Sunday, May 4, 2014

Exclusive Interview: Nicholas Gonzalez for the movie "Water & Power"

Jimmy's Politico: Interview with Nick Gonzalez in the recently released movie "Water & Power" written by Richard Montoya and produced by Edward J. Olmos.

"Water & Power" is released this weekend in select AMC Theaters. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How Does Political Party Affilation Plays To Donald Sterling's Remarks?

Donald Sterling Is a Registered Republican

Does it really matter whether racist LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a registered Democrat? Or a Republican? Or a member of the Pirate Party of Russia?

Well, according to multiple conservative media outlets, yes, it does matter. On Sunday, National Review ran a blog post originally titled, "Racist Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Is a Democrat." The post breathlessly noted a handful of contributions he made in the early 1990s to Democratic politicians, including California politician Gray Davis and Sen. Bill Bradley, who had played in the NBA. (Sterling has owned his NBA team since the early 1980s.) The headline has since been changed to "Racist Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Has Only Contributed to Democrats," with an update reading, "his official party affiliation is not known." Still, the Donald-Sterling-Is-a-Democrat meme already took hold within right-wing media:
"Report: Clippers Owner Caught In Racist Rant Is A Democratic Donor" — Fox Nation.
"NBA Sterling is a Democrat..." — Matt Drudge.
"Race Hate Spewing Clippers Owner Is Democratic Donor" — the Daily Caller.
"Media Ignoring Dem Donations of LA Clippers' Owner, Allegedly Caught on Tape in Race-Based Rant" — NewsBusters.
"LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling is a Racist Democrat" — the Tea Party News Network.
Politico piggy-backed on this flood of Sterling-triggered liberal-shaming with a softer headline: "Donald Sterling made donations to Dems."
Not that Sterling's broader political views or party affiliation have much to do with the controversy over his insanely racist comments, but here's a news flash for those conservatives eager to bring up the topic: He's a Republican.

On Sunday, Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times columnist, tweeted that local voter records show Sterling to be a registered Republican "since 1998." We followed up on that, and a search of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's website for Sterling's name, date of birth, and address confirmed that he's registered as a Republican:
Donald Sterling Republican Registration from LA County
There's little reason to get excited about Sterling's political affiliation. But if you choose to do so, you ought to get it right.

Monday, February 3, 2014

California's Democratic politicians: The logjam cracks, soon to break!

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (EPA, Associated Press, Getty Images)

The rush of interest by local politicos and would be politicos to succeed veteran Congressman Henry Waxman underscored an odd truth about California politics: in a state that prides itself on chasing the next snazzy new thing, most of its high-ranking elected officials are anything but California’s two U.S. senators have each served for 21 years. Its governor is seeking a record fourth term in office.

The state is increasingly young and Latino, but its most prominent political officials aren’t: Dianne Feinstein is 80, Jerry Brown is 75 and Barbara Boxer is 73. Their presence at the top of the ticket has effectively blocked a generation of Democrats from moving up, not that any of them is impolitic enough to say so publicly.

The Waxman seat is an example of the benefits and frustrations that longevity can simultaneously produce.
Waxman, 74, was a prodigious legislator, a man whose accomplishments inspired reverence from Democrats and praise even from some Republicans. His legislative heft resulted in no small part from his long tenure in office, which allowed him to pursue goals over an extended period with the benefit of relationships built over time.

And still, ambitious Westside pols might have muttered: 40 years we had to wait?

Not all of those who want to elbow aside the veterans are as well equipped to serve, and the veterans understandably bridle at the notion that after achieving the political heights they should just stand down unilaterally.

That, they argue, is unfair to them personally and to the state’s interests, not to mention ageist.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, the former House speaker who is now 73, grew angry last year when the subject of age was raised during a news conference by a reporter young enough to be her grandson.

"Some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on (as House minority leader) prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long term," said the reporter, NBC’s Luke Russert. "What's your response?"
As Pelosi sought to move to the next question, some of her colleagues shouted “Boo!” and “age discrimination!”

"Let's for a moment honor it as a legitimate question, although it's quite offensive," Pelosi said eventually. "You don't realize that, I guess."
As to the meat of his question — whether the ages of the leaders hurt Democrats — Pelosi said "the answer is no."

