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Sanchez takes heat over comment about Muslims

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a candidate in California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race, is taking heat for comments about Muslims that some have deemed offensive.

Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, was on PoliticKING with Larry King on Thursday to discuss U.S. efforts against the so-called Islamic State. Early in the segment, she said “we shouldn’t look at people in a one-dimension way – in other words, this is not against all Muslims, this is not about Muslims in our country, many of them are helping us in this heroic fight against ISIS.”

But soon after the first commercial break, King asked Sanchez to discuss President Obama’s hesitance to deem acts like last week’s San Bernardino shooting as “radical Islamic terrorism” – a term many experts say plays into ISIS’ hands by casting this as a holy war.

“We know that there is a small group – and we don’t know big that is, that can be anywhere between 5 and 20 percent from the people that I speak to – that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible, and in particular go after what they consider Western norms, our way of life,” she said. “They are not content enough to have their way of looking at the world, they want to put their way on everybody in the world. And again, I don’t know how big that is, depending on who you talk to, but there certainly, they are willing to go to extremes, they are willing to use – and they do use – terrorism, and it is in the name of a very wrong way of looking at Islam.”

Estimates of ISIS’ fighting force range from 32,000 to 200,000, though that number doesn’t include radical Islamic fundamentalists elsewhere. But the Pew Research Center estimates there were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010, making up 23 percent of the world’s population, and it is the world’s fastest-growing religion. In the United States, there are an estimated 1.8 million Muslim adults, just under 1 percent of the nation’s adult population.

Eddie Kurtz, executive director the California-based liberal grassroots Courage Campaign, issued a statement Friday urging Sanchez to quit the Senate race.

“America is a melting pot – and California is the most diverse place in the nation – with more than 388,000 Muslims living as our neighbors and friends across our state. For Rep. Sanchez to suggest that even 5 percent of them would resort to violence is the sort of racist, idiotic nonsense we expect from Donald Trump and right-wing Republicans,” Kurtz said.

“While Rep. Sanchez has a legacy of leadership, these comments make it clear that she does not have the skills, or the judgment to represent our beautiful state and all its peoples in the U.S. Senate,” he said.

The California Immigrant Policy Center demanded an apology.

“At a time when bigoted, Islamophobic rhetoric is spurring troubling incidents of hate across the country – including in Orange County – Representative Loretta Sanchez’ wildly off-the-mark claims are irresponsible and dangerous,” said Reshma Shamasunder, the center’s executive director. “We expect California’s representatives to uphold our values of inclusion and diversity, not trample them. We call upon Rep. Sanchez to immediately apologize.”

Other candidates seeking to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in next year’s election include California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills.

UPDATE @ 12:07 P.M.: Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles has now weighed in, too, blasting both Sanchez and LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich; the latter, in a speech to constituents after the shooting, had said, “The first thing I asked about this incident, was the guy named Mohammad?”

“In the most diverse state in the nation, California’s political leaders must uphold our cherished principles of tolerance and diversity and strive for unity, not divisiveness,” said Karin Wang, the group’s vice president. “We call upon both Representative Sanchez and Supervisor Antonovich to apologize. Their recent comments will serve only to jeopardize the safety of not just Muslim communities but also other South Asian and Middle Eastern communities, as we have already seen from the attack this past weekend against a Sikh temple in Buena Park.”

UPDATE @ 12:48 P.M.: The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American Islamic-Relations now has condemned Sanchez’s comment, too.

“California Muslims are disappointed by the harmful statement made by Rep. Loretta Sanchez about Muslims,” said CAIR-LA spokesman Haroon Manjlai. “Using inaccurate polls that reinforce false stereotypes about the Muslim community, at a time when right-wing bigots are calling for fascist measures against Muslims, is inexcusable, and even more perplexing considering she represents a large Muslim constituency and has had the opportunity to learn how peaceful and patriotic that community is.”

Polls have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of American Muslims, more than any other religious community in the nation, see no justification for violence, he noted.

“While Congresswoman Sanchez’s record on civil rights, especially with the American Muslim community, is praiseworthy, public discourse is not advanced by the use of biased polls that fuel paranoia,” Manjlai said. “In the face of terrorism that knows no faith or morals, we expect our elected leaders to unite us, celebrate our rich diversity, and protect our pluralism. We call on Congresswoman Sanchez to discredit and reject this, and other bias motivated studies that aim to malign Muslims.”

