Bill Clinton speaking in Bay Area early next month

Former President Bill Clinton will deliver four lectures around the Bay Area in the first week of February.

Bill ClintonClinton comes as part of the MPSF Speakers Series, the nation’s largest community speaker series in the United States, averaging over 8800 subscribers annually. Previous speakers in the 2014-2015 season have included former FBI Director Robert Mueller; former President’s Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee; former U.S. Ambassador to China, presidential candidate and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.; and former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Clinton will speak Monday, Feb. 2 at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael; Tuesday, Feb. 3 at the Paramount Theater in Oakland; Wednesday, Feb. 4 at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center; and Thursday, Feb. 5 again at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are sold only for the entire season of speakers, not for a single event, and are sold out for Oakland and San Mateo.

The former president visits the region as speculation heats up about whether and when his wife, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, will declare her candidacy for president in 2016’s election. She’ll be in the Bay Area later in February, delivering a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women at the Santa Clara Convention Center.


Politicians mourn folk legend Pete Seeger’s death

Some prominent politicians from the Bay Area and beyond are among the legions mourning the death of folk music legend and activist Pete Seeger.

From President Barack Obama:

Once called “America’s tuning fork,” Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, posted this on Facebook:

I join the world in mourning the loss, but also celebrating the life, of legendary folk musician and incomparable American, Pete Seeger. He sang for all of us, and he got us all singing, as you can see in this video.

Pete Seeger stood for equality, for children, for a clean environment, and for an end to war. May the memory and spirit of Pete Seeger live in all of us for years to come.

From the Facebook page of Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

I am saddened to hear of the passing of folk legend Pete Seeger. His songs and activism inspired generations to fight for justice and peace. It is hard to imagine the Civil Rights and anti-war movements without “We Shall Overcome,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” I will honor his legacy by continuing to fight for the rights of all Americans and for justice around the world.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., tweeted:

And former President Bill Clinton tweeted:


GOP ♥ intrasession recess appointments, too

The recent federal appeals court decision that invalidated President Obama’s recess appointment of three National Labor Relations Board members – and perhaps any decisions in which they took part – would’ve wreaked havoc upon hundreds of appointments made mostly by Republican presidents since 1981, a new study has found.

A recess appointment is an appointment by the president of a federal official while the U.S. Senate is in recess. Recent presidents have made such appointments both intersession (between sessions or Congresses) and intrasession (during a recess within a session). But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last month that intrasession recess appointments are unconstitutional, and that intersession recess appointments can only be made for vacanies that happen to occur during that intersession break – not for any vacancies that existed before the recess.

In a memo issued yesterday, the independent Congressional Research Service found 329 intrasession recess appointments made since 1981 – 72 by Ronald Reagan, 37 by George H.W. Bush, 53 by Bill Clinton, 141 by George W. Bush and 26 by Barack Obama. It also tracked 323 intersession recess appointments by those presidents, but noted the lack of specific vacancy dates for many of those make it unclear how many would’ve been precluded by the recent court ruling.

This goes to what Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and many others said after last month’s court ruling.

“Today’s decision flies in the face of precedent and past practice. It radically undermines the ability of any president – Democratic or Republican – to staff critical government positions when another party engages in political obstructionism,” Miller had said. “We disagree with these judges’ distorted view of the Constitution and their attempt to reshape the recess appointment power in a way that, if accepted, would render invalid hundreds of past appointments by previous administrations. We expect that this decision will not stand.”


A few more bits from Bill Clinton’s speech

As you’d expect, there was plenty more from 90 minutes of Bill Clinton in Cupertino last night than I could fit into my story.

On Afghanistan: “Unless you want to stay 25 more years, we might as well get out now,” Clinton said, noting that nothing costs a nation more in fortune and human toll than a war. “It’s time to come home – we’ve paid and paid and paid.”

On climate change: California will be glad it adopted a renewable energy portfolio standard, which will put it at the forefront of abandoning fossil fuels. Meanwhile, he said, there’s no easier and cheaper way to address energy supply and climate change than to invest in making existing buildings more energy efficient, which also creates good-paying jobs. “That used to be a conservative principle: Do more with less.”

On infrastructure: Even as the nation debates how to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” it should be looking ahead. South Korea’s average download time is four times faster than the United States’, he said, underscoring the need for public investment in a uniform, nationwide broadband infrastructure. “In all this budget debate, don’t forget the future.”

On staying in shape: Clinton discussed his heart disease, his 2004 coronary artery bypass surgery and the vegan diet he has adopted since. He said he now weighs 185 pounds – seven pounds less than his weight at his high school graduation, “but alas, it’s distributed differently.”

On his genes: Clinton digressed during his speech to talk about the interesting times in which we live, from our search for the possibility of extraterrestrial life to our discovery of the Higgs boson. He singled out the relatively recent discovery that elements of Neanderthal genome remain in most modern non-African humans; he said he’d excitedly told his wife and daughter about this discovery – and was told by both that they’d always been pretty sure he had some Neanderthal in him.


Bill Clinton to stump in Davis for House candidates

Former President Bill Clinton will visit the University of California at Davis tomorrow to give a boost to four Democratic House candidates fighting fierce battles here in Northern California.

Bill ClintonClinton, arguably now one of his party’s most beloved figures, will bring his vaunted rhetorical skills to bear on behalf of Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, who faces a challenge from Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, a Republican, in the 3rd Congressional District; Dr. Ami Bera, the Elk Grove physician who’s challenging Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River in the 7th Congressional District; Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who faces a challenge from Republican Ricky Gill of Lodi in the 9th Congressional District; and Jose Hernandez, the former NASA astronaut challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, in the 10th Congressional District.

These races – especially Bera’s second attempt at unseating Lungren – have generated millions of dollars in advertising spending from the campaigns, national organizations, and super PACs. Clinton will headline a rally for the candidates Tuesday morning on UC Davis’ quad.

“Middle class Americans need champions in Congress who will fight for good American jobs, and who will put people before politics,” Clinton said in a statement issued Monday. “I’m proud to endorse four people who will do just that: John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Ami Bera, and Jose Hernandez. They’ve got fresh ideas to help restore the economy for middle class families, and they know Congress is a place for service, not personal gain.”


Newest TV ads from Obama and Romney

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign today rolled out an ad featuring former President Bill Clinton:

“Clear Choice” will air in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s campaign launched its latest ad yesterday:

FactCheck.org hasn’t done an analysis of either ad yet, though it did post an extensive rundown on the competing claims about Medicare, including this observation:

A Romney campaign ad wrongly claims that “money you paid” for Medicare is being used to pay for Obama’s health care law. But the law doesn’t take money out of the existing hospital insurance trust fund. It cuts the future growth of spending. And in the future, seniors will still receive more in benefits than they paid in.

PolitiFact has its own rundown on Medicare as well.