The issue rarely arises overtly in campaigns, as much as anything out of fear that older voters — among the most dependable balloteers — will exact revenge. Still, the worry is there. Not for nothing did Jerry Brown in 2010 challenge reporters and practically anyone else who'd listen to tests of physical strength and note that, with his forebearers extending into their 90s, age was relative.

(His most famous challenge was made to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last September after the Republican called him “an old retread.”

(“I’m old. I’m 74. I’ll be 74 and a half next month. But here I am. You know, there is some experience. Hopefully there’s some wisdom,” Brown recounted on CNN. He asked Christie to take part in a three-mile race, and “try some chin-ups maybe, and some push-ups,’” Brown said. “This old retread can beat you any day of the week.” )

The real question for Democratic leaders is not physical dominance but something more difficult to quantify: political relevance.

Feinstein and Boxer remain popular political figures in the state, not least because of their historic status as the first one-two female Senate team in a state where women are well more than half of the voters. For most women, to be sure, policy positions and gender matter more than age. And elections are, in any case, the simplest way of figuring out what is most relevant to voters. Feinstein has been elected statewide five times; Boxer four.

But at the least, the state’s dominant Democratic Party has a yawning gulf between what it is and who leads it.

A study by the Public Policy Institute of California last year found that 51% of Democrats were nonwhite. And 58% were age 54 and under. Not incidentally, only 26% were from the Bay Area, from which Brown, Feinstein, Boxer, Pelosi and state Democratic Chairman John Burton, age 81, spring.

Behind those stalwarts, the number of high-ranking statewide candidates in, say, their 50s and 60s, has shrunk. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, 61, is seen as the most obvious member of that thwarted generation. And behind him, a new generation is rising: among prominent Democrats in their 40s are the 49-year-old Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, the 46-year-old Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the 42-year-old mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti. (Few if any Republicans are well known statewide due to California’s blue hue: Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield is the third-ranking GOP leader in Congress but mostly unknown outside his interior base.)

Garry South, who has run four governor’s races, including an abridged effort by Newsom that fell to Brown’s 2010 resurrection, said that Democrats have long talked quietly about the party gridlock, while at the same time expressing allegiance to the Democratic veterans.

“If you look at California as a whole and look at the Democratic Party here, the torch hasn’t really been passed to a new generation,” he said, co-opting the slogan that John F. Kennedy used in 1960 to dispatch his elders.

As South pointed out, though, the gridlock may soon give way. Boxer is up for election in 2016, and has not publicly said whether she will seek another term. Feinstein is up in 2018, ditto. Besides their personal desires, the decisions by both may rest on whether Republicans gain control of the Senate in November, which would cost them key committee posts and influence.

Brown would be termed out of office in 2018 were he to win reelection (and an unlikely defeat of the popular governor would open the doors to Democratic competitors then anyway.)

Those races, along with the state’s top two rules, by which the top finishers move on to the general election even if they are of the same party, would give Democrats more high-profile slots than they have seen in a generation. Two Democrats of relatively equal strength could compete against one another for the governorship in November, for example, rather than voters choosing from the traditional Democrat versus Republican framing.

“The bad news is that these seats are basically monopolized by people in their 70s and 80s,” South said. “The good news is by the time we get to 2018, it’s going to be a whole new political world.”
Twitter: @cathleendecker

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jimmys Politico --Exclusive Interview With Ann Coulter!

Ann Coulter with Jaime Rojas
By Jaime Rojas, Jr.
Jimmy's Politico

(This piece is dedicated to you for the opportunity you gave me. May the decision made by be for the better and the positive future of our Latino community!)

Describing her as polarizing is an understatement. Many perceive Ann Coulter to be divisive and at times even anti-Latino. One of the columns she included in her new book, "Never Trust A Liberal Over 3 - Especially a Republican,"  is entitled "America Nears El Tipping Pointo." 
In it, she states: 

"No amount of 'reaching out' to the Hispanic community, effective 'messaging,' or Reagan's 'optimism' is going to turn Mexico's underclass into Republicans."Now, these are precisely the kinds of comments that makes so many Latino voters think there is no way they would ever turn to the Republican party.

But interestingly enough, even Ann Coulter realizes the GOP needs the Latino vote.  "Any election analysis that doesn't deal with the implacable fact of America's changing demographics is bound to be wrong." 

