Thursday, August 31, 2006

More Naying Than A Kentucky Paddock On Derby Day

The Port of Los Angeles and CalTrans are going to spend a couple of million dollars to plan ahead for the steady growth of traffic they fear will gridlock San Pedro's iconic Vincent Thomas Bridge by 2020 or sooner. One possibility: construct a new bridge to accomodate the cars and trucks that move between Terminal Island and San Pedro.

Cue stock pushback in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . .

"It would clutter the channel even more than it is now," said Bonnie Christensen of San Pedro. "Where are they going to build it? I don't think they could do it. There are so many cranes and docks it would be difficult. ... It couldn't be beautiful."
Oh couldn't it?

The many cranes already dotting the port skyline (note the word "port") have been the target of much unrealistic, economically-blind, denialist, selfish bitching and moaning over the past few years in San Pedro as a few residents took to calling them as blighting the landscape.

I don't know if these people grew up in San Pedro or moved here more recently because they've been priced out of the bit of coastline they feel more visually pleasing (one wonders why they don't just move to the otherside of town, that's the beauty of living on a peninsula, you know, three views from which to choose). Having grown up in San Pedro, seeing the port every single day of my life, and never losing my sense of wonder at the modern marvels lifting and conveying all those containers, I will never, ever understand the ire expressed toward the lifeblood of not only the San Pedro economy, but the nation's as well.

Moving from blight to pollution, Ms. Christensen then cites air quality as a reason to slow growth. "As far as I'm concerned, we have enough business in the port," she is quoted as saying.

Fabulous.

I love my cranes. I love my bridge (and its lights, of course). I love big ships. I love longshore workers (go union). I love the San Pedran culture which is inextricably linked to the port and everything that goes on there. It's not likely going anywhere - I don't actually fear any political power possessed by someone like Ms. Christensen - but it does make me sad that she gets any ink at all. On the matter.

What do people think will happen? I know Field of Dreams was a popular movie, but trust me, even if you don't build it, they're still coming. The cars, the trucks, the people. If you want that to slow down, the port isn't the place to start. Call the tourism board, the weathermen, and the Tournament of Roses people and ask them to stop promoting our state. Then call the President and ask him to step in and end all trade agreements within the Pacific Rim region. Then get ready to start paying 6 or 7 times more for nearly everything you could possibly purchase.

If you're comfortable with that, figure out how comfortable you are helping others foot the higher bills. Then we'll talk.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

TSA Offers Wardrobe Advice

So, after reading this, I'm thinking I'll rethinking Friday's accessory options: I'll pass on the silver necklace that spells out my name in Arabic script.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

NYT Rips Content From Athena Blogger

Amber notes some striking similarities between her discussion on female Supreme Court clerks and an NYT article. Passing credit was almost given to another blogger, but the NYT writer seems to have had no problem poaching content from Amber's site's discussion.

That's crap. Write them an angry letter and/or post accordingly.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Oooh, Nerddd Boooook

Rick Hasen links to a newly published Legislative Drafter's Deskbook. MMmmm. I get woozy just thinking about it. Just check out that hot table of contents.

Scroll through that puppy - there's even sample text. Like this section on "Shall" and "May." Man, this sh*t is bananas. You think I'm kidding. You're wrong.

Of course, books like this (judging from the shall/may discussion) highlight the best and worst of what makes lawyers lawyers and legislators legislators and drafters of legislation the conflicted lot that they are.

Because, as good as the drafter gets - as carefully as she hones her skill, pouring over each word and comma - there will always be, at least in California, some staffer feeling the heat of an anxious boss explaining why bills need to be worded just. like. this. And poof! There goes all your hard work.

The morale of the tale: no matter how closely you study the two languages, fluency between the first and third branch is impossible because practice gets in the way.

But I'd still enjoy that book.

Wait. A hundred-fifty bucks? Nerdery doesn't come cheap these days, does it.

I'm Really Going To Miss These Two

No, not making this up (h/t):
Introduced by Assembly Members Richman and Canciamilla

August 24, 2006
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Relative to Pluto's planetary status.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

HOUSE OR SENATE RESOLUTIONS DO NOT CONTAIN A DIGEST

WHEREAS, Recent astronomical discoveries, including Pluto's oblong orbit and the sighting of a slightly larger Kuiper Belt object, have led astronomers to question the planetary status of Pluto; and

WHEREAS, The mean-spirited International Astronomical Union decided on August 24, 2006, to disrespect Pluto by stripping Pluto of its planetary status and reclassifying it as a lowly dwarf planet; and

WHEREAS, Pluto was discovered in 1930 by an American, Clyde Tombaugh, at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, and this discovery resulted in millions of Californians being taught that Pluto was the ninth planet in the solar system; and

WHEREAS, Pluto, named after the Roman God of the underworld and affectionately sharing the name of California's most famous animated dog, has a special connection to California history and culture; and

WHEREAS, Downgrading Pluto's status will cause psychological harm to some Californians who question their place in the universe and worry about the instability of universal constants; and

WHEREAS, The deletion of Pluto as a planet renders millions of text books, museum displays, and children's refrigerator art projects obsolete, and represents a substantial unfunded mandate that must be paid by dwindling Proposition 98 education funds, thereby harming California's children and widening its budget deficits; and

WHEREAS, The deletion of Pluto as a planet is a hasty, ill-considered scientific heresy similar to questioning the Copernican theory, drawing maps of a round world, and proving the existence of the time and space continuum; and

