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Alex Padilla to stump for Clinton in Reno

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Friday in Reno.

Alex PadillaPadilla, a former three-term president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), will host a meeting with Latino leaders at the Hillary for Nevada Reno headquarters at 1:30 p.m., visit local small businesses owners at 2:40 p.m., and speak at the Washoe County Democrats Virginia Demmler Honor Roll Dinner at 6:30 p.m.

“I share Hillary Clinton’s commitment to voting rights and expanding access to the ballot box,” Padilla said in a Clinton campaign news release. “That’s why I sponsored California’s New Motor Voter Act, which will remove a needless barrier to registration and result in the largest sustained voter registration drive in our nation’s history. While many states are making it harder for citizens to vote, I am proud that California is providing a positive example of how we can and should expand access to the polls.”

Clinton has called for universal, automatic voter registration, so every citizen in every state would be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18, unless they actively choose to opt out. She also wants a new national standard of no fewer than 20 days of early in-person voting in every state, including opportunities for weekend and evening voting.

“Hillary Clinton believes that every voting-age citizen has the right to vote, and by making universal voter registration a reality for everyone, we make it much easier for Americans to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” Padilla continued. “From fighting for immigration reform to helping small businesses grow, Hillary has laid out a plan to strengthen our democracy and our economy, and I’m proud to stand with her in this election.”

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Sanders bill would end federal marijuana ban

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill Wednesday to end the federal prohibition of marijuana – an utter non-starter particularly in this Republican-controlled Senate, but good fodder for Sanders’ Democratic presidential campaign.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015” by Sanders, I-Vt., would strike all references to marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, though it would keep in place the penalties for transporting marijuana from states or jurisdictions where it is legal to those where it is not.

Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia have legalized adult recreational marijuana use, and California is expected to have a legalization ballot measure – maybe more than one – on next November’s ballot. Ohio voters rejected a legalization measure Tuesday, but it was opposed even by many legalization advocates because it would’ve created a cultivation monopoly.

Sanders said on the Senate floor last week that “the time is long overdue for us to take marijuana off of the federal government’s list of outlawed drugs.”

This is the first Senate bill to propose ending federal marijuana prohibition, coming from the first major-party presidential candidate ever to voice support for legalizing and regulating marijuana for recreational use by adults. Sanders voiced that support at last month’s Democratic presidential debate, while front-runner Hillary Clinton took a more wait-and-see approach.

“His actions today speak even louder than his words last month,” Mason Tvert, the Marijuana Policy Project’s communications director, said in a news release Wednesday. “Hopefully, this legislation will get his colleagues in Congress talking about the need for comprehensive marijuana policy reform. The science is clear that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and that should be reflected in our nation’s marijuana policy. Sen. Sanders is simply proposing that we treat marijuana similarly to how we treat alcohol at the federal level, leaving most of the details to the states.”

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Hillary Clinton to raise funds Nov. 4 in Bay Area

Here she comes again: Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton will be raising funds in the Bay Area again in the first week of November, after doing so here in May, June, August, and September.

This time around, she’ll start Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Sacramento, with a $2,700-per-person luncheon hosted by Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 2010 to 2013. Kounalakis is a four-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention and the daughter of Angelo Tsakopoulos, a Sacramento developer, mega-donor to President Bill Clinton, and key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential bid in 2008.

Then the candidate is headed for Los Altos, where she’ll attend a “family celebration” hosted by Anne, Esther, Janet, and Susan Wojcicki; $1,000 buys admission for one adult and two children under 16, while $2,700 allows that plus a family photo with Clinton. (Apparently there were $500 tickets available too, but those have sold out.)

Anne Wojcicki is co-founder and CEO of the personal genomics company 23andMe, and the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube. Dr. Janet Wojcicki is a pediatric epidemiologist and assistant professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. The three sisters’ mother, Esther Wojcicki, is a Palo Alto High School journalism and English teacher who is vice chair of the board of Creative Commons.

Clinton will finish that day down in Beverly Hills with a $2,700-per-person reception at the home of pop star Christina Aguilera and Matthew Rutler; Aguilera will perform. The next day – Thursday, Nov. 5 – she’ll attend a morning event in Los Angeles co-hosted by director Rob Reiner and his wife, Michele, and interior decorator Michael Smith.

