Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And The Democratic Response

A succinct "you suck" for all the ways in which Bush has failed to serve Americans, heavily flavored with religious rhetoric.

I give it a B+.

Might've been higher, but the delivery was a bit wooden.

Stronger Immigration Enforcement?

Oh, Mr. President, I'd say your people are doing just fine nabbing those bastards trying weasel their way into the country.

American Government: Responsibility Free Since 2001

Let's keep those tax breaks. Well, you keep those tax breaks, I don't think i qualify.

And, I'm sorry, Line-Item Veto? Are you kidding? Haven't we been down that road before?

There was one moment of levity over Social Security reform - that's amusing. But really, the rest of your economic plan would make more sense if we weren't, like, at "war" and stuff.

Bonus points for anyone who chuckled at his pride over cutting discretionary non-security spending.

For God 's Sake John, Sit Down

F*ck decorum. Nancy Pelosi, why do you stand when the President spins his lies, condemns the world to further violence, uses the good name of our country on this misguided crusade?

E tu, John Kerry and DiFi? Charles Rangel is sitting down. He doesn't stand for tired, meaningless rhetoric, why do you?

Seriously, Democrats, you're the Congressional equivalent of the USC cheerleader - didn't you notice you's saluting the other team's touchdown?

I understand you're probably licking your self-inflicted wounds today, having let slip past you a nominee for the Supreme Court nearly unaimously opposed by your constituent party members. Were you afraid they'd take the filibuster away? What, pray tell, are you saving it for? They needn't take it away from you, you've taken it from yourselves.

What are we learning tonight besides that pink is the new red power suit and we applaud Washington abandoning all oversight over military actions carried out in our name overseas?

Dear Democratic Members of Congress, sit your asses down and stand from something.

The State of the Union Is

He made it a a whole 10 seconds before the first 9-11 reference.

And a whole 30 seconds before seizing the opportunity once again to confuse 9-11 with the Iraq war.

You keep repeating it, Mr. President, but I still hear what you're saying and how you mislead.

Stop it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Slightly Less Cheeky Announcement For Non-Phubar Readers

With the last hold-out now reporting, I can unofficially, officially report that I'm the proud holder of my very own Juris Doctor. That and the Starbucks card my mom gave me from Christmas gets me a grande non-fat chai.

But seriously - it's a relief to know the grades are all in and all passing. Quite passing, as luck would have it. Go figure. Doesn't make up for the first 5 semesters, but it provides an odd bit of comfort as I stare down the real test.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I Got Mine, Sucks To Be You

Isn't it great when two great modern themes are united in a single article. . . .

The uncomfortable love-hate relationship between the City and its suburbs, gets the treatment in the Chron:

It may well be that many Bay Area people, particularly those who are affluent, may not see this as a problem. As the hotbed of environmentalism and "smart growth" sentiment, the Bay Area, and the towns in its suburban sprawl, have been notable in opposition to new housing development, particularly single-family homes. This was true during the boom of the '90s, and it is true today.

This is not an isolated phenomenon. Harvard's Ed Glaeser has pointed out that a similar process is occurring in the Boston area, where suburban growth has been choked off under the guise of environmental protection or to preserve quality of life. As a result, demographers have traced a growing out-migration of young people to less-expensive places such as New Hampshire or the sunbelt.

Part of the problem lies in the past success of regions like the Bay Area and Boston. Well-educated, affluent residents, often sitting on properties worth close to a million dollars, have little reason to share their lifestyle. This is particularly true for those who work in the more sophisticated, globalized sectors of the economy, or in the bulging nonprofit sector, where cash flows are not tied to the local economy
Yup, that about covers it. Save the city's "character," ensure no one will be able to live here.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Worth A Watch

If you missed last night's Daily Show, check out the clip on the New Osama Tape which is funnier for the Canadian humor than the Osama part.

Of special note, the Canadian attack ads between the two main contenders for Prime Minister. Do you think we might want to reexamine our international reputation when the main attack ad against the leading challenger is that his election would make George W. Bush very happy. I suppose it's kind of as bad as when the Reeps here implied that terrorists would be thrilled with Kerry's election.