WHEREAS, The downgrading of Pluto reduces the number of planets available for legislative leaders to hide redistricting legislation and other inconvenient political reform measures; and

WHEREAS, The California Legislature, in the closing days of the 2005-06 session, has been considering few matters important to the future of California, and the status of Pluto takes precedence and is worthy of this body's immediate attention; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, That the Assembly hereby condemns the International Astronomical Union's decision to strip Pluto of its planetary status for its tremendous impact on the people of California and the state's long term fiscal health; and be it further

Resolved, That the Assembly Clerk shall send a copy of the resolution to the International Astronomical Union and to any Californian who, believing that his or her legislator is addressing the problems that threaten the future of the Golden State, requests a copy of the resolution.
Especially amusing: if you look at the bill online, you'll see a lengthy list of co-authors. Yeah, um, guys? I think Richman and Canciamilla might have been mocking you, like, a little. Sure, sure, by "co-authoring" you can be all "ha ha, we're so in on the joke, see, it must be someone else hiding behind an interplanetary body, ha ha." But, yeah - not so much. Canciamilla's pretty reliable when it comes to balls-out candor (hey, CMR, you should call him) and he frequently partners with Reep Bad Boy of Moderation Richman. Canciamilla's only bobble on his rather high horse of legislative self-deprication: during his first term, he once commented with thinly veiled contempt that he felt local government was far better positioned to improve citizens' lives and set effective public policy. Immediately following that comment, he alluded to his presumed 6 years of tenure in the Assembly. So, he thought the body bumbled and stalled, but he was cool hanging out for his guaranteed (ah, term limits) 6 years. At least he's upfront.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Three Thoughts On The Emmy Awards

1.) Isn't it kinda better that Barry Manilow beat Stephen Colbert because how much better will Colbert be in defeat than in victory?

Update: And at 10:10pm. Colbert starts milking it - "I lost to the Copacabana." Yes, at the copa, Lola lost her love, money, and mind; Colbert lost his Emmy.

2.) Cheeks: shouldn't they, like, move while one speaks? Or moves? Angel Kate looks like yet another plastic surgery catwoman - but it's unfair to call her out among so very much company. Ick. Just plain ick.

3.) Conan is great. If he and Jon Stewart could only reproduce - they'd birth a comic genius which could be matched only be the equally unnaturally gifted offspring of a Bonnie Hunt, Tina Fey breeding. Hmm, maybe the four of them could just work something out and match things up that way.

They're Asking For It

The California Majority Report wants to know how to make you love them.

While you're over there, check out Kate Merrill's post on the questionable technological revolution that may or may not have made a real difference in the art and science of winning campaigns.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ouch - And Yet, Kinda True

Posted in a shiny blue box at the top of the CMR this morning:


NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHERS:

This is the sort of atrocity when California's Democratic consultant insiders decide they want to "blog." - Daily Kos

Welcome to the California Majority Report.

We've now been "launched" for 48 hours. The good news: world-class commentary, an unexpectedly-high level of traffic to the site and reams of constructive feedback (one favorite: that we are the "Vanilla Ices of the California blog community"). The bad: our site has already crashed, our layout is confusing and many of the features we wanted simply aren't working.

When Kos is right (which is often), he's right. On the modern blog evolutionary chart, we're still dragging our knuckles.

So, over the next few days, we're switching server and software and building a better mousetrap. New features will include: a revamped layout, an easier-to-access archive, up-to-the-minute blogging and, of course, a blogroll to others in the California Democratic/progressive netroots community - all ready by September 1st.

In the meantime, we will continue to elicit lessons learned from our friends in the blogosphere and hope to hear from you about where we can improve. Feel free to email us directly at: kinney at calstrat dot com [Ed's note: it's a live link at the site, but for the benefit of not taxing his spam filter, I made it a bit more safe for him here]. Peace.
Yeah, they're not wrong. Kos is a bit more colorful in his judgments, but there is a lot technically wrong with the site. While you'd think it would have been more polished before it went live, in certain respects, the process of asking for and acting on feedback gives them a bit of street-cred in the long run.

So long as the flackery gets less flacky, of course.

There's already been at least one needed improvement: readers can now see if and how many comments have been posted to a particular article.

Still missing, though, (apart from our SF friend, of course) - bloggers. The tone is still decidedly op-ed, preachy and polished (or if you're cynical, downright denialist) with few exceptions (Maviglio is one: still op-ed-y, but much more real in feeling).

Part of this problem, of course, stems from trying to get candor out of Dario Frommer. Now, I have no beef with Mr. Frommer and you could sub in the name of any elected official for "Frommer" and you'd still have the same problem. The only people who want candid electeds more than voters are campaign consultants, but they're motives are, shall we say, a little less pure. A blog could be an oppo guy's playground. Were I managing a campaign, I'd hesitate to let my client get too ahead of himself. So we're left with few bloggers and with mostly writers and their team of groomers. It could still work, but it will take some time to get there.

So take that time boys, your public awaits patiently. But you'd better get on that blogroll, stat. We bloggers are a selfish, self-involved bunch and expect links, rightfully or not.

Ignorance Of The Law . . . .

That's wrong with this lede:

As Bay Area women got word they will soon be able to buy the morning-after pill without a prescription, many hailed the decision as a major victory for women's rights.
Soon? SOON? California is already one of 9 states that allows access to Plan B without a prescription. That the reporter got it wrong is scary. That a quoted health clinic director called the upcoming access "revolutionary" is downright terrifying.