In her new book, she outlines to those Republicans and conservatives who want to listen a basic strategy for GOP success.

This may be surprising, but as  a Republican Latino - and there are many of us out there, but mostly in hiding nowadays - I agree with some of Ann's opinions. 
Don't get crazy with me now - I said "some" of her opinions. When she is not hurling insults, Coulter brings up some good points on how Republicans need to shift gears if they want to win elections.
"Conservatives, we need to adopt the smart things Democrats do, not the stupid ones. We like their persistence, but not their plans to wreck the country. We like the part about winning elections, not the part about jamming execrable policies down the nation's throat."


So how does she propose winning? 

For one, I strongly believe in Ann's comments that the GOP needs to focus on "how to win" elections by picking the strongest Republican candidates that showcase the diversity of the party and not the extreme views of the party. 

She stated that Republicans should stay focused on the party's message  - in order to gain support from Latinos and other minorities in America.

Coulter adds that "part of the problem Republicans always have in reaching out to Latinos and women ... is that they do not stick to the core principles of the Party ... believing in freedom, opportunity and hope in America." 

The GOP can begin preaching these core believes via action by finally putting together a comprehensive immigration policy. What better way to support freedom, opportunity and hope in America!

I asked Ann whether the recent re-election by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, where he received 51 percent of the Latino vote, is a GOP roadmap on how to outreach to Latinos. Coulter says "this is a great indicator for the GOP on how to appeal to the Latino voter. 

 Conservatives should reach out to the Latino community, but they are currently doing it the wrong way."

On immigration, Coulter does not believe "amnesty" - providing a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants - is the way to appeal to Latinos. 

She mentioned that some polls show immigration is not the top priority for some Latino voters, saying that "scratchy toilet paper ranks higher than amnesty for Latinos in America."  

She also adds that "...for the poorest and working class of this country – these are the people that will get hurt most with amnesty being passed in this country."

Coulter has a myopia view of immigration by only looking at amnesty. I am shocked that as a staunch Republican she does not follow in the beliefs of her idol President Reagan who granted "amnesty" to so many in the 80's. 

But again total reform is needed to give America's immigration policy a complete and much needed overhaul:

But like many Republicans and Americans for that matter forget that amnesty does not equal comprehensive immigration policy. 

Amnesty is only one element of many parts that make up the whole on immigration reform in this country. Let's just follow the strategy the Republican President Ronald Reagan, the great communicator and Californian, who made comprehensive immigration policy happen....almost 30 years ago.

Can the GOP finally be listening or is this just Coulter "marketing" to sell more books? Or maybe I can just tutor Ann in the art of compassion, which is the truly the American way!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's hypocritical to rip Seahawks' Richard Sherman for rant!


For more than three hours Sunday, millions of Americans joyfully cheered a football game whose players are paid to be angry and callous.

But then, moments afterward, America was offended when one of those players spewed anger and callousness?

The national vilifying of the Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman for his taunting televised postgame remarks Sunday after the Seahawks' 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game cuts to the heart of sports hypocrisy.

Sherman Interview on Fox Sports - CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE to watch famous interview of Richard Sherman!

Everyone wants to watch their heroes make incredible plays under pressure, but few can stomach the depths of the emotion required to make those plays. After cornerback Sherman literally single-handedly sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl by tipping a pass away from San Francisco's Michael Crabtree in the end zone, he plumbed those depths.

"I'm the best corner in the game," Sherman screamed at Fox Sports interviewer Erin Andrews as a stadium rocked around him in celebration. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like [Michael] Crabtree, that's the result you're gonna get. Don't you ever talk about me."

When Andrews asked who was talking about Sherman, he shouted, "Crabtree!" and then added, "Don't you open your mouth about the best or I'm gonna shut it for you real quick."

Throughout the country, mouths opened in shock. The reaction on social media was quick and decisive. Sherman was overwhelmingly ripped for being a loudmouth, a bad sport, and even a thug. Criticism mounted further when Sherman called Crabtree "mediocre" during a postgame news conference. He was also nationally ripped for giving the choke sign after the play, a taunt for which he was penalized.

On Monday, Sherman showed remorse for his actions in a text message to ESPN's Ed Werder in which he wrote, "I apologize for attacking an individual and taking away from the fantastic game by my teammates … that was not my intention."