Except should our leader's friendship really ever actually be or be able to be portrayed as an albatross around candidate's necks?

Good grief, eh?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hiatus

The best things in life have to take a breather every so often, and blogs are no exception.

I'm not saying I won't sound off here over the next month or so, but any regular publication schedule can't be guaranteed - and in fact, it's been pretty hit or miss here lately anway.

There's still plenty of bar fun over at Phubar, if you're into that sort of thing. But Phoblog will return to all the policy and political fun you've come to expect and, I hope, enjoy.

Don't forget about me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

...And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Today, my own federal government broke my heart. And there was nothing I could do to stop it. I didn't know the right people. I didn't have enough money. I don't have the right agent. Maybe if I'd been two degrees of separation closer to someone with more power, things would've worked out differently.

How humbling to know that, in your own country, there's no way to fight city hall. All this time, and there was nothing to be done.

An important clarification: I do know the right people - a lot of good friends and fellow activitsts (if I've even earned that title to use for myself) - who were angels tonight when they took the call of a sobbing blogger and tried their best to help. I should've saved the word "humbling" for them - because their friendship does so, daily.

Thought of the Day

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Phoblog 2 Minute Movie Review: Brokeback Mountain

This is a redo - for two reasons:

1.) This Chron review, though it takes longer than 2 minutes to read, covers all the points I would've made and does so better than I could have.

2.) A quick check of the IMDB entry on the film's trivia led to the unfortunate discovery that this uniquely American love story - the one in which America itself is so fantastically shown through Ang Lee's exquisite eye - is filmed IN CANADA.

Poor Wyoming.

Still a good movie. But that's just sad.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

One Heck Of A Post

You may have noticed that George Bush has a heck of a time avoiding the word heck in his speeches. Brownie doing a heck of a good job? Yeah, you know the drill.

A Rutgers professor of media an politics and a specialist in political language says it's a way to be a common person "and it may be who he is."

Sounds about right.

Also sounds pretty sad. How decidedly American - specifically Western American - to be proud of being ill-spoken, plain, and only sufficiently educated. I hope in my upcoming travels to investigate whether other countries have such an aversion to displays of intelligence.

And by the way, "specialist in political language?" Is that a job? Can I have it? Of course, I studied under one of those, I suppose, though I don't know if he's been labeled as such. Handy knowledge base for sure. Here, buy his book and you can know more about political language as well.

Friday, January 13, 2006

No, No, The Governor Received No Special Treatment

A movie star did! See, totally different!

Chron takes a good look at why the Governor's lip injury could have seriously negative implications on his future in public service.

Though, in my lay opinion, it won't hamper his overall earning potential.

'Impose Legality'

This morning on the local news, a pro-life advocate spoke about some billboards up in BART stations that question pro-choice policy.

No, despite disagreeing with the ads, the very foreseeable damage to the ads is wrong. People should talk first, destroy never.

But questioning the group's position is well within our rights.

While relaying the group's views, the spokeswoman said the ads pose the question "Roe v. Wade, have we gone to far? Have we gone to far in imposing legality on abortions through all 9 months of pregnancy."

Interesting phraseology, no?

And again - honestly, pro-lifers, do you honestly believe there's an outrageous number of devil-may-car women out there who realize in month 8.5 that, gee, I knew there was something I meant to get to 6 months ago, guess it's time to have my abortion now.

No.

A little reason would be nice, wouldn't it?

Update:

And, here's an article on the ad campaign.

Many of the ads have been torn down or defaced since the campaign began three weeks ago.

"I think every woman has noticed them,'' said Suzanne "Sam" Joi, a member of Code Pink, a social justice and anti-war group. "I couldn't believe BART would allow something like this. Why are they doing this?''
Is that a rhetorical question or do you want the actual answer, Code Pink?

I think we can start with the First Amendment and work our way down from there.

BART officials say they had little choice but to post the ads, given the free-speech provisions of the First Amendment. The transit district also has a policy of accepting point-of-view advertising and has displayed other political material -- including advertising from its employee unions during last year's contract talks.

