Thursday, June 30, 2005

An Open Letter To Attorney General Bill Lockyer

Dear Attorney General Lockyer,

Thank you very much for your letter dated May 31, 2005 and for your interest in my endorsement and support.

Unfortunately, at this time, I am unable to offer either.

In fact, unless you're the nominee, I won't be voting for you. Furthernore, you really shouldn't be running for State Treasurer. There are others who haven't yet had the chance to serve statewide who were well suited for the job. Sadly, they have no been chased away.

Despite your italicized, "PS" listed endorsements from impressive Congressional and State officials, I just can't back you this time. Even leaving aside your impolitic comments after the 2003 recall election, your jockying, swapping, and general indecision over which office you'd pursue (a sin committed by most of our up-ticket candidates, true) make me doubt your committment to the Office of State Treasurer.

Thank you again for your service.

Yours truly,

Stag's Leap Through Corn, To State House

Breaking News!

Tyler Olson, CMC class of '98, is running for an open seat in the Iowa State House, reports reader and former Claremont Dems prez Mark Mehringer.

Here's the press release:


June 21, 2005 (Cedar Rapids, IA) – Tyler Olson, attorney at Bradley & Riley PC, has announced his candidacy for the Iowa State House from District 38. Olson, a Democrat, is a Cedar Rapids native and graduated from Washington High School in 1994. He earned his law degree at the University of Iowa College of Law.

Olson pledges to bring innovative leadership, fresh ideas, and creative solutions to the issues facing Iowa.

“Iowa is a great place to live,” says Olson, “and the future of our state depends on both our ability to attract people—and our willingness to build on the opportunities available to those already living here.”

Olson, who lived in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. before returning to Cedar Rapids, knows firsthand that Iowa can be appealing to young people. “I enjoyed my experiences on the east and west coasts, but Iowa was the place I wanted to live and work. I know that we can capitalize on the sense of community and abundance of opportunity that pulled me back to Iowa, and draw others, as well."

Olson’s campaign will focus on advancing Iowa’s strong education system. “The task of educating our citizens will not be complete until all members of the community have the opportunity to pursue a great education — one that allows them to compete in the job market,” says Olson. He will also emphasize fiscally responsible government and access to quality and affordable healthcare for all Iowans, especially our children and seniors.

Olson says these issues are also key components to Iowa’s economic development strategy. “Business development is about creating an environment and a quality of life that attracts employees and employers to keep our great state moving forward,” says Olson.

“I am looking forward to knocking on every door in the district to hear about issues important to the community,” says Olson.

Olson is a member of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Rotary and chairs the Downtown District Creative Counsel's Housing Team. He is a member of the board of directors of the Neighborhood Revitalization Service and the New Bohemia Arts & Culture District. He is also a member of the board of directors of Access Iowa, where he chairs the Civic Committee and served on the 15 in 5 Community Planning Committee's Downtown & Riverfront Subcommittee. Olson is a founding member of the board of directors of Corridor Free Wireless, Inc., a not-for-profit entity organized to bring free wireless internet access to downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Coralville.

Olson serves as a volunteer boys swimming coach at Washington High School, where he was a member of the 1992 state championship team and the captain of the 1994 state championship team.

Olson will file papers forming the Committee to Elect Tyler Olson. Gary Streit is the chairman and Dana Ehrhart is the treasurer of the committee.
I'll suppose we'll forgive the lack of Claremont mention - this time - and assume he's (smartly) focusing on his Iowan cred.

Olson served as the much beloved R.A. of Green Hall my freshman year. He's a great guy and we wish him luck!

He lists his contact email as tylerolson1 at gmail dot com in the press release - so drop him a line, lend him support, and ask where to send the check.

Oh, and don't forget to send Jake some money too.

During college, it was always interesting to note that, in a school world-reknowned for its conservatism, the campus Dems were far more visibly present (Sorry, JG, CES, et al). Now, I hear more about young Dem alumni running than I do about young Republican alumni. Sadly, I have yet to hear enough about young Dem or Reep alumnae running.

Soon, though. I promise.

Feeling My Writerly Roots

The Blog Formerly Known As Class Maledictorian posts on writing workshops, causing me to comment there about the Kenyon Young Wrtiers' Workshop in which I participated nearly (egads) ten years ago. Yes, dear readers, these mad skillz were honed on a firefly accented hill in the middle of Ohio.

To my immediate delight and chagrin, I noticed the brilliant folks at the Kenyon Review have started a Writers Workshop in Italy. In Italy!?!? Damn, I. Am. So. Jealous.

Gambier, Ohio is possible the world's most perfect place for writing. I'm willing to bet, however, that Vitorchiano is a damn close second. The workshop was June 5-12, so clearly, I missed it. But if anyone wants to give Phoblog a $2,500 gift next year, I know what you can get me . . . .


CYD President Crystal Strait puts in an Oscar winning performance in today's Morning Report, taking on the Governor's goofy press release condemning the MPAA for failing to recognize stunt coordinators:

[T]he Governor just sent out a press release saying he is really mad that the Oscars didn't create a new category for Stunt Coordinators. Hmm ... I wish he would be upset over refusing to work with Democrats to create a budget or maybe with his sliding numbers in the field poll (37%??) But don't worry Gov., the CA Young Democrats have thought of some awards that you might win: Best Power Grab through an Initiative, Best Education Cutter, Best Adaptation of a Screenplay to Reality (for role of "People's Governor"), Best Misdirector (for "Horseshoe Staff Management"), Best Set Design at Taxpayer Expense (for work in "San Jose Pothole"), Best Song & Dance (for "The Teachers are Lying"), Best Makeup (for "My Polls Suck, Let's Work Together"), Best Foreign Language (for "Cahlee-fo-nee-yah").
Go get 'em, Tiger.

Redistricting Reform: The Diversity Issue

The AP follows up on yesterday's committee passage of SCA 3 - the legislative redistricting reform alternative proposal. The main point of contention between Ds and Rs is likely to remain the nature and make-up of whatever non-State-Legislature body does the mapping:

But some Republicans have complained that the Lowenthal proposal would still leave too much power in the hands of legislative leaders, who would pick a majority of the commissioners.

Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, said the University of California president and the Judicial Council also could be influenced by lawmakers in making their appointments to the commission.

"Having retired judges serving makes a lot of sense," he said. "I'm not so sure we can find (other) people who will be as dispassionate and nonpartisan."

But the committee's chairwoman, Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, said a redistricting commission composed of retired judges probably wouldn't include any women or minorities.

"We still have a retired bench that reflects a previous era of California history when women and minorities didn't much go to law schools," she said.
I respect both of these legislators (Stagwatch: Poochigian's CoS is CMC, and last year's Legislative Staff Member of the Year; Debra Bowen, while not a Stag, would've been my State Senator - 'cept I was gerrymandered into Ed Vincent's district) - and each argument has merit. However, as I told a reader here yesterday, the "white-male-bench" reason for siding with the commission set-up just doesn't fly with me. It is true that the bench is just starting to become more "diverse" (and, arguendo, we'll go with the notion that the bench should be diverse in the conventional usage of the word) and consequently the ranks of retired judges look less like the state of California than the term-limits-shuffled State Legislature. However, lawmakers and Californians alike need to look at this change as one designed to last for decades, if not for the next century. Don't let short-term problems lead us to enact short-sighted policy.

Already, more women than men are attending law school. The number of minorities is rising too - especially here in California. It takes 10 years of good standing as a lawyer to qualify for a seat on a Superior Court bench. Which means, to make an educated guess, in about 4 to 7 years, a new crop of diverse lawyers can start running for (har har - I mean, forward themselves for midterm appointment to) Superior Court judgeships. It will take time from there to age and eventually retire - but the day will come. And, let us not forget, we're talking about a process occurring once every ten years.

California's judicial [s]election process is deeply troubled (at least from a government nerd's perspective). It's also, frankly, ripe for the taking by any number of interests groups. MALDEF, LULAC, any number of API orgs, the NAACP, etc, could - with relatively little effort - put more people of color on the bench because no one is really trying to do anything with the courts right now and they are, in fact, elected offices.

I'm in no way saying I'd be in favor of politicizing - especially not in racial/ethnic terms - judicial elections, but the fact remains: the opportunity is there.

The bottom-line, though, as I said yesterday in the comments of The Monkeys-With-Darts post, drawing the lines is a remarkably apolitical exercise if it's in the hands of disinterested cartographers. Actually, they aren't cartographers - the computer is the cartographer - the Chosen Ones are merely a supervisorial body. If the rules are correctly set, it's hard to mess it up. If. And that's no small thing.

My good friends at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government have some wonderful publications on redistricting reform, as well as draft language and histories of past redistricting efforts. It's a radical, yet obvious, approach to dividing the state and rebuilding how we think about drawing the lines. Unfortunately, they seem to have taken down a lot of these publications - we'll tell 'em to get them back up, stat.