UPDATE AT 8:54 AM MONDAY: Whoops, there’s one more Bay Area event. After looping down to Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, Clinton will come north again for a reception Thursday evening at Hall Wines in St. Helena; tickets cost $1,000, or $2,700 for a photo with the candidate.

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Hillary Clinton had a hell of a good week.

After a summer of uneven, if not rather calamitous, performance on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton had a hell of a good week.

Democratic also-rans Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee dropped out – not that they’d made enough ground for Clinton to care, but their absence reduces some of the white noise from the race and from the second debate, scheduled for Nov. 6.

Vice President Joe Biden ended months of speculation Wednesday by announcing he won’t run – a huge boon for Clinton, as his path forward would’ve been to peel away her supporters and donors.

Hillary Clinton at Benghazi hearing 10-22-15 (AP photo)And Thursday’s Benghazi hearing brought nothing new, even by chairman Trey Gowdy’s own admission – 11-plus hours without a solid punch landed, without a gaffe, without Clinton losing her cool.

House Republicans long have wanted to pin Clinton with having ignored intelligence that an attack was coming, or with having stood in the way of sending aid during the attack; neither has been borne out by facts, so they’ve the cover-up narrative is what’s left. Thursday’s hearing probably cemented Republicans’ criticism that she wasn’t completely straight with the public in the days right after the September 2012 attack, but there are more than just political reasons why that might’ve been so. Might not a balance between intelligence, diplomacy and military action sometimes require not publicly tipping your whole hand right away, especially if some misdirection might provide time and space to identify and strike back against those responsible? And if the administration’s comments in the first few days after the attack were motivated only by presidential election politics, wouldn’t they have tried to maintain the charade longer, rather than acknowledging before that month’s end that the evidence supported a premeditated attack? Still, the information she and others put out in the first few days was wrong, and that’s been aired again.

Meanwhile, Democratic primary voters saw an all day-marathon of Clinton looking calm, cool, collected and thoughtful, which is what most want in a presidential candidate. She’s not out of the woods yet – trustworthiness and transparency issues raised by her overall email situation will continue to plague her – but she’s on the path.

Clinton already was trending upward in the polls at this week’s start, based on her performance in last week’s Democratic debate. I expect to see a more dramatic increase next week, as she gains support from many who had been holding out for Biden and as the dust settles from Thursday’s hearing.

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Senate candidate: ‘We’re all going to die.’

A San Francisco attorney’s guerrilla campaign to succeed Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate rests upon a laser-like focus on combating climate change and a hefty dose of sarcastic humor.

“ISIS. Obamacare. Russia. The NSA. Wealth disparity. Immigration reform. Gun control. What do all of these hot issues for the 2016 election have in common? None of them matter because we’re all going to die,” says the home page at IWillNotDoNothing.com, the campaign website of Mikelis Beitiks, 32.

“Every forecast on climate change predicts severe consequences without dramatic measures. And yet, federal legislators do essentially nothing,” the Democrat wrote. “In light of this, I offer myself as a candidate for U.S. Senate. If elected, I vow to address global warming like a human being with basic reasoning and any sense of proportion.”

Here’s the basic pitch:

Beitiks on Tuesday published an open letter to Boxer (on letterhead emblazoned “From the Dining Room Table That Doubles as the Desk of Mike Beitiks”) thanking her for her service, particularly her work to combat climate change.

“In your 32 years on the Hill, you have undoubtedly formed bulletproof alliances, banked countless favors, and compiled mountains of insider knowledge. Imagine the possibilities if, to save future generations of Americans, you torch all of that in your final year of service,” he wrote. “Hear me out here – You don’t have to worry about re-election, and you never have to work with these people again. This is freedom that could change the world.”

Beitiks then proceeds to urge Boxer to “abandon courtesy, call in favors without mercy, blackmail – stuff like that” to force the Senate to approve the most ambitious climate treaty possible when President Obama goes to Paris in November for the United Nations Climate Conference.

“Then, filibuster all legislation that makes its way up into the Senate until concrete solutions on climate change are created in the house,” he wrote. “Sure, you’ll get roasted in the media for it, but so what? In 15 short months, you’ll be retired and off the grid – daiquiris, Grafton and sandy toes in Aruba, popsicle-blue surf shushing the stateside wonk jibber-jabber.”

“And, you know, I’m just spit-balling now, but the next time a fellow Senator says something untrue or unproductive about climate change, consider slugging him/her,” he continued. “Imagine how you’d change the national conversation with a well-placed right hook! Squaring up would be ideal, but a sucker-punch would work, particularly as a metaphor.”