"We're not in the business of censorship and don't believe a government agency should be in the business of censorship,'' Johnson said. "It shouldn't be up to a government official to determine whose opinion is right and whose is wrong.''
Not only shouldn't it, it can't.

I may support choice, but I completely disagree with abortion rights activists who seem to believe that their rights to free speech and freedom from confronting opposing viewpoints is paramount to everyone elses.

Oddly enough, that's not the way the country is supposed to work.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Reactions To The LAT's UFW series

Kevin Roderick is doing a better job than my recent Technorati searches (sorry JD) at covering relevant reactions to the LAT's series on the UFW.

I find it interesting to note that the common theme among those who object to the Times's take on the union is "where has the Times been when it had the chance to report on something good, something else having to do with labor, etc, etc."

Dangerously close to: "why don't the papers report on the new schools we're building in Iraq as much as they report the car bombs?" No? Am I wrong?

Fairness standards for geese and ganders remain disparate, it would seem.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Roots? What Roots?

The Chron's Lynda Gledhill looks at Schwarzenegger's past two weeks of shop talk and says that his spending proposals have some wondering if he's turned his back on his roots as a fiscal conservative.

His roots as a fiscal conservative? Roots? What roots? I thought his roots were as a professional, juiced-up body builder? An action movie star?

His political roots, as I recall, involved championing Prop 49 - which, if memory serves was a spending proposal for after school programs.

Schwarzenegger, for those inattentive types, is a human pendulum capable only of swinging wildly out of control at the first hint of a breeze. His newest round of ideas prove that, don't they?

And people kicked Davis out for what, exactly, again?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Lazy Blogger's Thoughts On The State Of The State

The address, not the actual state of the state, that gets discussed here enough.

I spent the last night's address leaning about real property instead of watching Schwarzenegger - though he's been properly DVRed for later enjoyment.

Falling back, as ever, on my favorite quick-and-dirty on state events, The Roundup, here's a little analytical scrap to chew on:

The LAT's Michael Finnegan writes that the governor's move to the center will make it more difficult for Phil Angelides and Steve Westly to gain traction with the voters. "By neutralizing some key issues, his political shift also heightens the likelihood of a gubernatorial race defined as much by disputes about character as by partisan divisions, analysts say. A central question is apt to be whether Schwarzenegger is motivated more by core beliefs or a quest for personal success."
[Insert shriek of frustration here].

Come on now. Why must we either give Schwarzenegger the benefit of his words - like magically beacuse he said he'd do one thing in his speech he's actually going to do so - or assume voters a) listened, b) processed, c) cared about what ideological indicators Schwarzenegger presented to woo them back to the fold? I will admit I'm guilty of a multitude of sins in attempting to write about a speech I haven't yet watched, but then again, I'm in the same position as 90% of Californians picking up the Times this morning. So how, then, did he "neutralize key issues?" We - voters AND media - are going to just allow him to say "whoopsie, I get it, hey let's build a freeway" and presto! instant credibility revival?

As if.

The central question is right on the mark - but it will be interesting to see how that question is answered. I'd say it was answered pretty clearly in the polls last November, but certainly with less than the optimal amount of help from the media who - per tradition - spent far more time relaying talking points than carefully evaluating the facts.

I'm not holding my breath - with this guy, and this state - anything can happen.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Oh Happy Day

Jon Stewart slated to host 2006 Academy Awards

Caption Contest!

It's fill in the bubble time over at Keep California Blue, the official blog of the California Young Democrats.

There's quite a nifty cartoon over there that's begging for your witty input. Make sure you check it out!

You Know, I Was Wondering How He'd Keep Busy

Ah, Ted Costa.

You give me so much to gripe about - yet, at the risk of losing all that great material, I'm still going to ask that you keep your mitts off redistricting reform.

Dammit - too late, I see.

Here's the strange bedfellows list of people re-grouping to work on yet another redistricting reformation proposal:

Spearheading the campaign are People's Advocate, Mobilizing America's Youth, California Public Interest Research Group, Committee for an Independent Voice, Mexican American Political Association and TheRestofUs.org, a political watchdog group.
On the bright side, this probably means I haven't missed my chance to work "Wigglesworth" into a post.