But the damage has already been done. This bright and engaging kid who ranked second in his class at Compton Dominguez High before later graduating from Stanford is somehow America's new sports villain. He is the main reason why many folks will be cheering for the Denver Broncos in the upcoming Super Bowl. He is the latest example of everything that is wrong with the modern professional football player.

Yet the truth is, he is the example of everything that is wrong with some modern professional football fans.
A guy fights for three hours and winds up throwing the punch of his life in the most important professional moment of his life, and America expects him to immediately start blowing kisses?

There is no defense for Sherman's taunting of Crabtree after the play. He was a crude jerk. This was just another millstone in a career lacking in decorum. He was indeed a bad sport.
But in his comments later, he was simply the embodiment of his sport. He was a symbol of the mindless recklessness required to play a game that will likely scar him for life, and the dark motivation often necessary to summon that swagger.

If one scans the wording, it is obvious that some of the criticism of Sherman is rooted in blatant racism. But some of it also seems to stem from a subtle racism. When a white player talks trash, he is considered quirky and cool. But if that same smack comes from a black player with dreadlocks and a snarl, he is a cretin? Sherman didn't say anything that hasn't once been said by the likes of Larry Bird and John McEnroe, yet nobody ever called them a thug.

America would like all of its football players to embrace victory with the class of a Peyton Manning, but most of those players have different jobs than Peyton Manning. Most of those players don't win games with their arms and brains, but their bodies and their fears. Most of those players have to summon up strength from places unimaginable, building on slights unknown, finding courage in corners both dark and remote. Richard Sherman is one of those players.

He saved that game for the Seahawks with the boldness that America demands of its football players. His mistake was in being honest about it.
Twitter: @billplaschke

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chuck the BCS: college football is better off with this sham in its rearview mirror!

Yahoo Sports

Jameis Winston pretends to pass the Coaches Trophy given to the winner of the BCS. (USA TODAY Sports)

PASADENA, Calif. – When you stick your neck out and write a book (two, actually) titled "Death to the BCS," it does tend to help when the thing dies. It kind of saves you from some humiliation. So now that it is, well, dead, that's appreciated.
The actual transition to a playoff is long, long overdue, but there are things we'll miss about the deceased.
No, not that it ever "got it right," because that's a completely subjective call in the first place and quite absurd in its own right. Would it be "right" to anyone to set the Super Bowl matchup now as Seattle vs. Denver and then stand around for a month while we cancel the NFL playoffs? Or would that simply be the dumbest idea ever?

We'll miss that comedy of rationalization, the impossible-to-duplicate stupidity that pervaded the whole beast. The BCS was maddening, but it was hysterical, too.

It was so terrified of progress toward a playoff that it invented ludicrous and demonstrably untrue argument after ludicrous and demonstrably untrue argument, feigning concern over everything from player academics to cutting off the spigot of bowl games' charitable giving – which, in case you forgot, accounts for less than 2 percent of total revenue – and even the supposedly likelihood that Nick Saban would begin tanking the Iron Bowl. Yeah, sure he would.

The BCS's sole positive claim is that it was better than the old system at matching top teams in a title game. A push-button phone was better than a rotary dial. Color TV beat black and white. While the rest of the world embraces improvement and evolution, college football's power brokers subjected fans of the sport to this nonsense for 16 years. The BCS is old enough to drive. And you know some fat-cat bowl director would've bought it a Mercedes.

John Junker was fired after an internal report revealed improper activities. (AP)

No discussion of the BCS should focus on who got to play in the title game, even when the game ends up like the last one, a 34-31 classic that crowned Florida State national champions over Auburn on Monday night. Even though the stated intention of the BCS was to pit the top two teams against one another, that was just another canard – a talking point in a sea of them. Really.
The BCS existed to allow a small number of people – notably bowl directors – to make an incredible amount of money by serving as the outsourced middlemen of the sport's lucrative postseason. That's why it lasted. Because no matter how nonsensical it was, someone was profiting handsomely off the nonsense.
All you ever needed to know about the BCS came from the handiwork of a man named John Junker, who ran the Fiesta Bowl for a couple of decades and made himself a millionaire doing it.

