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California Dems on Jerusalem synagogue attack

California Democrats are condemning the killing of four rabbis in a Jerusalem synagogue by two Palestinians wielding a gun, an ax and a meat cleaver. (UPDATE @ 3:10 P.M.: A fifth victim – a police officer – has now died.)

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

“I am horrified by the barbaric murder of innocents in a sacred house of worship. This heinous and brutal act of terror has no place in a civilized world and only sets back the cause of peace and humanity. All my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and I am praying for the recovery of those injured.”

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

“The murder of worshippers at morning prayer is an unconscionable and inhuman act of terror. This attack is beyond the circle of civilized behavior, and Congress and the American people stand united in condemning its brutality.

“Our hearts ache for the family, friends, and loved ones of those killed and wounded in today’s savage attack on the synagogue in Jerusalem. We join the mourning of American-born Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Kalman Levine, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, and British-born Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg. Our thoughts and prayers, and the thoughts and prayers of all Americans, are with them and all the citizens of Israel at this time of mourning.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

“Today’s cowardly and brutal killing of three American and one British rabbi in Jerusalem is an affront to every civilized person and nation. Attacks such as these damage the ability for both sides to come to the table and work out a long-term solution to the underlying conflicts in the region.

“President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are right to condemn this attack. I agree with Secretary Kerry that the Palestinian leadership must also condemn this attack in the strongest way possible, and to take concrete steps to prevent such attacks in the future. No nation’s or people’s cause is aided by brutal acts of terrorism against innocent worshippers.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, the injured, the larger Jewish community, and all who stand for peace during this time of grief.”

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CA17: Mike Honda attacks Ro Khanna’s record

Rep. Mike Honda has sent another mailer which in part attacks Democratic rival Ro Khanna’s record, while Khanna has begun airing a television commercial taking Honda to task for his negative tone and refusal to debate.

The new mailer from Honda, D-San Jose, is mostly about his own accomplishments and endorsements, but a sixth of it is given to describing “Ro Khanna: A History of Looking Out for Himself.”

“When Ro Khanna was on the San Mateo Parks and Recreation Commission, he had the worst attendance record of any commissioner – and eventually just quit,” the mailer claims. “Later, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, he failed to meet four of his six performance targets and resigned after just two years to switch careers again.”

The mailer also repeats previously reported incidents in which Khanna sang Honda’s praises in 2012, and in which donors who contributed to Khanna’s campaign when they believed he would run to succeed Rep. Pete Stark asked for their money back after he launched his campaign against Honda.

Click to enlarge:
He's Always Stood for Us - front

He's Always Stood for Us - back

Honda’s campaign provided an attendance tally Monday showing Khanna missed 10 of the Parks and Recreation Commission’s 23 meetings from February 2006 through March 2008. None of the other four commissioners had more than three absences during that time.

For the Commerce Department claim, Honda’s campaign cited a Government Accountability Office report from September 2011 which gauged the success of the department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service in supporting President Obama’s National Export Initiative, launched in 2010. “In fiscal year 2012, CS will implement revised performance measures that align more closely with the NEI,” a summary says. “Although CS did not meet four of its six performance targets in 2010, it achieved increases in most of its measures as it shifted to address NEI priorities.”

Khanna was a Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary from August 2009 to August 2011, responsible for overseeing Commerce’s 109 domestic offices and implementing the President’s National Export Initiative to double exports over five years. His name does not appear anywhere in the 71-page GAO report.

Asked whether Honda’s campaign was claiming the GAO report had anything to do with Khanna’s departure from the Commerce Department, spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan replied, “the GAO report deals with the department Khanna worked for.”

“We’re saying that Khanna has a record of trying to build his resume, rather than actual public service,” Kembaiyan said. “This explains why he was so absent on the Parks & Rec commission, and why he left Commerce after just two years. He started raising money to run for Congress just one month after he left Commerce.”

Khanna’s campaign provided an August 2011 letter from Francisco Sanchez, then the Commerce Department’s Under Secretary for International Trade, commending Khanna for “leading an important agency during challenging economic times” and rendering valuable service to the nation.

“I particularly appreciated your bottom up leadership style in boosting the morale of the Commercial Service,” Sanchez wrote. “I know trade specialists across the country looked forward to your visiting their offices and listening to their concerns. I heard time and again from our trade specialists about your strong ability to deliver a message and your genuine regard for their perspective and contributions.”

Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Monday that “frankly, it’s sad that after 14 years in Congress, Representative Honda feels compelled to continue launching false accusations even after he is called out in the press for his distortions.”

“This latest mailer is especially troubling as it targets President Obama’s Administration and misrepresents Ro’s successful record as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Commerce – a position that he left with a strong letter of commendation and then went on to write a widely praised book about,” Law added. “It’s time for Congressman Honda to end his smear campaign and focus on the important challenges facing families in the 17th district.”

Meanwhile, Khanna’s new TV ad – his fourth so far – blasts Honda for negativism and refusing to attend any pre-primary debates, only one candidates’ forum which didn’t let the contenders go head-to-head.

“Ro has run a positive and issues-based campaign,” Law said in a statement issued early Monday morning. “The voters want a new kind of leader who will work to end the dysfunction in Congress, not refuse to debate and then attempt to distract the voters with old-style political attacks. Frankly, Congressman Honda’s negative tactics are a disappointing reflection on his campaign – and on the Washington status quo he so eagerly defends.”

Republicans Vanila Singh and Joel Vanlandingham also are running to unseat Honda.

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Neel Kashkari goes on the offensive

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, lagging in the polls, has launched his big pre-election push with his first TV ad, a $500,000 personal investment in his campaign, and an attack website targeting GOP rival Tim Donnelly.

