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White House confirms upcoming Obama visit to SF

As previously reported here, the White House now confirms President Barack Obama will return to the Bay Area next week to raise money for his fellow Democrats.

“On Friday, the President will travel to the Seattle, WA area to attend an event for Senator Patty Murray and the Washington State Democratic Party and a DNC event. Later in the day, the President will travel to the San Francisco, CA area for a DNC event. The President will remain overnight in San Francisco,” a White House official said. “On Saturday, October 9, the President will attend a DNC event and travel to the Los Angeles area for DNC and DSCC events. Further details about the President’s travel to Washington and California will be made available in the coming days.”

No comment from the White House on the president’s potential “come to Yeezus” moment.

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2015
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 5 Comments »

Senate contender touts tax pledge, flat tax plan

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette has sought to amp up his U.S. Senate campaign in the past few weeks by focusing on the reddest of GOP red meat: taxes.

Tom Del BeccaroHeading into the state GOP’s convention Sept. 18-20 in Anaheim, Del Beccaro staked out his place to the field’s right side by challenging his GOP rivals – Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; fellow former state party chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills – to join him in taking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. As of Wednesday, they’ve not done so.

Crafted by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the pledge commits a candidate or officeholder to oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses, and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

This week, Del Beccaro rolled out his plan for a flat tax, which includes replacing current personal income tax brackets with a flat 15.5 percent rate on wages and salaries, capital gains, dividends, interest and inheritance; replacing current corporate taxes with a 15.5 percent net business income tax with immediate expensing for business purchases and deductibility of wages and salaries; and eliminating all itemized deductions while doubling the standard deduction.

He touted the plan at fundraising events this week in Riverside, Newport Beach and Diablo, accompanied by his economic advisor Stephen Moore, co-founder and first president of the conservative Club for Growth.

In an interview Thursday, Del Beccaro said he’s working with the Committee to Unleash Prosperity – a conservative group founded this summer by Moore, two-time Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, economist and CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow, and economist Arthur Laffer – to preach the flat-tax gospel in the Golden State.

“A simple flat tax takes government out of the business of picking winners and losers and will allow the economy to grow,” he said, declaring it the best way to help those still struggling in the Great Recession’s wake. “We’ve tried just about every spending mechanism possible and they’re still falling behind …The key is economic growth – otherwise people get stuck where they are.”

Critics of flat-tax plans argue they penalize the poor, in that everyone must spend on the same necessities of life – housing, food, clothes, health care and so on – but those earning less have less money left over after those necessities with which to pay taxes. That is: a 10 percent tax would be a much bigger proportional hit for someone earning $50,000 per year than for someone earning $5 million.

Del Beccaro said that’s why his plan would exempt a family of four up to a household income of $48,000: “It gives them a start.” He also said talk of redistributing wealth via progressive taxes to close the vast income and wealth gap that has opened in recent decades is divisive and unproductive.

“Class warfare is never good, pitting one group of Americans against another is terrible,” he said. arguing that wealth inequality is a product of economic stagnation and overreaching government. “The key is always economic growth.”

Two prominent Democrats – California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana – also are running in next June’s top-two primary to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. A fourth prominent Republican, Santa Monica businessman and two-time former senate candidate Al Ramirez, is exploring a run.

Del Beccaro said he’d gladly debate his plan with any of his rivals from either party. “They’re running for the office, I’m running for the ideas. … I’m trying to elevate this into an actual discussion.”

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Dianne Feinstein decries Planned Parenthood arson

The flames of an arson attack at a Planned Parenthood health center in Thousand Oaks were fanned by recent rhetorical attacks on the women’s health organization by anti-abortion-rights politicians and activists, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday.

“The toxic rhetoric directed at Planned Parenthood has dangerous consequences. It sends a signal that using violence to close clinics and intimidate health care professionals and women is ‘ok’. It is not,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in an emailed statement. “I’m grateful that no one in Thousand Oaks was hurt. My thoughts today are with the clinic’s staff, who provide compassionate care in spite of challenges no health care provider should have to face.”

Unfortunately, there’s a long history of violence against women’s health-care clinics that provide legal abortions, Feinstein noted.