Get educated, people. Yes, any coverage of the FDA's approval is good - but coverage that implies that Californians don't have access yet is irresponsible. Get educated.

And by the way: The Chron even has a damn map showing that Cali has access currently that runs with another article. WTF?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Toot Toot: Phoblog In Print

Okay, it was just a letter, but I'll take it.

A few weeks ago, I was dismayed to read an article in the Sac News & Review about the emergency contraception pill, Plan B, in which the writer implied that with this new magic option, things like condoms just weren't needed anymore.

Yeah, no.

I ranted over at MBSacramento And sent a slightly different version of the rant to SN&R directly. They printed it this week - along with reactions from many other readers (most of which dealt with the conception/morality issue directly).

In related news: The FDA, bowing to, eh, science, finally approved Plan B for sale over-the-counter.

To women 18 and over.

Sigh.

It's a start.

The article linked above is slightly different now than it was when I first read it this afternoon. It still includes the little quote-gems about how girls under 18 can't be trusted to deal with medicine, justifying the age-restriction (which some advocacy groups decry as unlikely to be enforced).

The best part (which may or may not be in this particular article) is the sexual predator argument. See, men over 18 can buy Plan B as well and with Plan B available over-the-counter, adult men will buy EC in bulk and force underage girls with whom they have sex or whom they have raped or molested to take the pill.

Say what!

What about condoms? Do condoms pave the way for a sexual predator free-for-all?

For f*ck sake - does anyone actually listen to these arguments before including them in otherwise rational articles?

My prediction: an upcoming national campaign to have pharmacists sign pledges against distributing the drug as well as state-level legislation (oh hell, with this administration, may as well make it federal) giving pharmacists the right to refuse to sell Plan B (or [insert offensive drug of the week here]) as well as the right to refuse to call over someone else in the pharmacy to assist the customer.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Of Course

Jon Fleischman blogs that he was surprised last night by how many Dems - senior strategists included - were candid in their expectation that Phil Angelides bites the ballot in November.

Duh. You know how fads go. Bagging on Phil is the new black. Give it a few weeks, they'll raise their hateorade in someone else's honor.

A Post About Two Things Completely Unrelated To Anything Else Or To Each Other

First - what happened to Dictionary.com? Since when to reference books or sites need to be anything other than old school?

Second - in one of the most effective ads I've ever scene, a random assortment of people hum parts of a familiar show theme, which get strung together into the complete tune, culminating in the question: "Is it Monday yet?"

Ah, Monday Night Football, bless it. If the seasons must change, at least we can take comfort in the NFL. (Sidenote: honestly, I'm still a bit bothered by this whole switch to ESPN thing. And I like college football better. But still . . . .)

Turning Our Attention To The Right . . .

So Jon Fleischman took rightful issue with my ignoring the inspiration for the new California Majority Report - his much-read FlashReport while I was reviewing the CMR.

Of course, part of the reason for that failing on my part is the fact that to get the active link from CMR to the FR, you gotta scroll down and click through to the "top story" - Chris Lehane's piece on the theme of the week shared by both sites: How [Insert Partisan Candidate Here] Will Win.

Following the link, we arrive at the FlashReport, ". . . on California's most significant political news . . . ." and its coverage of the launch. Fleischman slaps Maviglio, Kinney, and Salazar with the label "ultra-liberal" right off the bat, which I think is a bit excessive, but then again, what fun is a highly partisan, popular website without an arch-nemesis? Or arch-nemeseses? (what, no one here watches Buffy? Fine, next!). Fleischman also describes the CMR's stable of writers as "Donkey operatives." Suddenly, the UC Davis Veterinary School's Young Democrats Chapter has the chance to swipe a really, really great name.

The FlashReport presents three views on How Arnold Will Win from writers Mike DerManouel, Jr., Bill Whalen, and Dan Schnur. With teaser lines like "Angelides Cannot Win This Election - And Arnold Would Have to Try Hard To Lose It," "Coasting To Re-Election," and "Ten Years Later, Phil Angelides Has Stepped Into The Shoes Of Bob Dole" [Ed's note - I can only assume Whalen means Bob Dole of 10 years ago and not recent, really-brilliant-on-the-Daily-Show Bob Dole] - well, one wonders if that whole urban legend about Reeps pumping money into Angelides's campaign because they thought they could cakewalk right over him might be, like, true. Though I have my speakers turned off right now, I'm pretty sure if I turned them on, this site's soundtrack would be a series of high-fives and those kind of sighing, ah, priceless, laughs that only really smug people can pull off well.

But I mean that in a good way. Though FR is ironically green-hued, it's Redder than the run off at in the Morton's kitchen on a Saturday night. So for their audience [and their polling number, writes the blogger through gritted teeth], the tone is perfect.

Let's read one, though, shall we. FR's Central Valley Correspondent Michael Der Manouel, Jr (know him, Jared?) offers the priceless and cringe-inducing one-liner: Democratic staffers and office holders joke that Angelides means "Kathleen Brown" in Greek." Ouch. To be fair, the (red) meat of the piece called "Coasting to Re-election" is far more circumspect - acknowledging that voters are hardly 100% behind Schwarzenegger who is so ridiculously ahead of where we'd have thought he'd be a year ago:

So, where from here? I think the Governor needs to execute a simple political plan, ripped right from winning playbooks everywhere. First, continue the rapid, well documented response to Angelides attacks. His team has done well so far and needs to continue. Second, continue with a message of ”protection”, reminding people of what Democrat control of State Government was like last time we tried it. Be specific, and remind them of the disaster we were facing which led to the recall election. Third, remind voters of his veto pen, and announce that he will veto illegal immigrant driver licenses and single payer health care in a second term, along with any legislation damaging to the economy or jobs. Fourth, pledge to balance the budget every year of his second term, without raising taxes. Fifth, continue to rail against the federal government on the immigration issue. This message appeals to conservatives, independents, and Reagan Democrats. Last, but not least, continue to quietly reach out to conservatives with reassuring messages on fiscal responsibility.
Dang. That sounds like a really well-reasoned, logical plan of attack. Is that merely because its easier to defend the office than take it over? A bit, I'm sure. Perhaps it's also that, as much as he tried to distance himself from his party leader George Bush, Schwarzenegger shares the President's talent (read: dumb luck) - for being in the right place at the right time.

