Part of the Bay Area News Group

Obama, Lofgren & Pelosi blast GOP on immigration

The rhetoric flew hot and heavy as Wednesday marked one year since the Senate’s introduction of a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill.

The Senate passed the vote, but the House’s GOP leadership has refused to take up that bill or offer one of its own. President Obama issued a statement Wednesday morning saying this means House Republicans prefer the status quo over meaningful reform.

“Instead of advancing commonsense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from ‘Dreamers,’” the president said. “The majority of Americans are ahead of House Republicans on this crucial issue and there is broad support for reform, including among Democrats and Republicans, labor and business, and faith and law enforcement leaders. We have a chance to strengthen our country while upholding our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, ranking Democrat on Judiciary’s Immigration subcommittee, issued a statement noting “even today a majority of Members of the House say that they favor immigration reform, which isn’t surprising because reform is overwhelmingly supported by a majority of Americans from across the political spectrum.”

“That support is one of the reasons why a movement has started to give immigration reform a fair up or down vote in the House,” said Lofgren, D-San Jose. “But the Republican-controlled House continues to stall on immigration reform, and as they continue to run out the clock, the window of opportunity to pass reform narrows.”

Then, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., issued a statement saying Obama had called him Wednesday after issuing his “partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together.”

“After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue,” Cantor said. “I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke. House Republicans do not support Senate Democrat’s immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House. I also reiterated to the President there are other issues where we can find common ground, build trust and get America working again. I hope the President can stop his partisan messaging, and begin to seriously work with Congress to address the issues facing working middle class Americans that are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.”

Nancy PelosiAnd that annoyed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

“In response to the President’s renewed call for action on comprehensive immigration reform, Congressman Cantor once again offered only excuses for inaction,” Pelosi said. “With 30 House Republicans on the record in support of comprehensive reform, Rep. Cantor’s ridiculous statement this evening confirms that the Republican leadership continues to stand in the way of legislation that would pass the House immediately if allowed to come to the floor. It’s time for Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor to get out of the way, and allow immigration reform to become a reality.”

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Under: Immigration, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 15 Comments »

Obama returns to Bay Area on May 8

President Obama will return to the Bay Area on Thursday, May 8 for a pair of high-priced events to raise money for the Democratic National Committee.

Tickets for a reception at the Palo Alto home of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer start at $1,000 for individual guests, while $5,000 buys a place in the photo line; $7,500 buys access and photos for two; $10,000 buys co-chair status; and $32,400 buys all that plus membership in the DNC Presidential Partners Program.

Mayer hosted Obama for a DNC fundraiser in October 2010, when she was still an executive at Google.

“We need the resources to put Democrats in office to move our country forward,” says the invitation to this upcoming event. “Since we do not take money from special interests, corporate lobbyists, and political action committees, we rely on dedicated Democrats like you. Please join us for a reception to support this important work.”

Obama also is expected to do a roundtable with about 20 tech executives that same day somewhere in Silicon Valley, with seats going for the $32,400 maximum contribution. It’s not yet known whether he’ll do any official events while he’s here, or whether he’ll be staying overnight.

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Obama presidency | 6 Comments »

Don’t like the poll results? Too bad.

Whenever we do a poll story, I’m a bit amazed at the vitriol and ignorance in some of the comments.

That holds true for my story in Tuesday’s editions about a Field Poll showing President Obama’s relative popularity in California, and Jessica Calefati’s story in Wednesday’s editions about how Gov. Jerry Brown is trouncing his challengers. Let me clear up a few misconceptions (or intentional misstatements):

1.) IT’S NOT OUR POLL

In the comments on Jessica’s story, RobThom wrote “The lib media loves polls, because you can get a poll to say anything you want.”

Except the “lib media” didn’t conduct the poll. Bay Area News Group doesn’t do its own polls on these issues, and we generally only write stories about California polls conducted by nonpartisan organizations of the highest reputation, such as Field Research, the Public Policy Institute of California and occasionally the University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times. We receive the same poll results as every other media outlet – even Fox News!