If you set the rules, the attributes of the body guiding the process are immaterial. If you allow the body to set the rules, then, yeah, you got problems. A commission is better than the Legislature, but less desirable than retired judges - who, if you're patient (fat chance in term-limits land), will soon "represent" the state in terms of their ethnic and gender make-up.

[Note: For the second time, I caught myself writing "ACA 3" rather than "SCA 3." I've made the correction now, but please email me if you catch me doing it again. Blame my pro-Assembly bias (and that up until 6 months ago, SCA author Lowenthal would've been authoriing ACAs - damn term limits).]

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Stag In The Sand

In his regular job listings email Jack Pitney passes on a link to bayonet, a blog by Kincy Clark (CMC `93) is currently serving in Iraq.

Once, it seems, it was his personal blog, but political and military concerns prompted him to turn it into his Team's unofficial website.

Stay safe, Stag.

Ashburn - Up or Down?*

Yesterday, State Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) (or at least his staff) reported that he wanted off SCA 3.

Phoblog informants report, however, that he showed up at today's Senate Committee hearing on the bill professing his support.

What gives?

*And speaking of Republicans - Item! Word has it the Sac Young Reeps almost came to blows last night over whether to endorse Tony Strickland - about 6 years before the election. The place was littered with staffers who, apparently, forgot they represent their bosses even after hours. Tsk tsk. Fisticuffs over an endorsement. Sheesh. But wait, apparently, what went down was so nutty, it resulted in the resignation of the group's president-elect. In an email leaked to Phoblographer*, the ex-president elect said, "I had no right or excuse to react the way I did at a contentious, but otherwise civil meeting. I was wrong and deeply regret my actions." A mature exit, but a surprising one. Apparently the tension frightened several members - but I doubt anyone expected that consequence. Maybe they wanted it, though, I don't know. I'm a YD, not a YR. Phew.

Okay, Seriously, Dude - Go Govern Something

The entertainment industry - and all who labor in it - comprise, if not the whole backbone, several key vertebra in the California economy.


Just released from the Governor's Office:

06/29/05 15:04:18 Statement by Governor Schwarzenegger on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Decision to Reject the Creation of Award for "Best Stunt Coordinator"

Statement by Governor Schwarzenegger on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Decision to Reject the Creation of Award for "Best Stunt Coordinator"

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today made the following statement regarding the recent decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to reject the creation of a new award for "best stunt coordinator":

"I was deeply disappointed by the failure of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences once again to recognize stuntmen and women and their great contribution to the film industry. I know first hand the value of these dedicated professionals, and without them there would be no action heroes. In fact there would be no movies. Stunt coordinators are responsible for every piece of action in a film, making films more exciting and drawing the audience in. Over the years the Academy has created new categories to honor outstanding technical achievement and it is my hope they will reconsider their decision and honor stunt coordinators in the same way."
Next up, Steve Peace condemns the Academy's rejection of best performance by a vegetable that's really a fruit.

No outrage of the continuing absence of a best grip category? Best best boy? Best PA? I know half of Los Angeles is waiting for that one.

More importantly - don't you have something better to do with your time? Like, say, manage the world's 5th largest - yet shaky - economy. Have you noticed any of these poll thingies lately? This was on letterhead, guys. This is an official decree. Not over the failure of the legislature to recognize marriage between two people who love each other regardless of sex or gender. Not over the failure of the legislature to come up with a viable redistricting reform proposal. Not over continuing genocide in far off lands.

No, not everything needs to be a weighty life or death proclamation. But it does need to merit the governor's seal. Press releases between governor's of states in the Rose Bowl or World Series "betting" the states' primary product = funny. Releases meant to remind California voters - who are, may we remind you, Mr. Governor, increasingly disinclined to buy what you're selling - that Arnold Schwarzenegger Is An Action Movie Hero = lame beyond belief.

Get it together.


But I'm always saying, aren't I, that no one wins an argument by saying "that's not funny." What if I say this isn't funny enough? Have at it, readers. I know you got good material. I know The Roundup will skewer this accordingly tomorrow. So take your best shot. Make sure to use dummy bullets and a stunt keyboard, of course. But don't expect recognition for doing so. And the Governor will support your outrage over such an oversight.

Montani Semper Blogging

Phoblog contributor DT passes on the link to Back Porch Politics - a site for all thing political in West Virginia.

Very cool.

Mark Your Calendars

Last year, I didn't heed Amber's request to aid her one-woman crusade to establish the U.K.'s Kissing Day here in the U.S. I felt bad about that all year. So, read her recently renamed site and spread the word, and the lip balm - Wednesday, July 6 is International Kissing Day II.

Amber requests we post a kissing quote in its honor - or in its honour, to borrow language from the Brits:

Forget for this moment the smog and the cars and the restaurant and the skating and remember only this. A kiss may not be the truth, but it is what we wish were true.
It's one of my personal favorites. Who can name its origin?

New Kid On The Newstand

Well, not new new, but a new page, at any rate.

Since the demise of California Journal, Caliornia politics never get nearly the deserved coverge. That hole has, of course, been filled by political reporters for many dailies by websites such as The Roundup, Rough & Tumble, and, and weeklies like Political Pulse and Calpeek. But here's some hot-off-the-press-release news that should be music to politicos' ears:


June 30, 2005 SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Political Pulse Inc. today announced the acquisition of Capitol Weekly Inc.

The new company, Capitol Pulse Inc. will publish Capitol Weekly, redesigning the newspaper's print and online editions, and increase the paper's circulation. The publication's focus will expand to include more coverage of state politics, and the California political community.

The company will also continue to publish the six monthly neighborhood newspapers currently published by Capitol Weekly Newspaper Group, and the Political Pulse and Education Beat newsletters.

Arnold York will serve as publisher of the new company. Anthony York will serve as director of editorial operations. Capitol Weekly founder Ken Mandler will remain with the new company as a consultant to assist in the transition.

"We're incredibly excited about this new venture," said Arnold York. "We look forward to helping take Capitol Weekly to the next level, and providing California with a source of first-rate, insider political news."

"We feel there is a need for a publication dedicated exclusively to California politics and policy," said Anthony York. "We want Capitol Weekly to be the community newspaper for the California political community, while maintaining Capitol Weekly's reputation as a source for state jobs and public information."

The new company announced that John Howard will serve as the company's managing editor. Howard has covered the Capitol for more than 20 years, serving in the Capitol bureau of the Associated Press, Capitol Bureau chief of the Orange County Register and senior editor of the California Journal.

Capitol Pulse Inc. also announced a strategic partnership with, the state political Web site founded by Scott Lay. Lay and
Anthony York co-author the daily political news digest The Roundup (

AroundTheCapitol and The Roundup will be integrated into a redesigned state political news portal, which will coincide with the relaunch of Capitol Weekly later this summer.

Word Of The Day: Disinclination

A lack of inclination; a mild aversion or reluctance.

An antonym of "inclination." In fact, one could say it's a good one-word replacement for "diminished inclination" - as in - "sharp diminishment in voter inclination to re-elect Schwarzenegger."


Okay, so it's way, way too soon for this to be bankable information for the Dems - but I guarantee you the Angelides fundraisers are going into overdrive right now to capitalize on the latest Field Poll's finding that the State Treasurer currently leads in a head-to-head against the Guv.

Here's one better: So does . . . Steve Westly? Okay. Cool.

No Westly blog reax yet. However you can vote on the Westly logo if you'd like. (1 = boring, 2 = boring but with cursor!, 3 = funnier, especially, if they add ",young man" at the end, 4 = boring, but with stars).

Bush Urges Nation To Remember 9/11, Alamo

Okay, I'll ditch the cheesy newspaper comma device in the post titles - but this one wasn't a stretch and I wrote it in my head on the treadmill this morning while reading the Chron in the hands of the runner next to me.

So Bush uses an old standard to reinforce the idea that the price of freedom is paid by invading other peoples' countries.

I missed the speech.

But reading the headline alone (hush, I'll read the transcript today) - and hearing from past Phoblog contributors that the speech was full of Iraq-9/11 linkage language was enough to make me want to throw myself from the window (first floor, don't worry).

In case I haven't said it in a while, and to quote Brian Fellows - that bird is a LIAR.

Enough already.

Dart-Wielding Monkeys, Blogger Get Linked

Toot toot - I got my first name drop in today's The Roundup for yesterday's redistricting reform commentary. Though the quote in question came not from me, originally, but rather from Rose Analyst Doug Johnson, I'm sure many in the capitol will be warmed at the thought of legislative booster me expressing a preference for monkeys over elected. (cringe)

But hey, if you're going to forward weak policy on an important issue . . . .

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Toothpick In Butterball Land*

Maria Shriver visited a fat camp today, according to this local newscast I'm watching. She's carrying the fitness torch her hubby used first to make his mark in politics under Bush I.