If we're evaluating the post vs. post battle for the horseshoe, this round goes to the Reeps (dammit) - but again, it's easy to be a high-fiving smugster when you're inside the office already - and when you're willing to change your opinion as often as necessary to stay there.

But there's no longer stretch of time than that between Labor Day and Election Day.

The California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act

I had to post on this because who knows the next time I can write "The California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act." The fact that a law to prevent, well, exactly what it sounds like, uses the word "abatement" just brings to mind, like, Mosquito Vector Abatement Districts or something. Not an odd linkage I suppose, since both would be intended to ward off pests.

The Times runs this article on the battle over the domain "www.noon87.com" which actually gets you to the Yes on 87 site. Follow that? Seems someone (ahem, Big Oil, ahem) forgot to register alternative domain names and got scooped by the opposition who banked, justifiably, I can only assume, that people trying to get to www.nooiltax.com would take a stab at getting there via noon87.com. While the faux no site originally directed people to the Yes site directly, it now takes you to a nifty page listing the real No's backers and their bank rolling.

The article implies the faux no eventually re-directs to the real No site, but mine has yet to make the jump - so who knows. [Ed's note: no, it doesn't redirect, but does offer a link to the Real No site at the bottom. How kind.]

The change was prompted by - what else - litigation.

Of course, it's easy to understand why oil companies would be concerned over a potential hike in the "oil tax" given recent plummeting profits as drivers in droves abandon their gas guzzling SUVs and H2s and 3s. Oh wait . . . . On the plus side, at least consumers can see the fruits of the reported $31,017,570 they've provided Exxon, Chevron, and the others to use for political activities. It's so hard to appreciate emissions from your car's tail pipe the same way you can appreciate the television transmissions on your TV screen.

You can find the California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act (simply marked in the table of contents completely inelegantly as "Decptive Onlie Activities" in the California Elections Code here.

Suing their cybersquatting asses is fine and dandy, but the Yes campaign has still scored major earned media by following the Daisy Spot Political Advertisment Rule: why pay to broadcast your advertising and message if you can get the news to cover your ad for free?

Giving South Due, Plus Rants As Usual

Upon closer inspection, the new California Majority Report is an enthusiastic start to what could be a leading website in Democratic politics. With just a handful of posts so far, it's clearly a site on a mission to find a mission beyond establishing itself as a depository for everyone else's talking points. Gary South's post hit the right tone: instructive, opinionated, yet not overly bitter of of bashing toward the establishment. This is a Democratic site, not merely a "progressive" or "liberal" one - and that's what will either set it apart or spell its doom.

Compare South's post (and duh, he's there because "he's that Westly guy who has been all 'Phil sucks'" and stuff") with Gale Kaufman's. Kaufman is Democratic powerhouse for sure and there are few who can boast her gift for simple yet elegant turns of phrase, issue packaging, or sheer spin power. Yet her first foray into blogging gets us only another helping of Democratic kool-aid. It's true, which is what makes it so damn tasty, yet the reader likely won't be able to help questioning whether the product is 100% pure or just more Made From Sacramento Concentrate sweetness meant to maintain morale as the poll numbers continue to slip.

Built on the all-too-common, ever-versatile movie industry metaphor, Kaufman walks us through the highlights reel (see what I did there? eh? eh?) of Schwarzenegger's many missteps and mistakes. But, by titling her post "It's the Voters, Stupid," I can't help but think back to a comment onto which The Roundup latched yesterday: you know a candidate is sunk when he starts saying "'The only poll that counts is the one on [E]lection [D]ay.'" Does hinging your argument on the questionable belief that the voters really know what's up really inspire confidence? Yeah, not so much for me either.

Kaufman may not have placed her entire trust in the CMR's potential either. Her post ends with the line, "Good luck with the blog, boys." I'm wondering if that wasn't a cut & paste error. It certainly doesn't mesh with the rest of her argument. It also implies Kaufman might not be totally on-board with this project - or at the very least, contributors don't post their own content. Maybe this is what the editors get paid to do. Either way, it implies a certain level of detachment from the new site - and that's not good. [Ed's note: Blogger crapped out in attempting to post this article the first time and the recovery tool only brought back this much. I could weep for all the lost brilliance that originally followed. We're going from memory here and the second take is never as good..]

Kaufman is right: it is the voters. But while they were good at recalling Davis, they seem less inclined to recall Schwarzenegger's mistakes so far. So, it seems the only poll that will matter is the one on Election Day. Uh-oh . . . .

