Sunday, July 30, 2006

Congrats - Have Some Gatorade

A big congrats to 15,000 or so participants of this year's San Francisco Marathon. I managed not to make it to so much as a 5-mile race this morning, but I was with the 26.2ers in spirit.

And on a completely unrelated note: wtf is up with the new google toolbar? It installs itself and seems not to have a BlogThis button. I checked the info on google, couldn't seem to find it. I re-installed the old version - but if anyone has the 411 on the latest incarnation, lemme know . . . .

Friday, July 28, 2006

Oh Sure

This British guy can visit - no problem.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Like this gem collected by The Roundup, regarding Mayor Villaraigosa's reluctance to officially endorse fellow Democrat Phil Angelides:

"Nearly two months after he won his party's nomination for governor and many of the state's leading Democrats endorsed him, Phil Angelides has yet to secure Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's blessing," write Duke Helfand and Mark Z. Barabak in the Times.

"Villaraigosa says publicly that he is holding off for now because he needs to secure bipartisan support in Sacramento for legislation that would give him control of the Los Angeles public schools." . . .

"'So what I've said to Phil, and he's good with that, is that after this is over, of course I'm going to be with the Democrat,' Villaraigosa said Thursday."
And we in politics sometimes wonder why the general public has so little patience for us. Can someone please explain to me why officially saying you'll officially say something later doesn't work to effect the same kind of outcome of which you're afraid already? A real head-scratcher . . . .

Then again, at least you can't bash the mayor for being inconsistent when it comes to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other Democratic candidates. (See: Hahn, Jim)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Creepy Quote of the Day Award

"I shredded it," said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. "A breast is a breast — it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that."
-The mother of a 13-year-old boy on her reaction to seeing the cover of "Babytalk" magazine depicting a nursing child and part of a woman's breast, in profile.

It's sexual? Forget for a moment the fact - or at least the hope - that your son is aware that woman have anatomical parts referred commonly as "breasts," don't you think you're doing more long-term harm by teaching him to associate brest-feeding with sex?

This relates to a point that became clear while watching television in the UK. Over There, sex was a lot more likely to make the cut than violence. Naught words? No problem. Anatomically-themed humor? Totally fine. Angel snapping Jenny Calendar's neck on a show clearly about a fantasy world? Cut!

The Brits invented the whole Puritan thing and even they've mostly dropped it.

Boobs are only as sexual as their context.

Funny, I've Got Complaints About It Too

Londoners in the pretigious Mayfair area surrounding the US Embassy there are complaining about the lack of serious security that they claim puts them at risk in case of an attack on the building.

There is a large memorial structure in Grosvenor Square that provides a pretty decent reminder of why they are wary.

The article cites some residents ire at concrete blast barriers protecting the building at the expense of their homes. Having spent ample time sitting and waiting on said barriers, I have to wonder at their characterization as "blast barriers," assuming I'm thinking of the same things about which they're concerned.

Of course, my issues with the Embassy have both little and everything to do with September 11 . . . .

Oh Please

From our "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" files.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Suck it, California

Whoa, hey, not my advice - apparently, it's Govenor Schwarzenegger's advice to Californians melting under record heat. Let them eat popsicles, says the Governor, whom the LAT reports requests all rooms in which he sits be kept at an icy - and energyific - 60 degrees.

Unfortunately, CYD heard this advice and ate it right up.

Note to the Governor: you may want to watch it while the CYD Communications Director has nothing to do but mark your every move.

Time for my nightly otter pop, post over.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Congratulations, Pitney Family!

A big congrats to Professor Jack Pitney and his wife Lisa on the birth of their daughter, Hannah. Hannah joined big brother Joshua last Thursday morning and we hear she already enjoys being read to from Tocqueville's Bedtime Stories For Future Stags and Athenas.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Unwritten Rules, The Federal Government, And Pointless Showboating Legislation

From today's Chron:

Starting in 2008, all 22 million licensed California drivers will be required to go in person to a DMV office and prove their identity and address with three different documents before getting a new, federally approved state license. . . .

The new identification cards will be required in order to fly on airplanes and enter federal buildings. . . .

The Real ID Act requires every state to issue driver's licenses that comply with a national standard. The goal is to prevent fraud and make sure people applying for licenses are who they say they are and do not pose security risks. The perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks had valid licenses, which allowed them to board airplanes.
I'm guessing they'd have found a way to comply with this new law as well, had it existed. So do you feel safer yet? Wait, soon you'll just be angry:

While some initial planning can get started, California and the rest of the states are waiting for the federal government to issue the rules that will explain in detail how the Real ID Act is supposed to be put in place. Those rules are expected by the end of the year, and states have until May 2008 to get ready to issue the new licenses. . . .