But really, were I a pudgey kid (um, I think I kinda still am), and Maria "0% body fat" Shriver came to tell me to step it up, I think I'd, I dunno, barbecue her and serve her with mayo. The full-fat kind.

Really though, even if it's genetic, hormonal, thyroidal, whatever, she doesn't look healthy either. I think there's probably a thousand other jokes on this, but it's late . . . .

*I can say "butterball" because I used to be one. Any reader about to make a "used to be" based joke will get a toothpick in the eye.

Old Shoes, Meet New Shoes - A Phoblog Fitness Report

It's been awhile since I gave a marathon update. So in case you're interested, here's me introducing my old shoes (yellow) to their replacement (blue). I'm on pair 3 now, the second of this particular brand and style. I've been accused of being an overpronator, but I don't know if I buy that. Regardless, these shoes are supposed to counter-balance my slightly bum gate. I'd have preferred another pair in yellow, but from everything I could piece together via item numbers and color codes, those blue jobbers are the same, just blue. And I saved around $50 getting them from Sports Basement - meaning my selection is limited. But with marathon training requiring frequent replacement (most people don't replace their shoes often enough), I can't rationalize spending the extra cash - even for fashion.

Last weekend, I ran my longest training run yet: 18.6 miles. And yes, it was long, tiring, and painful. But I made it. This weekend is 12, next is 21 (good god), then 10 and 8 as we step down the volume prior to the big day. Since I purcased the pair on the left in March, I've logged approximately 141.6 miles in long runs alone. Add in weekly training and that's between 132 and 158 more miles. So they've done well.

Tomorrow, I start introducing the new shoes to my feet, my gait, and my pace. Hopefully not to any blisters. It's hard to let go of the yellow shoes. But I know they'd want me to move on. And move on, I shall.

Welcome To The Hotel, California

That would be the proposed hotel for the site currently occupied by US Supreme Court Justice David "I'll Show You an Eminent Domain" Souter.

Athene's Heather Barbour highlights the connection to the 2003 recall - the hotel proposal is from a former recall candidate.

Goofy. But clever. Who says there's no second acts in American life? (really, really small second acts, but second acts nonetheless).

SCA 3 Update: Good Idea Hijacked, 'Monkeys With Darts' Preferable

SCA 3 Update: Good Idea Hijacked, Monkeys With Darts Preferable

Rose Institute Fellow and redistricting reform expert Doug Johnson weighs in on the substantive side of the reform proposal unveiled today (speaking for himself, on substance, and not on behalf of the Rose). I’ll admit, though I linked to the bill’s history, I didn’t fine-tooth the latest amendments. That’s my bad. Fortunately, I have attentive, expert readers.

It’s worth noting, as well, that if – as Doug says below – the latest version of the bill is redlined to the Constitution and not to previous versions of the bill, it would be a very unorthodox method of drafting (at least in my meager experience). It seems, however, that due to the fundamental difference of what’s going on in this latest version, it is redlined in the usual manner, it just gets a bit confusing with all that’s going on. (Use very user-friendly tabbed screen of the bill versions to compare for yourself):

Sen. Perata held a press conference today to announce the Leadership's hijacking of Senator Lowenthal's redistricting reform bill, SCA 3. (See the June 27th amendments, but note that at least one cosponsor [Ashburn (R-Bakersfield] is withdrawing, upset that Lowenthal did not check before resubmitting with his name on it.)

There is nothing "independent" about this proposed commission. While anything is better than the legislators drawing their own districts, even monkeys throwing darts at a map, I think the monkeys would be better for Californians than this proposal.

Perata has stripped out all of the criteria for how districts are to be drawn, leaving only population equality. The bill also mentions city and county borders -- using the same language currently in the Constitution and we've seen how well that works -- and communities of interest, but it makes total population equality the be-all and end-all requirement.

The bill is so completely hijacked that the strikeouts and additions shown in the latest version are comparisons to the Constitution, not to the previous version of the bill. [Ed’s note: see above comments]

The bill removes any claim of "independent" from the Commission. The new Commission would be appointed by the 'big 5' Sacramento leaders, plus one by the President of the UC system (anyone remember where his budget comes from?) and one by the Judicial Council, which includes one incumbent Senator and one incumbent Assemblyman (both Democrats). While partisan balance is claimed by a max of 3 members from any one party, those members only need be members of the party for 3 years, and they cannot be lobbyists, office holders, or campaign "officers." A neat term: campaign managers, we should note, for legal purposes, are usually NOT officers of campaigns, rather they tend to be employees. There is no application and review process (as proposed in the earlier versions of the bill), nor any random drawing (as other proposals do, usually from retired judges).

So each of the Legislative leaders will appoint their campaign managers; the judicial council and UC President will appoint whomever the legislative leaders tell them to appoint; and the Gov will either rebel or trade his appointment for some concession from the legislature. Not very independent.

And then there are no real rules for how the Controlled Commission draws its districts, other than the same federal laws that let Tom DeLay go wild in Texas. Population balance -- the legal reason why California Legislators claim the right to split communities across the state -- is actually given MORE emphasis than under current law.
Ah – well, this analysis would explain Perata’s sudden change of heart (and why Lowenthal’s name wasn’t as played up in the article as “Senate Dems”). We’ll see if we can get some reax from Principal Co-author Joe Simitian, too.

As far as the dart-wielding mokey's proposal, PETA has already emailed Phoblographer* to register its opposition. But it does seem like leaving it in the legislature may, in fact, be better than making it a small politicized group (instead of a 140 member politicized group whose jobs we can more directly affect). Promise to do more reading up as well . . . . see what's really going on here.

AD 53 Special Election: The Potentials

It's impossible not to think about his replacement even while mourning El Seguno Assemblyman Mike Gordon - and The Roundup offers a few names collected by the AP - including Manhattan Beach Councilman Jim Aldinger.

I've met councilman Aldinger several times since my AD borders the 53rd. He ran for Region 17 Director at the last CDP convention and lost to Palos Verdes's Kevin Biggers (whom I supported). Based on some (not all) of those who supporte Aldinger in the RD race, I wouldn't back him in the Special. Plus it'd be nice to see someone young and fresh in the seat - someone worthy of following up Mike Gordon.

In Other News:

PETA is still dumb. Their newest local crusade is to convince Long Beach's Acquarium of the Pacific to remove fish from its cafeteria menu. Yeah, okay, so it's kinda funny to get a fish dinner at an aquarium. But, the "Fish Empathy Project?" Seriously?

I used to work at an aquarium. I love fish. Both in a tank and wrapped in kelp and rice with a side of wasabi. Or just nicely grilled and tasty.

Hey PETA, why don't you focus on not killing the animals in your possession before you fret about sustainable, environmentally friendly seafood at a world-class aquarium?

And, of course:

A new Field Poll shows that everything thinks CA's going down the tubes and that it's our leaderships' fault. Congrats, Arnold, you successfully blew up a bunch of boxes. Sadly, those were the foundations upon which our government was built: respect of law and trust in representative democracy. Didn't realize you were standing on equally shaky footing, didja? Bummer. Way to go.

And my own State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) will help announce a redistricting reform proposal today that L.A. Daily News says would result in Senate Dems (I can only assume they mean Legislative Dems, or just the Legislature, generally) retaining their political control over districting.

The plan - which still removes the maps from Legislative hands - vests the power in an independent commission, not a three-member panel of retired judges. Four of seven commissioners would be appointed by Legislative leaders - the Pro Tem, Speaker, Assembly and Senate Minority Leaders - and the remaining 3 by the Governor, Judicial Council, and - for kicks - the President of the University of California. The plan is also, by the way, hardly new. New to you, perhaps, but not spanking-new by any means (you can track SCA 3's changes here).

Several other states, including Arizona (on whose first independent commission run redistricting I briefly worked in 2001), use independent commissions. They aren't perfect, but they would be better than the current system. My favorite part of most set-ups is that commissioners are prohibited from running for 6 years after the adoption of a plan so they aren't motivated to draw themselves a district in which to run. (tick, tick, tick, tick, tick). By now you should be thinking, "wait, aren't lines redrawn every ten years?" You would be right.

Not that I think judges are inately less partial or more able to execute a fair redistricting - in fact, I'm generally against the conventional wisdom that judges are so special like that. But I would prefer a 3-judge panel to an independent commission. I'd also prefer the Ted "I have a lot of money, so let's govern MY way" Costa ballot proposal didn't include mid-decade redistricting. That swamps it (even though, realistically, folks would just litigate until the new data comes out anyway).

We'll see what happens.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Survey Telling On Bloggers, Self

Take the MIT Weblog Survey And promptly blinded someone with it.

This MIT Weblog Survey is making the rounds in the 'sphere. Doing my part to be a vector in its spread, I'm adding the fancy button right here to encourage you, blogger-reader, to participate.