Then there's Dario Frommer's entry: a well constructed outline of Democratic values and suggestions for further success. He starts by saying Demo prospects are "glum," yet, if you think about it, the only place they are actually "glum" is in the horseshoe. As far as I know, no one is seriously contemplating a Reep sweep of the Capitol - nor are there enough '94-era indicators to suggest a coming November surprise. Frommer does criticize Angelides's plan to raise taxes, relying in a fiscally irresponsible fashion on the teensy surplus we've accumulated which sounds, dare I say it, Schwarzengger-esque. He calls for Demo leadership on oil independence and affordable housing policies and wraps things up by suggesting Angelides go mano-a-immigrant-personal-background with the Gov. But is there much in this post that sets it apart from a stock Dem-op-ed? I know Frommer has the guns to get scrappy - so what's he waiting for?

Also: John Whitehurst on up-ticket wins and down-ballot losses, including some number fun; Steve Maviglio gives good process story on the media's covering Arnold rather than covering Governor Schwarzenegger; and Jude Barry makes the obligatory Twins reference as he matches Schwarzenegger to Joe Lieberman (and includes a rather oddly placed, Westly-themed nip at Angelides) - without even reading it, you may tie your brain in knots trying to sort the twin-analogy as you categorize Angelides, Schwarzenegger, Lamont, and Lieberman (keeping in mind that this is the Democratic, not the progressive or liberal, website). Have fun with that one.

Plus: Two thumbs up for Alex Clemens's first post from the far off land of San Francisco. He gets the tone spot on. Not that there isn't room for polished pieces (though I'd say Maviglio's polish is more accessible than Kaufman's or Frommer's, but Clemens's is conversational without being rambling, and politely introduces himself and his reasons for being at CMR. Blog readers like that. It's more insightful than the bio-blurb - which in Clemens's case credits him with "inventing the Usual Suspects, San Francisco's political homepage." Inventing? Did he write that? Is that like how Al Gore invents net stuff? Now I'm just nitpicking. Bottom line, good post - others should follow his lead.

And Here It Is

So, the new site uses Word Press - glad they aren't using Moveable Type. It's my first foray into Word Press, but seems good so far.

Layout: clean and open. Probably could stand to be tightened a bit - there's a lot of scrolling to check out the whole site. Perhaps a sidebar to give readers a quick overview of who is posting as soon as they get to the site? As mentioned at yesterday's event, not all of the features are up and running yet. I'll be particularly interested in listening to their podcast.

Also - no date or time stamp appears on the front page along with the "Recent Reports" which seems odd. And perhaps the most obviously void: what, no links to other like minded sites or worthy-opponents? No blogroll? Where's the love, guys?

Content: Here's the point and the goal, according to the publishers.

Given the buzz surrounding a site promising candor - even against its own - just a few weeks before the election, and given his recent and ongoing roasting of Dem nominee Phil Angelides, reading Gary South's report first seemed the obvious choice.

South argues that Phil has yet to tell voters who he is, which must happen before his ideas will sell:

But voters often sing the same refrain in high-profile elections. It’s axiomatic that voters don’t really care about a candidate’s ideas if they have no idea who you are. After all, minor-party candidates often espouse nifty, outside-the-box proposals, yet receive only miniscule support. That’s largely because they rarely have the resources to tell voters who they are and why they are qualified for the office they’re seeking.
I suppose that's technically true, though minor-party candidates lack the resources to tell voters anything from ideas to identity. It's more than a boxers-or-briefs issue of getting to know one.

South makes a good point, though, in comparing Phil to South's own winning pony, Gray Davis, who consistently reminded voters of his personal accomplishments (veteran, prior officeholder, chief-of-staff) as he beat down too richer-than-god opponents in 1998. South also correctly says that Phil's story isn't quite as inspiring as Mr. Olympia's (okay, his isn't "inspiring" so much as famous) or Dianne Feinstein's - to say nothing of Jackie Speier's (speaking of which, with that story, why didn't she win? Why didn't she run for Governor? Sorry, that's another post).

It couldn't hurt to remind voters that Angelides is the son of non-English speaking immigrants. Yet Schwarzenegger has that whole "I'm an immigrant myself" thing. Angelides enjoyed a middle class upbringing and his parents still sent him to Harvard. But did you know Schwarzenegger was the Terminator?

Yes, Angelides has some personal anecdotes that could put him in a better light and perhaps actually begin to place him on a level where voters would legitimately compare him to Schwarzenegger. It would help if people could ID the field in more balanced terms than "the Terminator and that Democratic guy," which is what I'm guessing most people have to say about Phil (or worse, "the Terminator and that guy who wants to raise taxes.")

Perhaps I'm just an example of Angelides's failings: even knowing the guy, I can't find a way to think of his personal background in a way that reduces the discussion to policy-only terms - which is the only way Phil wins because regardless of his immigrant parents or average upbringing, he's facing a megastar and a vastly improved economy. Yet, I have a feeling the Angelides campaign decided to work with what they got and what they don't got: ideas over personality, policy over film production. Comparing Angelides's strategies with Gray Davis's vastly underestimates what Angelides is up against. Harman and Checchi had money - but they didn't an inexhaustible supply of celebrity.

Initial review: I give the site a B for style and a A- for content (clearly it's given me something to think/write about, but I should give it a more thorough review before I max out the alphabet).

Update: Also missing from a site that likely hopes to be "THE" new forum for robust, scrappy debate - a recent comments roll or indicator in the (missing) sidebar.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Pre-Show

The buzz generated by tonight's launch party for the new blue blog California Majority Report might be all that's needed to ensure blog success. For all I know, the other bloggers in attendance rushed home to post, brimming with anticipation and excitement inspired by the newbies' press conference this afternoon. Or by the sight of so many former Davis staffers in one place they were operating on the morale-boosting thought of a horseshoe coup and a Davis Restoration.