Beitiks said Wednesday he’s a stay-at-home father of two who realized in January, when Attorney General Kamala Harris declared her candidacy to succeed Boxer, that she’s “a very qualified candidate and I’d be very excited if she got elected” yet she lacks a strong platform position on climate change.

Given that he has “a certain amount of unresolved anxiety” about the climate-change crisis, he said dryly, “It seemed like a reasonable avenue to offer myself as an idiot with a bulletproof premise … an act of political self-immolation.”

“I know a lot of people feel this strongly about it – that’s the response I’ve been getting to the campaign so far,” he added.

Read more about Beitik’s quixotic campaign, after the jump…
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Best. POTUS pool reports. EVER.

While covering President Barack Obama’s San Francisco fundraiser Saturday, I had the pleasure of chatting with Gardiner Harris, White House correspondent for the New York Times. Later, as he covered the president’s Los Angeles fundraisers, he filed some of the funniest pool reports I’ve ever read.

Gardiner_HarrisFor the uninitiated, on any given day that the president travels, one member of the traveling White House press corps and one or two local reporters are designated as “pool” – which means those reporters, when covering events not open to the rest of the press, must file quick-and-dirty reports first to the White House for sharing with other outlets before they filing their own stories.

As someone who covers several presidential visits a year, I often feel like I know the basic stump speech by heart – so I have empathy for those reporters who must cover the president’s political events day after day, hearing the same basic speech over and over, yet still must consistently send out coverage. It can be a real grind, unless you have a good sense of humor.

So here are some excerpts from Gardiner’s dispatches today, an insight into life on the road covering the leader of the free world. My personal favorite is at 6:39 p.m.:

2:01 p.m.: “Marine One touched down at 1:23 in the riding pen of Will Rogers State Park, a place named for the man who once said everything is funny as long as it’s happening to someone else. We are en route to a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.”

2:05 p.m.: The pool is holding in the attic of a beautiful house in the Pacific Palisades while POTUS attends a Roundtable for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The committee has yet to inform us of the identity of our hosts, although we have just been told that [it’s] J.J. Abrams, director of the upcoming Star Wars movie. The attic has at least seven electronic keyboards, several acoustic and two electric guitars and what appears to be a high-end sound mixer. So the pool is jamming. Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post is presently crooning Barry Manilow’s, ‘Mandy.’”

3:05 p.m.: “Obama left the fundraiser at the home of J.J. Abrams, the Star Wars director, at 3:04 PST. The crudités were terrestrial; the view to the Pacific was not. Homes here on San Remo Drive have high hedges, steel fences, gated driveways and pixy dust. Abrams’ low-key Cape Cod-style home had, your pooler is afraid to admit, an understated elegance. Plus the rubber mask of the creature from ‘Alien’ attached to the face was creepily cool. A Secret Service agent had to ask Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post several times – the last time somewhat forcefully – to put down the mic and leave the premises. Your pooler is now comforting Jaffe, recovering from his glimpse of how the other 0.01 percent lives.”

3:32 p.m.: “The motorcade drove all of four minutes before arriving at the next event, reminiscent of Steve Martin’s car journeys in ‘LA Story.’”

3:42 p.m.: “Pool arrived at a home that backs up to a canyon, with glorious views of scrub hills and ocean. The half-acre yard has a large white tent shading some 200 white chairs from a blazing sun. There is not a cloud in the cerulean sky. This is a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Pacific Palisades with about 200 supporters contributing up to $33,400 a person. Jamie Foxx will perform at the event. Mr. Foxx is on the grounds and posing for pictures with various guests at what appears to be an inner sanctum on the grounds.”

5:13 p.m.: “After about a 20-minute drive, motorcade arrived at 4:59 at the home of Michael Smith, a prominent interior designer who is married to the Spanish ambassador. The fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee has about 50 people who paid up to $33,400 a person to attend. Happiness research suggests that neither income nor large homes in beautiful locales with fabulous weather necessarily lead to happiness. Further, that experiences are often more valuable than possessions. Your Pooler is sure that no one at the fundraiser has ever laid down fully dressed in the king-sized bed in this guest room with two large photographers from major wire services and watched the Arkansas/Alabama game while POTUS spoke in the vast living room.”