To date, no federal money has been allocated to help states prepare for the new policies.

Real ID will change every facet of a license, although exactly how won't be known until the federal regulations come out. But states are already wondering how to deal with situations such as a license that will not allow initials.
So what you're saying is, we have a scant year to get ready to do, like, something. Different. Or whatever. Can't rush these things. Of course, it's one thing for North Dakota to comply. But with California already buckling under the weight of a ceaselessly growing population, 22 million of whom are licensed drivers, compliance here should be fun to watch.

Indeed, aside from the issues of how to process the new licenses, how they will be verified and what they will look like, California's biggest headache is how to physically get all 22 million licensed drivers -- plus an additional 2 million identification card holders -- through the DMV's 169 field offices.

Currently, a resident can get a license renewal twice by mail, meaning a trip to the DMV only once every 15 years. But under Real ID, every single person seeking a renewal will have to show up in the flesh, eliminating the 2.5 million transactions a year that can currently be done by mail or over the Internet. . . .

Once at the office, every person will have to show proof of identification -- likely a birth certificate or passport. The DMV will then be required to verify that document. Cather said the department obviously won't be able to make phone calls to county clerks all across the country; somehow a federal computer system will have to be established, but nothing has been done to date.

Applicants will also have to show two items that prove their address -- it's unknown what those will be, but probably a document such as a utility bill.

While the budgeted money allows the DMV to begin to think about these problems and work on ways to mitigate their effects, Democratic lawmakers made sure the language attached severely limits what the agency can do. In fact, the agency can only spend half the money at first; it must report back to the Legislature on its work before the remainder is allocated.

The bill that would allow the DMV to continue preparing the state for Real ID compliance also would grant driver's licenses to undocumented workers.

Democrats have tied the issues together in an attempt to force the Schwarzenegger administration to broker a deal.
Seriously? How farcical is this situation? Either you want to crack down on who gets licenses or not. How on earth would you fairly administer this program? Form #294 is for citizens and legal residents. Form #295 is for illegal residents not currently members of terrorist organizations. Form #296 is for Al-Q-ers and other haters of freedom? So some people present in the country who should not be here can go to the DMV, present documents proving they are who they say they are and that they shouldn't be here and get a license. Who gets to make the call that someone's a threat to national security? Does ANY of this make even one scrap of sense?

I'd love to be one of the people who sleeps better at night under this kind of "public policy" reform. Frankly, why not just hire the guys from Miami Ink to train a fleet of tattoo artists to go ahead and bar code us all now. It won't make us any safer and it will probably be less painful than having to stand in line at the DMV and prove ourselves to employees forced to work with patched-together, last-minute regulations.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dumb Blog-related Statements

From this morning's Capitol Morning Report an item on Bill Bradley - the political blogger apparently only loosely affiliated with LA Weekly and who, much to the frustration of some friends of mine, is included on Rough & Tumble as an actual news source - includes the following explanation of a "blog:"

A blog is simpler to operate and more flexible than a web page, but, like a page, is accessible to anyone surfing the web.
The explanation, included in a blurb about how Bradley now gets to keep his own ad revenue, revenue formerly going to LA Weekly, is just stupid. First off, as part of a none-too-subtle hint that y'all are free to start advertising with him, it assume Capitol MR readers are web-stupid.

And second, a blog is a web page. A blog isn't a different form of web interface. It's not some new beast. It's a web site. Just a web site. By any other name it would smell as sweet and serve the same purpose.

Just a pet peeve. Rant over.

Take Me Home . . . .

Every so often, something in the wind makes us WV Victory veterans (shorter-timers like me or otherwsie) a bit homesick for the much maligned state. You can tell by the sudden flurry of emails between the crew. This week, it was prompted by Jeanna William's announcement that she and her husband have just welcomed their son Avery Michael Williams. At 7lbs, 12 oz, he may have come out with a full head of red hair, but we here the rest of him was blue as the states his mom dreams of every two years right when he came out.

With that in mind, it's probably a good time to check in on West Virginia's always engaging political scene over at Back Porch Politics - still one of the most perfectly-named blogs out there.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Complainers

The British are melting! The British are melting!

Ill-Equipped Britain Hit by Heat Wave
You call 96 degrees hot? Puh-lease. We got your hot right here.