It's a fairly well designed (if, at times, gramatically incorrect) survey - plus it's presented well (by that I mean it looks good on the screen and is easy to fill out). It also has some found meta issues that I'll discuss in the comments box so as not to tamper with those who are interested in taking the survey and who should do so with an clear mind.

Blog Review: Westly 2006

Via The Roundup - yet another politico turns blogger - or so goes the claim:

The Bee reports Steve Westly's staff claims that he writes his own blog. "'I think a lot of people think blogs by political officials are formal or canned or heavily edited,' said Westly spokesman Nick Velasquez. 'But this is the real thing; this is Steve Westly, right on the Web site.'" The article further notes that, as of Friday, Westly had posted one entry, and done so by dictating it to staff over the phone. Read it for yourself.
Here's the phoned in post specifically. In it, Westly, um, brags (?) about holding a press conference attended by one (1) journo. Psst, Mr. Westly, that's an occasion for under, not oversharing the details. Also, he withholds the name of the attending paper. Why? Blogs are all about the shoutouts.

The post is entertaining, and though it's admittedly been relayed via phone, it's also fairly clearly been relayed and, I'm guessing, reimagined by Westly staffer/blogger Steven Aronowitz - from skimming a handful of other posts, I'd say the tone and cadence are spot-on. That's not to say they're bad. Aronowitz has a great blog voice, actually, casual, chatty, yet grammatically correct. Can't beat that. Advice: just go with it Steven. If Westly really, truly pens a post, cool, put it up and give him credit. Otherwise, don't pretend like he's either about to post, has posted, or realistically ever will post. I'd imagine a good campaign blog will be a process story: a narrative of the race so far that can hook people who want to know how it's going; a tool for keeping volunteers interested (and a possible carrot too: I'd imagine volunteers would love to see their names blogged).

In General - I'd also give Westly 2006 Blog props for having a seemingly unrestricted comments feature. There appears to be a verification code feature which will probably cut down on "buy V1agr@ here" spam, and at least one post had a comment that I'd classify as a dig against Westly. That they left it up is an indication that they get blogging - always nice. And one post is titled "Having Fun With Your Clothes On" - pretty cheeky for a political campaign. Phoblog always gives ample cheeky-points.

[Ed's note: A nice Roundup guy emailed to say I'd misspelled Westly's name in this post. Repeatedly. I've since corrected the goofs. As someone whose own name is frequently and flagrantly misspelled, I should have been more careful. Sorrey, Mr. Westly.]

Add Crimes Of Style To Duke's List Of Offenses

The saga of one congressman's questionable home sale continues, but this article highlights a less known offense: Cunningham is the kind of guy who puts bars on his windows - even the skylights, according to the home's previous owner.

What gives? Is he that paranoid? I know MOCs have security concerns, but I'm guessing this was hardly a bad neighborhood. Apparently the place was also dubbed "a dump" by some who toured during an open house.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

File Under Who's Who

The Bee profiles Demo big gun Gale Kaufman. Her life story has many of the hallmarks of political big-wiggery: lifelong activism, a string of tough losses and a few hard-won victories, and, of course, since she's a woman, much discussion of her "tough," non-word-mincing ways (though, to be fair, tough male consultants are called tough too).

It's always good to know the players.

Speaking of Watchers

The Merc uncovers possible spying by the California National Guard. Excuse me, "monitoring."

Support From Viewers Like Whom?

Scary commentary on the state of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by the NYT's Frank Rich: who's watching the recently uncovered watchers?

One wonders what's next from this administration and those who support it.

Some Things Are Too Unfair To Understand

Former El Segundo Mayor and recently elected Assemblyman Mike Gordon died from complications from a brain tumor. He was just 47.

I never had the chance to meet Assemblyman Gordon, but I know almost his entire staff. Frequently during his campaign, and even before it really started, I would talk with the man who would serve as his Chief of Staff, who would discuss Gordon's possible service with excited anticipation. All of those conversations came flooding back when I learned yesterday of Assemblymember Gordon's passing - all those hopes for the future, plans, and dreams.

Two months into his term, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Gordon family and to his dedicated staff, whom I count as friends.

Friday, June 24, 2005

More CYDers Try To Be As Cool As, Well, Me

Just kidding. (No one can be as cool as me) (and save the grammar comments, it was a rhetorical device)

Former candidate for CYD President Scott Ogus's Cal-Politics is billed as "The Good, The Bad, and The Outrageous In California Politics" Hope Scott has quit his full time job - because that's a lot to cover. He's already adopted a guestblogger, OCYD Chair and CYD LA Basin Region Director Tim Steed. Tim works for "Friends of Joe Dunn."

No word yet on which race Joe's friends will be working. [rimshot]

Anyway - it's one to watch as YDs creep into the 'sphere.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

PETA, Not Just For People-Haters Anymore

Apparently, they're for animal-haters too, as this Chron column highlights after two PETA employees were recently charged with 31 counts each of animal cruelty. The whole organization has some, um, creative ways of rationalizing killing animals it tells shelters it's taking to adopt out:

That's right. PETA assails other parties for killing animals for food or research. Then it kills animals -- but for really important reasons, such as running out of room.

Martosko hopes animal lovers will learn that their donations will do more good at a local animal shelter than at PETA. "For years," he added, "we thought that PETA just cared for animals more than they cared for humans. But now it seems they don't care much for either."

No lie about not caring for people. In 2003, Newkirk hectored late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat because a terrorist blew up a donkey in an attempt to blow up people. Newkirk also told the New Yorker the world would be a better place without people. She explained why she had herself sterilized: "I am opposed to having children. Having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog; it's nothing but vanity, human vanity."

Now you know. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn't really like people. PETA has no use for ethics. And PETA kills animals.
There's even more sad stuff in the rest of the column. And I believe it, based on everything else I've ever seen from this organization. I hope stories like these will encourage more support of local shelters than this large, morally confused "advocacy" group.

Shame On Me As A Writer For Not Noticing This writer Jay Bushman takes to task the Times and AFI for this week's top 100 movie quotes which were apparently were never written by anyone. Instead, from the coverage and the special, Bushman says, they seemingly sprang "whole-cloth from the imagination of the actors or the 'auteur' inspirations of the directors."

Blogger Bushman is the curator of the Screenwriting Museum Project. And he's right. Directors get all the "ooohs," actors get all the fame, and screenwriters get . . . . well, nothing, mostly.

Yet Another Reason To Hate Lawyers

Yes, I realize that involves a bit of self-hate, but c'mon, this is just ridiculous and a complete abuse of whatever possible benefits might come from the legal system.

Good Thing I Won't Have To Take The 110 Anytime Soon

Oh wait, yeah I will.

Stag Taking an Elephant Leap - Again

Via The Roundup, seems that former Republican insurance commissioner nominee - and always Stag, Class of '77 - Gary Mendoza is running again. The snark seekers in the capitol basement highlight Mendoza's recent implication that he'll throw-down with Silicon Valley, big-bucked Steve Poizner. If Poizner beats him in the runoff, Mendoza says he won't back him against the Demo candidate.


Also from the Stag Files: further proof that Jack Pitney is the expert to whom one should turn for every, single possible political article - he's quoted in this article about Demo Assemblyman Tom Umberg beating his former mistress to the punch as he publicizes his extramarital affair to preempt the Other Woman's threats of going public herself.

And, just because . . . .

And, were that it could be history repeated - a thoughtful look at thoughtful reforms proposed during California's last fiscal crisis - and their quiet, predictable deaths. Seems, dare I say, some Pete Wilson people had some pretty good ideas on revising the Constitution in the mid-90s. But the swelling dotcom bubble burst all hope of reform. No one, it seems, has bothered to pick up the old proposals. Maybe because there's barely anyone around now who was around then. Which may be why the '96 revision commissions suggestion to lengthen term limits is a pretty good idea.

And, lastly, in case you forgot that there's still a war on and we're still running short on people willing to fight it - the Times reports the military is enlisting marketer to get data on students for recruiters. Parents - time to start checking those privacy policies.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Snicker Snicker

I love me some creative billboards.

Wesson Starts With We

Reminding crowds that "it's not about me, it's about we, it's about us" - a line the former Speaker's staffers recited in their sleep for several weeks in early 2002, Herb Wesson announced his entry in L.A.'s 10 CD race today, saying the district is his soul and not a stepping stone. Though he wouldn't rule out a run at boss and mentor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke's supervisorial seat in 2008. He's already lined up some big guns.

Phoblog, of course, offers a big "Go Boss!" and an early endorsement. That outta just about lock it up for him.

New Analysis Bit Of The Week Award

Again to The Roundup for catching that Schwarzenegger's "I'll Be Back" line was the AFI's choice at 37th best movie quote the same week Schwarzenegger was approved of by 37% of the California electorate.

