Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category

20th CD: Jimmy Panetta’s Deft Move Against TPP

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

jimmypanettaAs he announced his candidacy Tuesday to succeed Democratic Rep. Sam Farr in California’s 20th Congressional District, Democrat Jimmy Panetta — responding to a brilliant question from Calbuzz — took off the table the one issue that could have given him trouble: he declared his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Farr is one of the rare liberal Democrats who supports TPP, as does Jimmy’s father, Leon Panetta, the former Congressman, Budget Director, White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense, CIA Director and current Central Coast icon.

But the one potential 20th CD candidate who could give Panetta a serious run for his money – Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning – is a strong ally of the labor movement, which is implacably opposed to the TPP; Monning’s own fervent opposition might have helped to rally troops and raise money in a potential congressional race.

On Tuesday in front of the bayside Custom House in Monterey, Panetta the Younger deftly throttled the issue. “Based on my initial understanding and what I have read, it appears that right now I’m against it, I’m leaning towards against it,” replied to Calbuzz during a brief and rare venture in Actual Reporting by at least half of us.

Call Off the Dogs. Not exactly full-throated opposition, but likely good enough to ward off the goon squad. Calbuzz loyalists will no doubt recall that back in July we gave a ration to those Democrats who have excoriated others in their party — like Farr — who have had the good sense to support TPP.

There are other potential Democratic candidates, and even one Republican announced candidate, for the seat Farr has held for 22 years in a district that today encompasses  Monterey, San Benito and about half of Santa Cruz counties.

Democrats comprise 52% of the voters and Republicans are out-numbered by independents 23%-21%. Barack Obama carried the district 71%-26% over Mitt Romney in 2012. Farr won his last two elections with 74% and 75% of the vote.

In short, the district is as blue as the Pacific Ocean it abuts, especially from Santa Cruz to Monterey, wherein lies the bulk of the vote.

So while Republican Pacific Grove City Councilwoman Casey Lucias has tossed her Naval Postgraduate School hat into the ring, she’s pretty much driftwood from the start. On the other hand, there are plenty of Democrats who could make the race lively.

Leon’s Progeny The 46-year-old Panetta has never held elective office, but has been involved in local and regional affairs for years, as a member of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary advisory council, the Community Foundation for Monterey County board of directors, the National Steinbeck Center board of trustees and the board of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation. He served as a naval reserve intelligence officer and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007-08.

Best of all, he has the golden name. Which may be all it takes, especially if Leon calls on friends like Nancy Pelosi, Bill and/or Hillary Clinton and any number of mega-Democrats to help out his youngster.

bill_monningMonning is No Slouch, Then there’s the incredibly qualified Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning, 64, who served four years in the Assembly before being elected to the state Senate in 2012. He co-authored the End of Life Option Act, helped develop the Coastal Trail in the Big Sur area and worked to remove the San Clemente Dam.

Before serving in Sacramento, he was a professor at the Monterey College of Law and a professor of International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He’s also former president and co-founder of Global Majority, Inc., an organization committed to education, training and advocacy in the field of non-violent conflict resolution. And he was a Fulbright scholar in Peru and Chile.

But Monning’s Senate seat is also on the line in 2016 and he’ll have to decide if he wants to risk a sure-fire re-election to the Senate for a bruising and unsure battle for Congress. His Senate district overlaps with the Congressional district in large measure and he’s tight with labor, which can be a huge asset in this deep blue landscape. But Panetta is sure to be well-funded and endorsed. And now that Panetta’s come out against TPP, labor wouldn’t be as fired up for Monning as they might otherwise be.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus, also is said to be considering running. His Assembly district overlaps with about 54% percent of the 20th District and slightly more than half the district’s population is Hispanic.

Caballero-Secy-750How About a Woman? That’s also an asset for Anna Caballero, who recently resigned as California Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, and has served in the Assembly and on the Salinas City Council and as Mayor.

