The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

February 13, 2013
Tea Party Express lauds Rand Paul's Tea Party Express speech

Sacramento strategist Sal Russo's Tea Party Express today declared Sen. Rand Paul's Tea Party Express answer to President Obama's State of the Union Speech to be a raging success.

"Paul gave an amazing speech last night and clearly articulated the Tea Party's conservative message," the Tea Party Express said in a fund-raising email sent on he morning-after the amazing evening.

Other reviews were mixed.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post reported: "At its best it reflected real movement on the right in favor of immigration reform; at its worst it was just plain weird."

On MSNBC, the Rachel Maddow blog said: "Paul's entire pitch was just tired, more likely to generate eye-rolling than outrage."

For a down-the-middle assessment, Reuters news service said the Kentucky Republican echoed themes in the GOP's official response by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Here's our own McClatchy report, which noted that Paul advocated letting the sequester, an $85 billion round of automatic cuts, happen.

Paul stuck to the small-government, low-tax, tight-fisted themes that Russo's Tea Party Express political action committee extols. Paul didn't interrupt himself by taking a swig of water, but did slip into a sing-song, high-pitched style of speaking, not presidential.

The son of a physician-congressman said that in this country, success is "not based on who your parents were but on your own initiative and desire to work." He also took a back-hand slap at Obama for sending his children to private schools, saying life will improve "when every child can, like the president's kids, go to the school of their choice."

Back to Tea Party Express's view: "If the President instead continues down a polarizing big-government path, the electorate will mimic the 2010 sentiment in 2014 and 2016." By the way, the email concluded, "Please support the Tea Party by donating today!"

February 8, 2013
'Toxic' flame retardants begin to flicker and dim

A California state department you've never heard of took an action today that probably will have far-reaching consequences for the chemical industry and perhaps your health.

Yes, California has a Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation. That bureau has significant clout over whether your couch and other home furnishings contain what Gov. Jerry Brown calls "toxic flame retardants."

Acting at the governor's request, the bureau issued a new rule today to overturn obscure regulation adopted when Brown was governor the first time. Brett Israel of Environmental Health News has the scoop.

If the new rule withstands almost certain challenges, California no longer will require that furniture makers add flame retardants to cushions. Expect flame retardant manufacturers and the chemical industry to protest bitterly.

February 7, 2013
Bloom Energy paid workers in pesos, SJ Merc says

An old friend Bloom Energy is making news, and not in a good way.

The San Jose Mercury News reported today that Bloom Energy, a political heavyweight, paid workers brought in from Mexico in pesos:

"Authorities said Bloom Energy paid the Mexican workers in pesos by wiring funds back to bank accounts in Chihuahua. Bloom also paid for the men to stay in a Sunnyvale motel and provided each with a meal stipend of $50 a day."

If true, that's stunning for a company with a board of directors that includes former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr.

We have written about Bloom before, detailing how it gobbled up more than $200 million in subsidies in 2010, thanks to the California Public Utilities Commission.

And after receiving California gold, Bloom expanded operations in Delaware. It also makes its Bloom Boxes in Mexico, the Merc notes.

Bloom, meanwhile, maintains an active Sacramento lobby operation and in Washington.

February 6, 2013
Rick Perry is getting quite a return on his 'emission'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry certainly is getting his $24,000 worth.

As any Californian knows, a $24,000 ad buy gets nothing in California. But Perry's ad seeking to lure California businesses has been getting quite a run in California papers and television stations, and on NPR, which airs in Texas.

As the Dallas Morning News' Wayne Slater writes today: "Looks like the Texas-California, I'm-rubber-you're-glue schoolyard brawl is percolating at a fine boil."

Walt's governor, who has great hair, has been trying to go toe to toe with California's governor, who once had a fine head of hair but now doesn't have much other than his eyebrows. Jerry Brown has better things to do, like riding around in his John Deere with Sutter.

But then Perry has plenty to do, too, as he prepares to run for reelection and beyond. Good luck with that.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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