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What Sanders said (or didn’t) on Black Lives Matter

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 at 7:22 am in 2016 presidential election

During the afternoon rewrite of my story on Bernie Sanders’ visit to Oakland, we ended up editing out the paragraph about his dustup with Black Lives Matter activists – so I’ll restore and expand upon it here.

Sanders was about to speak at rally celebrating Social Security and Medicare on Saturday in Seattle when a pair of BLM activists commandeered and then refused to yield the microphone. Rather than getting into it with them, Sanders waded out into the crowd to meet and greet supporters.

Sanders in Oakland 8-10-15 (photo by Josh Richman)Sanders issued a statement later Saturday. “I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare,” he said. “I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.”

During Monday’s event at National Nurses United headquarters in Oakland, NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro was first to broach the topic, as she introduced Sanders. There was huge public outcry when an American dentist poached the beloved lion, Cecil, in Zimbabwe, DeMoro noted, “but where was that outrage about Sandra Bland?”

“The nurses don’t make choices among people, they want to help all people,” DeMoro said, drawing applause and cheers from the audience of red-shirted nurses. “Nurses know why Black Lives Matter needs to be amplified.”

During a question-and-answer period with nurses both there in Oakland and video-conferenced in from across the nation, a Chicago nurse asked Sanders about the movement that’s calling attention to police killings and about disproportionate incarceration of African Americans.

“When we talk about creating a new America, at the top of our list is to end racism in all its ugly forms,” he responded. “All of us were nauseated when we saw the videos, whether it was Sandra bland or other people – we know that if these people were white, they would not be dragged out of their car and thrown into jail.”

He said he wants and America in which “police departments do not look like military occupiers,” but instead are engaged in community policing methods and are outfitted with body cameras. Policing is a tough job, he said, but “when a police officer commits a crime, that officer must be held accountable.”

He also called for ending minimum sentencing for nonviolent crimes, and doing more to provide a path from incarceration back into the community. “You’re not going to have that when people leave jail without jobs, without education and in some cases without the mental health care that they need,” he said. “And I want our kids to have jobs and education, not be hanging around street corners with nothing to do.”

Someone shouted from the back of the room to ask whether black lives matter to him. “Yes,” Sanders replied.

Some BLM activists have suggested that white allies shouldn’t presume to dictate what tactics are and aren’t appropriate for the movement. So, during a question-and-answer period with local and national media, I reminded Sanders that Oakland has been the site of considerable racial outrage, with the most recent spate dating from Oscar Grant’s killing by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day 2009 through last year’s protests after Michael Brown’s killing by a police offcer in Ferguson, Mo. I asked what he thought of the tactics used by Oakland protestors – from nonviolent demonstration through substantial property damage – as well as by the BLM activists who had pre-empted him in Seattle.

Rather than discuss tactics, Sanders chose to reiterate his stance on goals. “The goals of the Black Lives Matter movement are absolutely right,” he said, adding that if he’s elected president, “we are going to end institutional racism;” reform the criminal justice system to reduce incarceration; and enact policies to provide jobs and free public college education for youth of color. He said his record shows “there is no candidate who will be stronger” on such issues.

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Carly Fiorina embraces ‘happy hour debate’

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 at 1:02 pm in 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina, Republican Party, Republican politics

Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina says she’s looking forward to taking part in Thursday’s “happy hour” debate between the low-polling contenders.

Fiorina, formerly of Los Altos Hills and now of Virginia, had issued a statement Tuesday soon after Fox News announced the main debate’s lineup saying she continues “to be encouraged by the support of conservative activists and grassroots Republicans across the country–even just today from the readers of PJMedia and Breitbart. They know we need someone from outside the political class if we want America back in the leadership business.”

She called into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday morning to speak with host Joe Scarborough:

SCARBOROUGH: You ears were probably burning yesterday. We were all saying wonderful things about you around the set, how you have done a great job this year in everything you’ve done and yet, you’re not going to be on the main stage tomorrow. I know you’ve been getting positive reviews from a lot of people. What do you think about being kept off the main debate stage based on some polls, what, seven months out?