There's just one problem.

The site doesn't launch until midnight.

Personally, I have a day job that discourages under-desk napping. I'm not sure I'll make it to the launch.

But let's review the story so far: Steve Maviglio, Roger Salazar,and Jason Kinney (oh, I'm not playing favorites with the linkage, I just can't find really on-point URLs for the other guys), recognizing that Dems are traditionally (uh, as much as you can have "tradition" in a months old tradition of relevant blogging) viewed as behind the times when it comes to blogging pool their combined 8000 years of political PR experience and set out to create the Democratic answer to Jon Fleischman's FlashReport. The guys say the idea first crept up in February, but took some time to incubate and create given they all have fairly high profile and time-consuming day jobs.

Maviglio, Salazar, and Kinney - joined by counterpoint Fleischman - held a brief press availability this afternoon before an handful of reporters and bloggers on the steamy patio at The Park.

Kinney opened by explaining that the new blog will seek to bridge the schism between "grassroots" online activists and those who are "practicing politics." Practitioners and activists, together at last. It's like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup: a combination whose time has come.

There's only one rule for the site: posts just need to have something to do with the Capitol and California politics - oh and they should be candid. No flackery please. Or at least they want it kept to a minimum, I'm guessing. It's sort of like Metroblogging in its simple, just-stay-in-the-arena philosophy. One difference, however: they pay their editors.

Don't know how much, but if it's a positive integer, I'd say it's not bad.

And the party: Like moths to a flame, the entire GGD horseshoe turned out and crammed onto the sweltering Park patio. The last time I'd seen some of those faces was at the Biltmore in 2003 where they were a decidedly tearier bunch. After an hour or so of generalized mingling, Jason Kinney thanked various electeds in attendance and introduced Gray Davis who referenced his own forthcoming webs project and congratulated those involved with the new site. He might have said something else, but the rowdy crowd fluttering around the bar at the back of the patio found their conversations far more interesting than the former Governor's and spoke straight through GGD's poorly amplified remarks. And the Speaker's for that matter: a slightly ballsy choice on a small patio during critical end-of-session-lobbying season. But whatever. The food was plentiful and the wine flowed and folks seemed generally happy to be there.

But will an A-list party translate to A-level stats? Only time, and the quality of the actual, site will tell. There site already boasts a lot of talented writers and thinkers - but will it be blog magic or a blog bust? And what about the name? It's safe to predict a California Majority for at least another two years, but, well, hubris anyone? I wouldn't even have thought of it, except there was that book that one time about Congress called "Congress' Permanent Minority?" It was published in the summer of 1994. I'm just sayin' . . . .

I eagerly await the ability to check out this bad boy's content. I wish them all luck and welcome them to the neighborhood.

To confirm: Yeah, midnight is too late for this 11pm Pumpkin. Can't wait to check it - and the accompanying coverage - out in the morning.

New Kids On The Blog: California Majority Report

Look! Fresh meat! From a recent announcement in the Capitol Morning Report:

Jason Kinney of California Strategies reports plans to launch a political website and blog for Democrats called The California Majority Report. The tag line on Kinney's announcement reads, "THE political website for California Democrats who don't play politics - they live it." It's being published by three insiders of the former Gov. Gray Davis administration: Kinney, a former speechwriter; Steve Maviglio, Davis' press secretary who is now Speaker Fabian Nunez's deputy chief of staff on leave to help the Democrats' gubernatorial efforts; and Roger Salazar, of Acosta Salazar public affairs who was also in Davis' press shop. Davis himself is listed as a special guest at the site's launch party Tuesday in Mason's at The Park Downtown. The site is schedule to open at midnight Aug. 23 at www.camajorityreport.com. While Kinney's announcement doesn't describe the site, it's safe to assume it will serve as a counterpoint to Jon Fleischman's popular FlashReport, a collection of news stories with editorials by prominent Republicans and political observers. Fleischman, who has publicly encouraged Democrats to start a blog, said, "I'm excited for them. I'm very excited about having a free exchange of ideas." Fleischman's not only is excited but has shared with his Democratic counterparts some tips on what has worked at his site and what hasn't. "They're putting together a good product," he said. Kinney's announcement lists as site editors Lily Ho, formerly with the New America Foundation and currently a project manager for Barbary Coast Consulting in San Francisco; Donald Lathbury, an intern in Nunez's office who is deputy editor in chief of UC Berkeley's Berkeley Political Review magazine; and Donald Ruff, a Sacramento attorney who is the son of Davis' former deputy legislative secretary Ann Richardson. Listed as contributors to the blog are: Andrew Acosta, Jude Barry, David Binder, Bart Broome, Bill Carrick, Alex Clemens, David Dixon, Dario Frommer, Larry Grisolano, Paul Hefner, Eric Jaye, Gale Kaufman, Sam Lauter, Chris Lehane, Katie Merrill, Andre Pineda, Dave Rand, John Shallman, Ace Smith, Steve Smith, Darry Sragow, Crystal Strait, Ben Tulchin, Cristina Uribe, and John Whitehurst.
As it originally ran, this blurb was chalk full of boldface, Page 6 style highlights. Just apply it in your mind to all the proper nouns while you read it again. I'll wait.

