Democratic lawmakers say Fast and Furious proof of need for harsher gun laws

From Hot Air:

Right on cue, Democratic lawmakers have begun to say the DOJ’s lethal and irresponsible Fast and Furious program underscores the need for stricter gun control laws:

“This hunt for blame doesn’t really speak about the problem,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein at a recent Senate Judiciary hearing while discussing Fast and Furious.

“And the problem is, anybody can walk in and buy anything, .50-caliber weapons, sniper weapons, buy them in large amounts, and send them down to Mexico. So, the question really becomes, what do we do about this?”

The ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) have introduced a dedicated firearms trafficking statute, but it has stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.

Republicans rightly have pushed back against this narrative. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) put it best when he said simply, “I get it, I’d want to change the subject too if I were them. I’m happy to have a conversation about broader gun laws, but we’re going to do it after Fast and Furious.”

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High Speed Financial Train Wreck


From CalWatchdog:

The news that the California High-Speed Rail Authority finallyrevealed its long-awaited business plan only made the state’s residents more suspicious of the monster rail system. With a $99 billion price tag, a 300 percent cost increase since the 2008 voter-approved measure, and a claim of more than 1 million jobs created, High-Speed Rail appears to be taking over as the WPA project of California’s future.

But many say that $99 million is not the final figure. The the plan, originally billed as a $9.9 billion bond measure for a $40 billion train system, now has unlimited borrowing and spending, as well as a yearly $5.3 billion cost for upkeep.

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Oakland Mayor Jean Quan angers Occupy camp’s supporters, rivals


From the SF Chronicle:

Mayor Jean Quan told residents and others gathered at a raucous City Council meeting this week that the Occupy Oakland encampment at City Hall is damaging the city.

Hundreds of jobs are being lost, police are being diverted from violent parts of town, some businesses are closing, and others are choosing not to locate in downtown Oakland at all, she said at Thursday’s special City Council meeting.

Yet at the same meeting, three of Quan’s staunchest supporters urged the council to support the Occupy Oakland encampment. One of them, Don Link, told The Chronicle that they spoke at the meeting on behalf of a group that emerged from Quan’s mayoral campaign and is led by Quan’s husband, Floyd Huen.

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Obama Administration Opposes Prayer at WWII Memorial

From Front Porch Politics:

Republican lawmakers and conservative activists are expressing outrage after the Obama administration announced its objection to adding President Franklin Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The objection was noted during a congressional hearing on Rep. Bill Johnson’s, R-Ohio, bill — the “World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2011.”

“It is unconscionable that the Obama administration would stand in the way of honoring our nation’s distinguished World War II veterans,” Johnson said. “President Roosevelt’s prayer gave solace, comfort and strength to our nation and our brave warriors as we fought against tyranny and oppression.”

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Rail plan splits GOP leaders; Huff is for it, Dutton opposed

From the Daily Bulletin:

From boondoggle to significant?

The man who many believe will be the next Republican leader in the state Senate has a completely different viewpoint on the state’s proposed high-speed rail plan than the current holder of that position.

Sen. Bob Huff, R-Walnut, sees the plan as critical to improving the California economy. The man he may replace as GOP leader, Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, sees the San Francisco-to-Anaheim line as simply a waste of money.

Dutton’s opposition didn’t change this week following the release of a business plan that gave a detailed look at the project and pegged its cost at nearly $100 billion over 20 years.

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U.S. economy added 80,000 jobs in October, fewer than expected

From the LA Times:

The nation’s economy continued to grow sluggishly in October, adding just 80,000 jobs as concerns about the future weighed on employers and consumers, curtailing both hiring and spending. 

The unemployment rate dipped slightly, to 9.0% from 9.1% the month before, and the government revised upwards employment figures from both August and September. But the economy still isn’t creating the 125,000 jobs a month economists say are needed to bring down the unemployment rate.

“Employers are riding a turtle when we were hoping they’d get on a Thoroughbred,” said Patrick O’Keefe, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Labor who is now director of economic research at accounting firm J.H. Cohn.

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High-Speed Rail Board Votes to Seek $2.7 Billion of State Bond Money

From Voice of OC:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority board voted unanimously Thursday to seek the Legislature’s permission to use $2.7 billion in state bond money to help start construction of the planned $98.5-billion train system.

The 6-0 vote came after more than two hours of public testimony in Sacramento from dozens of critics of the troubled plan, which would connect Anaheim and San Francisco with 220-mph bullet trains. The board voted without discussion.

The Rail Authority needs the state funds to qualify for $3.3 billion in federal stimulus money that can’t be spent unless most of it is matched. The plan is to start construction in mid-to-late 2012 in the Central Valley.

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California Forward proposes new government overhaul plan

From the Sac Bee:

A leading California think tank on Thursday rolled out its latest ballot proposal to tackle the Golden State’s fiscal and governance woes.

The list of fixes endorsed by California Forward includes shifting to a two-year budget and curbing last-minute legislative amendments by requiring that all bills are made available to the public at least three days before final passage.

The political arm of the foundation-funded nonpartisan group filed paperwork Thursday to place its full proposal on the 2012 ballot through a constitutional amendment.

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Gov. Jerry Brown fires state’s top oil regulators

From the LA Times:

Gov. Jerry Brown has fired the state’s top two oil and gas production regulators.

On Thursday, Derek Chernow, acting director of the California Department of Conservation, and Elena Miller, head of the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, received pink slips from the administration.

Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency, confirmed the removals but declined to provide additional details, saying only that both officials “served at the pleasure of the governor.” Replacing Chernow is Clifford Rechtschaffen, a senior adviser to the governor on energy, environmental and agricultural issues and a former special assistant attorney general under Brown.

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Pension reform group’s initiatives may spur Legislature

From the SJ Mercury:

A pair of pension reform initiatives filed Wednesday could shake up the Capitol landscape and jolt reluctant Democrats and labor leaders into acting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to overhaul pensions.

Initially lukewarm if not hostile to Brown’s plan, Democrats and public employee unions got a glimpse of the alternative — measures that would require a lot more sacrifices from government workers than Brown’s week-old proposal.

Led by two former officials in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration, Californians for Pension Reform said it filed the two proposals with the attorney general’s office but will decide in January which measure to circulate. The group will need 1.3 million signatures to qualify a measure for the November 2012 ballot, and officials said they’re prepared to raise the approximately $3 million needed.

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