FIORINA: Well, first of all, these are national polls, as you know, Joe. National polls measure, among other things, name I.D. About 40 percent of Republicans have heard my name. In other words, a vast majority of Republican voters, never mind Americans, still don’t know who I am. So that’s not unexpected, considering I’m not a professional politician. Also, you know, in 2007 I think Rudy Giuliani was burning up the polls. As you point out, you have a long way to go here. It’s a long race. And I’ll look forward to the “happy hour” debate.

SCARBOROUGH: What’s the message you hope to get out in the “happy hour” debate?

FIORINA: You know, people are frustrated, disappointed, angry with the professional political class. Whatever your issue, your cause, the festering problem you hoped would be resolved by now, whether it’s border security or the veterans administrations or debts and deficits or a complicated tax code, the political class has let you down.

I don’t come from the political class. I think we need a president now who understands how the economy works, how the world works and who’s in it. Bureaucracies have to hold them accountable and cut them down to size. Technology. I think we need a leader in the White House who understands that their job now is to challenge the status quo of politics as usual.

Every problem we, as Republicans, talk about has been around for 25 or 30 years. It’s not that we don’t have good ideas. We have great ideas. It’s just that they never get implemented. So if we want to actually change it, we have to change the kind of leader we put in the White House.

Fiorina also said she would defund Planned Parenthood; oppose a gas-tax increase to fund the federal highway program; take the federal government to zero-based budgeting; and hold a summit meeting with America’s allies in the Middle East to determine how we can support them better.

Fiorina now ranks 14th among the Republican candidates, with 1 percent support, in an average of five recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. In Iowa, she places 11th with 2.5 percent support in an average of four recent polls; in New Hampshire, she’s in 11th place with 2 percent support in an average of three recent polls.

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Hillary Clinton is in the Bay Area today

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 at 9:45 am in 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday and Thursday for fundraisers, but no public events.

Hillary Clinton 5-27-2015 (AP photo)The former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady is scheduled to attend a reception Wednesday evening at the Atherton home of investor and former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly and his wife, Galavantier co-founder Jennifer Carrico. Tickets start at $2,700, but co-hosts are being asked to raise $27,000 and hosts are being asked to raise $50,000.

On Thursday morning, Clinton will attend a fundraiser in San Francisco hosted by Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma, and Melissa Ma; the same ticket prices and hosting requirements apply.

Then she’s headed to Los Angeles for another fundraiser later Thursday at the home of Scooter Braun – Justin Bieber’s manager – and his wife, Yael; and to La Jolla for a fundraiser Friday at the home of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan. Some tickets for the Los Angeles and La Jolla events went for $1,000 each.

Clinton does have one non-fundraising event planned on this California swing. She’ll hold a roundtable discussion Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles with home-care providers and consumers including members of the Service Employees International Union, which will livestream the event on its website.

“Once again Hillary Clinton proves that she’s more interested in hosting high-dollar fundraisers than discussing the issues that matter to everyday Californians,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said in an emailed statement. “And as she continues dodging questions on key issues and the mishandling of classified information on her secret email server, it’s no surprise that voters continue to find her not honest or trustworthy.”

Clinton raised money in the Bay Area in May and June.

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Jerry Brown enters the presidential debate fray

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 at 9:01 am in 2016 presidential election, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown threw himself into the presidential debate fray Wednesday morning by pressing the Republican candidates to describe their plans to deal with the threat of climate change.

Jerry BrownBrown wrote an open letter to the 17 candidates and also submitted his question using the “Debate Uploader” on the Fox News Facebook page, through which members of the public can send queries for Thursday’s debates in Cleveland.

“Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here – and here to stay. This is the new normal. The climate is changing,” Brown wrote in his letter. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

“Continuing to question the science and hurl insults at ‘global warming hoaxers’ and ‘apostles of this pseudo-religion’ [ed. note: Rick Santorum’s words] won’t prevent severe damage to our health and economic well-being,” Brown continued. “Americans, their children and generations to come deserve – and demand – better.”