We here at Phoblog were still trying to figure out why Brando deserved the second and third spots and why the Princess Bride got nuthin', but the Lord of the Rings did. Go fig.

Here, Read This

From skimming today's Roundup, I know there's some good stuff in it, I just don't have time to read it. And I hate when I can't start my day the Roundup way.

I think they should give me a t-shirt or something for linking to them so often . . . . or maybe a lasso? Hmm . . . .

He Who LAFCOs Last LAFCOs Hardest

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will fine itself $1 for each use of bureaucratic lingo. FBI and CIA are fine, but arcane, infrequently used acronyms (which may seem common to readers here) such as LAFCO (that's Local Agency Formation Commission) will trigger the fine.

Money will go to charity.

It's a smart move, if you support transparent government and the English language generally. As one Supe said, "When people can't understand what you're talking about, they can't feel involved."

Trying to decipher acronyms can be a full-time job, especially ones that are spoken differently than they are written. The article cites the Juvenille Systems Planning Advisory, or JSPAC, which is pronounced "jazz pack" as an example. Of course, in that case, even spelled out we're not entirely sure what it does.

One small step for local government, one large leap for lovers of plain English.

Thanks to reader SK for the tip

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Narrowing The Field

So, about that new Field Poll. There are, of course, 3 possible headlines (i.e. spin) you're likely to see (which are probably already out there, but I'm just going to work from the primary source).

1.) The Special Interest spending successfully blocking Governor's reform efforts.

Schwarzenegger's job rating continues to plummet among registered Democrats, highlighting their move, if not back to their party, away from the Republican Governor. In May 2004, the Governor counted 48% of Demos in his corner, now that number has fallen to a paltry 16%. Even support among Reeps has fallen from 89% to 66% over the same period. In the all-important "others" category, he hovers at 35%.

Schwarzenegger will almost assuredly point fingers at union hit pieces, the constant bombardment of "Guv, keep your promise" ads from the Ed community, as an example of unruly special interests interfering in the people's reform efforts, etc. With unions widely reported to be hiking dues to build their war chests, Schwarzenegger can continue to paint them as greedy, self-interested, evil-doers.

2.) Governor's reform effort losing steam, voters oppose the special election

Fifty-two percent of voters oppose the Governor's call for a special election - even if they weren't reminded of its costs. The number of voters in favor of the special election falls further when pollsters cited the $45-$80 price tag.

3.) Governor succeeds in convincing voters that legislature is bunch of no good rats, but drowns self in sinking ship along with them

The good news for legislators: 44% of respondents said they would be more inclined to support legislative leaders than the governor (33%) if (if!) the two sides disagreed on an issue. That's up from only 29% in May 2004.

The bad news for legislators: even among just registered voters, disapproval ratings are up - with 57% disapproving and only 24% approving of the legislature's job performance.

The bad news for California: voters believe neither the Guv nor the legislature is negotiating in good faith. The poll reports that pluralities see both sides' actions as characterized by confrontation and posturing. Oh happy day.

Both the leg and the guv tied at 52% believing they are confrontational with little room for compromise. Schwarzenegger did get slightly higher marks for negotiating in good faith (32%), while the legislature came in at 25% - with 23% having no opinion.

Still more bad news for California: No one - Dems, Reeps, or others - has much confidence in either Schwarzenegger's or the legislature's ability to "do what is right to resolve the state's budget deficit."

Congrats, Governor Schwarzenegger - you've successfully destroyed everyone's faith in everything. Looks like you blew up the wrong boxes first - you should've left the foundation.

Nothing Sadder Than A Blog Abandoned

Remember all that "oooh, who's that mystery advertiser on Rough & Tumble? And - oooh! - look it's John Campbell! Well, oooh, you shoulda looked faster because his CAConfidential is no more. In possibly the lamest explanation of quitting I've ever read, Campbell, or "Campbell," writes:

On June 11th, California Confidential was put to rest due to an unforeseen turn of events. Its purpose to uncover and report the inner workings of the State Capitol must now fall to others who have shown a willingness and desire to reveal the truth to the public. Sadly, we say goodbye. California Confidential is survived by Hugh Hewitt, Dan Weintraub, Eric Hogue and the Radio Blogger, among others.
For those of you keeping track (what? no one, okay, even so), the blog premiered on June 7th. Yeah, June 7th - and he thinks we miss it already? Waste of a good webdesign, that's for sure. Here's a tip, though, to would-be bloggers: short of death or the natural tolling of time, there's never a good reason to abandon your project - especially one you've spent so long hyping. Poor guy never even got any comments (or at least never approved any).

To the voters of Orange County I say: John Campbell abandoned his blog . . . how long until he abandons you?

Good Morning, Democrats

And lovers of representative government everywhere. The gig is up - this morning's Field Poll reports only 37% of registered voters approve of the Governor and - in perhaps the most heartwarming news I've read in a long time (being the Leg-fan that I am), voters still may not love the Legislature, but they're more likely to side with it against the Governor.

More to come . . . . .

Monday, June 20, 2005

Study Finds Fakers Faking It

Continuing to put women's health on the front-burner, we link now to yet another article about a study of the female orgasm. Stop your giggling, kids. This is science. And, like we've said before, until we're no longer subjected to sledghammer sexual imagery in pharmaceutical ads, we're gonna keep promoting women's sexual health awareness. In fact, probably after the levitra ads go away, too.

And in loosely related news: a study shows that the scent of grapefruit on women makes them seem about 6 years younger. So I guess that new shampoo I've been using would explain why I was repeatedly carded this weekend.

It Takes Fewer Muscles To Punch You In The Nose Than To Smile

Via Class Maledictorian a link to a post on dealing with street-morons who insist a woman's job is to smile for his benefit:

But while the obvious nature of the Whistlers' and Honkers' motivations renders them laughable, the Mood Oglers' more clandestine tactics are maddening. Their behavior implies that women owe all strangers of the opposite sex a wink and a smile because by virtue of their gender they are mere anesthetized decorative objects whose dispositions and facial expressions should be rightfully dictated by the men who just happen to be looking their way.
Having a stranger command me to smile has long been one of my biggest pet peeves. It's a hard one to explain since it does seem harmless. But the reductionist mentality behind the request - pretty girls should smile, smile pretty girl, smile - does tend to gloss over the fact that, oh, I don't know, I might have my own sh*t to deal with that prevents me from showing off the effectiveness of my Crest WhiteStrips. Also - at least in urban areas, my screw-you facial default is a defense mechanism designed to discourage the other male menace: the undesired conversationalist.

So don't tell me to smile, mister. It's ain't cool.

Think They're Using the CA Plum Growers P.R. Firm?

British potato farmers are demonstrating outside Parliament demanding that 'Couch Potato' be removed from the OED.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday Night Lights

The baseball kind . . . .

Phoblog welcomes a new stag on the blog over at Hey, Coach!. We expect big things from Claremont funny man Steve Wadleigh '00. Don't know how long he'll stick with blogging since it's only his first day - but we thought we'd out him anyway, just for kicks. And because he doesn't drink, we won't owe him a beer later for the trouble.

Back with the news on Monday . . . . .

Rest In Politics

Actually, I think the "P" in R.I.P. means "Peace," but that's never been a word used much in the Bush household, has it?

I Want My Two Dollars!

Athene relays a story from Stateline about a teenager trying to complete his late grandmother's collection of state capitol postcards. Seems the kid sent handwritten letters to the governors in each of the missing 19 states asking for the postcards and including a dollar and a stamp.

While only 12 responded initially - all 7 of the responsive Democrats returned the kid's dollar (and most the stamp, too) but 4 of the 5 Republicans kept the buck and the stamp.

And WE'RE the party taking unneeded money from citizens? Sheesh.

Hats off to Athene's Barbour, too, for thinking FPPC-ically when she hopes the postcards and stamps were covered by the D-Governors' campaign accounts and not state funds. Way to stay diligent!

Happy Birthday, Metroblogging San Francisco!

In honor of our Metblog's First Birthday, I've been putting in some extra time over there. Check it out - and don't forget to meander the world with the whole Metroblogging family - from Karachi to Portland, we pretty much got the whole world in our blogs . . . .

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Headlines, Headaches, Headspins

Yes, as of last night at midnight, California once again failed to meet its constitutionally mandated June 15 budget deadline. No worries yet though - we haven't hit the no-staffer-pay deadline yet, which is when Phoblog's friends and sources really start feeling the Sacramento heat.

