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Zach Galifianakis spotted at POTUS’ hotel in LA

By Josh Richman
Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 10:11 am in Barack Obama, Obama presidency

This just in from Evan McMorris-Santoro of Buzzfeed News, the pool reporter for President Barack Obama’s movements in Los Angeles this morning:

At 9:50 PT, motorcade is rolling from the Intercontinental to the helos for the trip back to AF1.

No word from WH on POTUS’ morning. Your pooler spotted Zach Galifianakis in the Intercontinental lobby this morning. He was wearing a suit and eating a banana.

Did Zach Galifianakis meet with the President, and if so, why? I’d like to think they were conferring on a Tom Cotton comedy bit of some sort; I will not ruin this hypothesis with any investigation. After all, the two have worked together before.

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President Obama on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’

By Josh Richman
Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 8:09 am in Barack Obama, Obama presidency

President Obama flew to Los Angeles yesterday to appear on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Santa Monica.

Part of Obama’s TV appearance included him reading and responding to “Mean Tweets:”

“Those weren’t that mean,” Obama told Kimmel later in the show. “You should see what the Senate says about me.”

On more serious matters, Obama also spoke extensively about Ferguson, Mo., per the pool report from Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times:

“Obviously,” Obama said, “we don’t yet know what happened. Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers and their families, and thankfully, as you said, they’re going to be OK. What was beautiful about Selma was reminding ourselves that real social change in this country so often has happened because ordinary people are willing in a nonviolent fashion to make their voices heard.

“And I think that what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts. And whoever fired those shots shouldn’t detract from the issue. They’re criminals. They need to be arrested. And then, what we need to do is to make sure that like-minded good spirited people on both sides – law enforcement who have a terrifically tough job and people who understandably don’t want to be stopped and harassed just because of their race — that we’re able to work together to try to come up with some good answers…”

Obama said the task force he assembled including police and protest organizers “came up with some terrific recommendations and found that there’s a lot of common ground.”

“What we have to make sure of is that the folks who disregard and disrespect the other side, people who resort to violence, that they’re marginalized,” he said.

“They set us all back,” Kimmel said. “They do.”

“But they’re not the majority,” Obama said. “And in the same way that you can’t generalize about police officers who do an extraordinarily tough job, overwhelmingly, they do it professionally, you can’t generalize about protesters who it turns out had some very legitimate grievances. The Justice Department report showed that they were being stopped, African Americans were being stopped disproportionately, mainly so the city could raise money, even though these were unjust.”

Kimmel said parking tickets that he feels are unjust drive him crazy. “My wheels are not turned properly, and I feel like they’re just trying to make money off of me.”

“What was happening in Ferguson,” Obama said, “was you had city government telling the Police Department that – stop more people. We need to raise more money. Folks would get stopped. They’d get tickets. Then, they’d have to wait in line to pay it, take a day off work. Folks would lose their jobs. In some cases, they were thrown in jail because they didn’t have enough money for the fines. And then, they’d get fined for that. So there was a whole structure there, according to the Justice Department report, that indicated both racism and just a disregard for what law enforcement’s supposed to do.”

“I said this at Selma: It is not unique, but it’s also not the norm. And we’ve got to constantly, when we’re thinking about issues of racial progress, or any kind of issue, recognize that things can get better, but there’s still more work to do. And we shouldn’t be complacent about the very real existence of problems out there. But we shouldn’t despair and think nothing’s changed. If people of good will, which is the overwhelming majority of Americans, are working together, these are problems we can solve.”

ABC has the entirety of last night’s episode available online, if you can sign in with your TV provider ID; otherwise, it’ll be free and open for viewing by anyone next week. For now, click here for the Associated Press readout on the show, via CBS News.