“There have been more than 200 arsons and bombings over the past 40 years. These acts are serious crimes at the state and federal level, and the criminals who perpetrate them must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” she said. “Going forward, I hope that my colleagues think about the ramifications of their words. Doctors, nurses, clinic staff and patients should not be terrorized, threatened and put in harm’s way.”

Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2015
Under: Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

George Shultz to co-chair Sundheim’s Senate run

Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz will serve as a co-chair of Republican candidate Duf Sundheim’s campaign for U.S. Senate.

Duf SundheimShultz, of Stanford, “is one of the most knowledgeable and respected public servants in our lifetime. He has served our nation with distinction and honor,” Sundheim, a former California Republican Party chairman from Los Altos Hills, said in a news release. “He has been a mentor of mine for over a decade. I can think of no higher honor than to have him play such an important role in our campaign.”

Shultz said Sundheim embodies the idea that “there is no limit to what a person can achieve if they do not care who gets the credit. … He has the integrity, compassion and resolve to be a great Senator.”

Shultz is one of only two men to have served in four different Cabinet positions: as Secretary of Labor (1969-70), Treasury (1972-74) and State (1982-89) and as director of the Office of Management and Budget (1970-72).

Sundheim is vying with fellow former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro; Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, in next June’s top-two primary to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Another Republican, Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez, is exploring a run.

Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Boxer, DiFi urge Obama to act on Port Chicago 50

California’s U.S. senators asked President Barack Obama on Tuesday to take executive action to exonerate 50 African American sailors wrongly convicted of mutiny after the worst home-front disaster of World War II at the Port Chicago Naval Base in Concord.

“Port Chicago serves as a stark reminder of both the sacrifice of the brave service members who served there and of the painful legacy of a segregated military,” Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote in their letter to the president. “We urge you to take executive action to restore justice to these 50 sailors who signed up to serve our country in World War II but were instead victims of racism and unjust convictions.”

Port Chicago disaster aftermath (NPS photo)On July 17, 1944, a group of young African-American sailors was assigned to load bombs and ammunition onto naval ships at the segregated naval base at Port Chicago. Insufficient training and hectic loading schedules led to an explosion of nearly 5,000 tons of ammunition, killing 320 servicemembers including 202 African-American sailors who were loading the munitions.

After the blast, white officers who ran the base ordered African-American sailors immediately back to work loading munitions, but many refused, citing unsafe conditions. The Navy arrested hundreds on various charges, and 50 – known as the “Port Chicago 50” – were charged with mutiny. All were convicted.

Thurgood Marshall – later a U.S. Supreme Court justice – took up the case and, although Marshall was unable to have the convictions overturned, President Truman gave the 50 clemency after the war ended. A later review of the trial confirmed that race played a significant factor in the harsh sentences handed down, and in 1999, President Bill Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, one of the surviving members of the Port Chicago 50. But the records for the 49 other sailors remain unchanged.

That’s a “grave injustice,” the Senators wrote, and exonerating all 50 sailors “would demonstrate our commitment to a just and equal society for all Americans.”

President Obama in 2009 signed into law legislation introduced by Boxer, Feinstein and former Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, to designate the Port Chicago Memorial site as part of the National Park Service.

Read the full text of the senators’ letter, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Obama presidency, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Yeezy and Barry to bury the hatchet in SF?

President Obama is coming back to the Bay Area to raise money early next month, but that’s not the big story.

Tickets for the event range from $250 to $10,000, but that’s not the big story, either.

The big story is that Kanye West is rumored to be the musical guest at this Oct. 10 fundraiser at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater – perhaps marking a new warming in the often-troubled diplomatic relationship between Yeezy and B. Barry Bams.

The leader of the free world first jabbed at rap’s biggest ego back in 2009, after West famously commandeered Taylor Swift’s microphone during her acceptance speech at the Video Music Awards.

The Commander-in-Chief repeated the same epithet in a 2012 interview with the Atlantic, in noting that he preferred Jay Z to Kanye.

“Although I like Kanye,” Obama continues, with an easy smile. “He’s a Chicago guy. Smart. He’s very talented.” He is displaying his larger awareness of the question, looking relaxed, cerebral but friendly, alive to the moment, waiting for me to get to the heart of the matter.
“Even though you called him a jackass?,” I ask.