If Emily’s List decides to seek a qualified woman for the 20th CD seat, Caballero would be a strong contender. She’s reportedly considering the race but also is said to be thinking about running for the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.

Others who get mentions – but not serious consideration, are California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, a former Assembly member who’s happy as a clam in his current job and  Assemblyman Mark Stone.

We dabble in issues: In his announcement speech Tuesday, Panetta voiced support for comprehensive immigration reform, budget discipline and tax fairness, clean energy and quality education, equal justice and – notably – national service for all young people in exchange for educational benefits.

philwithleonAsked by Calbuzz if he supports President Obama’s assignment of about 50 special forces operatives to Syria, Panetta gave qualified backing, emphasizing that special forces should be engaged primarily in intelligence and targeting operations. He said he’d be reluctant to add more “boots on the ground” – i.e. combat troops – to fight ISIS.

Asked about the same issue, Leon Panetta, the former Defense Secretary, had no hesitation urging Obama to organize a coalition of special forces – from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, other Arab states and Europe – to lead the charge in wiping out ISIS. “The civilized world has to come together to defeat ISIS,” said the elder Panetta.

As for seeing his son announce for the Congressional seat he once held, Panetta said, “It’s a great feeling to pass the baton of responsibility on.”

In Their Own Words: The GOP Plan for Losing

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

hillary-clinton-debate-dataThe canned intro to last night’s Fox Business News network Republican presidential debate positioned the event this way: “For the first time, the end of the road can be seen on the horizon.”

Let us pray that it is so.

In our latest, we-watch-this-stuff-so-you-don’t-have-to exercise in media masochism, the Calbuzz Tweeting Clique and Carly Fiorina Fan Club Society extracted this five-point collective platform.

-Eliminate progressive taxes.

-Deport illegal immigrants.

-Hold down the minimum wage.

-Repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing.

-Endlessly raise military spending to fight more wars in the Mideast.

Oh sure, there were a couple dissenters – Jeb Bush and John Kasich actually spoke up for a path to citizenship and Rand Paul upset everyone by proposing sanity in military adventurism – but, all in all, that’s the way the night went among the eight candidates on the stage in Milwaukee:.

Let’s go to the video:

trump hairWhy can’t we all just be like The Donald?

Q: Mr. Trump, as the leading presidential candidate on this stage and one whose tax plan exempts couples making up to $50,000 a year from paying any federal income taxes at all, are you sympathetic to the protesters cause since a $15 wage works out to about $31,000 a year?

Trump: I can’t be Neil. And the and the reason I can’t be is that we are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily. There is nothing that we do now to win. We don’t win anymore…

But, taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum.

newcarlyCarly discovers real life (Hey, didn’t that mom used to work at HP?)

Fiorina: Well, first of all, I must say as I think about that question, I think about a woman I met the other day. I would guess she was 40 years old. She had several children. And she said to me, you know, Carly, I go to bed every night afraid for my children’s future. And that really struck me. This is America. A mother is going to bed afraid for her children’s future.

jeb-heyJeb cooks his goose, once and for all.  

Bush: Twelve million illegal immigrants, to send them back, 500,000 a month, is just not — not possible. And it’s not embracing American values. And it would tear communities apart. And it would send a signal that we’re not the kind of country that I know America is.

And even having this conversation sends a powerful signal — they’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this. That’s the problem with this. We have to win the presidency. And the way you win the presidency is to have practical plans. Lay them out there.

What we need to do is allow people to earn legal status where they pay a fine, where they work, where they don’t commit crimes, where they learn English, and over an extended period of time, they earn legal status. That’s the path — a proper path…

ben-carsonBen Carson: A great president for the Gilded Age

Carson: Everybody should pay the same proportion of what they make. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. You get same rights and privileges.

I don’t see how anything gets a whole lot fairer than that. But you also have to get rid of all the deductions and all the loopholes because that is the thing that tilts it in one direction or another. And you have to set the rate at an appropriate level.