Lest you think the poll questions were biased, the Obama question was “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?” And here’s how the gubernatorial election question was phrased:

The upcoming June statewide election will be an open primary. This means that candidates from all parties – Democrats, Republicans and others – will be listed together on one ballot and voters can chose to vote for a candidate from any party or affiliation. I am going to read the names of some of the likely candidates for Governor in the June open primary election and please tell me who you would be your first choice if the election were being held today. Suppose the candidates were (CANDIDATES READ IN RANDOM ORDER) Who would be your first choice for Governor? (REPEAT IF NECESSARY)

2.) IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THE POLL DIDN’T CALL YOU

In the comments on my story, Tamara Lynn wrote, “They didn’t poll me…. In my generalized poll while speaking with friends, family and social media.. Obummer isn’t favored at all! Once again the merc printing only what it wants.. Stupid is as stupid does.”

Tamara apparently doesn’t know what a poll is – the only poll that surveys every registered voter is called an election. Field surveyed 1,000 Californians randomly selected from the state’s voter rolls. At last count, California had 17,660,257 registered voters, so Tamara had a 1-in-17,660 chance of getting called. Even with Field polling on Obama’s approval rating about four times a year, I’d advise her not to hold her breath. And of course her friends, family and social media say otherwise – that’s a self-selecting community of like-minded individuals, not a random poll.

3.) JUST BECAUSE YOU DISAGREE DOESN’T MAKE IT WRONG

In the comments on my story, Real American Ranger wrote, “Who ever wrote this article is obviously on crack. The experiment with putting a community organizer with zero real world experience in the white house has failed miserably.”

We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. The fact is, Barack Obama and Jerry Brown are riding high in California, borne by a minority-heavy voting population that skews significantly toward Democrats. There certainly are people who dislike Obama and Brown, but they are outnumbered. The polls show it, the elections show it – it walks and talks like a duck, yet a few vocal critics insist it’s a goose.

Try to remember, folks: Neither these nonpartisan polls nor this news organization are here to confirm your personal worldview. If you want that, I’m sure there’s a cable news channel that will make you very happy.

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Obama presidency, polls | 4 Comments »

CA15: President Obama endorses Eric Swalwell

Rep. Eric Swalwell announced Monday that he has President Barack Obama’s endorsement for re-election in the 15th Congressional District.

Eric Swalwell“Congressman Eric Swalwell has proved to be a tireless champion for families throughout California’s 15th District, bringing new energy and ideas to Congress,” Obama said in a statement released by Swalwell’s campaign. “Eric is a strong voice for creating good jobs, expanding economic opportunity, and growing the middle class.”

“Since day one, Eric has shown unwavering dedication to the needs of his constituents – helping veterans secure the benefits they’ve earned, protecting seniors, and ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work,” the president added. “I enthusiastically support Eric Swalwell’s reelection to Congress so the East Bay can continue to move forward.”

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, said he’s honored by the endorsement and has worked with the president to protect the middle class and help workers find jobs. “I look forward to working with President Obama to address the many challenges faced by my constituents, including ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work, taking care of our veterans, and growing our middle class.”

Ellen CorbettSwalwell’s sole challenger is a fellow Democrat, state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro; no other candidates have taken out papers in Alameda or Contra Costa counties so far for this race, and the filing deadline is this Friday, March 7.

“The president tends to endorse incumbents, the president endorsed the incumbent that Congressman Swalwell ran against last time and the incumbent didn’t win,” Corbett said Monday afternoon, referring to former Rep. Pete Stark. “People have an opportunity to take a look at the candidates and choose who they feel is most qualified for the job based on their qualifications and experience.”

Swalwell already has announced endorsements from national Democratic figures such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., as well as from various other members of Congress and all the mayors in his district.

But Corbett has been endorsed by her fellow state Senate Democrats, and drew enough votes at a local caucus last month to deny Swalwell a Democratic Party “pre-endorsement.” Both candidates will make their cases at the California Democratic Party convention this weekend in Los Angeles.

Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Barack Obama, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 17 Comments »

California guests at White House state dinner

Several Californians will be among the many dozens of diplomats, dignitaries and guests at tonight’s White House state dinner for French President Francois Hollande:

    Director and producer J.J. Abrams of Pacific Palisades, and wife, Katie McGrath
    Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and her guest, Barbara Jordan
    NBA player Jason Collins of Los Angeles and his boyfriend, Brunson Green
    Democratic activist Shefali Duggal of San Francisco and her husband, Rajat Duggal
    Television producer Ken Ehrlich of Westlake Village and his wife, Harriet Ehrlich
    Former insurance executive and philanthropist John Goldman of Atherton and his wife, Marcia Goldman
    Qualcomm cofounder and former chairman Irwin Jacobs of La Jolla and his wife, Joan Jacobs
    Actress and producer Mindy Kaling of Universal City and her friend, Jocelyn Leavitt
    SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina of La Canada-Flintridge and his guest, Arcelia Rocio Saenz
    Oracle heiress and Democratic fundraiser Nicola Miner of San Francisco and her husband, novelist Robert Mailer Anderson
    PayPal cofounder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk of Los Angeles and his ex-wife, Talulah Musk
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and her daughter, Jacqueline Kenneally
    Philanthropist and Democratic fundraiser Azita Raji of Tiburon and her husband, Gary Syman
    philanthropist and retired teacher Liz Simons of Atherton and her husband, Medley Partners Managing Director Mark Heising
    Big Block managing director Kenneth Solomon of Pacific Palisades and his wife, Melissa Solomon

Posted on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Under: Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

Obama to meet with tech executives Tuesday

President Obama will meet Tuesday with executives from leading tech companies – including some notable Bay Area names – to discuss progress made in addressing the glitches and breakdowns that plagued the HealthCare.gov website, a White House official said Monday.

In addition to talking about the botched rollout of the website – the portal connecting people seeking individual insurance policies under the nation’s new health care law – Obama and the tech executives will discuss how government can better deliver information technology “to maximize innovation, efficiency and customer service,” the official said.

Also on the agenda: “national security and the economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures,” and ways that the Obama administration can partner with the tech sector “to grow the economy, create jobs and address issues around income inequality and social mobility.”

Here’s the list of tech executives expected at the meeting:

  • Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
  • Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
  • Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
  • Reed Hastings, Co-Founder & CEO, Netflix
  • Drew Houston, Founder & CEO, Dropbox
  • Marissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo!
  • Burke Norton, Chief Legal Officer, Salesforce
  • Mark Pincus, Founder, Chief Product Officer & Chairman, Zynga
  • Shervin Pishevar, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Sherpa Global
  • Brian Roberts, Chairman & CEO, Comcast
  • Erika Rottenberg, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, LinkedIn
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
  • Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
  • Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft
  • Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T
  • Posted on Monday, December 16th, 2013
    Under: Obama presidency, Technology in politics | 8 Comments »

    More reactions to Obama’s health insurance delay

    We’ll be posting a full story about reactions to President Obama’s plan to delay cancellation of some individual health insurance plans that don’t meet standards set by the nation’s new law, but here are a few pols for whom we didn’t have space in that article.

    U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called the president’s proposal a “good step” that’s “very helpful in the implementation of the law.” She also spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about Republicans’ constant opposition to this law.

    “This is typical of Republicans through the generations. Every time we’ve tried to expand health care, they’ve opposed it and opposed it and tried to derail it,” she said, adding that the new insurance law can be fixed “but that’s not good enough for my Republican friends. They just want to tear it down, just like they wanted to tear down Medicare.”

    Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, said in an email that he supports the president’s fix, which “continues to provide more choices without undermining the strengths of the new health care law. Implementing any new law creates a few bumps. We should be look for minor tweaks that strengthen the law rather than return to the old system that left millions of Americans without quality coverage.”

    Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, issued a statement calling Obama’s proposal “a step in the right direction towards fixing issues with the health care law. This was a promise that was made and it is a promise that should be kept.”