In fact - let's go ahead and work it in here - well, for the second time, I suppose.

Dear Ned Wigglesworth - You're letting Ted Costa in on this? Seriously, dude, tape his mouth shut and sit him in a corner. And please, whatever you do - don't make him the one in charge of either proof-reading or delivery of important documents.

So what's this new plan look like?

Cressman and David B. Smith, executive director of Mobilizing America's Youth, described the initiative as follows:

Formation of the commission would begin with random invitations sent to thousands of voters. If interested, they would fill out a questionnaire to determine eligibility.

Voters could not serve on the redistricting panel if they are registered lobbyists or have held partisan office, among other criteria.

The applicant pool would be winnowed randomly to about 100 names. Four legislative leaders from both major parties could then eliminate up to 10 people each from the list.

From the finalists, the panel's members would be selected randomly, provided that certain criteria are met, including geographic diversity and representation by Democrats, Republicans, and independent or minor-party voters.
Wow! Just like jury duty! And you know how much people love THAT! We're sure to find some dedicated, deliberate folks from the pool comprised of the 10 people who actually want to serve and the millions who appreciate that this is much easier to escape than jury duty. They'll sign up in droves.

Oh, and guys, having a provision where "[i]f voters reject the proposed boundaries, a new panel would be chosen and the deliberation process would begin anew?" Really? We want to keep that part of Prop. 77?

Does representation mean nothing to you people.

Okay, okay, I'll do the long awaiting, long procrastinated model redistricting reform proposal analysis and commentary very soon. No really this time.

Then I'll find $10m and put it or something closer to it on the ballot.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Special Phoblog Pull-Out Section

Long ago - even before the Daily Show's heyday - Comedy Central covered the State of the Union address by having scrolling, satirical commentary on the bottom of the screen and commentary before and after the speech - proving themselves ahead of even their own time. It was a great way to watch the event. Sadly, they haven't done it in years, though it foreshadowed their eventual position as one of the most socially responsible channels on the air.

Following that tradition of making speeches that would be fun to wonks anyway fun for the rest of the world - and even funner to wonks - here's your New Year's treat:

The 2006 State of the State Bingo Game!

Yes, kids, we're bringing some fun home, right here in California for our own State of the State Address. Union-schmoonion.

Simply download the template above, print your own, and form you own variations with just a few minutes of cutting & pasting! Suitable for speech watching parties; late nights in the office with your fellow staff; works as a virtual no-doze for press covering the speech; bonus points if you photograph yourself WITH the game IN the Assembly chamber tomorrow night!

For interns and fellows with WAY too much free time tomorrow, we suggest using members' head shots, pictures of the California Supreme Court Justices, and members of the Exec Branch to make an I-Spy Game. A fun Fellow variation: first one to spot the most Fellow-bosses wins! The possibilities are endless!

Happy playing!

Okay, okay: Y'all were such good readers in 2005, here's a bonus Bingo Card to show how much I care.

Who Learns What From This?

So, 'Abramoff Pleads to Fraud in Florida' and we can safely assume he'll get leniency in exchange for singing like a wee little birdy.

There are, so far as I can tell, zero redeeming lessons here for the kids. Yes, fraud is bad and should be prosecuted. And all the other bad people should get what they deserve too. Just more proof that there's no honor among thieves, right?

Oddly enough, it's almost extra insulting that he gets a bit of consideration for just selling out all the way - or at least in a different way. God forbid he pay fully for his own sins.

Then again, I hear all your counterarguments too. Everyone who can get nabbed in this, should get nabbed. But do you see my point?

It all stinks like a dirty birdcage.

Query

When the Trojans face the Longhorns in the Rose Bowl, can there really be a "winner."

(I tend to side with Bruins and against Texans - so this game is going to be hard to watch either way. Though I suppose California must be favored over Texas.)