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California national marine sanctuaries expanded

By Josh Richman
Thursday, March 12th, 2015 at 1:24 pm in Barbara Boxer, Environment, Lynn Woolsey, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate

California politicos are praising the expansion of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, which will double their size and permanently protect a stretch of coastline in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

marine sanctuariesThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has published its final rule on the expansion, after a two-year process that included public comment and research by NOAA and its partners.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and former Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, had carried legislation to expand the sanctuaries, and had urged the Obama Administration to use its executive authority to protect the area.

“I am grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision which will more than double these magnificent national marine sanctuaries off the California coast and permanently protect one of the most productive coastal ocean regions on the planet,” Boxer said Thursday.

Boxer’s office said the expansion will help support the more than half a million jobs and over $34 billion in economic activity that depend on ocean tourism, recreation, and fishing in California.

It also will permanently protect important habitat for at least 25 threatened or endangered species, including blue whales, humpback whales, northern fur seals and leatherback turtles – California’s official marine reptile; spectacular living reefs of corals and sponges; one-third of the world’s whale and dolphin species; at least 163 bird species, including the largest colony of seabirds in the continental U.S.; and more than 300 species of fish, including commercially valuable salmon and groundfish.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the “nation’s oceans and coasts are among our greatest ecological treasures,” and credited Woolsey and Boxer with the win. “Together, we will continue to act to secure God’s beautiful creation for generations to come.”

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott aims to poach CA jobs

By Josh Richman
Thursday, March 12th, 2015 at 12:56 pm in economy, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is taking a page from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s playbook – coming to California to try to poach some of the Golden State’s businesses, and take some potshots at Gov. Jerry Brown in the process.

Rick ScottScott will visit Los Angeles on April 12 and 13, leading a trade delegation and hosting a reception for shipping industry professionals. He sent a letter Thursday to shipping companies urging them to shift their business to Florida after a contract dispute disrupted labor recently at California’s ports. Florida is “on a mission to be the number one destination in the world for jobs,” he wrote.

“Our investment in port infrastructure means Florida’s ports are ready and have the capacity to immediately handle increased cargo that could come to Florida as a result of port congestion on the other side of the country,” he wrote, with more projects under way to increase container-handling capabilities.

“Florida’s low-tax, business friendly climate and our commitment to investing in our transportation infrastructure are great reasons for you to consider shipping your goods through Florida ports,” Scott continued. “In comparison, under Governor Jerry Brown’s tax and spend administration, California has the nation’s highest personal income tax, highest state sales tax, second highest gas tax, and has more than double the state debt per capita than Florida. And for ten straight years, CEOs have ranked California dead last for its business climate.”

Florida has no personal income tax, has paid down $7.5 billion in state debt in the last four years, and is second-ranked in the same business-climate index, he noted. “We’ve made job creation a priority while Governor Brown idly watches businesses flee California, which has the second highest unemployment rate of any state, only behind Mississippi.”

Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said it’s easy to understand why Scott wants to visit California.

“California has the 7th largest economy in the world, we lead the nation in manufacturing, technology and life sciences and we’re at the top of the Fortune 500 rankings,” Westrup said. “Our budget is balanced, our credit rating is up and we created more than a quarter of the nation’s jobs in January. We also believe in climate change. As one of the 60 million tourists expected to visit California this year, we hope the governor’s stay is both enjoyable and educational.”

Hmmm. Well, maybe there are some good opportunities at the Port of Orlando. What, Orlando is landlocked, you say? Maybe not for long! But don’t tell Rick Scott that – he doesn’t like hearing the words “cl—– ch—-.”

Sea Level Rise 6 meters

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Stanford prof gears up for U.S. Senate campaign

By Josh Richman
Thursday, March 12th, 2015 at 10:35 am in U.S. Senate

A prominent political figure now teaching at Stanford University is considering a run for the U.S. Senate.

No, calm down, Kamala – it’s not Condoleezza Rice in California’s 2016 race. It’s former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., laying the groundwork for a campaign to retake his old seat.