“He is a jackass,” Obama says, in his likable and perfectly balanced modern-professorial voice. “But he’s talented.”

Kanye responded in 2013, saying he didn’t particularly care and was moving on with his art and his life. But his wife, Kim Kardashian, fired back late last year in her interview with GQ.

“I don’t think it’s very appropriate for the president of the United States to be commenting really on pop culture,” says Kim when I bring up the president’s comments. Of course, her husband had previous beef with America’s commander-in-chief; Obama calling West a “jackass”, after he’d leapt on stage and interrupted Taylor Swift’s Moonman acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

“I mean, calling people ‘jackass’?” Kim makes a face as if she’s bitten into a soft, ripe peach and hit a piece of grit. “I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion – even him. I was just like, ‘Why is he even commenting on this?’ OK, sure, just the fact that the president of the United States even knows who I am, and is talking about whether his kids watch our show is pretty cool…” Kim laughs, but is defiant. “He can say whatever he wants. I’m not affected by it.”

Then, during a stream-of-consciousness lecture at Oxford University in March, Kanye claimed POTUS occasionally calls him up to chew the fat: “Obama calls the home phone, by the way.”

Days later, Obama told Jimmy Kimmel he has met Kanye only twice. “Look, I love his music. He’s incredibly creative. I don’t think I’ve got his home number.”

But Kanye soon doubled down on his claim to TMZ: “I love Obama. He called our house before. He knows that. Don’t try to pit us against each other.”

And of course, Kanye announced at last month’s Video Music Awards that he wants Obama’s job.

“If my grandfather was here right now he would not let me back down! I don’t know I’m fittin’ to lose after this,” he said. “It don’t matter though, cuz it ain’t about me. It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth. And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”

So this Oct. 10 event in San Francisco is nothing less than a diplomatic summit of epic proportions, a touchstone moment in American politics and entertainment, a burying of the hatchet that could change the course of U.S. history. Perhaps… an early 2020 endorsement!?!

Or – Kanye will do a few songs, Obama will make off with some serious lucre for the Democratic National Committee, and we’ll all roll on.

Posted on Saturday, September 26th, 2015
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Congressional reax to Pope Francis’ speech

Here’s how some of the Bay Area’s voices in Congress are responding to Pope Francis’ address today.

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., a series of tweets:

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

Nancy Pelosi“The Holy Father Pope Francis’ address to Congress was extraordinary. With absolute clarity, beauty and moral urgency, Pope Francis called on all of us to be better stewards of Creation and instruments of God’s peace.

“Standing in the very heart of our democracy, Pope Francis spoke to the better angels of our nature and of the American people. He reminded us of our sacred and inescapable responsibility to those struggling to escape poverty, persecution and war. He challenged us to rescue our planet from the climate crisis that threatens the future of our children and the health of God’s creation – and to do so sensitive to the needs of the poor. His Holiness urged us to live our values and reach beyond our divisions.

“On a personal note, my husband Paul, my children and I have more than 100 years of Catholic education among us, and this has been a day of profound joy for my family. It has been an awesome privilege to welcome His Holiness to the Congress. My deepest thanks to the Pope for the honor of his historic visit and the elevating, illuminating leadership he continues to provide Catholics and non-Catholics the world over. May the Holy Father’s message of hope, peace and dialogue echo through the halls of the Capitol and across the country for a long time to come.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“During a joint-session of Congress today, His Holiness Pope Francis reminded us of our sacred duty: to protect and advocate for the most vulnerable and voiceless in our society and our world.

“His call for peace and justice should inspire Congress and our entire nation. As we work to address the immense challenges facing our nation – climate change, persistent poverty, and global conflicts – the Pope’s call for mutual understanding has never been more timely or necessary.‎ We must strive to end all injustices that devalue human dignity, especially inequality and war.

“During his speech, the Pope called on Congress ‘to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.’

“He is right – we cannot afford to delay cooperation, however difficult it might be, while our planet and our people suffer.”

From Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord:

Mark DeSaulnier“Pope Francis’ unprecedented address to Congress was truly aspirational. His message of shared social responsibility in the face of global challenges comes at an important time for our country. Of particular note, were his comments on President Lincoln ‘the guardian who labored tirelessly that this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a subsidiarity and solidarity.’ Whether addressing climate change, poverty and inequality or the global refugee crisis, it is my hope Members of Congress will embrace Pope Francis’ message of moral responsibility and working together for the common good.”

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

Posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Mark DeSaulnier, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

4th Republican considering U.S. Senate run

Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez is mulling a run for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016, hoping the third time will be the charm.

Al RamirezRamirez placed fourth out of five in 2010’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, taking 1.8 percent of the vote; GOP nominee Carly Fiorina lost to incumbent Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., by 10 percentage points that November.

Ramirez ran again for U.S. Senate in 2012’s top-two primary against incumbent Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. In a field of 24 candidates – including 14 Republicans – Ramirez came in eighth with 2.3 percent of the vote; Feinstein stomped Republican Elizabeth Emken by 25 points that November.

Friday, as the California Republican Party kicked off its fall convention in Anaheim, Ramirez said “he’s in the early stages of forming a new exploratory committee” – read as: lining up contributors – for another run as Boxer prepares to retire.

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills already are in the race, as are two Democrats – state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana.

In a brief telephone interview Friday, Ramirez said he’s not worried that adding another Republican to the field would further split the GOP base to Democrats’ advantage.

“All of them have failed getting out of the gate,” he said of his Republican rivals, adding support for them is “soft,” with many supporters still “willing to jump off that train” in favor of a stronger candidate – which he believes he is.

There’s a “lack of role-model-caliber leadership in the Latino community,” he said, but his business record and staunch conservative principles make him “someone that people can look up to,” he said.

Also, his father – though grappling with Parkinson’s disease – encouraged him to run again. Ramirez said his father watched this week’s Republican presidential debate and said Ramirez could’ve been on that stage too; when Ramirez replied that would’ve requiring winning in 2010 or 2012, his father replied, “That’s not stopping Carly.”

“My dad didn’t raise a quitter,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez, 46, is a senior-ranking executive for a privately held, Los Angeles-based cloud services company, leading its government markets and strategic defense systems efforts.

“You never lose when you serve your country and seeking this office is worth the challenge to insure that the values that make America great are restored and preserved for the next generation.” Ramirez said in his news release, adding he racked up some grassroots endorsements in 2012 as people got to know his stances on the economy, natural resources and national defense.

“Most of all, the reason I am considering running again is because we need leadership to restore law and order to the immigration crisis burdening our taxpayers,” he said. “The lawless tragedies we’ve seen speak for themselves. Ending welfare abuse and sanctuary city policies that jeopardize the public safety of innocent American families is long overdue.”

Posted on Friday, September 18th, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

House OKs John Muir park expansion

The House on Wednesday approved Rep. Mark DeSaulnier’s bill to expand the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, sending it on to the U.S. Senate.

H.R. 1289, DeSaulnier’s first stand-alone bill as a House member, would add 44 acres of donated land to the existing 330-acre plot, improving access to the park and its scenic trails. DeSaulnier’s predecessor, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, had introduced the same bill last year; the House approved it but the Senate failed to vote on it before adjourning.

“This historic site is the place where Muir, the father of the National Park system, championed the revolutionary idea that wild spaces should be set aside for all to enjoy,” DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said in his news release. “I look forward to seeing this bill passed by the Senate and signed into law.”

Linus Eukel, executive director of the John Muir Land Trust, said Muir “often walked this land with his two daughters, to admire the coast live oak that grow there, as well as the annual wildflowers that punctuate its grassy hillsides. Expansion of the John Muir Historic Site will forever protect this beautiful property and allow future generations to share in the same delights as Muir’s daughters,”

DeSaulnier’s bill has 31 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has introduced companion legislation.

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Ellen Tauscher defends Hillary’s email situation

Former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher got into a heated exchange with Fox News anchor Shannon Bream on Sunday while defending Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regarding her private e-mail server.

Tauscher, a Democrat from Alamo, was a strong Clinton supporter during 2008’s Democratic presidential primary. She left Congress in 2009 to go work for then-Secretary of State Clinton as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs until February 2012. She then served six months as special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense.

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Ellen Tauscher, Hillary Clinton | 1 Comment »