with the next president.” Greenspan must’ve known the subprime loans were a disaster in the making, Reid said, and “if he didn’t know, he should’ve known,” as the U.S. Treasury secretaries under the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations should’ve as well.

    On gas prices, Reid said the United States doesn’t have the oil reserves to produce its way out of the crisis, nor can it remain so dependent on oil imported from hostile or potentially hostile “tyrannical” regimes. Reid said he favors granting an eight-year tax credit to spur venture capital investment in solar, wind and geothermal energy production; he said he’d like to see the vast tracts of Nevada desert once used to test nuclear weapons be carpeted with solar panels to generate electricity for the nation.

    On healthcare, Reid said if we had Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan — the one she pitched in 1993, while her husband was president — in place today, “there would be very few complaints.” Parts of that plan must be adopted into the next administration’s policy, he said, especially the ability of small business owners to pool their employees together so that they collectively can subscribe to better health-insurance plans.

    “Congress should have pretty low (approval) ratings, because we have not produced things,” he said — but he quickly said he’s not willing to take much blame for that. Republicans have filibustered 77 times in this Congress so far, he noted. “They broke a two-year record in 10 months. They’re like Mark McGuire, they’re on steroids. I guess I shouldn’t say Barry Bonds while I’m in San Francisco.”

    Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
    Under: Democratic Party, Elections, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senate | No Comments »