He lost his job in 2010 for giving politicians illegal campaign contributions. He may still serve time in prison for the transgression. The "scandal" made headlines, mostly because it revealed he and his staff sometimes expensed trips to a local gentlemen's club.

That was good for some laughs, but it missed the point. The strip-club bill was about the 500th most scandalous thing about the Fiesta Bowl. Nos. 1 through 499 were the other ways John Junker spent the game's cash on himself (which proved the largesse) and why guys like him fought so hard and so long to maintain the BCS.

At the time of his firing, Junker paid himself nearly $700,000 per year. He managed to get the bowl to pay for membership in four exclusive, private golf clubs in three different states. Four! His car allowance was $2,250 per month, which meant he was either secretly paying for four or five cars for his entire family or the dealer that leased him a vehicle for that amount should be imprisoned.

Junker had an AMEX Black Card that he worked like few others. Over a 10-year period, he averaged – averaged – $1,330 per day, every single day, in expenses. Go ahead and even try to do that.
One time he bought 20,000 golf balls on the bowl. He repeatedly billed it for new clubs. He paid for an employee's wedding. He threw himself a three-day, $30,000-plus birthday party in Santa Barbara and flew his entire staff out for it. He once bid $95,000 to take some conference commissioners and himself on a golf outing with Jack Nicklaus.

John Junker was living the good, good life. And like anyone who had a job that not only paid that much but paid for virtually all of their personal expenses, he fought to maintain the status quo.


The original run of "Death to the BCS" did five printings.
Who can blame them? The BCS was a cash spigot for everyone – well, except the players of course. It was certainly good to the three of us. We are the first to admit we profited off the BCS, too. The BCS will help send our kids to college.
The truth we tried to elucidate was a story as American as it comes: Men in power refusing to give up what they believed was theirs because they told themselves that lie so many times it became their truth.

A survivalist through and through, Junker threw an opulent multiday party every year in Scottsdale – The Fiesta Frolic – for all the important decision-makers in college sports, picking up travel costs, meals, drinks, golf, everything. ADs and commissioners came with hands out, bellies ready to be filled and swings grooved.
And so the BCS stayed as the ice slowly melted in single malts on the veranda.

Junker was just one of many. The Orange Bowl doled out free Caribbean cruises. The Sugar Bowl had a "subcommittee" on golf. Every bowl director walked around flashing plastic, buying favor with anyone and everyone. The BCS was an exercise in cronyism and hypocritical corruption. The same people with their palms out – college sports leadership – wrote and enforced rules that would excommunicate any of their athletes that took even a fraction of what they did.

When the outside pressure for a better system came, the bowl industry tried to wage a PR campaign, hiring lobbyists, media spokesmen and even Ari Fleischer, the former White House spokesman for President George W. Bush.

The PR assault was a disaster, of course, because not even the most brilliant spinmeister could squeeze such a heaping lump of coal into a diamond. Fans grew to hate the BCS even more with each laughable justification. By the end it wasn't the crime, it was the comedy.

Eventually, no one wanted the BCS around except the people paid directly by the BCS. Fear of being left behind drove unnecessary conference realignment. Everyone got tired of it. The new generation of college athletic directors make a lot of money, so complimentary rounds of golf don't hold the same allure they did for the old guard.

Mostly, though, the rampant profiteering of the Junker set became too much. Within a week of our book coming out in 2010 – after studying years of bowl tax returns, using open-records requests to uncover contracts and ferreting through business plans – our phones rang with the leaders of college athletics. They weren't calling to dispute a thing. They were looking for more information.

Few knew how much money was really getting siphoned off. Many were stupefied.

Wait. That overpriced hotel we were contractually obligated to stay in gave a kickback to the bowl? Yes.
Are you saying that game that kept telling us they were all about charity only gave a couple grand? Yep.
So the guy in the garish blazer is making $800,000 to run one game? Oh yeah.
Are you telling me the computer formulas are actually mathematically unsound? So say actual mathematicians.

The bowls tried to fight a playoff because they know eventually it will expand past four teams to eight that will require campus sites to be used. Once campus sites are used, the bowls aren't getting a cut of the pie. And once people realize it's a lot more fun just to play this at Bryant-Denny or Ohio Stadium, there goes having a car allowance that could get you a four-bed, four-bath, center-entry Colonial.