Oh, and while I know a David Ruff who is the son of Davis's former deputy legislative secretary Ann Richardson - who, a quick search reveals is a Sacramento attorney, I never met his brother Donald. I'm either totally wrong or there's a bit of a typo in there. You may also recognize Crystal Strait, President of the California Young Democrats. Sounds like a great group they've assembled. If you navigate to the site, you get a login prompt, but the launch party is tomorrow night, so check back later.

The party sounds like quite the affair, by the way. Held at the new seen-and-be-seen The Park (or Mason's or "that place with that bathroom where you can, like, totally see into the other bathroom? I know, that's like, so crazy and sh*t," or whatever its various parts are called), the launch features a who's-who of California politics, political blogging, and includes a visit from special guest Gray Davis. Regular readers and friends know that they had me at "Gray Davis." Check back for my take on the fete and the site.

We still cover this kind of stuff.

Monday, August 21, 2006

He Has My Vote

From an Oakland Tribune article on tomorrow night's Demo blog launch party (see above post) - the reassuring news that Democratic nominee Phil Angelides "supports blogs."

The article discusses an implied "odd an suspicious" take on the launch: a Dem-centered website goes live just weeks before an election and it's not all about Angelides. Or it will be a bit. Or, wait, what's the article's point, exactly?

Sometimes a website designed to be a counterpoint to a website is just a website designed to be a counterpoint to a website, people.

Though, the Jack Pitney Soundbite Of The Day Award goes to Barbara O'Connor's imagerific description of "a very happy Gray Davis as a gray beard" for the Party's true feelings about their chosen one. Gray Davis, gray beard. I see what you did there. Clever.

Crimes Against Vocabulary

One of Senator Clinton's opponents suspended her campaign after her daughter was nabbed nicking retail items. Candidate says she'll be spending every waking moment dealing with her daughter's sticky fingers until she's sure the kid is getting the help she needs. It's a deft political response, really. It could also be a nice little study in the way men's and women's campaign strategies differ. I'm not saying the male candidate wouldn't stay home to but baby in a corner, but chances are, there's a polling study somewhere that proves that voters still prefer woman candidates don't neuter themselves out of likeability by, say, having their husband deal with the selfish antics of their offspring.

What gets to me, however, is Ed Rollins's quote that the campaign will be functioning again in a few days. "This is a personal tragedy."

Nooooo. Shoplifting is not a tragedy. True, the markups resulting from retail establishment compensating for petty theives will drive up your chinos a few cents each year, but as much as I love my Luxe card, this still isn't a tragedy.

Tragic for fundraising efforts? Maybe. Tragically inconvenient in the middle of a tough primary? Probably. Freudian slip of acknowledgement that kiddie just messed up your plan and hobbled your moral high horse (no, I don't know for sure, but I know all candidates would like to ride one)? Ding!

This is a tragedy the same way that JonBenet's "killer" is a killer. Not so much.

Election Years Rock!

Like, everything is possible in an election year. And hey, I'm not knocking it - minimum wage need a hike. At least this article mentions the legislature as an integral part of this whole law-making business.

The local news teaser I just say featured a bright-eyed woman saying "hear how the Governor rasied the minimum wage at 11!" He can do that by himself! That guy is a freakin' phenom. A super hero of the highest order - able to enact laws in a single, legislatureless bound.

I'm in no way saying a minimum wage hike isn't worth the good PR for Schwarzenegger. That's because a good deal is still a good deal, even when it isn't the perfect deal (I'm sure the Chamber folks disagree with my "good deal" usage, but that's no surprise).

Still, media soundbites and summaries are interesting things - especially during an election year. Of course, when isn't it an election year? Wonder what Phil will have to say . . . .

Friday, August 18, 2006

Still Sad, But Not News

Raise your hand if you think the crazy man in the blue polo is really the killer.

Yeah, not so much.

I don't know, perhaps it's true. But his ex-wife (who he, at 24, knocked-up so he could marry her, at 16, without parental consent) says he wasn't even in Colorado at the time she died. She seems to have little motive to lie, but perhaps she's mistaken.

As I flipped through channels last night and saw a few news magazines fill time with their quickly re-edited JonBenet retrospectives, I couldn't help but think: ah, yes, thanks ABC this IS so much easier to watch than thousands of dead Arab or Jewish people thousands of miles from here. Or Iraqis. Or stories about global warming. Or pretty much anything. Yes, the freakish, dressed up little girl goes down much more easily, doesn't she.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Killing It Would Have Been Better

The LA City Council sent back to committee a proposal to allow neighborhood councils to introduce motions for consideration before the LA City Council.

Thank God.

Councilmember Janice Hahn (District 15) is described as "frustrated" at having to send back the measure to keep it alive. This is only one of a handful of times I have found myself disagreeing with our representative - and this time, vehemently so.

Oddly enough, the public does have the power to influence local legislation through the existing political process. Whether or not they take the time to do so is not my concern. I certainly would hate to see power granted to insular groups of groupthinkers who suffer from little accountability or oversight.

Janice Hahn, do the right thing and continue to ably represent us. I elected you, not them. If they have proposals, they can meet with you the same way I would if I had proposals for city ordinances.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Phoblog Exclusive: Cutest Baby Discovered


Love
Originally uploaded by Phoblog.
When Phoblographer* isn't covering hot political controversy or policy conflicts, it's best to use the site for pure, unadulterated bragging.

My nephew is the cutest. baby. ever.

Look at that happy little face. I don't care if they don't technically smile for weeks or months even. I don't care if it's just gas. You can't tell me he doesn't look like a happy baby. That's a goofy little smile.