The 30-second ad, which will air statewide, presents Kashkari “as a fiscal conservative with the right background and the right vision to turn the state around,” his news release says. Its launch coincides with today’s mailing of vote-by-mail ballots.

“Thanks to Gov. Brown’s failed leadership, California today ranks 46th in education, 47th in jobs and first in poverty, and millions of middle-class families are struggling as a result. It’s clearly time for new, fiscally conservative leadership in Sacramento that knows what it takes to unleash the private sector,” Kashkari campaign manager Pat Melton said in the release. “With this ad – along with our direct mail program and other ongoing voter outreach efforts – we’re introducing Neel Kashkari to voters as the candidate with the experience and the plan to turn California around and to help rebuild the Republican Party around an inclusive economic message.”

The ad comes on the heels of a week-long roll out of endorsements by big Republican names including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and many others. The ad also comes alongside Kashkari’s announcement that he’s putting half a million of his own money into the campaign – a significant boost, given that he had only about $900,000 banked by mid-March, more than Donnelly but far behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19.7 million.

“Since launching his campaign in January, Neel has earned the support of many people who share his vision for California and for the Republican Party, and his contribution only adds to the momentum building behind his campaign,” Melton said. “As our campaign continues our voter outreach effort and as Californians get to know Neel better, we’re confident they’ll support his candidacy and cast their ballots for him.”

But in case positivity doesn’t work, Kashkari also is going heavily negative on Donnelly, who has been way ahead in the polls.

Kashkari’s campaign has launched a “Tim Donnelly: You Can’t Be Serious” website that takes the conservative Assemblyman to task for his 2012 gun conviction, for allegedly flip-flopping on property rights, for allegedly living high on the taxpayers’ hog, for having a tax lien against one of his former businesses, and more.

The GIF-laden site (seriously, guys, it’s an awful lot) claims Donnelly has zero chance of beating Brown, and so Democrats would be “partying in the streets” if he turns out to be the only challenger left standing after June’s top-two primary.

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Lawmakers seek update on power station attack

Silicon Valley’s House members want an update on the Department of Homeland Security’s investigation of the sniper attack on PG&E’s Metcalf power substation last April.

METCALF plant 020614Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Mike Honda, D-San Jose; wrote a letter Thursday to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

“Although the damage from the Metcalf incident was largely contained, the potential for a catastrophic attack impacting both our electric grid and communications infrastructure is evident,” the lawmakers wrote. “As we understand it, rolling blackouts throughout our region were narrowly averted. The Metcalf attack, while sophisticated, was relatively small. A larger attack is not difficult to imagine and the effects could be crippling.”

Somebody fired rifle rounds last April to take out 17 transformers and 6 circuit breakers, causing $15.4 million in damage at the facility near Coyote Ranch Road in South San Jose. Nobody was hurt and nobody lost power, but circumstances suggest it was a planned attack.

Given the Bay Area’s high concentration of Fortune 500 companies, patent generation and economic productivity, a successful attack on the area’s power grid “would impact not only our region but our country as a whole,” they wrote.

The lawmakers asked Johnson to respond by March 14 with a summary of his department’s work on the incident, including the initial emergency response; work since the incident on improving protection of critical infrastructure, emergency mitigation and coordination with other agencies; recommendations for more improvements; and guidance on whether any congressional action is needed.

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Bera probes Hagel on Syria; Boxer votes to attack

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made the Obama administration’s case for bombing Syria to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

The committee has no Bay Area members; Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, is the only member from Northern California, and here’s how he began questioning Hagel:

“It is of critical importance that we are having this discussion. I applaud the President for including Congress in this debate. I agree that we have to show resolve and we have to show that we are committed to our allies, but my constituents and I still need to be convinced, not that atrocities occurred — we all are unanimous in our condemnation of what Assad has done — but we need to know exactly what our goals are and our objectives, because this is increasingly a complex situation.

“And to that extent, let me ask Secretary Hagel a question. When I was home in Sacramento County this past weekend people were stopping me in the grocery store, my neighbors were pulling me aside on the street. I think all of my colleagues have been inundated with phone calls, emails, and almost unanimously, people don’t want us to strike Syria. They’re fatigued. And I answer to these people. These are the people that I represent. My question, Secretary Hagel, is what can I tell my constituents about why these strikes are in our national security interest, why these strikes matter to these folks that are struggling every day? How do I effectively communicate what the plan is?”

Watch their full exchange here:

Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 – and not along party lines – on Wednesday to approve a resolution authorizing limited military force against Syria. The resolution is significantly narrow than that which the president had proposed: It would limit hostilities to 90 days, allow military action only within Syria’s borders and prohibit putting any U.S. troops on Syrian soil.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. – who had said Tuesday that she would “support a targeted effort but not a blank check to respond to Syria’s unspeakable deeds to gas its own people to death” – voted for the resolution by proxy today; she was absent due to the imminent start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, at sundown tonight.

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Lawmakers demand Obama consult them on Syria

Three Northern California House Democrats have signed onto a bipartisan letter urging President Obama to seek Congressional authorization for any military strike against Syria.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, are among 18 Democrats and 98 Republicans who’ve signed onto the letter drafted and circulated by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va.

“While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate – and the active engagement of Congress – prior to committing U.S. military assets,” the letter says. “Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”

Other California members who’ve signed Rigell’s letter include Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay; Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville; and John Campbell, R-Irvine.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., sent their own letter to the president today urging that he consult Congress.

And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Obama today urging the president to “personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy.”

UPDATE @ 11:54 A.M. THURSDAY: More Bay Area House members have signed onto Rep. Barbara Lee’s similar letter.