So change finally came. The current compromise will make some bowls big money. Bigger than ever. That's to be expected. Cronyism and corruption always will exist in college sports. It's the bedrock value on which the entire enterprise is constructed. It was never getting cut out completely.
At least the fans get the excitement of a playoff.

More than that, so much of what we wrote about is being changed. Onerous ticket guarantees are being reduced. Conferences are beginning to take ownership of bowls themselves. Bad computers and nonsense polls will be scrapped in favor of a selection committee.

The four-team playoff is just a transitional period – a half-decade-or-so pit stop. An eight-teamer with five automatic bids is inevitable. Everyone in college athletics knows it.

So now that the BCS is dead, enjoy the next iteration. The sport will be better. The regular season will be better. Non-conference scheduling will be better. The double-header semifinals will be better.

Games like Monday night's will continue to happen because the game is always bigger than the system. Only now there will be three that matter each postseason, not just one. There is nothing to miss about the old BCS, which really got nothing right except a public-relations campaign so terrible that it provided years of jokes and allowed for easy books to be written.

It was such a bumbling foil it almost became a friend.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Lessons from a doctor congressman's first year

Rep. Raul Ruiz, right, talks with fellow California Rep. Mike Honda as they descend the House steps in Washington. Ruiz, a physician from Palm Desert, just served his freshman year in Congress after defeating incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack. (Bill Clark / Roll Call)

Rep. Raul Ruiz hoped to change Congress. But his most enduring impact may turn out to be as an inspiration to youths back home.

Rep. Raul Ruiz was settling in on another flight home to the Southern California desert when the flight crew put out an urgent call for passengers with medical expertise.

Ruiz hurried down the aisle to find an elderly man collapsed in his seat. The Democratic congressman, an emergency room physician before voters sent him to Washington, struggled to find a pulse on his unconscious patient, measured his blood sugar and readied a defibrillator.

The man, a diabetic, had normal glucose levels, but a companion warned that he had already suffered one stroke and was on a pacemaker. After reviving for a time, the man fainted again, and Ruiz recommended an emergency landing. By the time the American Airlines jet touched down in Raleigh, N.C., less than an hour later on that October day, the patient had been stabilized.

The portrait of the doctor-turned-lawmaker-turned-doctor might encapsulate Ruiz's first year as a congressman. He arrived last January with one of the hottest stories of the freshman class: the political naif from just this side of nowhere who knocked off a seven-term incumbent. But his biggest splash came on a day flying away from the Capitol and practicing his old trade.
Living up to a promising biography is no small task in Washington, where newcomers often think they have the cure for what ails the government, only to face problems that appear terminal. The rookie Ruiz confronted the additional challenge of serving in the minority party in a House renowned for both partisanship and ineffectiveness.

And his most notable votes -- staking out the middle ground and defying the Democratic party line on a pair of modifications to the Affordable Care Act -- weren't going to make him a hero on the right or the left.
It's no wonder that he focused much of his energy on a district that stretches from Hemet and Palm Springs to the Arizona border. His deepest emotional attachments remain there too.

Ruiz and his mother, Blanca Ruiz, in a date palm grove near their home in Coachella in 2012. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Ruiz speaks frequently to his mother, who recently returned for a season sorting oranges and lemons in a Coachella Valley packing house. He makes nightly phone calls to his fiancee, who works back home as an emergency room nurse. And young would-be doctors, whom he mentors, can't get enough of the story of the prodigal Dr. Ruiz.

He grew up in modest circumstances in Coachella, the son of two farmworkers. The bed that he and his older brother shared in the family trailer converted during the day into the kitchen table.

His mother told the children they should try to help others who had less and that becoming a doctor would be one of the best ways to do that. Raul raised about $2,000 of his college tuition by going door-to-door, telling donors he would come back one day to serve his poor hometown.

And, after earning three graduate degrees at Harvard and working with the poor in the developing world, he did. But Ruiz eventually decided he wanted to have a broader impact. So he set his sights on Congress and a seat held by Mary Bono Mack, for 14 years the Republican incumbent.