Getting It Wrong. No Way To Set It Right

12 of 13 W. Va. Miners Confirmed Dead

Damn it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Prayers Answered

Families Say 12 W.Va. Miners Found Alive

Early Contender For Quote Of The Year

Also via the Roundup, an article about a nifty little aircraft leaseback tax shelter:

Despite claims by Schwarzenegger's top advisers during a 2003 campaign briefing that the actor's investments included 'no tax shelters' and were 'absolutely not tax-driven,' a Bee examination of his company's 747 deal shows his company took advantage of what experts say is one of the most attractive tax sheltering devices available to the super wealthy.
And what does the Gov have to say in response?

"'If someone wants to call it a tax shelter, fine, but I disagree,' [Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob] Stutzman said. 'Either way, it's perfectly legal. So what?'"

Sigh - sometimes it all just writes itself.

And in other writes-itself news:

I'm a lazy blogger now - so I'm going to keep cutting & pasting this post together.

Meanwhile, the Bee's Jim Sanders reports that many of the bills that failed last year will be back for another look in the legislative session returning this week. Among those Sanders lists are Jackie Goldberg's mascot bill (5 tries), Joe Simitian's cell phone while driving bill (4 tries) and, of course, Gil Cedillo's immigrant driver's license bill (7 tries).

"'We do it much too often and I think it gives people the feeling that, 'No is not good enough for you,'' said Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico."

"'I think timing is everything in life and in politics,' said Simitian, D-Palo Alto. 'There are certainly times when a very worthy idea just needs another hearing. It may be ahead of its time.'"
You mean I get ANOTHER chance to mock Jackie Goldberg's mascot bill? And they say Christmas comes but once a year. . . .

The Dance Craze That's Been Sweeping Sacramento

Via the first Roundup of 2006:

And, of course, 2006 is an Election Year (kind of like 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002...) John Wildermuth takes a look at this year's "term-limits shuffle" currently underway in political consultant offices statewide.

The poster child for this little dance, says Wildermuth, is Sen. Joe Dunn. Dunn "has traveled much of the state's political landscape looking for a race to call his own. The Orange County lawyer first planned a campaign for attorney general, but jumped to the treasurer's race when Jerry Brown decided to run for attorney general. When Lockyer carried his $10 million campaign war chest into the treasurer's race, Dunn quickly decided to run for controller."
No real commentary here, other than to beg for an end to the madness. I like Joe Dunn. But I hate this job jockeying from everyone.

'A Prayer For West Virginia'

From Ronce Almond, my RD when I was in WV:

Friends,

Please keep your thoughts and hopes with the trapped miners of West Virginia. The mine at Sago is essentially in my hometown of Buckhannon in Upshur County. Our community is pulling together to support the miners and their families. In a place like my hometown, a miner’s death – any death – reaches intimately into each and every household.

Today I visited the National Cathedral and discovered the short prayer below (and attached). It expresses the hopes of my community better than any words or phrases I could begin to conjure.

A PRAYER FOR WEST VIRGINIA

Shine, O’Lord upon the homely mosaic of
West Virginia’s land: Upon her steep-hewn hills
and angled draws, her maple-strewn valleys and
ridges clad in mountain rhododendron.

Shine, Lord, upon her citizens, armed only with
freedom, scrappers all for such measure of
dignity as fearlessness and faith may win.

Shine, O God, into those deep recesses where
Thou has hidden abundant riches, that those
who dig in the earth, and whose watch for
their return, may know the radiance of Thy light
and the safety of Thy love.

Bright be the cleansing fire of Thy truth in the
hearts of the people, and in the public weal
of their common life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

- Rev. Francis B. Sayre, Jr., Dean Emeritus, Washington National Cathedral

Monday, January 02, 2006

Phoblog Science Report: Of Coconuts and Octpuses

According to a rather fun top-100 list, scientists this year discovered that when faced with danger, an octopus can wrap six of its legs around its head to disguise itself as a fallen coconut shell and escape by walking backwards on the other two legs.

Now -

The octopus is one of the smartest, most dexterous animals in all the world. However, I question whether it's really trying to look like a fallen coconut shell. Do they learn of this via word of, uh, beak? It's a smart mollusk, but it's still a mollusk (oh yeah, mollusk) and I'm guessing local octopuses have never even seen a coconut.

Yeah, yeah, I get what they probably mean, but still . . .