Brown then describes California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and details efforts by Republicans – including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and current presidential candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki – who’ve dealt with the issue head-on.

“And lest you think this movement is limited to Democrats and only embraced within our borders, the conservatives in England, the moderates in Germany, and even the communists in China are on board,” he added. “As the fires continue to burn here in California, don’t wait for the smoke to clear. It’s time to act.”

Brown issued an executive order earlier this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America, and part of California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. Last month, he attended a Vatican symposium on climate change and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, both as part of his work to build cooperation between cities, states and provinces on climate-change pacts.

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CA17: Khanna’s camp knocks Honda’s new role

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 at 5:21 pm in Mike Honda, U.S. House

Rep. Mike Honda has a new role in Congress – and his challenger has something to say about it.

honda.jpgHonda, D-San Jose, has become the acting ranking member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies – the panel holding the purse strings for federal agencies from the FBI to NASA. That’s because the previous ranking member stepped down: Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., was charged last week in a 29-count racketeering conspiracy indictment.

But Honda’s ascension also comes shortly after the House Ethics Committee announced it’s taking some more time to probe misconduct allegations against him, rooted in claims that his staff coordinated with his re-election campaign on some pay-to-play activities.

That complaint was filed last September by supporters of fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, the former Obama administration official from Fremont who lost November’s election to Honda by 3.6 percentage points. The Office of Congressional Ethics reviewed the complaint and referred it to the Ethics Committee on June 5; House rules require that the committee notify the public if it needs more than 45 days to review an OCE report.

There’s a big difference between a 29-count criminal indictment after a long-running Justice Department investigation and a not-yet-completed probe of possible ethics violations, but some conservatives are having a field day with it nonetheless. “Dems struggle to find untainted rep for appropriations committee,” read a recent Breitbart News Network headline.

Honda said by email Tuesday that in his new role as the subcommittee’s acting ranking member, “I look forward to continuing to bring the voice of Silicon Valley to Congress and delivering results for the people I represent. I have lived a life of public service and look forward to continuing to do so in this new role in the coming months and years.”

Regarding the ethics probe, he said, “My staff and I continue to cooperate fully with the Ethics Committee in this matter. This ongoing process does not relate to my responsibilities in my new role.”

Ro KhannaKhanna campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan said Tuesday that Honda and his staff “should be accorded due process to address these pay-to-play allegations.”

“That said, it is becoming increasingly clear that he cannot represent the interests of the working men and women of the 17th District on this critical committee with these serious ethics investigations hanging over his head,” Sevugan added. “The families of the 17th District need their Congressman’s energy focused on fighting for them, not on fighting for his own political life.”

Honda might not have much role to play in the subcommittee before the Ethics Committee announces its course of action, which will happen no later than Sept. 3; the House already has recessed for the summer and won’t re-convene on Capitol Hill until Sept. 8. For now, members have scattered out to their districts – Honda plans to attend National Night Out events Tuesday evening in Cupertino and Sunnyvale; visit a Redwood City biometrics firm on Wednesday; and attend a highway interchange improvement project’s ribbon-cutting on Thursday.

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Boxer, Eshoo, Schiff support Iran nuclear deal

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 at 10:57 am in Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, International, Iran, Israel, U.S. House, U.S. Senate

Californians are adding their voices to the growing chorus of Democratic support for the P5+1 multilateral agreement on Iran’s nuclear activity.

Barbara BoxerU.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. – long a supporter of strong U.S.-Israel ties – issued a statement Tuesday supporting the deal despite Israel’s opposition.

“I am more convinced than ever that a rejection of the Iran nuclear agreement would be a victory for Iranian hardliners and would accelerate their ability to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Boxer said. “Iran now has enough nuclear material to build ten bombs. In my view, this agreement is the only way to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is used exclusively for civilian purposes, which is in the best interest of the United States, Israel and the world.”

“If we walk away from this deal, Iran would have no constraints on its nuclear program and the international sanctions that helped bring the Iranians to the table would collapse,” she added. The strong support from the international community – including the announcement this week by the Gulf states – underscores how this deal is the only viable alternative to war with Iran.”