Now I will say that, there are a lot of people who say, if you get rid of the deductions, you ruin the American dream because, you know, home mortgage deduction. But the fact of the matter is, people had homes before 1913 when we introduced the federal income tax, and later after that started deductions.

And they say there will be no more charitable giving. We had churches before that and charitable organizations before that. The fact of the matter is, I believe if you put more money in people’s pockets that they will actually be more generous rather than less generous.

ted_cruz_ap_328Ted Cruz channels Rick Perry (how many agencies do you count?)

Cruz: But on top of that, today, we rolled out a spending plan. $500 billion in specific cuts — five major agencies that I would eliminate. The IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and HUD — and then 25 specific programs.

Dr. Carson goes Full Palin on the Mideast

Q: Dr. Carson, you were against putting troops on the ground in Iraq and against a large military force in Afghanistan. Do you support the president’s decision to now put 50 special ops forces in Syria and leave 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan?

Carson: Well, putting the special ops people in there is better than not having them there, because they — that’s why they’re called special ops, they’re actually able to guide some of the other things that we’re doing there.

And what we have to recognize is that Putin is trying to really spread his influence throughout the Middle East. This is going to be his base. And we have to oppose him there in an effective way.

We also must recognize that it’s a very complex place. You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there.

What we’ve been doing so far is very ineffective, but we can’t give up ground right there. But we have to look at this on a much more global scale. We’re talking about global jihadists. And their desire is to destroy us and to destroy our way of life. So we have to be saying, how do we make them look like losers? Because that’s the way that they’re able to gather a lot of influence.

And I think in order to make them look like losers, we have to destroy their caliphate. And you look for the easiest place to do that? It would be in Iraq. And if — outside of Anbar in Iraq, there’s a big energy field. Take that from them. Take all of that land from them. We could do that, I believe, fairly easily, I’ve learned from talking to several generals, and then you move on from there.

marco rubio 29Marco Rubio: Winter is Coming 

Rubio:  I need to add a couple of points to this. The first is, I’ve never met Vladimir Putin, but I know enough about him to know he is a gangster. He is basically an organized crime figure that runs a country, controls a $2 trillion economy. And is using to build up his military in a rapid way despite the fact his economy is a disaster.

He understands only geopolitical strength. And every time he has acted anywhere in the world, whether it’s in Ukraine or Georgia before that, or now in the Middle East, it’s because he is trusting in weakness. His calculation in the Middle East is that he has seen what this president has done, which is nothing, the president has no strategy, our allies in the region do not trust us…

Vladimir Putin is exploiting that weakness, for purposes of edging the Americans out as the most important geopolitical power broker in the region. And we do have a vested interest. And here’s why.

Because all those radical terrorist groups that, by the way, are not just in Syriaand in Iraq, ISIS is now in Libya. They are a significant presence in Libya, and in Afghanistan, and a growing presence in Pakistan.

Soon they will be in Turkey. They will try Jordan. They will try Saudi Arabia. They are coming to us. They recruit Americans using social media. And they don’t hate us simply because we support Israel. They hate us because of our values. They hate us because our girls go to school. They hate us because women drive in the United States.

Either they win or we win, and we had better take this risk seriously, it is not going away on its own.

randpaul1Rand Paul’s blasphemy

Paul:  I think it’s particularly naive, particularly foolish, particularly naive, to think that we’re not going to talk to Russia. The idea of a no fly zone, realize that this is also something that Hillary Clinton agrees with several on our side with, you’re asking for a no fly zone in an area in which Russia already flies.

Russia flies in that zone at the invitation of Iraq.

I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but you better know at least what we’re getting into. So, when you think it’s going to be a good idea to have a no fly zone over Iraq, realize that means you are saying we are going to shoot down Russian planes. If you’re ready for that, be ready to send your sons and daughters to another war in Iraq.

I don’t want to see that happen. I think the first war in Iraq was a mistake…

Kasich goes totally squish

john-kasich-427jc021711Kasich: What Jeb is talking about with the big banks is to force them to reserve their capital, people who invest it and they hold their capital, so that if the bank goes down, the people who are invested in the bank are the ones that pay. That’s what he’s trying to say.