Bono Mack, the widow of entertainer Sonny Bono, had been secure for years in a faithfully Republican region and had $500,000 more on her side in their showdown. The Republicans depicted Ruiz as a radical leftist, in the thrall of Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi. He talked about bringing a doctor's common sense to government. In the end, buoyed in part by the growing numbers of Latino voters, the onetime long shot won by almost six percentage points.

At his swearing-in, as his mother fastened the congressional pin on her son, Ruiz lauded her years of hard labor and sacrifice in the fields. Her eyes filled with tears. Overcome with emotion, Ruiz couldn't finish his speech.

But triumphal moments don't linger on Capitol Hill. At one of his first meetings on the Natural Resources Committee, Ruiz listened in dismay as Democrats and Republicans savaged one another. Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles), a friend who spent years in the California Assembly and Los Angeles City Council, told him: "Dude, you haven't seen anything yet."
I will always be a physician, first and foremost. That's who I am. That's what feeds my soul."
— Rep. Raul Ruiz
In Washington, Ruiz has kept every appearance of remaining the hometown boy. Short and a bit round, he could pass for younger than his 41 years. He bounces on his toes when talking to visitors. At the annual baseball game against House Republicans, he wore his old Coachella Valley High School uniform and played a sharp second base.

Ruiz has a tendency to say things, apparently without guile, that would make more rugged political players roll their eyes. Take, for instance, his anecdote about sharing his congressional lapel pin with students.
"I tell them to think of a happy thought or about their dreams and to just to close their eyes and hold it," the congressman said.

Many of his House colleagues still recognize him as "the doctor," and he patiently responds to their requests for free medical advice. A senior member leaned in close to Ruiz as the two hurried to a vote recently, whispering about whether he needed a new medication for an eye condition.
Being the doctor gives him a profile. "I will always be a physician, first and foremost," Ruiz said. "That's who I am. That's what feeds my soul."

Ruiz speaks during a 2012 campaign rally in Palm Desert. (Bill Clark / Roll Call)

And what of being a member of what political scientist Norman Ornstein called "the do-nothingest Congress in our lifetime"? Ruiz was determined to make his own way: moving incrementally, working across the partisan aisle when possible and embracing the old saw that all politics is local.

At home, Ruiz has deployed his staff to resolve constituent problems with the healthcare law. He held several forums with military veterans to discuss problems securing benefits. One initial piece of legislation, still pending in committee, would require the Defense Department to more rapidly share records with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

His most controversial vote supported a Republican proposal that would have delayed for a year the requirement that Americans purchase healthcare. Ruiz said the postponement made sense because President Obama already had authorized a similar delay for businesses providing employees with insurance. The congressman also voted for a GOP bill that would have allowed new customers to buy less robust health policies than dictated by the Affordable Care Act. (Both proposals failed to advance in the Senate.)

"Did it cause an uproar? You bet it did," Elle Kurpiewski, manager of the Coachella Valley Democratic headquarters, said of Ruiz's votes, though she said many party members were won over once they heard Ruiz's explanation.
Real, hard-working people see it is improving their lives already."
— Rep. Raul Ruiz on Obamacare
Ruiz, nonetheless, asserted continued support for his party's central domestic initiative. "Real, hard-working people see it is improving their lives already," he said.

Ruiz's expected opponent in November's election rejects those explanations. State Assemblyman Brian
Nestande (R-Palm Desert) accused the congressman of "trying to jump back and forth" on Obamacare, adding: "That is not intellectually honest."

Ruiz has won over some voters in his first year, but his most ardent backers may come from his life as a physician, in particular about 150 high school and college students who belong to Future Physician Leaders and their families.

Ruiz and fiancee Monica Rivers started the group four years ago, with the doctor informally advising young people on how to get to medical school and help their community. The organization has mushroomed into a network of classes on medicine and leadership, a mentorship system for shadowing doctors and a research program on public health issues.

On a late summer night at the UC Riverside satellite in Palm Desert, formally dressed students showed off posters about their studies on diabetes, smoking and other challenges. Though soft-spoken and only 5-foot-7, the doctor towered over the event for students of modest backgrounds, who said they wanted to follow his path.

Hector Sanchez, a 19-year-old UCLA sophomore, grew up in the tiny desert community of Chiriaco Summit. He said his occasional meetings with Ruiz recharge his dream of becoming a doctor.
"I just want to be next to him as much as I can," the teenager said, "so it can rub off."