Thursday, March 22, 2007

Suddenly Back To 2004

With primary season on the horizon (and kinda here already), it doesn't take much to give me that old 2004 feeling again.

But I wish this kind of news wasn't part of it.

I worked with a few people who had been on Elizabeth Edwards's staff during her husband's first presidential bid, who later came over to the Kerry camp. Their respect and admiration for her were telling - and their reaction at her bad news in 2004 was touching and sincere.

I wish her well.

Follow-up: A great column on the public reaction from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What Do You Do With News Like This?

More violence in San Francisco's Bayview: where a college-bound girl, 17, was killed outside a youth center. She avoided trouble. She volunteered. She was going to go to college. And now she's dead.

You want to get mad at Gavin Newsom for something? You want to hold him accountable for something? How about skipping the bullshit about who he slept with when or who is pissed about it now and focusing on the unending violence that plagues a corner of his fine city that most people don't even know exists?

Don't just be mad at Newsom. There are many, many people at fault here. Except the girl that died.

Stop, Hammertime

The web is aflutter with speculation over who created a pro-Obama, or Probama spoof of the famous Apple, "1984" commercial in which old time Clintonianism gets smashed by the message to vote different.

On the creator: [One web site editor] says that suggests [the creator is] "someone who is definitely -- at a minimum -- a political junkie ... and someone who is quite astute, if not a professional, on how to do message work."

That line made me smirk. Anyone else?

And of course, this predictable reaction:

Chris Finnie, a Santa Cruz-based Democratic operative, said the widespread coverage given to the mashup in GOP circles suggests the ad could have come from a Republican operative and smacks of "Swift Boat" tactics used in 2004 against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

"It killed two birds with one stone," she said, by sharply attacking Clinton as being a political drone and smudging "Obama's positioning as the 'Mr. Clean' of politics. This is politics as usual, and by running a smear ad that is associated with him, it puts a dent in that image."
Sigh. Because it never really matters what anyone says or what is actually meant. It only matters what someone, somewhere, can convince you was REALLY going on. We call that "spin" for short, you see.

Anyway - here's the video. And hey, when did that hammertossing gal get an iPod?

btw: To my tastes, that ad is the equivalent of Citizen Kane; lauded as a peerless advertising accomplishment but really kinda not that great. But, a political ad that builds off the common understanding of both the commercial's conventionally understood wisdom and the cultural artifact that it is - that is genius, no argument here.

btw again: The article comments on whether Apple is likely to sue over copyright infringement. Hmmm. Perhaps not. But if they didn't, I'd count it as an in-kind to Obama's camp because that comany may Think Different, but it Sues Same.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Are You Kidding Me? TEXAS Requires It Already!

Cervical cancer vaccine bill stalls / Measure pulled for revision after both sides voice concern over mandatory shots for girls

My B.S. alarm is raging:

In Sacramento, skepticism about the bill emerged on several fronts at a hearing of the Assembly's Health Committee. Conservative groups argued that a vaccine to prevent HPV, which is sexually transmitted, would encourage promiscuity, while progressive Democratic lawmakers questioned the safety of the drug.
Oh really, progressive Dems? THAT'S the reason you're giving? Are you sure it isn't residual fear that the Schwarzenegger ascension, despite later set-backs, really did indicate a right-trending state that doesn't want a required state injected whore serum?

It's a cancer vaccine! How is this hard to understand?

Remember, dearest State Legislature, whom I love very much and spend a great deal of time defending to those who would continue to limit your terms or make you part time, refusing to require this vaccine for girls sends an obvious, insidious message to women. If you have premarital sex at a young age, you deserve to get cancer. If you abstain from having sex until you meet your husband, marry him, and it turns out he carries HPV, your contracting cervical cancer is preferable to the risk run by you thinking you could engaged in sexual activities prior to marriage.

I am horrified that anyone would hesitate to administer a CANCER VACCINE to his or her daughter. And I am ashamed of the California State Legislature for postponing such an important law.

(And I'm not sorry I'm saying it. And I can't respect their decision for postponing consideration of the bill, nor the author for pulling it, nor either Caucus for allowing it to be pulled, and yes I believe deeply enough about this issue that is so much more moral a decision than the faux-moral objections to it I hardly know where to begin.)

A Shining Example Of Pointless Politicizing/Policy-izing

More fallout on the old Newsom business, this time because his new girlfriend defended her boyfriend in an Chronicle interview the way most gals would over Cosmos at Cosmos in the Marina. That is: call out The Other Woman.

Would've been fine - except that SFist (you know, that site that isn't Metroblogging San Francisco, but someday aspires to be - I keed, I keed) responded to the story and then the new Newsom gal responded to the response and then all hell broke loose because the cuckolding wife has lawyers and and a PR firm.