The Wall Street Journal reported March 3 that Feingold – a liberal best known for coauthoring a bipartisan campaign-finance reform law that since has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court – will split his time this year between teaching law and international relations at Stanford and going on a listening tour of Wisconsin.

Hot on the heels of a new poll that found Feingold leading incumbent Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday released a web video that pokes fun at Feingold’s California-based Wisconsin campaign.

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SD7: Money & endorsements as endgame nears

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 at 3:07 pm in California State Senate

Independent spending has continued to run amok in the all-Democrat 7th State Senate District special election since I last updated the tsunami Friday.

To recap, unions are spending big for Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and against Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer – though Glazer has his own deep-pocketed, anti-union benefactors. Former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan looks to be caught in the crossfire, and former Concord City Council candidate Terry Kremin remains beneath the radar.

Mailers are flooding the district’s mailboxes, often several a day, as the candidates plan get-out-the-vote efforts like precinct-walking and phone-banking for the campaign’s final days.

Here’s where the independent spending stands as of Wednesday:

    Bill Bloomfield, businessman: $552,984 (pro-Glazer)
    JobsPAC (California Chamber of Commerce): $297,494 (pro-Glazer or anti- the other two)
    California Charter Schools Association Advocates: $128,202 (pro-Glazer)
    EdVoice: $23,570 (pro-Glazer)
    Independent Voter PAC: $7,539 (pro-Glazer)
    California Dental Association: $336,631 (pro-Bonilla)
    California Professional Firefighters: $154,928 (pro-Bonilla)
    California Medical Association: $83,439 (pro-Bonilla)
    California Building Industry Association: $66,526 (pro-Buchanan)
    Working Families Opposing Glazer (labor unions): $240,829 (anti-Glazer)
    Asian American Small Business PAC: $122,478 (anti-Glazer or pro-Michaela Hertle, a Republican who dropped out and endorsed Glazer)

The grand total: $2,014,619. And that, of course, doesn’t include the $669,000 the three candidates had spent as of Feb. 28 – a figure that will surely rise in these final weeks before next Tuesday’s special primary.

Buchanan’s campaign bankroll includes $75,000 that she loaned out of her own pocket on Feb. 28 – about 26 percent of what her campaign has collected this year.

There’s been no movement yet on the federal trademark-infringement lawsuit that the California Republican Party filed last week against the Asian American Small Business PAC. As previously reported here, the PAC – which almost always supports Asian American Democrats – has been using union money to buy fliers on behalf of Michaela Hertle, the Pleasanton Republican who quit the race Feb. 2 and endorsed Glazer. Hertle and the state GOP contend unions are funneling money through the PAC to produce mailers urging Republicans to vote for Hertle, thereby sapping votes from Glazer.

The party complains the PAC used its elephant logo without permission; party vice chairwoman and attorney Harmeet Dhillon said Wednesday she has not yet been able to serve the committee with the complaint, but she’s sending its officers and vendors letters warning them to preserve evidence for the case.

In other news, Bonilla has continued to rack up significant endorsements in the past few weeks, including those of the California Labor Federation and former Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez. Miller called her “a proven leader who has delivered balanced budgets, improved our schools, fought to protect the Delta, and created new opportunities for middle-class families.”

Clean Water Action endorsed Buchanan last week.

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Boxer & Feinstein blast GOP senators’ Iran letter

By Josh Richman
Monday, March 9th, 2015 at 3:50 pm in Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Iran, Obama presidency, U.S. Senate

California’s U.S. Senators say 47 Republicans led by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., went out of bounds by sending an open letter to Iran’s leaders to undermine the State Department’s work to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal.

The letter notes any treaty the Obama administration might ink would require a two-thirds Senate vote for ratification, and another type of agreement would require two-thirds votes of the House and Senate. “Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” it says, before observing that Obama will leave office in 2017 “while most of us will remain in office well beyond then – perhaps decades.”

“What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” the letter says. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Before anyone goes saying, “Aw, gee, that’s just a ‘Schoolhouse Rock!‘ lesson in American government, no harm done,” consider how inane and condescending it would be to believe Iran’s government and negotiators don’t know how our government works.