Since the story never really changes from year to year, it's all about the spin. Via The Roundup, what's in a name [of an article] really can make a difference:

Republicans could not have been happy with the Associated Press headline on the budget story: "Democratic budget nearly mirrors governor's plan, still no Republican support." Of course, some papers put this headline on the exact same story: "Calif. lawmakers fail to pass budget again." We're guessing that one's more to the governor's liking.
Non-wire stories's substance backs up the former headline as well:

Contra Costa Times/Mercury News reporter Kate Folmar writes: "Republicans blocked passage Wednesday of a $116.6 billion budget that is strikingly similar to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's spending plan, thus thwarting an effort to pass an on-time budget for the first time since 1986."
Wouldn't it be nice if that image had legs? Instead I'm betting most Californians will be left with a picture of drunk, smoking legislators with their feet up, blithely authoring tax bills and cutting checks to Richie Ross. In reality, Dean Florez was right (there's a sign of the coming apocolypse) when he took Schwarzenegger to task for hanging out in Bakersfield pitching his representative-government-ruining special election instead of sticking around the Capitol to, you know, like, do his job and stuff.

Meanwhile - also via our boys in the capitol basement - the L.A. Daily News reports on machine-like GOP GOTV efforts taking shape across the state as the party hires professionals to staff major counties. Had hired, actually. Had hired them for Schwarzenegger's '06 campaign (oh wait, we don't know if he's actually running do we? yeah yeah, whatever) - but will just repurpose them for this election instead. Their plan isn't novel: GOTV strategies are GOTV strategies - it just depends on who's executing them and how willing people are to bite. Strong air cover will help: with Schwarzenegger on TV every 60 seconds or so, that GOPer knocking on your door won't seem so odd.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It IS In My Blood!

And, in fact, then, there IS something wrong with their heads.

Heather Barbour over at Athene posts on an fascinating study published in the latest American Political Science Review claiming that genetics, not just socialization, may shape political attitudes. So perhaps all the nurturing in the world won't cure what's in Bush's faulty nature.

Barbour wonders, then, if stem cell research could cure political extremism.

Of course, if these findings are accurate, and we see a sudden uptick in Republican interest in stem cell research, I suggest panicking.

Donkey Makes A Stag's Leap

... into the electoral fray.

[Ed.'s note: This may seem like it's just a plea to CMC alumni. But it's also a plea to all Democratic readers and supporters - as well as fans of great leaders regardless of party. So read on. And act on it.]

CMC boasts many elected officials - but since we strive to populate government with responsible, educated leadership - are we happy with the handful we have? NO! So what's say we elect ourselves some more?

I thought you'd agree.

Which is why I'm glad to say that - by a unanimous vote of the Phoblographer* editorial board - we're coming out way early in the '06 St. Louis County Council's 5th District race for Claremont McKenna's favorite son, Mr. Jake Zimmerman '96.

For those of you too young to remember Jake (which technically includes me, since he graduated the year before I started CMC), he is, in short, a
rockstar. The winner of the Berger Award for Outstanding Senior, Jake's name is still famed throughout Pitzer Hall and the rest of campus for his
political brilliance, sublime sense of humor, and dedication to Democratic politics and the democratic process. I first heard of Jake from the stories told by Chef Dave at the ath where Jake worked during school. And once I found out he was a loyal Pitney-ite, I knew I had to meet him. Now, I can't even remember where I did meet him, but I can tell you that we randomly ended up at Logan Airport at the same time and he sat with me while I waited out a 3 hour fog delay for a flight back to DC. If that isn't friendship, I don't know what is.

But I know you're wondering "that's swell, but what is he running for and what has he done?"

I'm glad you asked.

Jake Zimmerman is running for the St. Louis County Council in a 150,000 resident, politically moderate district in the heart of St. Louis (have you
seen the Arch? That city's got it goin' on). It's obviously a big city and Jake's campaign projects a budget of $250,000. (For more on St. Louis local politics, check out Arch City Chronicle, which featured a short blurb on who's-running-where that included Jake.)

A Harvard Law grad, Jake currently practices law at a St. Louis firm and was formerly the Deputy Chief Legal Counsel for former Missouri Governor Bob Holden. He's also been an Assistant AG laying the smack down on such cads as misleading cell phone companies, fraudulent business school operators, and E-bay scammers. He's also worked with the U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis and in Dick Gephardt's DC office. And in case he isn't rockstar-y enough for you yet - he also interned for Clinton.

Jake's no stranger to Democratic campaigns either, having worked as a St. Louis County field office director in the Missouri Coordinated Democratic Campaign in 2000, for the DCCC in DC (that's a lot of Ds and Cs, isn't it), and, like all of us, he's lent his support to too many candidates and campaigns to count.

So now you're probably saying "okay, okay, duh, we know he must be fantastic, he's a Stag, a loyal Democrat, great at cocktail parties, but what do you want from us? Wait, wait, don't tell us, you want money, right?"


When Jake called me to discuss his exciting race (and you're all a little jealous that he's running, right? I know I am) he went through the textbook ask. He knows his stuff: the demographics, the voting history and trends, the political climate, the budget, the strategy, everything we learned at Claremont and through our Democratic volunteerism. Jake is ready. But he needs your help. Bust out those checkbooks, kids.

You can mail checks, payable to Citizens for Jake Zimmerman, to:

Molly McCoy
421 Jackson Avenue
University City, MO 63130

Any amount would be appreciated - and you can max out at $600 if you're feeling generous.

This is going to be a tight, tough race. It's a critical swing district and key to swinging the council blue-ways. As you know, Phoblographer* runs no ads and charges no money for all this fine, witty, carefully crafted brilliance - so if you like what you read here - please consider donating to the various causes and candidates championed here.

Building a stronger Democratic Party starts at home - your home, our home, and our fellow blue-Missourians' home. Give a little today - get your country back, if not tomorrow, soon.

San Diego Politics

In honor of the upcoming California Young Democrats E-Board meeting in sunny San Diego (it better be sunny), here's a link to San Diegan Patrick Finucane's San Diego Politics site. It's an impressive local resource with many useful links and a clean, user-friendly layout.

For YDers attending the meeting, and others interested in the SD scene, see also:

Any readers know other good San Diego/San Diego politics oriented sites?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

And In Fellow News

Our sources tell us long-time Senate Fellowship director Dan Friedlander is retiring in September.

In an email to former Senate Fellows, Friedlander says:

Before the position announcement/vacancy appears in various publications, I am taking this opportunity to tell you directly that I will retire when the current fellowship year ends in September. I made this decision last fall and advised both the Senate and the university at that time. I've kept quiet about my plans because I didn't want to disadvantage our program during the selection process for next year's class.

My years as program director have been the most meaningful/rewarding of my career--providing me with the opportunity to work with 137 fellows. I am humbled by this honor and developed an attachment for every single person who participated in the program.
Friedlander will spend his new free time with his four grandchildren and working to restore his historic Woodland home. Beloved by many for his gentle, knowledgeable leadership and guidance, former Fellows with whom Phoblog spoke said they were glad to have been a part of the program udner his directorship.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sherman, I've Set The Way Back Machine For Nov. '04

Oddly enough, I was thinking about the campaign today for various reasons. Imagine my surprise when I came home to find this in my mailbox.

Thanks, Tony! I didn't know you cared! Actually, this pins were quite hot during the race. Storefront visitors frequently asked about these pins - I assured them that if I knew how to get one, I'd have one. Turns out I did know how to get one: drop out of law school, move across the country, rent a car for 2 months, re-ruin your credit rating, jeopardize the stability of your financial aid package, lose an election, and wait eight months! JK All the Way!

Seriously though - even if this is just a classily executed inventory reduction - I'm grateful. It's a lovely momento and I'll never dislike anything that reminds me of trail-time. Except those credit card bills . . . .

Well, If You're That Cash Strapped . . . .

I may or may not have mentioned during the campaign that whenever I received an 8x10 glossy of John and John, or other lengthy, involved mailer, my first urge was to call and yell at the DNC or whomever for wasting resources. Some of the mailers were thank-yous for earlier contributions. You're welcome - but I really never gave much more than $25 at a time (well, aside from that quitting law school thing), so really, don't use that $25 to try to get another $25 from me or others in my donation range.

So imagine my reaction at seeing this show up in the mailbox:

Seriously? NARAL, look, I know you have important work to do and it's important to raise money to do that work, but did ou really need to send a pin AND a pen in an expensive package? Did someone misunderstand? "Oh, you wanted me to order pens. I ordered pins. Well, I'll have to order the pens too now and we can just send them both out togeters." If you're raising money for a cause, don't kick it back to me in this bullshit way. Kick it back in the protecting-my-rights way.

I guess some who donate money expect a thank you - but in the same spirt as the do not call list, I'd like to ask political causes to have a "do not send more junk mail" list for those of us who are happy to give to them but need none of this in return (and in fact feel less inclined to give because of it.)

Two New Kids On The Blog

Regular readers might have noticed 2 new commenters here in our cast of regular ranters. These two also happen to have their own blogs.