Secondly, I’ll tell you about Wall Street: There’s too much greed. And the fact is, a free enterprise system is a system that’s produced the greatest wealth for the world. But you know Michael Novak, the great Catholic theologian, says that a free enterprise system that is not underlaid with values — and we should all think about the way we conduct our lives — yes, free enterprise is great, profits are great, but there have to be some values that underlay it, and they need a good ethics lesson on Wall Street on a regular basis to keep them in check so we, the people, do not lose.

Most important exchange of the night

Paul: You can be strong without being involved in every civil war around the war… Ronald Reagan was strong, but Ronald Reagan didn’t…

Fiorina:Ronald Reagan walked away at Reykjavik.

Paul:send troops into the Middle East…

Fiorina:he walked away, he quit talks…

Paul:Can I finish…

trump-carly-lead--e1442527025316Fiorinawhen it was time to quit talking…

Paul:Can I finish my time?

Trump: Why does she keep interrupting everybody?


Trump: Terrible.


P.S. re another Republican phony: Remember when George Will argued that Neel Kashkari, who ran against Jerry Brown for governor in 2014, would transform the California Republican Party like Barry Goldwater transformed the national GOP (as if he did)? Our response was to say this was bullshit and to note that Kashkari had absolutely no interest in the GOP whatsoever. “The widely known political imp Tyrion of Kashkari has not for one minute shown an interest in re-branding his party. He’s desperately trying to make a case against a governor who balanced the budget and calmed the hyperpartisan dysfunction in Sacramento,” Calbuzz wrote. So loyal readers could not have been surprised at the news on Tuesday that the former executive at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Pacific Investment Management Co. has taken a job as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. ABC — Always Believe Calbuzz.


GOP Debate: Rubio Rises, Trump Fades, Bush Lame

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

RubioBushThe third Republican debate was a messy, nasty event with lousy questioning and control by the CNBC panel. The news? Donald Trump didn’t win. Jeb Bush didn’t impress. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie were strong. Meh.

Our scorecard:


Marco Rubio – Counter-punched effectively when Bush attacked his attendance record. Lots of sharp lines, especially attacks on Hillary Clinton and the news media. Batted away his personal financial mess by saying he’s focused on the peoples’ finances, not his own.

Chris Christie – Hard to argue with his point that CNBC was stupid for asking about fantasy football when we’re under attack by ISIS. Argued strongly how he’d save Social Security and Medicare. Sounded tough, feisty and alive. Only candidate to talk straight to the camera.

Ted Cruz – Led the charge against the MSM. Said he may be in the Senate but he’s still an outsider (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Trump supporters). Would privatize Social Security, audit the Fed, abolish the IRS and return to the gold standard. If you’re a right-winger, what’s not to like?


Jeb Bush --  Had the best line of the night when he compared Rubio’s Senate attendance to “the French work week,” but overall had no punch, let alone a  breakout moment. He awkwardly lost his big exchange with former protege despite the snappy one-liner. His glasses were crooked glasses and his tie was badly knotted. Didn’t they have a mirror in his green room? Weak, wimpy and vacant. Can slow and steady money survive?

Carly Fiorina – Never came back from Becky Quick’s on-the-money dismantling of her disastrous CEO stint at Hewlett Packard. Said she’d be Hillary’s worst nightmare and all but promised a cat fight if she gets a debate with HRC. Criticized for constantly looking angry last time, she managed to smile, whine and snark at the same time last night.

John Kasich –  SHOUTED at every turn. Tried to take out Trump and Carson by arguing you can’t elect people who don’t know how to govern; it was a good opening gambit but he failed to sustain the attack after The Donald bitch slapped him over it.

Rand Paul – He was there. For what purpose remains unclear, however.

CNBC – You didn’t have to be a conservative to hate on them. Tough to overstate how truly, truly horrible their moderators and cast of thousands were.