I discovered two things this weekend upon meeting Liam Adler for the first time: 1) While trying to appease him until his mother came back in the room to feed him, I offered Liam the tip of my finger to suck. Man, babies can suck. You could lose a nail. 2) Love at first sight happens. I could have, and in fact did, sit and just look at him for hours. He wasn't doing anything except uttering the infrequent coo or fluttering his arms about, but just looking at him was the most satisfying and fulfilling thing I've done since . . . well, in a really, really long time.

P.S. The kid looks great in the little CMC hat I got him. A Stag is born.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Irony In The Skies

The Chron's analytical piece on this mornings reported thwarting of a plane-related bomb plot contains at least one line that makes me chuckle:

Its scope was ruthlessly ambitious, causing destruction officials say would have been "unimaginable." The alleged plot to take down several U.S.-bound planes with liquid explosives appears to be unlike anything the world has seen in years.
It's the "in years" that gets me. Not decades. Not ever. Somehow, the Hollywood-esque phrase "unlike anything the world has seen" seems odd when followed by "in years."

More telling, however, is this more basic new report covering the alleged plot in (slightly) more detail. It inverse-pyramids its way on down to the fact that Heathrow - now the scene of massive delays, cancellations, and banned carry-on luggage - was the departure point for Pan Am 103 that exploded over Scotland killing all aboard and many on the ground. After reading grafs and grafs of the security measures governments and airports are taking to protect against this new form of in-cabin bomb making (no more shampoo, no more iPod, no more hand luggage period if your flight originates in the UK right now), the article ends with this unfortunate fact pertaining to the Pan Am crash:

The explosive was hidden in a portable radio secreted in checked baggage.
See?

Seriously?

Oddly enough this semi-informative news doesn't really scare me. I already hate flying and dwell on these possibilities anyway - so how can I make it worse for myself.

And in purely economic terms, will fear of traveling between the two countries result in lower air fares? It is only possible to pose such a question when there has been no air disaster, of course.

I've always kept an eye on the QM2 option anyway.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dang It, Lieberman

As if your laughable post-loss talking points weren't enough to deal with, now you have me linking to Arianna Huffington's site.

But she has a point.

To be fair, not everything Joe Lieberman has been saying is nonsensical or migraine-inducing. For instance, he told the AP that he thinks it would be "inconsistent with his principles" to leave the field of play. Lieberman loves taking out insurance policies on his political future - regardless of the cost to say, I don't know, say, the party that has kept him gainfully employed for, like, ever.

This morning I stood slack-jawed at the gym reading Matt Lauer's closed-captioned interview with the soon-to-be-Former (we hope) Senator as he waxed endlessly about how and why he would continue this fight; played the expectations-card.

All I could think was: wow.

To win in politics you really do have to be able to look yourself in the mirror, the camera in the lens, and say anything. Doesn't mesh with what you swore just a year or so before? Doesn't matter. Don't even try to explain it, just keep repeating the new story and don't blink. Does what you have to say bear zero connection to reality? Don't worry about it! Just keep saying it. Stick to the line.

Losing sucks. It hurts. It's humiliating. But it happens and it happened, Mr. Lieberman. Salvage a shred of honor and walk away.

You're just embarrassing yourself. You're embarrassing your country. And we certainly don't need any more help with that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Seniors, Grab Your Thesis Topics Now

This just got really interesting: Lieberman Loses Connecticut Primary Bid.

I'd say "so long, sucker" but that would be grossly premature since Lieberman immediately embraced the will of the people and announced he'd be running as an independent. According to Lieberman, team Lamont may have won this half of the campaign, but "Team Connecticut is going to surge forward to victory in November."

No word on Lieberman's predictions for Team Democrat. Or Team Democracy for that matter.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Auntie Phoblog



Meet my nephew, William Howard Adler, born this past Friday night. He'll be called Liam for short. He was a healthy 7lbs 15 oz and 21 inches long.

Liam is the first nephew/grandchild in the family on all sides - so he's appropriately already spoiled out of his brilliant little head. His mom and dad couldn't be prouder or more in love with the little guy. He's already an over-achiever, just like his folks, having been dubbed ahead of the curve in the all-important baby area of pooping. Way to go, kid.

His mom mentioned to me that she thinks his name is very presidential.

My mission, then, is clear . . . .

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

But They're Still An Important Trade Partner

Communism, human rights violations, and pollution aren't enough to earn China the same kind of ire we reserve for real threats like, say, Cuba.

But how about this nugget of government activism in one rural county: they've beaten to death 50,000 dogs after three people died of rabies (if you're a sensitive type, don't follow the link, don't look at the photos):

A county in southwestern China has killed as many as 50,000 dogs in a government campaign ordered after three people died from rabies, official media reported Tuesday.

The five-day massacre in Yunnan province's Mouding county spared only military guard dogs and police canine units, the Shanghai Daily reported, citing local media.

Dogs being walked were taken from their owners and beaten on the spot, the newspaper said. Other killing teams entered villages at night, creating noise to get dogs barking, then honing in and beating them to death.

Owners were offered 63 cents per animal to kill their dogs before the teams were sent in, the report said.
I hate that sometimes animals in danger incite more outrage than human suffering or death. Maybe it's just because we can empathize better with animal suffering - to deal with human death is simply too taxing, so we take what we can handle when Fluffy heads for that great cat tree in the sky. Then again, in this case, even allowing for the challenges facing rural, presumably poor Chinese local governments, this sort of action seems beyond the pale. Beaning roving Rovers, okay, maybe - but people's pets snatched from their leashes? And it's government sponsored. Oh boy.