Imminent Eminent Domain Problem

In today's Sac Bee, Peter Schrag looks at the legal and policy folly that is Proposition 90, the spectacularly manipulatively named "Protect Our Homes Act."

If there's anything I retained from BarBri - past February 23, that is - it was ConLaw guru Chemerinksy's comment that Kelo - the Supreme Court decision that fueled this fear of local governments exercising eminent domain to turn over your grandmother's home to Rick Caruso - changed absolutely nothing in current law. But it had one hell of a publicist.

So now we have a super rich guy from New York backing an effort here (ah, the price we pay for being a public policy incubator for the nation) to push a patchwork proposition to limit the use of eminent domain in California:

In a state where assessments are fixed until the property is sold and where municipalities are all in pursuit of sales-tax-paying commercial developments, such condemnations are particularly attractive. Proposition 90 says private property may only be condemned for "public use" -- meaning roads or parks or schools -- not for delivery to private development.

But Proposition 90 isn't just about eminent domain. Buried in it are "takings" booby traps that throw into question a wide array of future regulations, zoning decisions and other actions that "result in substantial loss to private property." The initiative allows regulation to protect public health and safety, but says nothing about protecting the environment or public welfare.

It also says that if private property is taken "for any proprietary government purpose … the property shall be valued at the use to which the government intends to put the property if such use results in a higher value for the land taken." That appears to mean that slumlords must be compensated not at the value of the condemned housing, but at the value of the property under the convention center or affordable housing units that replace it. Nor could a city turn the housing over to a private agency -- say a church or social organization -- even if such an agency was a more efficient operator of the project. Even backers of Proposition 90 concede that there'll be plenty of litigation to clarify the ambiguities and apparent contradictions in the law.
What really burns, beyond the primary public policy shortcomings of the measure, is the notion that backers admit that there will be loads of litigation to give the damn thing meaning!

That sound you hear is Hiram Johnson spinning in his Colma grave.

Or not. But either way, this is all that guy's fault. Progressive tool my arse.

But I digress. If it wins, Prop 90 could mean your city, struggling to snatch economic redevelopment and hope from the jaws of urban decay, has either no legal chance to do so or couldn't afford it anyway.

This is serious baby-with-the-bathwater territory that highlights the folly of both alarmist judicial decision coverage and hastily created ballot measures.

Unintended consequences city, people.

Sometimes A Shoulder Rub Is Just A Shoulder Rub - And Yet Still Completely Inappropriate

So, George Bush has been caught unscripted again, this time giving a squeeze to the German Chancellor.

Some idiot women - on both sides of the aisle - are using Bill Clinton to draw bullshit analogies:

GOP commentator and Fox News political analyst Karen Hanretty said the outraged reaction shows how "President Bush just can't win."

"Aren't these the same women who have been angry about cowboy diplomacy?" she asked. "Do they want a kinder, more sensitive Bush -- or a cowboy? Once again, there's no pleasing women," she said. "Give them the cowboy and they want Alan Alda.''

Hanretty went on to say that "these women who would criticize the prez for making a friendly gesture are the same women who refused to say anything about Bill Clinton when he was accused of sexually harassing Paula Jones. Where were they when Katherine Willey was grieving for her dead husband and Bill Clinton was rubbing them in all the wrong places?''
Compare that with:

"You could use this video for sexual harassment training. It's something you'd show and say, "No one in a boss' position should be doing that," Whetstone said.
And with:

San Francisco Chronicle reader Christine Curtis was outraged and wrote in to say the video was a scary look into Bush.

Merkel "recoiled as I would also do if someone came up from behind me and started touching me,'' Curtis said.
Now, for starters, despite the fact that Bush, a man, put his hands on the Chancellor, a woman, it's not a sexually charged situation. He may have felt freer to give the overly-friendly gesture because the Chancellor was a woman. Or he may not have given it another thought.

Take away the gendered aspects of the discussion and we're still left with an example of the President making a complete ass out of himself by failing to comport himself according to normal standards of conduct. Perhaps if Bush had stopped to consider our Germanic roots, he'd have stopped short of the more Latin-based physical expression of interpersonal bonding.

Then again, isn't this the President who, rather proudly, has little pre-election experience traveling internationally?

As for the comment that the video could be used in sexual harassment training: only if we really want to impress upon the world that we feel we are absolutely superior. Bush insulted - or at least surprised the hell out of - a peer leader. He certainly isn't the Chancellor's boss. He's not in a boss position - though perhaps his behaviour implies that he thinks he is.