Donald Trump – Sure his casinos went bankrupt but he came out just fine. He’s got a concealed-carry permit and gun-free zones are great for crazy people. He’s wonderful, just ask him. He did not dominate and for a while was hardly present.

Ben Carson –  Insisted his flat tax plan (up to 15% from 10% originally) would not blow a gazillion-dollar hole in the budget and that there was nothing improper with his relationship with Mannatech, the questionable supplement company for which he cut ads. Zzzz.

Mike Huckabee – He’s a pretty good preacher and should have stayed on Fox. The former 400-lb man looks like he’s packed back on a few pounds since the first debate.

For a humorous take on the wackiest dust-ups, check out 21 Hilarious and WTF Moments From the GOP Debate from Rolling Stone.

Trippi: 10 Days In October Revealed Hillary’s Prowess

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Hillary-Clinton-Benghazi.jl.102215By Joe Trippi
Special to Calbuzz

For months the political punditry class was either blind or pretended it couldn’t see things that should have been clear when it came to Hillary Clinton’s strengths.

When someone as well known as Hillary starts the race with 60% of the vote against a bunch of Democrats no one has ever heard of, two things are true: some of that vote is soft, based on name identification, and someone else is going to get the 35% of the vote that isn’t with her.

Yes, Bernie Sanders has emerged as that candidate. But he has a long, long way to go to be the threat to her nomination that some pundits continue to pretend he is.

Iowa is 92% white and New Hampshire is 94%. More than any other states that come after them, a higher percentage of Democrats in these two states are white progressives, a group Sanders has energized.

whitepeopleIA and NH Ain’t the Universe. These two states are great to give underfunded or unknown candidates a chance, but they’re not a good gauge of how that candidate will do in the much broader and more diverse Democratic party in post-New Hampshire states.

Consider a few facts should have been clear from the beginning and should still be clear.

One of Hillary’s core strengths is her strong appeal to that much broader electorate. She does well with progressive Democrats, she’s strong with moderate Democrats and, importantly, she runs even stronger with non-whites.

The most significant fact the punditry continues to overlook is that unless and until Sanders shows an ability to expand his support among non-whites and the broader Democratic electorate he poses no threat to win the Democrat nomination. Period.

Joe Biden is the sitting vice president of the United States. As he started to openly express that he was thinking of entering the race, and as the Draft Biden Committee cleverly kept his potential run at the center of political speculation (something the punditry loves), of course he was going to rise in the polls and of course some of that increase was going to come at the expense of Hillary.

Bernie-Sanders-AP77174442780Blind Pundits Persist. But what the punditry kept pretending it did not see was that no matter how much they speculated, Biden never got higher than 20% or so in most polls and never got above Sanders in most of them. The pundits could ignore these facts. But as someone who likes Biden a lot — one who thinks he would make a great president — I am glad he didn’t.

Finally, the barrage of attacks the GOP has aimed at Clinton month after month is clearly because they fear her most as an opponent in the general election. The fact is, no matter how self-inflicted the original opening may have been, the punditry has ignored from the start the fact that the GOP would not relentlessly attack Hillary during the Democratic primary if they thought those same attacks would win them the White House in the general election.

Clinton is so strong that the GOP is using everything from one more investigation on Benghazi to the self-inflicted mistake of her emails to attack her as hard as possible right now. It’s politics. That’s all it ever was. She has said she made a mistake in how she set up her emails — after the last five months, does the punditry think it’s a mistake she will ever repeat?

joebidenThe Big Reveal. Ten days in October revealed the fundamental dynamics that were already in play.

On October 13, Hillary took the stage at the Democratic Party debate in Las Vegas and for the first time in months it didn’t matter if the pundits could see or not. Clinton’s strengths were self- evident and were clearly at a level above the rest of an able field – a field that also displayed a stark difference with the GOP field and their two recent debates.