    “I’ve said from the beginning that the health care reform law isn’t perfect,” Thompson said. “But instead of engaging in partisan bickering and playing blame games, I want to work to make health care reform better. … If we quit the partisan games, we can build on the reforms made in Obamacare, work out the imperfections, and make sure every American can get quality, affordable health insurance. That is a goal worth fighting for.”

    Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013
    Under: Barbara Boxer, healthcare reform, Mike Thompson, Obama presidency, Sam Farr, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 27 Comments »

    State & federal calls for relief to Philippines

    California and federal officials made urgent pleas Wednesday for more government and private aid for the Philippines, which is reeling in the aftermath of deadly Typhoon Haiyan.

    In Sacramento, Assemblyman Rob Bonta – the Legislature’s first Filipino-American member – held a news conference Wednesday with Speaker John Perez and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, encouraging Californians to support relief efforts.

    “California is uniquely affected by the typhoon in that our state is home to the largest Filipino American population in the entire United States,” said Bonta, D-Alameda. “There are approximately 1.5 million Filipino Americans in California; this represents 43 percent of the nation’s entire Filipino American population. Many came to the U.S. within the last decade and still have deep ties to the Philippines. I’m proud that our state leaders stand in solidarity in support of the relief efforts.”

    Jaime Ascalon, deputy consul general of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, thanked Californians for their help. “It is great to see that when we are in need, California’s greatness, generosity and leadership is without hesitation.”

    Pérez, D-Los Angeles, noted Assembly Democrats’ website now has a page directing people to organizations helping to assist typhoon victims. “As Californians, we have had our share of natural disasters, and we understand how horrific the cost can be — not just in dollars and cents, but in human terms. The photos and news reports have shown the devastation… And as with other recent massive disasters in Haiti and Japan, the people of California have been eager to respond.”

    Steinberg said the stunning devastation in the Philippines puts Californians’ daily worries in perspective. “The California spirit is to ask what we can do to help and then to follow through. But recovery in such massive disasters will take years. What we cannot forget is that long after the news coverage wanes and the cameras are gone, the suffering and the need for help will remain for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”

    Californians who want to donate to relief efforts also can visit the American Red Cross’s Capital Region website or the CaliforniaVolunteer website.

    Haiyan devastation

    Meanwhile, two Bay Area House members introduced a joint resolution Wednesday urging Congress to render aid.

    “The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the United States run deeper than any flood waters,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a news release. “I urge my colleagues to support this resolution to show our friends, the good people of the Philippines, that – as they stood with us in World War II – the American people stand with them at this, their time of greatest need. There are so many Filipino families in my district grieving over this and they deserve to know we are doing all we can to help.”

    Speier’s 14th Congressional District has the largest population of Filipino Americans of any district in the nation – almost 70,000.

    Joining Speier in introducing the resolution was Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, whose 17th Congressional District is the first in the continental U.S. with an Asian-American majority, and who is chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

    “Alongside the 60,000 Filipino Americans in my congressional district, as well as the 3.4 million across the country, my heart goes out to the people of the Philippines and all those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan,” Honda said in the release. “I draw upon the spirit of Bayanihan – where communities join together to uplift their neighbors – and call our global community to action and stand in support and solidarity with the relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines.”

    The two lawmakers’ resolution expresses the deepest condolences from the United States to the people of the Philippines affected by the typhoon, which has claimed nearly 1,800 lives and left more than 600,000 people homeless. It also urges additional support for the victims in the recovery and rebuilding process. Despite an initial release of $25 million in U.N. emergency funds, aid workers report medicine shortages and difficulty accessing fresh water and food.

    Speier’s office said the U. S. military already is helping the Philippine government with aerial reconnaissance, search and rescue, and supplies and resources. Over 150 troops are on the ground; the USS George Washington nuclear supercarrier will arrive within a few days; and two KC-130 Hercules aircraft were deployed from Japan. More assets are on short notice for deployment depending on the level of need.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development is working with the Philippine government and international relief groups to provide water, food and emergency shelter; it’s estimated that 2.5 million survivors will need food aid for the next six months. The U.S. government is providing $20 million in immediate aid: $10 million from USAID’s office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to provide emergency shelter and hygiene kits for 10,000 families, and $10 million from USAID’s Food for Peace program. About 55 metric tons of nutrition are expected to arrive on Thursday to feed about 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for five days; 1,000 metric tons of rice shipped from Sri Lanka is expected to arrive in early December and will feed 60,000 people for one month.