Boxer’s statement came one day after Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, voiced her own support in a statement explaining “one of the most consequential foreign policy votes I will cast during my tenure in Congress.”

“In the face of a legitimate threat of immense magnitude from a nuclear-capable Iran, I believe this agreement is the right path forward,” Eshoo said. “My decision is not based on trusting Iran. To the contrary, the regime has a long list of offenses that I deeply object to, but there must be a mechanism in place to keep them from becoming a nuclear power. Nor would I suggest the agreement is perfect. But, in my view, to reject it would be a grave mistake for the United States, a repudiation of our allies in the effort, a danger to Israel, and further deterioration in the Middle East.”

Adam SchiffAlso Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank – the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat – issued a statement of support that said the deal “realistically precludes Iran from developing an atomic bomb for fifteen or more years, and does so while reducing the chances of war.”

“As an American and as a Jew who is deeply concerned about the security of Israel, it is also intensely personal,” Schiff said. “I believe our vital interests have been advanced under the agreement, since it would be extremely difficult for Iran to amass enough fissionable material to make a nuclear weapon without giving the United States ample notice and time to stop it.”

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Mike Huckabee to speak at state GOP convention

By Josh Richman
Friday, July 31st, 2015 at 2:59 pm in 2016 presidential election, Republican Party, Republican politics

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will speak at a lunch banquet during the California Republican Party’s Fall Convention on Sept. 18 in Anaheim.

HuckabeeThe announcement comes one week after the state GOP said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also a presidential candidate, will headline the convention’s big Saturday-night dinner on Sept. 19.

“As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee prompted much needed reform and set the bar high for his fellow governors,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “A proven leader, I’m very excited he could join us to kick off convention with the first banquet.”

California Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said Huckabee “has become a strong, but reasonable voice for conservatives across the nation through his time as governor and as a bestselling author and talk show host. With his years of experience, Huckabee is sure to have a great message to share with our fellow Republicans.”

Huckabee, in the same release said he’s “excited to be kicking off the California Republican Party convention and helping build excitement and enthusiasm for the great things California Republicans are going to help us accomplish in 2016.”

Mike Huckabee was the 44th governor of Arkansas, serving from 1996 to 2007. He won the 2008 Iowa caucus, but eventually finished third for the GOP nomination behind John McCain and Mitt Romney; since then, he has made a name as an author, radio commentator and host, and at the helm of his own Fox News Channel show.

Huckabee now polls fifth and Walker polls second for the Republican nomination, according to an average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

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Who is funding Draft Biden 2016?

By Josh Richman
Friday, July 31st, 2015 at 12:09 pm in 2016 presidential election, Joe Biden

The steady stream of emails I get from the Draft Biden 2016 super PAC inspired me to take a gander at its most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission – and that turned out to be interesting indeed.

Curtis BlockThe effort to draft Vice President Joe Biden into the 2016 presidential election may have some grassroots support, but it’s not rolling in dough: the super PAC raised $78,841.22 and spent $69,369.26 in this year’s second quarter, leaving $16,002.95 cash on hand as of June 30.

Its receipts include almost $4,600 in “in-kind” donations of time, office supplies, event and travel expenses, and so on from PAC executive director William Pierce III of Chicago.

Only five Californians contributed to the PAC, but three were substantial enough to account for a significant percentage of the total:

  • Dr. Howard Mandel, OB/GYN, Los Angeles, April 16 – $5,000
  • Elise Kroeber, retiree, San Francisco, April 20 – $250
  • Clare Springs, attorney at Titchell, Maltzman, Mark & Ohleyer in San Francisco, May 5 – $1,000
  • Richard Alexander, attorney at Alexander, Hawes & Audet in San Jose, May 18 – $1,000
  • Robert Farnsworth, retiree, Sacramento, June 23 and 30 – $220
  • A few notes about these: Springs listed Titchell Maltzman was listed as Springs’ employer, but that firm was dissolved in 2008 and she founded her own firm that same year. Mandel served on Obama for America’s Health Policy Advisory Committee and was previously an advisor to then-Senator Biden on health care issues during his presidential campaign.