The most likely explanation is that Bush meant no ill-will, no implicit invalidation of either Germany's or a woman's place at the table, no Machiavellian exertion of world dominance via humiliation. Bush probably meant to give his buddy a friendly, break-time hello squeeze. The great sadness, of course, stems from the likely explanation that our President is far too simple, fall to fallen-up in the world to be expected to comport himself any better in social settings.

As the article also highlights - the world is less bothered by Bush saying "shit" than by the fact that he said "shit" with a mouth full of it.

Forget sensitivity to mid east culture - Bush continually proves his disregard for ours.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What's The Best Way To Win?

That's pretty much the question keeping Democrats busy as they stand at a political crossroads: do we continue our head-nodding commitment to demonstrated failure in the hopes that the American people figure it out for themselves before more blood spills here and in the Middle East or do we, like, start pointing things out to speed up national understanding?

An article in this morning's Chronicle discusses this now obvious cause of Democratic inaction in the context of Liberman's upcoming bid for the Dem nomination for his reelection effort. He's got a challenger over which he's so concerned, he's set to run as an independent if fails to get the nomination.

Some party strategists warn that to oust Lieberman over Iraq would send a chilling message to candidates not to deviate from the centralized party line.

"If we're going to purge good, progressive Democrats because they deviate from what the self-appointed grassroots of the Democratic Party believe on one issue ... we will never take back the House, we will never take back the Senate, and we will not win the White House in 2008,'' said Garry South, a California Democratic consultant who was a senior adviser to Lieberman's unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2004.

"On nearly every issue, whether it's labor rights, gay rights, consumers, the environment, he is a mainstream Democrat -- or Gore wouldn't have picked him, and I wouldn't have worked for him,'' South said.

Yet others cite Lieberman's announcement on July 3 that he would begin collecting signatures to run as an independent -- or as Lieberman called it a "petitioning Democrat'' -- even if he lost the primary as another example of putting himself before his constituents. It reminded some of Lieberman's decision during the 2000 presidential campaign not to give up his Senate seat, which, had the Gore-Lieberman ticket won, would have allowed the state's Republican governor to appoint a Republican to the seat.

"It's the second insurance policy that he's taken in his political career,'' said Donna Brazile, who as Gore's campaign manager recommended Lieberman as a running mate.

Brazile, like South, pointed to Lieberman's strong record on other progressive causes, his endorsements from groups such as the AFL-CIO, NARAL pro-choice America, and the Human Rights Campaign -- the nation's largest gay rights organization -- and insisted that Lieberman has much more in common with the liberal Internet groups than they think.
I'm sure he's great on a lot of stuff. Except that, right now, our problem is that, to many people - and I wish more - that other stuff doesn't add up to equaling the one area where he's way off the mark. And as far as Gary South's laughable comment about Lieberman being a good progressive, well, how can that statement be given full credit? Like it or not, the current cultural understaning of "progressive" is linked to anti-War, anti-establishment Democrats like Howard Dean. Not Joe Lieberman.

And as for the implication that ousting Lieberman over Iraq "would send a chilling message to candidates not to deviate from the centralized party line: I'd argue that opponents of Lieberman's hawkish ways would do the opposite and encourage more deviation from the centralized party line.

Because right now, the only centralized party line he's supporting is the Republican's.

Lastly - if grassroots aren't "self-appointed," they aren't really grassroots, are they.

Let's trade him in and try someome else. The new guy will be every bit as good on labor, choice, and gay rights - but maybe he'll actually think like a Democrat when it comes to long term national security and foreign affairs, instead of like a little blue elephant.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I-TAL-IA, I-TAL-IA

Congrats to Italy which tonight celebrates its first World Cup win in 24 years. After a lackluster 90 minutes of regulation play, the head-but-felt-round-the-world sealed France's fate in the second OT. And as if France's captain's behaviour wasn't shameful enough, at least one French footballer and the French coach removed the second-place medal almost as soon as it was hung 'round his neck. The coach stuffed his into his pretentious suit pocket.

A great day for Italy. A sad day for French sportsmanship.

My parents reported hearing Italian San Pedro tearing it up halfway across town as the last shot hit the net. I wish I'd been there . . . .