UPDATE @ 1 P.M.: Sanchez’ campaign has just issued a statement, but not an apology.

“Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is not withdrawing from the U.S. Senate race. California voters will decide who the Senator will be in the 2016 election,” reads the statement sent by spokesman Luis Vizcaino. “I trust they will elect the only candidate with national security experience – Loretta Sanchez is that candidate.”

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California politicos react to San Bernardino killings

California’s elected officials are sounding off on Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, in which 14 people reportedly were killed and more wounded.

Gov. Jerry Brown cancelled the Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony that had been scheduled for Wednesday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and everyone affected by the brutal attack,” he said in an emailed statement. “California will spare no effort in bringing these killers to justice.”

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

“Today, yet another American community is reeling from the horror of gun violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of San Bernardino. As the families of the victims grieve and the survivors focus on healing, the entire American family mourns.

“Gun violence is a crisis of epidemic proportions in our nation. Congress has a moral responsibility to vote on common sense measures to prevent the daily agony of gun violence in communities across America. Enough is enough.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif:

“Today we add San Bernardino to the long list of communities that have fallen victim to a mass shooting, and my heart is with the victims and their families.

“Details in San Bernardino are still murky, but what we do know is that these deadly shootings aren’t slowing down. Just a week after a deadly attack in Colorado Springs, we’re prepared to mourn more victims today.

“The Washington Post reported this week that in the first 334 days of 2015, there were 351 mass shootings. That’s an average of more than one deadly rampage for every day this year.

“USA Today reported that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ran more than 185,000 checks for gun purchases the day after Thanksgiving. That doesn’t even count the sales that took place online or at gun shows, where no checks are necessary.

“When a convicted felon can walk into a gun show and buy an assault rifle, that’s a problem. When an individual with a known mental illness can buy an assault rifle online, that’s a problem. When a terrorist who can’t board an airplane can buy an assault rifle in a gun store, that’s a problem.
“Congress also has a problem—a debilitating fear of upsetting the gun lobby. Congress refuses even to require background checks on all firearms purchases, an action supported by the vast majority of Americans.

“Each time I see breaking news of yet another mass shooting, I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Congress can’t stop every shooting, but we can help reduce their frequency. I remain hopeful that enough of my colleagues will join me to make that a reality.”

More, after the jump…
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Senate contender touts tax pledge, flat tax plan

Former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette has sought to amp up his U.S. Senate campaign in the past few weeks by focusing on the reddest of GOP red meat: taxes.

Tom Del BeccaroHeading into the state GOP’s convention Sept. 18-20 in Anaheim, Del Beccaro staked out his place to the field’s right side by challenging his GOP rivals – Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; fellow former state party chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills – to join him in taking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. As of Wednesday, they’ve not done so.

Crafted by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the pledge commits a candidate or officeholder to oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses, and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

This week, Del Beccaro rolled out his plan for a flat tax, which includes replacing current personal income tax brackets with a flat 15.5 percent rate on wages and salaries, capital gains, dividends, interest and inheritance; replacing current corporate taxes with a 15.5 percent net business income tax with immediate expensing for business purchases and deductibility of wages and salaries; and eliminating all itemized deductions while doubling the standard deduction.

He touted the plan at fundraising events this week in Riverside, Newport Beach and Diablo, accompanied by his economic advisor Stephen Moore, co-founder and first president of the conservative Club for Growth.

In an interview Thursday, Del Beccaro said he’s working with the Committee to Unleash Prosperity – a conservative group founded this summer by Moore, two-time Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, economist and CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow, and economist Arthur Laffer – to preach the flat-tax gospel in the Golden State.

“A simple flat tax takes government out of the business of picking winners and losers and will allow the economy to grow,” he said, declaring it the best way to help those still struggling in the Great Recession’s wake. “We’ve tried just about every spending mechanism possible and they’re still falling behind …The key is economic growth – otherwise people get stuck where they are.”

Critics of flat-tax plans argue they penalize the poor, in that everyone must spend on the same necessities of life – housing, food, clothes, health care and so on – but those earning less have less money left over after those necessities with which to pay taxes. That is: a 10 percent tax would be a much bigger proportional hit for someone earning $50,000 per year than for someone earning $5 million.