5:57 p.m.: “In a large living room with 18-foot ceilings, windows that went almost floor-to-ceiling, a 10-foot floral display and several pieces of what appeared to be expensive art work, President Obama gave a stripped-down version of his stump speech prior to answering questions. Pool was ushered out before the questions. Mr. Obama’s light-hearted comments at the start of the speech had to do with his lack of a tie. He said that David Axelrod had instructed him during his first campaign to always wear a tie because ‘you don’t look old enough’ to be president. His gray hair now confirms that he is old enough not only to be president but to have been president, so he plans to wear fewer ties, he said. He then reviewed his administration’s successes in job creation, clean energy and other issues. ‘There’s almost no measure by which we’re not better off now than when I came into office,’ he said. But problems remain, most prominently the failure of wages and income to grow for ordinary Americans, he said. That has led to economic anxiety, he said. ‘And when people are anxious economically, the politics of fear oftentimes can override the politics of hope,’ he said. That anxiety can express itself in anti-immigration rhetoric and ‘in cheap jingoism and militarism and nationalism that’s not grounded in our national security interests. And it’s a dangerous path.’ He then complimented Democrats for making courageous votes and said he was not ‘intrinsically partisan,’ and he said he had sometimes been faulted by members of his own party for not being partisan enough. ‘But I will tell you at this moment in history, the choices are stark. And facts, evidence and values are on our side. And the other side has gone off the deep end. And what you’re witnessing in the House fight right now is that even deeply conservative folks are not considered ideologically pure enough and we would rather burn the House down than admit the possibility of democratic process that requires compromise.’ He said that voters must work hard. ‘If you let it pass, then you’ve got people in charge who don’t believe in climate change,’ he said. ‘So I feel as much urgency about this upcoming election as I’ve felt about any election, and I am not on the ballot.’ ‘I definitely need a Democratic successor because the alternatives we’ve got are not what I had in mind,’ he said.”

6:39 p.m. “Motorcade left the home of Michael Smith at 6:37 as the sun was setting and a warm amber glow settled over the exclusive Los Angeles enclave of Holmby Hills. The house POTUS left was valued at $12.5 million, was designed by Timothy Morgan Steele and is ‘not only a work of art but designed with the art connoisseur in mind,’ according to Zillow. The home is situated on a full acre plot. While such a home is certainly no guarantee of happiness, high incomes do tend to lead to greater expressions of satisfaction, research shows. Further, such obvious displays of wealth can lead to the development of envy in others, among the darkest of human emotions, according to some research. Envy occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other person lacked it, according to Wikipedia. Envy is a powerful predictor of unhappiness, research shows. Some cultures, such as that in the United States, discourage open expressions of envy. Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post had recovered somewhat in the motorcade over to Holmby Hills but, your pooler is sorry to report, experienced something of a relapse during the unique and remarkable experience of sitting next to a sizable doggie bed while shoeless photogs lay prone and fully dressed in a giant bed watching the Arkansas/Alabama game as great wealth almost bubbled around them. Your pool managed to recover Mr. Jaffe’s wallet and cell phone, and he is now lying peacefully in a pool van with a cold compress on his forehead.”

7:03 p.m.: “Marine One touched down at LAX at precisely 7 pm, as the dying embers of a Los Angeles sunset faded over the nearby Pacific Ocean. We are headed for AF1.”

7:11 p.m.: “Headed to Miramar Air Force Base, where I had early Saturday morning swim workouts in childhood. Oh, and ‘Top Gun’ was filmed, less importantly.”

8:40 p.m. “Air Force one arrived at Miramar Air Force Base around 7:50 pm. And the pool squeezed into two vans instead of three. Ten guys, some with heavy equipment, jostled into one of the vans in the desert air, instantly overwhelming the vehicle’s air conditioning. The motorcade sped through darkened suburban sprawl and desert scrub on Miramar Road to the 805 (local dialect demands use of an article prior to interstate numbers). We soon joined the 5, exited at Del Mar Heights Road, passed the Pumpkin Patch play area, and sliced into the heart of the exclusiveness of Rancho Santa Fe. Sun overexposure can lead to nausea, fever, headache and dizziness. But so can existential dread. These conditions can be difficult to distinguish in the Southland and on pool duty. Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post will need a differential diagnosis, but I suspect the labs will be equivocal. We arrived at the gated community at 8:25 pm alongside the sharpest looking crew of CHiPs I’ve ever seen. We have a lid.”