And Presenting The First Found Naughty Joke Of 2006 - this one writes itself and is from the same list linked above:

67. Giant squid eat each other - especially during sex.

[rimshot]

We're nothing if we aren't classy.

Go Mountaineers!



Having finished a chunk of work for the evening, it is now time for the Sugar Bowl during which I hope No. 11 Mountaineers (10-2) will stick the No. 7 Georgia Tech Bulldogs (10-2) in the doghouse.

Bonus: the WV coach is a -guez, just like me! Awww . . . .

Wattering The Roses

Is it wrong that I dont' feel THAT bad about a wet Rose Parade because it might help manage our population growth a bit?

Everything still looks really nice anyway.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year, New Blog

Kids, meet Phubar:


Phubar is a blawg. Yes, I've resisted the blawg label on Phoblog for quite sometime - and Phoblog still isn't a blawg. But now that I'm preparing for the bar, I need somewhere to bitch about BarBri and share its endless stream of amusing anecdotes. As reluctant as I am to do so, I need to embrace my inner law nerd right now. Phubar seems like the best way to make sure that I don't abandon my commitment to writing altogether.

So, navigate on over if you're curious. Don't visit, however, if navel-gazing turns you off. I hate it and don't want it on this blog any more than necessary (hence giving it its own space over there).

I'll do my best to ensure that this site doesn't suffer. But if things get quiet here, it will be because the Phubar-ed side of things has me, well, phubar-ed.

'Wasted'

The Chron presents a list of laws and other evidence that prove the legislature 'wasted' yet another year.

I suppose. But if they did, they certainly had help. And because the New Year is a new start to be nicer to people, I won't comment on significance of Don Perata being the one calling it a "wasted year."

Fortunately, one law's implementation has been enjoined pending a determination of its constitutionality: Yee's awful video game sales ban that would give parents yet another excuse not to parent.

On a procedural note, the article glosses over some, well, procedure. And we all know how much I hate that. But that's just my pet peeve. I think I'll call it Sparky.

A Hubristic 2005. And '06 Isn't Looking So Hot Either

For the past five years or so, the San Francisco Chronicle has chosen a word of the year. Usually, it's the year's buzzword, like metrosexual or red-state. This year, however, in a highly editorialized decision, the Chron chose (well, readers chose, ish) hubris the word for 2005.

Seems a bit hopeful, doesn't it? Premature?

In a related article appearing today, a Chron writer looks at the ways in which 2005 humbled America. Major cities destroyed, the President getting nabbed for his mistakes (hahaha, yeah, I can't keep a straight face on that either - he hasn't really been taken down yet at all), Schwarzenegger getting the snot kicked out of him on his foolish special election.

But it seems a bit, well, hubristic to see Katrina as a divinely delivered comeuppance. And while the second Chron piece describes a swaggering Bush slipping on political banana peels, he hasn't really tumbled enough to learn anything, has he? There no sufficiently Greecian end in sight to the luckiest political bastard ever to walk the earth. The only place this guy falls is up.

Schwarzenegger may be a good example of hurbis in action, but I'll feel confident about that only when his ass is drummed out of office in November (much more satisfying than if he bags out of the race completely and talks himself into a false nobility).

Hubris means overbearing pride or presumption. Arrogance. From what I recall, however, the result of hubrisic behavior was always really, really . . . uh, bad. (It's early on New Year's Day - you want erudite? You're probably on the wrong blog). Blindings, the burning of cities, dealing with the guilt of slaying one or both of your parents, stuff like that.

I don't want the United States to be punished - I'm generally against blindings, slaying, mayhem, etc - and I do think we're hubristic in the extreme these days. But identifying 2005 as the year of "hubris" implies somehow that we've moved past such behavior. Identifying hubris requires distance, doesn't it?

There are glimmers of hope. Katrina coverage evidenced journalists willing to report and analyze once they - and we - realized that the government's talking points were coming straight out of official asses.

Was 2004 the year of bravado and 2005 the year of comeuppance, as the article claims? Are we all just misuing an otherwise useful word? Probably. But patting ourselves on the back for lessons learned might be our latest expertly exhibited hubris.