Clearly it’s Republicans’ attempt to scuttle these negotiations without running afoul of the Logan Act – a federal law that makes it a felony for any American to attempt to negotiate with a foreign government or attempt to influence foreign policy without clear authority from the executive branch. By sticking to an explanation of how Congress and the executive branch work, the Republicans can say they’re just engaging in discussions with foreign officials in pursuance of their legislative duties under the Constitution – perfectly legal.

Of course, Cotton said plainly in January that he hoped to scuttle these negotiations. He also was ready to upend the Constitution in 2013, proposing to imprison the families of anyone who violates U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Democrats reacted to Cotton’s ploy angrily Monday.

From Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“This is a brazen attempt by Senate Republicans to sabotage negotiations aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. This bizarre, inappropriate letter is a desperate ploy to scuttle a comprehensive agreement and the chance for a peaceful resolution, which is in the best interests of the United States, Israel and the world.”

From Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“I am appalled at the latest step of 47 Republicans to blow up a major effort by our country and the world powers to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear program.

“This is a highly inappropriate and unprecedented incursion into the president’s prerogative to conduct foreign affairs and is not befitting this chamber. This letter only serves one purpose—to destroy an ongoing negotiation to reach a diplomatic agreement in its closing days.”

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Snoop Dogg & Ron Conway do an anti-gun duet

By Josh Richman
Monday, March 9th, 2015 at 11:38 am in gun control

With their minds on their money and their money on their minds, Snoop Dogg and Ron Conway have teamed up to call for divestment from the gun industry.

It’s hard to picture the iconic Los Angeles rapper and the renowned San Francisco “angel investor” kicking back over some gin and juice, but they’ve gone in together on a public service announcement for a cause they both hold dear. Conway is calling on the c-suite of tech companies to offer socially responsible, “no guns allowed” investment options, and Snoop Dogg is enlisting the support of the entertainment industry and his fans to declare #ImUnloading in the name of those touched by the tragedy of gun violence.

Also in the video are Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Los Angeles Clippers small forward Matt Barnes; actress/singer Margot Bingham; singer/songwriter/producer Aloe Blacc; singer/songwriter Jhené Aiko; and League Of Young Voters’ Executive Director Rob Biko Baker.

“I’m unloading for my loved ones that I’ve lost,” Snoop Dogg said. “I’m going all in for gun-free investing.”

The PSA, from Campaign to Unload and States United to Prevent Gun Violence, is the second installment of support for their Unload Your 401k project, a resource that lets people find out whether their retirement funds are invested in gun makers and supporting groups like the National Rifle Assocaition.

“There is a straight line from gun industry investment, to gun industry profits, to funding of the NRA,” Jennifer Fiore, Campaign to Unload’s executive director, said in a news release. “Half the value of these companies comes from mutual funds and most of the ‘investors’ in these funds have no idea they are inadvertently part of the problem. Now they can be part of the solution.”

Snoop Dogg partnered with the League of Young Voters in 2013 to launch “No Guns Allowed,” a non-partisan anti-gun violence campaign to raise awareness about our nation’s ongoing battle with gun violence. The campaign was inspired by Snoop Dogg’s peaceful song of the same name from his Reincarnated album.

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Kashkari and Whitman sign same-sex marriage brief

By Josh Richman
Friday, March 6th, 2015 at 8:39 am in Meg Whitman, Neel Kashkari, Republican Party, Republican politics, same-sex marriage

Former California gubernatorial candidates Neel Kashkari and Meg Whitman are among more than 300 Republicans and conservatives who signed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Project Right Side and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman formally filed the amicus brief Thursday evening involving four cases to be heard on April 28 concerning government recognition of the freedom to marry.

The signers “want to convey to the court that they support traditional conservative values, including the belief in the importance of stable families, as well as the commitment to limited government and the protection of individual freedom,” a news release said. “Furthermore they believe that those conservative values are consistent with affording civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held marriage to be a fundamental right.”