Rising Blue Tide's "FDR" has left a few comments and I've been emailed the link by someone who may or may not be the author - I have my theories on who's penning this badboy - but don't know for sure yet. Once "FDR" reveals her- or, I suspect, himself, I'll be more comfortable linking over there. Stylistically strong, however, which is always appreciated.

Also, another anonyblogger (whose identity I do know and is in the comments on this site) has started Musings of a Conservative Democrat with the great address Too bad he's gone 'round the bend on the Special Election issue. He's another Stag, as well, and we always give bonus points for that.

Some Things You Can't Fix

I expected that around this point in the day, I'd be posting about the Governor's press conference to announce the November 8 Special Election.

Instead, I'm sitting, rather dumbfounded at some sad news. Not about me, nor my family, thankfully.

I rarely get too personal on this blog - mainly because I think it's egocentric enough as it is to believe anyone might care about my views on policy and politics. I never assume anyone is going to care about the rest of my life - and hopefully this is a better blog for that.

Today, though, I learned that the mother of someone who was once very, very close to me has passed away. I don't know exactly when or how because he and I haven't spoken in almost two years due to a fight that though valid at the time, saw both of act inappropriately and unfairly at various points, and resulted in the breaking of all ties. It's something I've regretted frequently - best friends are tough to come by in this world and shouldn't be cast off easily, if ever.

But should he ever have googled my name and know about this site, I hope he reads this and knows that if I had known, I wouldn't have waited until now to leave a very ineloquent message on his voicemail. I hope he would know, even without confirmation, how sorry I am for his loss. I loved his mom - and I think she was fond of me as well. She was always very kind to me. Our families had known each other since we kids were toddlers.

I can't help but think back to all the times when I was home on vacation that I jogged past his parents house and thought about stopping in to say hello. I never did. The Hallmark Hall of Fame Channel movies are right: you shouldn't forgo those opportunities.

I didn't know her when she died. And I didn't know him when he lost his mother. But the death of anyone's parent is humbling and frightening because it means any of our own parents might be mortal. That's surely natures cruelest trick - to let us be raised all along by people who aren't allowed to stay the whole time we're here.

So I'm sending this into the 'sphere knowing that he'll probably never see it. But I know there were and are many around him who love and support him. This is just one more thought out there in the world that I hope he can feel.

Weird Science

Via Class Maledictorian, the odd news that cats might alter your personality:

The startling figures emerge from studies into toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried by almost all the country’s feline population. They show that half of Britain’s human population carry the parasite in their brains, and that infected people may undergo slow but crucial changes in their behaviour.

Infected men, suggests one new study, tend to become more aggressive, scruffy, antisocial and are less attractive. Women, on the other hand, appear to exhibit the “sex kitten” effect, becoming less trustworthy, more desirable, fun- loving and possibly more promiscuous.
Okay, kids, it's Write Your Own Joke time. There's way too much material in this story for me to cover alone.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to call for a special election on his initiatives to change state government -- even as critics charge that by pushing for a November vote, the California governor is warping the process that allows citizens to take issues to the ballot.
At least there are vocal critics . . . .

Should be a fantastic fall . . . again.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Be A NIMBY - But Don't Mess With The Grunion

Via L.A. Observed, Malibu NIMBY's are employing heavy machinery to build sand fortresses to protect their homes from what? Is it the evils of winter storms that threaten their property and threaten to leach government recovery money from the resulting damage? No! It's to protect their beachfront homes from pail-and-shovel toting beachgoers who dare walk on state beaches.

Homeowners insist they're just replacing sand eroded by city-built-storm-drain run-off.

Just another chapter in the on-going dispute of what bit of the sand is state vs. privately owned.

Except the earth movement wrecks grunion egg beds which will either be smushed so far back that they'll dry out and never be agitated to induce hatching or uncovered to the point that they'll wash out to sea too soon to hatch and survive.

As one who used to work extensively with silvery, 5-inch long fish, I'm a wee bit protective. Not only because - well - why kill them for no reason - but how many species do you know of that provide an excuse to gather your kids up for a night of animal fornication? It's fish sex on a beach, people. And it's science. Don't believe me? Catch a grunion run for yourself.

And NIMBY protectionists suck.

On Blogging, IP, And Online Access

In poking around for some background on the post below, I came across this Tech Central Station piece on the increasing number of pay-walls being built by newspaper websites and the effect of that restricted access on bloggers and intellectual discourse generally.

It's a problem I've run into here when linking to New York Times articles - and that's even without upcoming fee requirements for accessing their op-ed material - my readers were largely unwilling to register for the NYT site for free. They certainly won't pony up for pieces.

Bonus for CMC econ junkies: the author Nathan Smith discusses all kinds of fun models for intellectual property - as well as general models for patronage of the arts. Note especially his discussion of French politicial Talleyrand:

Talleyrand was a French politician, who, amazingly, managed to participate in every government of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period, surviving to represent France at the Congress of Vienna. A historian I read, inclined to admire him, reported that "Talleyrand had convictions; he simply preferred to be paid for acting on them." This will be a fitting motto for a different kind of journalist. What I have in mind is not a corrupt hack who will write whatever someone who pays him wants to write. No, the journalist of the tradition of Talleyrand will know and write just what he believes. But he will figure whose self-interest is served by his articles being available to the public, be it George Soros or General Electric or trial lawyers or the Ford Foundation or the People's Republic of China, and persuade them to pay him for it. The rest of us will have to get a bit less snobbish about journalistic independence, but we'll also rely on citizen-bloggers to filter these writers, to rely on them selectively, to applaud them when they're providing good information and good arguments, and to expose them when they pull a fast one.
I highly doubt we're culturally ready to embrace this form of journalistic compensation - but it's likely the most intellectually honest way to go.

Oh, right, someone just point out I never discussed the upcoming gating of the NYT. All of you who wouldn't register for free to read the content will worry no more because soon I won't be linking to NYT op-ed writers - because I won't be able to read them myself. Here's one industry publication's take on the decision which illustrates the tension between free media junkies (like me and my 7,999,999 fellow bloggers) and columnists, publishers, and editors who need to put food on the table and keep their foreign bureaus open.

It's interesting to not the varied approaches newspapers take to selecting which content they'll provide for free and which to offer only to paid subscribers (or print subscribers). The New York Times will still offer everything but its op-ed material for free. The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, requires subscription for everything but its op-ed material which is available at Then there's the Los Angeles Times which, up until recently, walled-off it's Calendar section. Let's not even get into what that says the fine (non-West-Coast based) Tribune folks think about LA readers.

We'll see who wins in the long run - but for bloggers, as DailyKos's Kos says, if my readers can't read it, why would I link to it?

Regulatory Question Of The Day

Catching up on recent FEC news, I'm wondering about efforts to regulate internet political activism, advertising, whatever. The BCRA boys are out in full force, naturally. First, they applaud the way the 'net improves political discourse and urge caution lest stifle "the virtually limitless potential of this exciting medium." (No word on whether they caught the internal humor of "virtually.")

But, McCain et al also see no reason to believe "monied interests will not attempt to use the internet to influence politics and policy" as they do with all other media.

Okay. Fair. Sure they'll try. But - and I may be naive here - I don't fear them the same way I do the power of the purse to invade mailboxes, idiot-boxes, and ballot boxes. While it is incredibly difficult to get an accurate read on the net - and especially on the blogosphere - when you're in it yourself, there do seem to be some basic trends that would run against the BCRA boys' fears.

Indy sites and bloggers are more trusted. It's hard to tell for sure how website trends will run as the genre goes (more) mainstream. But thinking back to last summer's conventions, what major news organization didn't have a blog? Right. And who read them? I don't know - but they weren't blogs like we're blogs because they were trying to insert themselves into a field both prematurely and too late.

Granted, the contemplated regulations contemplate much more than the 'sphere. But from what I know of linkage science - and what those nice Google guys do - money may buy you lots of sidebar action, or blue header-bar action, but it can't beat good old fashioned word of, uh, keyboard. With the right content, you can catapult any site into an overnight net-sation and even type your way into the MSM (see also: Drudge, Matt; Lines, Power). Money didn't get those messages out. And memogate was advocacy in the extreme, however it was intended and executed. Monied interests may come into play because money breeds connections. And connections breed links. But the 'net is almost as free for users as radio or television. Libraries and free internet cafes, coupled with free email accounts and services like our own Blogger here, mean that any literate person with 10 minutes and enough fine motor control to work a mouse can establish her presence on the net. It's not a far jump from presence to advocacy, political activism, and even, for the lucky leaders in the genre, influence.

And good luck even coming up with a regulatory scheme for our Wild Wifi West. Who could monitor all our goings-on? How will you uncover carefully covered tracks and enforce regulations? How do you place a value on net activism? For brick-and-voter in-kind contributions you can add up the costs of the stamps and printing, the airtime, the pizza. My computer cost about $2k and I pay around $35/month for net access, $48/year for hosting and that's all. For each time I say "Vote for Jake Zimmerman" will the regulatory body apportion out my costs per unique visitor? What if none of them visited from an IP address traceable to the St. Louis area?

