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Who will skip Netanyahu’s speech to Congress?

The Bay Area delegation is split over attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress next Tuesday, March 3.

Democrats and the White House remain miffed that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, invited Netanyahu unilaterally. The Israeli leader is expected to speak against the Obama administration’s ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, instead urging Congress to impose further sanctions; also, the address comes two weeks before Israel’s legislative election. For these reasons, and as some pro-Palestinian groups urge a boycott, some Democrats are choosing to skip the speech.

Here’s how the Bay Area delegation shakes out:

Skipping the speech: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose

Attending the speech: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin; Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz

Undecided: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa

Didn’t respond to inquiries: Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo

A few of them offered explanations, or at least, comments:

Lofgren: “I am disappointed Speaker Boehner chose to irresponsibly interject politics into what has long been a strong and bipartisan relationship between the United States and Israel. As President Obama has noted, it is inappropriate for a Head of State to address Congress just two weeks ahead of their election. I agree that Congress should not be used as a prop in Israeli election campaigns, so I intend to watch the speech on TV in my office.”

Huffman: “I call upon Speaker Boehner and Ambassador Dermer to do the right thing and postpone this speech. Once the election in Israel is over and the current P5+1 negotiating deadline has passed, they should respect protocol and confer with President Obama and congressional Democrats on a time for the Prime Minister of Israel to address a joint session of Congress.”

Boxer: “Whether I wind up going or not, it was a terrible mistake by the Republican majority to play politics with this enduring relationship.”

McNerney, via spokesman Michael Cavaiola: “Rep. McNerney is not planning to attend the speech. He’s got several previously planned commitments for that day.”

DeSaulnier, via spokeswoman Betsy Arnold Marr: “Congressman DeSaulnier has not made a final decision as he hopes the Prime Minister will reconsider his plans particularly in light of the upcoming election.”

Honda, via spokesman Ken Scudder: “Congressman Honda regrets that Speaker Boehner ignored protocol in making this invitation. The speaker turned what should have been an important visit of one of our closest allies into a political stunt. Congressman Honda also has concerns about the potential political nature of this speech given Israel’s elections are less than two weeks away. Despite this, and the congressman’s disagreement with the Prime Minister’s opposition to the U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran, Congressman Honda is going to attend the address on March 3. The United States and Israel share strong cultural, economic and security partnerships, and he will attend the speech to hear firsthand what the Prime Minister has to say on these serious and complicated issues.”

Thompson, via spokesman Austin Vevurka: “We still don’t know what the Congressman’s schedule will be that week, but I will of course keep you posted as we know more. That being said, Congressman Thompson understands the importance of hearing from international leaders, but he is concerned that the speech has become overtly political. He hopes the speech is rescheduled and Netanyahu is invited back at a later date in a manner that respects long-established diplomatic protocol.”

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Pope Francis to address Congress in September

Pope Francis will address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24. Wow, talk about preaching to a den of iniquity.

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“It is my great privilege to announce that His Holiness Pope Francis will visit the United States Capitol on Thursday, September 24, 2015. On that day, he will become the first leader of the Holy See to address a joint meeting of Congress. It will be a historic visit, and we are truly grateful that Pope Francis has accepted our invitation.

“In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father’s message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds. His teachings, prayers, and very example bring us back to the blessings of simple things and our obligations to one another. We look forward to warmly welcoming Pope Francis to our Capitol and hearing his address on behalf of the American people.”

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

“We are honored and overjoyed that Pope Francis, the first pontiff born in the Americas, has accepted our invitation to address a Joint Meeting of Congress during his upcoming visit to the United States.

“Pope Francis has renewed the faith of Catholics worldwide and inspired a new generation of people, regardless of their religious affiliation, to be instruments of peace. In the spirit of the namesake of San Francisco, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis’ universal message of love and compassion speaks to millions around the world.

“We are eager to welcome His Holiness to the U.S. Capitol and we look forward to hearing his call to live our values, to protect the poor and the needy, and to promote peace.”

Boehner and Pelosi both are of the Roman Catholic faith.

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State lawmakers react to Brown’s inaugural speech

From state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose:

Jim Beall“This may have been Gov. Brown’s best State of the State address. He laid out a long-term vision for California’s future. As chairman of the Senate transportation committee, I agree with his mission to maintain our roads, highways, and bridges. By investing in infrastructure maintenance and effective mass transit projects we can cut pollution and create new jobs. The BART extension to San Jose is projected to generate 19,000 jobs (one job for one year). We have to keep the state moving and I’ve introduced SB 9 to allow multi-year funding under the Cap and Trade program for large, innovative mass transit projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I also agree with the Governor that we can no longer make students the ‘default financiers’ of our colleges. SB 15 would freeze tuition rates and that’s why I co-authored it. I believe there has to be a more public investment in education rather than have the students pick up higher and higher percentages of the cost. The Governor was right to point out that California cannot afford to pour more money into the prison system. This costs higher education dearly because it is money that could be spent on our universities.’’

From Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin:

Catharine Baker“As we prioritize our budget, we must focus on what is needed for a strong and prosperous state. Education, transportation, and an environment that promotes job growth must be our focus in the coming years.