Del Beccaro said that’s why his plan would exempt a family of four up to a household income of $48,000: “It gives them a start.” He also said talk of redistributing wealth via progressive taxes to close the vast income and wealth gap that has opened in recent decades is divisive and unproductive.

“Class warfare is never good, pitting one group of Americans against another is terrible,” he said. arguing that wealth inequality is a product of economic stagnation and overreaching government. “The key is always economic growth.”

Two prominent Democrats – California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana – also are running in next June’s top-two primary to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. A fourth prominent Republican, Santa Monica businessman and two-time former senate candidate Al Ramirez, is exploring a run.

Del Beccaro said he’d gladly debate his plan with any of his rivals from either party. “They’re running for the office, I’m running for the ideas. … I’m trying to elevate this into an actual discussion.”

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4th Republican considering U.S. Senate run

Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez is mulling a run for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016, hoping the third time will be the charm.

Al RamirezRamirez placed fourth out of five in 2010’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, taking 1.8 percent of the vote; GOP nominee Carly Fiorina lost to incumbent Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., by 10 percentage points that November.

Ramirez ran again for U.S. Senate in 2012’s top-two primary against incumbent Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. In a field of 24 candidates – including 14 Republicans – Ramirez came in eighth with 2.3 percent of the vote; Feinstein stomped Republican Elizabeth Emken by 25 points that November.

Friday, as the California Republican Party kicked off its fall convention in Anaheim, Ramirez said “he’s in the early stages of forming a new exploratory committee” – read as: lining up contributors – for another run as Boxer prepares to retire.

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills already are in the race, as are two Democrats – state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana.

In a brief telephone interview Friday, Ramirez said he’s not worried that adding another Republican to the field would further split the GOP base to Democrats’ advantage.

“All of them have failed getting out of the gate,” he said of his Republican rivals, adding support for them is “soft,” with many supporters still “willing to jump off that train” in favor of a stronger candidate – which he believes he is.

There’s a “lack of role-model-caliber leadership in the Latino community,” he said, but his business record and staunch conservative principles make him “someone that people can look up to,” he said.

Also, his father – though grappling with Parkinson’s disease – encouraged him to run again. Ramirez said his father watched this week’s Republican presidential debate and said Ramirez could’ve been on that stage too; when Ramirez replied that would’ve requiring winning in 2010 or 2012, his father replied, “That’s not stopping Carly.”

“My dad didn’t raise a quitter,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez, 46, is a senior-ranking executive for a privately held, Los Angeles-based cloud services company, leading its government markets and strategic defense systems efforts.

“You never lose when you serve your country and seeking this office is worth the challenge to insure that the values that make America great are restored and preserved for the next generation.” Ramirez said in his news release, adding he racked up some grassroots endorsements in 2012 as people got to know his stances on the economy, natural resources and national defense.

“Most of all, the reason I am considering running again is because we need leadership to restore law and order to the immigration crisis burdening our taxpayers,” he said. “The lawless tragedies we’ve seen speak for themselves. Ending welfare abuse and sanctuary city policies that jeopardize the public safety of innocent American families is long overdue.”

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Reactions to SCOTUS’ Obamacare ruling

The Bay Area’s voices in Congress are predictably ebullient about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act.

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“This is a tremendous victory for improved health care and clearly validates the Affordable Care Act. This means that 6.4 million Americans in 34 states will continue to have access to health insurance subsidies. I could not be more pleased.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for the millions of Americans who now have affordable health care – many of them for the first time in their lives – because of Obamacare.

“It is long past time for Republicans to end their efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act and join us in fulfilling the promise of quality, affordable health care for all.”

From Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for the health of our country. Despite the best efforts of congressional Republicans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the law of the land, a fact reaffirmed by this decision. It’s also working. Thanks to the ACA more than 16 million Americans have gained coverage and the nation’s uninsured rate is at its lowest level ever.