    Speier will hold a telephone town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday with 100 Filipino-Americans from her district who are concerned for relatives or friends affected by the typhoon; representatives from the federal government and the Red Cross will be on the call, too. “Nothing can ease the pain of those who have lost loved ones or are uncertain if their loved ones are alive, but we will not spare any efforts to help the survivors rebuild their lives,” Speier said.

    More, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Jackie Speier, John Perez, Mike Honda, Rob Bonta, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

    More White House interns with Bay Area ties

    The White House today announced its Fall 2013 interns, including several who either hail from or attended school in the Bay Area.

    This crop of interns, along with their hometowns and the universities they most recently attended, includes:

      Joanna Chen of Anaheim (University of California, Berkeley)
      Caitlin Etienne of Richfield, Minn. (Monterey Institute of International Studies)
      Elva Linares of Oakland (University of California Hastings College of the Law)

    Interns work in one White House departments including the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of Chief of Staff, the Office of Communications, the Office of Digital Strategy, the Office of the First Lady, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Management and Administration, the Office of Presidential Correspondence, the Office of Presidential Personnel, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of the White House Counsel, and the Office of White House Fellows.

    Posted on Monday, October 21st, 2013
    Under: Obama presidency | No Comments »

    Tauscher to speak at Cal on U.S.-Russia relations

    Ellen Tauscher started the summer optimistic that the improving U.S.-Russia relationship would provide fertile ground for new arms-control agreements – but it’s been a tough couple of months since then.

    “This is like batting-cage practice when the machine goes wild and is throwing balls at you left and right,” she said in a telephone interview Monday. “Events can overtake you.”

    negotiating aloneTauscher, a former East Bay congresswoman who served for three years as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, will be back in the Bay Area on Oct. 30 to deliver a speech entitled “Negotiating Alone? The United States, Russia and the Prospect of Arms Control.”

    Sponsored by the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at UC-Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, Tauscher’s address will assess the prospects for future arms control agreements between two nations that still retain vast nuclear arsenals.

    Tauscher in June had co-authored an article in Foreign Policy magazine with Igor Ivanov – a president of the Russian International Affairs Council and former Russian Federation foreign minister – in which they wrote the U.S.-Russian political dialogue was finally gaining momentum toward mutually assured stability.

    But things turned sour this summer. Russia in June enacted new laws limiting civil liberties for gays and lesbians; in August gave asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden; and throughout maintained its support for its longtime ally Syrian President Bashar Assad during that nation’s brutal civil war. President Obama cancelled a September summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    “Can this marriage be saved?” Tauscher quipped Monday, before adding that it must be.

    “It is a fundamentally important relationship for many, many reasons, and we are not at our best right now – that is for sure – but I think that everybody who has been part of this for a long time knows that relationships ebb and wane,” she said, adding efforts are afoot to “try to get back to a better footing” and “find a way to remember that we do some of the best works in the world together.”

    Ellen TauscherThe Syria situation – in which Russia for years has blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Assad’s government, and then last month brokered a deal for destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons – has been particularly trying, Tauscher said.

    “This is when it’s very difficult to keep a sense of equilibrium in the relationship because it’s not just the obvious bilateral and international roles that we play,” she said. “It’s very complicated when third, fourth and fifth parties are involved, and that’s part of the situation we find ourselves in now.”

    She said she hopes the “Track II” nonofficial talks that she’s a part of will be fruitful as a “back channel way for conversations to keep going when the public face of the relationship is not the prettiest.”

    Tauscher is now senior public policy adviser to the Baker Donelson law firm in Washington, D.C. Registration for her Matsui Lecture is available online.

    Posted on Monday, October 21st, 2013
    Under: Ellen Tauscher, International politics | 2 Comments »