The focus of the latest round of FEC efforts is on paid advertising. But regular net users can easily identify paid advertising and are likely skeptical about a lot of things they see on the web. Web advertising is a targeted, nuanced field - as well as an inexact science - a far cry from media buys of old.

Getting back to bloggers, the proposal would exempt those who use the net to express political opinions on their own. The resulting blogger boom will be obvious - and blogger ethics are entirely self-created, self-enforced, and change more often than I do before a date. There would also be limits on the use of corporate and union computers for this activity. Don't get me started on that aspect. And of course, there will always been a media exemption for news and commentary. Note "commentary." Well that should about cover everything, right?

Groups like the Center for Responsive Politics, Democracy 21, and the Campaign Legal Center apparently support the FEC's proposal to grant the media exemption to legitimate media organizations. Which would be cute since a large part of blog power derives from the fact that we aren't MSM. Legitimacy would be decided on a "case-by-case basis." Let's see, I'm guessing the cases are if you have a recognizable 2 or 3 letter acronym (ABC, NBC, CBS, NYT, LAT, WP, WSJ) you're case will go favorably. I feel legitimate yet I think my FEC readership might not be all that high.

And then there's what I can only assume is the Kos Provision which would require disclosure by those receiving payments from a campaign and posting online material beneficial to the campaign.

First one to figure out how to a) mesh that with the First Amendment, b) enforce it, or c) write effective language on it wins a prize.

Basic requirements that paid web advertising be disclosed might be fine. But such a rule vastly oversimplifies the nature of politics in an online world.

The internet has the potentially to level the playing field. Dean, a governor from a state with roughly the population of San Jose (as reader DR pointed out) was able, for a brief and blissful period, to harness the net's tidal energy and ride it to household-name status. That simply could not have happened via television, radio, print, and mail tactics.

Whether or not I prompt action from my readers, I reach more people, basically for free, with this nifty blog than I'd ever have the money to reach without it. So the monied interests can try their best to overtake this genre too. We'll either survive their attempts, or reinvent ourselves using technology that some 15 year old is developing in his basement right now.

Thanks but no thanks, BCRA boys. We can take care of ourselves.

Cue Circus Music

Via The Roundup:

We don't know if we should draw conclusions from this, but Dan Weintraub writes in his blog that the governor "confirmed last night that he will call a special election for this November and will issue the proclamation on Monday. He let the very obvious cat out the bag during informal comments to cartoonists from around the nation gathered in Sacramento for their annual convention."

If he's breaking news at a cartoonist convention, there's no telling what will happen at his press conference at Disneyland today.

Here's Your Chance to Vote For Robert C. Byrd

Visit this site, scroll down, and vote for Byrd in the on-line poll at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Politicizing Graduation

This past week or so has seen a trend in commencement themed articles. In Tracy, anti-gay protests promise to congratulate graduates with "God Hates Fags" signs. Down South, Schwarzenegger's planned speech at Santa Monica City College will likely draw protests as well.

As much as I'm daily protesting Schwarzenegger in my own ways, I don't believe holding signs and interfering with what is basically a family event is appropriate. I also don't think it's a way to win friends and supporters to your cause. But, blessedly, this is America, so do what you want.

Then there's CSU Hayward's speaker who bowed out after students threatened to boycott over his views:

Rodriguez, author of the acclaimed memoir "Hunger of Memory," drew criticism from some students for his views against bilingual education and affirmative action.

"I'm a bilingual educator," said student Leah Perez, 32, who is graduating with a master's degree in urban teacher leadership and protested Rodriguez's presence at the graduation. "He believes in assimilation and rejection of one's cultural identity, and we don't feel that is what we stand for in our program, and we don't want him representing us." . . .

"It is a sad situation. You hear about this at other universities," [campus spokesman] Huggett said. "We are a university that has always prided itself on the expression of free ideas. The sad part is people doing this based on a book they haven't read."
One of many ironic aspects of the story is that despite Rodriguez's absence, at least 28 protesting students (and you wonder if that's the total out of 5000 graduates with the beef) will continue with plans to hold their own alternative ceremony. The speaker at that event will be a supporter of bilingual education.

And were I a Hayward voter, I'd be concerned about the logic exhibited by one school board member and CSU professor:

Sarah Gonzales, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, said it was unfair to give Rodriguez a platform and captive audience for his views.

"We need to teach our students to be able to listen to diverse opinions, but they also need to be able to respond," said Gonzales, who is also a school board member in Hayward. "As a commencement speaker, he gets free air time."
God bless my liberal arts education at a school where the prevailing philosophy was "you don't agree with this? Good, we don't want you to, so let's have a good fight about it, and then drink heavily together later." Over at my other blogging-outlet, there have been a few items on both free-speech-vs.-offensiveness and liberal bias in education lately. When a university has clearly failed to teach its students the value of open discourse, one wonders how valuable the earned degree really is.

I'd Say It's More Than A Suggestion

Isn't it a pretty common play from a pretty common play book? From today's Chron:

Leading Democrats distanced themselves Wednesday from Howard Dean's characterization of the GOP as a "white Christian party,'' while suggesting that Republicans have seized on the Democratic Party chief's controversial remarks to divert attention from the Bush administration's failures at home and abroad.
Other Democratic leaders continue to disavow Dean's comments - none of them, apparently believe the Republican Party is a party of white Christians. I wonder, then, if we'll ever again be able to describe ourselves as the party of [fill in ethnic, or other, generalizing term here]. Rainbow Coalition, anyone? And if you'd seen or heard what we saw and heard in West Virginia, you'd know that the RNC has no problem at all painting the Democratic Party as the party of godless sodomites.

The article goes on to report that Walnut Creek Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher called Dean's remarks pejorative and personal. It's true, I suppose, if someone calls me a white Christian, well, look out, I can kick shins with the best of 'em.

Also - there's clarification that Dean's "I meant leaders" clarification did, in fact, refer to his earlier comment about Republicans never having made an honest living in their lives (as one commenter here pointed out yesterday).

And lest we let numbers get in the way - oh wait, let's:

In the wake of the controversy, a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 82 percent of Republicans identify themselves as "white Christians.'' But the poll also found that a majority of Democrats, 57 percent, also consider themselves the same -- as do two-thirds of all Americans.
Dean himself, last time I checked, also a white Christian, but whatever. And the Daily Show has made the point many times before. Just watch convention coverage. It's not a value judgment: demographics are demographics. What Dean was highlighting, was the conservative Christian agenda which is still very much alive and kicking. (And there really isn't much "conservative" about it - but nomenclature can be tricky.)

And finally . . .

A lot of yesterday's comments came back to "The Scream." Apparently I didn't describe the AV aspects of the event clearly enough. So here we go, one last time.

Raise your hand if you've ever been to a baseball game. Ah, yes, I see - many of you have. Now raise your hand if you've watched a baseball game on TV. Again, good to see such a strong response.

You know that part at the start of the game when the nice lady or guy gets up to sing the national anthem? Ever wonder why, when the crowd starts wildly cheering at the end, you can still clearly understand the singer? Through the magic of microphones, cables, and technology, the singers voice is amplified directly to broadcasters and through your TV to your ears. If you were standing on the field next to the singer, his or her notes would be all but drowned out by the thousands of fans. (this is also why singers routinely wear those little hidden ear buds which pipe back to them the sounds of their own voice so they can monitor their pitch, etc).

The same thing happens at a rally or anywhere one person is presenting to a potentially loud crowd with the aid of a microphone. The audio feed from the microphone will pick up whatever is closest to it and feed it directly to the speakers - or cable news networks. To the person holding the microphone, he sounds just like everyone else. To the person listening to the product of the microphone, the speaker's voice rises clearly above.

Oh - here's a good example: who remembers that one time George Bush called a New York Times reporter a dick? He leaned over and whispered it to that other Dick . . Cheney. Right, I knew you remembered. Well, none of the rally's attendees heard him say that because - that's right - the microphone that was still on was feeding the TV crews. In person, Bush's words were drowned out amid the ambient noise.

So that night in Iowa, in a room of screaming people, Dean rallied the faithful - raising his voice along with theirs in an very traditional rhetorical style. I doubt John Kerry has ever been that excited in his life - and we had that message beaten into us as well over the course of the campaign.

What sounds maniacal and wildly louder than anyone else in the room in fact was not. If Dean had handed the mic to a cheering volunteer in the front row, the volunteer would've sounded the loudest. But he didn't.

We're so used to carefully scripted events held solely for the benefit of at-home viewers, our one peak at an old-time, go for the gusto, rally the troops, once-more-into-the-breach-dear-friends gathering seems utterly nuts.

But it wasn't. You just let them tell you it was.