“I am hopeful that the attempts by Republicans in Congress to kill the ACA will end and we can finally move forward to do the big things our constituents sent us here to do: grow the economy, create jobs, and advance equality.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

“Today’s historic decision will uphold the ACA and continue to provide coverage to millions of Americans who have come to depend on the law to treat their illnesses and pay for their medications. For too many generations, the issue of health care created panic, anxiety, and dread. Marketplaces can continue to enable families and individuals who are uninsured to buy quality, affordable coverage. It is time for us to understand that the ACA is the law of the land and here to stay. Instead of working to dismantle this important law, we should be working to spread the benefits of ACA to each and every American.”

From Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena:

“Today, the Supreme Court has once again ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, upholding that all Americas, no matter where they live, can access premium tax credits for quality, affordable health care.

“Since the ACA was passed, we have spent far too much time fighting over the law, both in Congress and in the courts. This ruling should settle once-and-for-all that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.

“With today’s decision now behind us, and the ACA standing on firm constitutional ground, we need to begin working across the aisle to build on the law’s important reforms so that all Americans can have access to quality, affordable health insurance.”

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton:

“All Americans should have access to quality and affordable health care when they need it, and today’s Supreme Court decision reaffirms that health care will be available to millions of people. This is an important victory that keeps health care accessible for more than 6 million people, including many lower and middle income families, who would not otherwise be able to afford insurance.

“In California, and in my district, we are seeing that the Affordable Care Act works. Hardworking families are receiving quality health care coverage through the state exchange. With this Supreme Court decision, we should move forward and look at ways to make improvements, instead of wasting time and resources to tear down a law that is providing millions of people with life-saving health care.”

From Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

“This is yet another landmark victory for millions of Americans who have been able to obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The Court has now ruled that the law is not only constitutional, but that it’s legal for Americans in states using the HealthCare.gov exchange to continue to benefit from federal tax credits to help pay for health insurance.

“More than 16 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act became law, and the nation’s rate of uninsured is at the lowest level ever. Coverage is affordable, with 85 percent of enrollees claiming tax credits. Consumers are enjoying greater competition and choice, Medicaid expansion is helping millions of low-income Americans obtain care, and young adults are getting covered.

“Today’s decision further affirms the Affordable Care Act will remain woven into the fabric of America’s health care system.”

The House Republican leadership is predictably perturbed.

From Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“ObamaCare is fundamentally broken, increasing health care costs for millions of Americans. Today’s ruling doesn’t change that fact. Republicans will continue to listen to American families and work to protect them from the consequences of ObamaCare. And we will continue our efforts to repeal the law and replace it with patient-centered solutions that meet the needs of seniors, small business owners, and middle-class families.”

From House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield:

“The only thing that is more disappointingly flawed than today’s decision on what Obamacare actually meant is Obamacare itself. Obamacare remains a failed law that was forced through Congress on a partisan vote, and its consequences are being felt today. The law is increasing health care costs, reducing choice, and has led to fewer jobs, and today’s ruling doesn’t change that.

“Throughout the country, the American people are suffering because of the limits this law places on receiving high-quality care from doctors that patients choose, not the government. One thing that today’s ruling does confirm is that we must repeal and replace this fundamentally flawed law. The House will continue to work toward a patient-centered solution and to help those who have felt the hardships this law has caused.”

And California’s candidates for U.S. Senate in 2016 weighed in, too.

From former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro:

“One thing is for certain: If the Republicans in Washington haven’t believed Obamacare was right, then they should have long ago come with a single, practical alternative. Between now and the election, they better do just and convince Americans why their alternative is better. If they don’t, they will be handing the election to Hillary.”

From Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana:

“I applaud and agree with the court’s decision to rule in favor of an individual’s ability to receive tax credits from the federal health insurance exchange, a program that has supported so many Americans and their families. I’ve said this before: we are dealing with families, not concepts. Millions of families rely on the federal marketplace to purchase affordable health insurance, and I am relieved that they will be able to continue to do so.

“With today’s Supreme Court decision behind us, it’s time for Congress to get back to work. The Affordable Care Act is settled law, and this ruling reaffirms that families are in control of their own health care.”

From California Attorney General Kamala Harris:

“The Affordable Care Act delivered access to quality, affordable health coverage to millions of Californians who otherwise would not have been able to afford insurance. Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in King v. Burwell ensures that millions of families can keep their affordable health insurance. Because of this ruling, health insurance continues to be accessible to every American, making our entire nation healthier and more prosperous.”