Mehlman said the brief “adds an important and different voice in the struggle for marriage equality both before the Court and also to millions of Americans at a ‘teaching moment.’ It is another reflection of the growing national support for freedom and liberty for gay and lesbian Americans – support that clearly crosses partisan and ideological lines.”

In 2013, Mehlman submitted a brief to the Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry – the case that resulted in California’s Proposition 8 ban on same sex marriage being overturned – with 131 Republican signers.

Other signers of this new brief include former California House members Mary Bono and Michael Huffington; the consultants who have run California’s past three Republican gubernatorial campaigns – Steve Schmidt, Mike Murphy, and Aaron McLear; Josh Ginsberg, former political director for Arnold Schwarzenegger; Tucker Bounds, former communications director for Whitman; and Andrea Saul, former communications director for 2010 U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina.

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Rocky Chávez declares candidacy for Senate

By Josh Richman
Thursday, March 5th, 2015 at 10:13 am in Barbara Boxer, Kamala Harris, U.S. Senate

Assemblyman Rocky Chávez on Thursday became the first prominent Republican to declare candidacy for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

Chávez, R-Oceanside, said he plans to focus on strengthening national security, creating more education opportunities for our children and improving our economy for all Californians.

Rocky Chávez“Our national security is a major concern, with ISIS growing bolder every day,” Chávez said. “If things get worse overseas, who would Californians want representing them in the Senate? A lawyer from San Francisco, or a Marine Colonel who knows how lives can be protected and understands the importance of keeping America and her allies safe and secure?”

Chávez, 63, said Californians “want to take their state back” and “are looking for someone who shares their story.”

“My father taught me the value of hard work in the grape fields with my uncles and cousins, which led to my success in the military and desire to give back through public service,” he said. “I learned about the American Dream from my father, but I’m afraid we risk losing that dream for our children if we can’t get our country back on track.”

Chávez is in his second term representing the 76th Assembly District in northern San Diego County. Earlier, he was acting secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs and an Oceanside councilman; he’s retired from the Marine Corps.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, declared candidacy in January for the senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate next year. Harris polls strongest among those who have expressed interest in the race; a Field Poll last month found 46 percent of likely voters would be inclined to vote for her, while 20 percent would be inclined to vote for Chávez.

Two little-known Republicans, John Estrada of Fresno and Mark Hardie of Whittier, say they’re running too, though Hardie has yet to form a campaign committee. And former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette has formed an exploratory committee for the race.

On the Democratic side, two who were thought to be potential rivals to Harris – hedge fund billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer of San Francisco, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have decided not to run. But several other Democrats still are pondering the contest, including House members Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove; Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles; and Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

Chávez’s status as a moderate – on issues such as same-sex marriage, immigration and his statement that he wouldn’t vote to repeal Obamacare – has some conservatives chafing.

“Rocky Chávez is not so much a Republican, or a Democrat or nonpartisan as he is a opportunist. To get where he wants to go, Rocky Chávez will say whatever he things it will take,” Stephen Frank, publisher of California Political News and Views and a past president of the conservative grassroots California Republican Assembly, wrote in his online column Wednesday.

Frank, who said he supports Del Beccaro for this race, said Chávez’s candidacy “is being supported by the same folks that talked Neel Kashkari into running. But Kashkari was new to politics, did not understand the goal was not to win in November, but to assure a solid Republican was not the nominee. Poor Neel, after he won the primary, his primary ‘friends’ stopped returning his calls. So he lost by 20 points.”

“Is Rocky the 2016 version of Kashkari, put into the race to assure NO Republican is on the November 2016 U.S. Senate ballot?” Frank wrote. “Only time will tell. What is certain now is that it is uncertain who Rocky will be and what he will believe in the future – being a member of the Opportunist Party does that to a guy.”

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