    But the report’s most interesting revelation is that more than half the PAC’s money essentially came from a single, mysterious source.

    Curtis Block, president of Madison & Monroe in Pompano Beach, Fla., gave $5,000 on May 18, and then Madison & Monroe gave $38,000 on June 12. We’ve been unable to determine who Block is – there don’t appear to be any prior legal, business or other records for him – or what Madison & Monroe does; their address is a post box at Parcels Plus, and the business was only just incorporated on June 2 to conduct “any and all lawful business.”

    I asked the Draft Biden 2016 staffers to shed some light on this – but they declined.

    “I reached out to Curtis on your behalf and he’s asked that we only give out the personal information he was required to provide for the FEC report,” spokeswoman Sarah Ford said in an email Friday morning.

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    Rick Perry v. Donald Trump in pull-up contest?

    By Josh Richman
    Friday, July 31st, 2015 at 6:50 am in 2016 presidential election

    Once again, politicians are challenging each other to feats of strength.

    Reality television star, billionaire businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this week told a reporter that GOP rival and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn’t deserve a spot onstage at the Republican debate next week in Cleveland because he lacks “energy,” “brainpower,” and “toughness.” Perry, asked about this during his appearance Wednesday at the Yale Club in New York City, replied, “Let’s get a pull-up bar up there and see who can do the most-pull ups.”

    And on Thursday, asked by CNBC how many pull-ups he can do, Perry replied, “More than Donald Trump.”

    Sadly for Perry, it’s likely that more media outlets reported on this than on the subject of his speech to the Yale Club on Wednesday – Wall Street reform, including re-instituting laws that require banks to separate their commercial lending and investment banking practices.

    It’s eerily similar to the 2012 throwdown between California Gov. Jerry Brown and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

    Christie started that tiff while addressing California’s delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., calling Brown “an old retread” who “won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.” Brown, then 74, responded a few days later by challenging the rotund Christie, then 50, to a three-mile run, a push-up contest and a chin-up contest; he said he’d take any bet on such a matchup and was confident he’d win.

    Brown delivered the coup de grace a few weeks later in a meeting with the Bay Area News Group editorial board. Making a case for his Proposition 30 tax-hike measure, said he and the state’s other executive officers have pared their spending even to the extent that he takes the cramped middle seat when flying up and down California on Southwest Airlines.

    “I’m flying Southwest and I oftentimes take the middle seat,” Brown said, before smiling mischievously. “I don’t think Christie is taking the middle seat.”

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    Carly Fiorina talks tough in telephone town hall

    By Josh Richman
    Thursday, July 30th, 2015 at 2:02 pm in 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina

    Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina renewed her call Thursday for a citizen-led government that would grow the economy, cut spending, better support our Middle Eastern allies against ISIS and cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

    The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, formerly of Los Altos Hills and now of Virginia, held a 45-minute telephone town hall Thursday, taking 10 questions from supporters across the country.

    Fiorina 5-14-2015 AP photoFiorina – whom the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows is in a three-way tie for 12th place among the 16 major, declared GOP candidates – sounded undaunted by her lack of traction and likened herself to a beloved party icon.

    “At this point in previous presidential elections, the polls, the pundits and the money said that Jimmy Carter couldn’t win, Ronald Reagan couldn’t win, Bill Clinton couldn’t win and Barack Obama couldn’t win,” she said, adding “the media may want to control the process, the party may want to control the process, but you know in the end the voters control the process.”

    Reagan won the White House in 1980 “because the people decided he should win,” she said – though she didn’t mention that 1980 was Reagan’s third presidential run, and he had served two terms as governor of the nation’s most populous state.

    Fiorina said even Republicans who support other candidates are telling her “I would love to see you debate Hillary Clinton.”

    “They know what I would do, they know I would win that debate, they know I would bring up all the tough issues that are not being brought up,” she said. “We’re at a pivotal point. We need to challenge the status quo in Washington, D.C.”

    More on Fiorina’s policy answers, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

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