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Early Endorsement

Thanks to reader Steve for passing along this gem of a shirt that supports candidates who would likely garner a frightening number of votes:



Of course, I can't buy this shirt because it's printed on an American Apparel product (both men's and women's seem to be). But it's a hoot anyway.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Staffing Mysteries

Having proudly served staffed legislators in various capacities, some staffing decisions still leave my brow wrinkled and my body cringed. Like anytime an MOC or state legislator is allowed to appear on any show airing on Comedy Central.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE those segments more than perhaps anything else on either The Daily Show or the Cobert Report. But watching an legislator stumble blindly from joke to joke . . . . I mean, just look at them?

It's not like their staffers don't know. And some of them seem in on the joke - but when Cobert queries the gentlewoman from Denver on whether, as the representative of the Mile High City, she is also a member of the mile high club I have to wonder how soon I'll see an opening in her office listed on Jack Pitney's jobs email.

So while, as a politico, I appreciate their participation, were I a staffer, there's no way in hell I'd let my boss take the bait.

Caveat: Unless, of course, they deserved it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Car Buyer's Bill of Rights Now In Effect

On Saturday, the state's new Car Buyer's Bill of Rights became effective. Car dealers now have new disclosure requirements and you get a cooling off period, though, not a free one. Other requirements address what makes a certified car certified and cap dealer finance charges.

Happy shopping.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Viva Italia!

Alright, now that my boys in blue are in it - it's on.

For Sacramento Readers

There's no MBSacto (yet), but if there were, I would use it to encourage you to get your last-minute fireworks at the Sacred Heart fireworks booth - proceeds benefit the Sacred Heart Youth Group. They're open from around 9am to 8pm, according to their flyer.

Get your piccolo petes and sparklers before it's too late!

And Howe, Indeed

Read the name of this editorial's subject carefully and you too will agree with Amber that Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe now have competition.

On Becoming American

The SF Chron describes a naturalization ceremony held today on the deck of the USS Hornet in Alameda - and profiles two different new Americans with different motivations for swearing oaths to the Republic.

One, a Canadian, does it for love of this country. The other, an Indian, does it for love of his other country. Citizenship-as-culture vs. citizenship-vs-culture.

An immigration official says the US doesn't recognize dual citizenship, "'if you take the oath to us, you're an American. You're not half this or half that.'"

Um. . . .

It's like marriage I suppose. Religion and culture pretty up what is basically, at least in certain parts of the CMC campus, a contract meant to help civilization progress by creating stable familial units which encourage the accumulation of wealth for the benefit of the unit, thus increasing productivity. Of course, from what I understand, were you to use marriage as a route to citizenship, you'd be expected to meet the first standard, not the second. The marriage needs the fluffy stuff, but the citizenship that follows can be as utilitarian as a monkey wrench.

The United States doesn't recognize dual citizenship? Great. But it isn't really about you, is it, US? So what about the other country? And when the time comes to pick sides - who will your people choose?

If there is anyone who can make heads or tails out of how we view citizens of the world - those coming in, going out, or back and forth - let me know.

Oh, and while I'm making requests - since lawyers can't help, so if someone knows a Senator who isn't busy (probably a Democratic one) or an MOC, please pass him or her my way as well.

Buy America. Or At Least Buy American.

Today is Independence Day - or, in my house, it's The Day To Celebrate The Day We Declared Our Intention To Kick Your Country's A**, Dearest. You may just call it the Fourth of July.

For awhile, MUNI street cars in San Francisco featured advertisements for the Lonely Planet series of travel books which stated: "Do something good for your country. Leave it." If you haven't had the chance to travel, that might leave you wondering.

For those of us who have gotten the hell out of dodge, no matter how briefly, we get it. You can't possibly understand America until you leave it and you can't help something you don't understand. That's not to say that those who have never left are incapable of helping, but it's harder to understand the bottle from inside it - or so the fly tells us.

This, our 230th year of independence, has been an instructive one for me. Mostly negative lessons learned, of course, which is, shall we say, kinda sucky. The federal government continues to leave me dateless for the entire 2006 wedding season. Accordingly, my faith in the federal government continues to hover slightly above non-existent; a cupcake candle in a gale.

And still it is hard to imagine being anywhere else or being anything else. Hard. But not impossible.

What is impossible, though, is giving up entirely on this experimental country of ours. We're getting so much wrong at home and abroad right now - most of which involves our place in the world: immigration, Iraq, etc. I'm still hoping for something . . . big? Good? Different? Hopeful? Something.

A birthday is a good time to look ahead. So happy birthday American Independence. You still look pretty young for 230, but then again, you know what they say: 230 is the new 220.

Ah, yes, presents: Be patriotic - buy the new Dixie Chicks album because country stations won't play it even when, on today of all days, they should have it on repeat.