Days later, Hillary’s strengths beyond Iowa and New Hampshire were on display as U.S. Rep.  Jim Clyburn of South Carolina urged Vice President Biden to stay out of the race and 50 black mayors, half of them from South Carolina, endorsed Hillary Clinton — making it clear that Biden, let alone Sanders, would be hard pressed to win there.

On Wednesday, October 21, Biden, the only Democrat who had a conceivable but steep uphill path to actually challenge Hillary for the nomination, announced he would not run.

trey_gowdy2Kitchen Sink is Empty. Then on Thursday, October 23, Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee failed to produce the smoking gun Clinton’s detractors were hoping for. Instead the reality was revealed, once and for all, that what two GOP congressman and a conservative former investigator for the committee had been saying was true: the committee was politically motivated and designed to weaken and destroy the Democratic frontrunner.

This set of conditions had been there for months. But it took 10 days in October to reveal it. And now the punditry is proclaiming Hillary has risen from the abyss.

Of course, I am reluctantly a member of the pundit class too, But I have been saying this for months. And there is one more thing I am pretty sure I’ll be right about: having failed to destroy Hillary in the primaries (although they are not going to stop trying) the GOP is going to unleash one of the longest and most sustained attacks on a Democratic nominee in history.

joetrippiThink Hillary Clinton isn’t tough enough to fight for you and win? Just watch.

Joe Trippi, who began working in politics in San Jose when dinosaurs roamed the earth, is a Democratic campaign strategist who was Howard Dean’s campaign manager for president in 2004 and served as a senior strategist and media consultant for Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor in 2010.  He writes for the L.A. Times and is a Fox News contributor. 


Why Bernie Fans Are Wrong On Who Won the Debate

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Bernie-Sanders-AP77174442780UPDATE: When we posted this, it was centered on a critique of the alleged polls Bernie Sanders fans were citing to argue that he’d won the debate. Since then, two legit online polls — from NBC and Huffington Post — have verified that not only did Hillary Clinton win the debate, she picked up preference points as well.

Lots of left-liberal, “progressive,” and anti-Establishment Democrats who love Bernie Sanders have been screaming bloody murder because, as they see it, Bernie was declared the winner of the Democrats’ first debate in focus groups and polls but Hillary Clinton was deemed the winner by pundits and commentators of the mainstream media.

What gives? they ask.

Here’s what gives. There is absolutely no evidence that the focus groups put together by CNN, Fusion and Fox included a genuine cross section of Democratic and independent voters or were led by non-partisan professionals. Any seasoned pollster could make a focus group say any damn thing he or she wanted them to say.

The “polls” that are cited are all online “surveys” with self-selected participants who cannot possibly represent a genuine random sample of viewers or voters. Whether on left- or right-wing web sites makes no difference: any group of committed people can control the results of almost any online “survey.”

MSM Not Necessarily Right This is not to say the collective judgment of the media analysts is automatically correct. But given the overwhelming bias against Hillary Clinton most of these same analysts had expressed before the debate, it’s hard to argue they were primed to give her special treatment after the debate.

Clinton’s answers were sharp, her demeanor was poised, she was strong where she needed to be and gentle where it was called for. She showed humor and compassion, wit and wisdom. She was weak on the issue of legalization of recreational marijuana: she should state clearly whether she’s for it or against it. But on every other issue she had a well-defined, arguable position.

One point Sanders made that we’ve not seen discussed was his argument why he believes a democratic socialist  (who would be red-baited as a commie in a general election) can win the presidency.

Hillary_Clinton_2016All that matters, he said, is that enough people get out and vote. In other words, if he were the nominee and failed to win it would be the fault of the American people who failed to how up at the polls. But blaming the voters has never been a particularly smart strategy – even if a candidate tries to inoculate himself in advance of what would be, we think, a crushing, perhaps 50-state, defeat.

Many analysts – including Calbuzz – concluded that there was only one candidate in the Democrats’ debate who looked and sounded like a potential president of the United States.

And that was Hillary Clinton.