“I was pleased to hear the Governor’s commitment to some shared priorities we have. Ensuring our schools receive the necessary funding to provide all of California’s children the education they deserve should remain a top priority. We need to ensure that funding for education is going directly to the classroom to benefit our students and teachers, and not to a bloated administrative bureaucracy. And we cannot continue to defend the status quo and the policies addressed in the Vergara decision. Those policies are denying students the opportunity to get a good education. Finally, in the true spirit of local control, we must eliminate the cap on savings reserves that was implemented last year. It endangers the financial health of every school district in our community.

“Republicans and Democrats worked together last year and supported the rainy day fund, and the state needed that reform. Our school districts need a rainy day fund, too, and state law now prohibits them from having the savings they need to protect against cuts. Ensuring we have reserves to continue necessary programs in the midst of a fiscal crisis is the right thing to do. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the cap on reserves is eliminated.

“As Vice-Chair of the Higher Education Committee, I will work to fight tuition increases that hinder our students’ ability to attend college, and I hope the Governor will join me in this pledge. Under the UC proposed tuition hike, students and their families will pay 25 percent more for their degrees in 2020 than they are paying today. Lawmakers and the UC must work together on long-term planning to keep higher education affordable, and I will fight for that.

“The Governor and I agree that it is time Republicans and Democrats come together to address California’s transportation needs. We have a crumbling infrastructure that was built for a population a fraction of the size it is now. But directing public funds to High Speed Rail as it starts breaking ground this week is a poor use of taxpayer dollars. We should be breaking ground on BART to Livermore, expanding parking at BART, and improving our road capacity instead of funding the bullet train project. This is money that should be spent easing congestion and increasing mass transit in the most high traffic regions of the state.

“I applaud the Governor and my predecessors that have worked to turn our economy around over the past few years. There is a still a great deal of work to be done, and our economy is fragile. Unemployment is dropping, but there are still too many Californians out of work and too many businesses leaving our state. We have to make it easier for employers to do business here. I would like to have heard the Governor address this, but I look forward to working with him on improving California’s business economy.”

More from the Bay Area’s lawmakers, after the jump…
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Governor Jerry Brown’s fourth inaugural address

My esteemed colleague Jessica Calefati has the story on Gov. Jerry Brown’s fourth inauguration and address – a speech encompassing not only the sweep of California’s history, but also the governor’s own:

“As I embark upon this unprecedented fourth term as governor, my thoughts turn to a time long ago when I first entered this chamber, January 5, 1959, for my father’s inauguration. I sat there in front of the rostrum, next to my 81-year-old grandmother, Ida Schuckman Brown, feeling awkward in my priestly black suit and Roman collar. My perspective was different then. The previous August, as a young Jesuit living in what was then a pre-Vatican II seminary, I had taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. To me, the boisterous crowd, the applause, the worldliness of it all was jarring.”

Read the entire text of Brown’s inaugural speech, after the jump…
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Ron Nehring to address ALEC summit meeting

Ron Nehring, the former California Republican Party Chairman and 2014 Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, will address the opening session of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) States and Nation Policy Summit on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Ron NehringALEC’s website says it “works to advance limited government, free markets and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.”

It’s basically a forum through which conservative state lawmakers and the private sector collaborate on legislation that’s then pushed in multiple states, from business bills favoring lower taxes, privatization, and relaxed regulation to things such as stand-your-ground self-defense laws and voter ID requirements. Funded mostly by major corporations and conservative benefactors including the Koch brothers, it has become a target for liberal activists.

The summit is the group’s annual, national post-election meeting focusing on the legislative agenda for 2015; ALEC’s next national meeting will take place in San Diego, California this summer.

Nehring’s news release said his opening remarks Wednesday will review election results across the country, and recommendations for 2016 including “the critical importance of growing support for candidates supporting limited government and free markets in America’s immigrant, suburban and urban communities; building coalitions; and recognizing the role of candidates’ personal narratives in addition to their philosophy.”

Nehring lost this year’s race to incumbent Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent.

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CAGOP14: Condoleezza Rice’s luncheon speech

It’s not just the California Republican Party that needs rebuilding – it’s America itself, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday at the state GOP convention in Burlingame.

Condoleezza-Rice-photo-by-Steve-Gladfelter-Stanford.jpgRice, now a Stanford professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow, said the American “pursuit of happiness” requires opportunity, community and responsibility to each other, as well as to people around the world who don’t yet have the liberties we enjoy.

That requires “proper balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual, and the powers of government,” Rice said. “We don’t mean ‘no government’ – that’s not what our founders believe.”

Instead, she said, we need a government that imposes few regulations and low taxes upon the private sector “because it is the private sector that is creative, innovative and risk-taking” in creating jobs and opportunities for citizens.

“We must be committed to the belief that individuals have choices, and we will respect the choices of each other,” Rice said. “On one hand, we are the most individualistic people on the face of the earth … But we… are also the most philanthropic. This is a country where people give up their resources and their time to good causes.”

But public entitlements aren’t the answer, she said. Nor should Americans be jealous of each others’ success, she said; anyone can succeed with hard work and perseverance, so long as they’re given a good education.

She said she can’t understand how some people move to wealthy neighborhoods to get their children into good schools, or send their children to private schools, and then argue against school choice.

“The greatest civil rights issue of our time is a high-quality education for every child,” she said, calling for a school-voucher system.

More from Rice, after the jump…
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