So the lawyers and PR firm are pissed that new Newsom girl said that old Newsom fling was "the culprit" in the affair and took swift action - later accepting new Newsom girl's public apology by saying "We will excuse her, but just this one time. ... Apparently she is just visiting this planet."

You stay classy, San Francisco.

But then the Chron's local news blog posted about the matter and linked directly to the SFist comments from new gal Siebel (post author = former SFist editor, fab!). And one of those linked comments is from my friend and former SF Supervisorial District 8 Candidate Alix Rosenthal, and that's where I finally got the nudge to post on the subject.

Alix couches her Siebel-ire in sexual harrassment law. Cute - but it belies the reality of the sitution (which, let's be honest, is something we'll never, ever know for sure, but we can make an attempt). Alix is appalled at Newsom's affair with an at-will employee in his direct line of supervision. She thinks it is "irrelevant" that the affair was consensual.

Um, no it isn't. It's entirely relevant. In fact, I can't think of anything more relevant than consent. I have seen no accusations of coercion by the Mayor. I have seen no reports from the cuckolding/cuckolded camp that the woman in question was high, drunk, or otherwise impaired and incapable of consenting (which could've been a plausible arguemt considering she admitted the affair to her husband while in rehab for . . . something).

A woman has no power to stop herself from engaging in an extramarital affair with a powerful man? Thank god - I was getting worried I'd have to take responsibility for my own actions someday.

This certainly isn't a black-and-white case with one right and one wrong party. The only truly wronged party here is the husband who has displayed more media restraint than his wife or the Mayor's new girlfiend and for that I thank him.

This certainly isn't a Monica-gate situation with a young impressionable girl for whom you could make a reasonable "blinded by the light" argument to excuse her own behavior. But the notion that Siebel is "not a girl's kind of girl" - that she's a girl who doesn't like other girls because she questioned the share of the blame placed on her boyfriend - is laughable.

I don't know any of these people personally so I don't know who has what kind of checkered past or perfect record.

But to relieve Ruby Rippey-Tourk of all culpability because she landed on payroll is an insult to sexual harrassment laws and those who fight hard to enforce them. She wasn't some admin from the steno pool who got fed to the shark in the corner office. She was someone with a long-standing relationship with the Mayor (via her husband) who, for whatever reason, engaged in an extramarital affair she then had to unburden herself of during rehab. It's a sh*t situation for all involved - but not the way Alix frames it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Isn't It Cute When The Academics Trump Reality

So a guy who won the right to refuse antipsychotic drugs in a landmark 2004 ruling later murdered his roomie and has now been charged with the crime.

From the story:

In a declaration quoted by the court, the Napa State Hospital medical director said that "without his antipsychotic medication, (Qawi) would pose a markedly increased risk to the safety and security of staff and patients."

The court also said psychiatric evaluators at the hospital had found that Qawi "consistently maintains that he suffers no mental illness and requires no medication or other forms of treatment."

In the 6-1 ruling, Justice Carlos Moreno said any competent adult, including a prison inmate, has the right to refuse medical treatment.

It was not clear what happened to Qawi as a result of the ruling.

Since the ruling, the state Department of Mental Health has gone to court hundreds of times for "Qawi hearings" to authorize involuntary medication of mentally disordered offenders on the grounds that they are either incompetent or potentially dangerous, spokeswoman Kirsten Macintyre said Friday. Macintyre said she couldn't provide information about Qawi or any other individual.

At Atascadero State Hospital, the only institution for which records are available, such requests have been almost uniformly granted by judges, Macintyre said. Records from Atascadero also indicate that patients who refuse antipsychotic medication commit assaults more often than patients who consent, Macintyre said. From January through June 2006, she said, the 204 patients who refused medication committed an average of 4.62 assaults on staff, other patients or themselves, compared with an average of 1.54 assaults by the 843 patients who consented to medication.
This is one of the many reasons my profession sometimes gets me down. At least the requests to involuntarily medicate seriously ill patients are usually granted. I hate it when jurists get all twisted up in the jurisprudence and forget to see what might happen outside their courtrooms.

Missed Opportunity

Happy Blog Birthday to Amber's Prettier Than Napoleon.

Which reminds me: I let this blog's 3d anniversary go by without so much as a thought. I am also reminded of how much I miss this outlet - despite finding a few things to occupy my time.

So to those of you still sticking it out through scant posting and scanter political content: thank you.

2,110 Posts over approximately 1,133 days.

Not bad.

Eh, Not Bothered

Have I been in Sacramento too long? These don't seem like the craziest of crazy legislative proposals - and that one about not smoking in cars with kids - wasn't that so last session?

And I think having restaurants disclose calorie and fat contents on the menu is a fine idea (at least at fast food places of a certain size - getting calorie counts calculated can be pricey) - one that makes a lot more sense than banning transfats or any particular culprit-of-the-week foodstuff.

It's like that damn MickeyD's $2mil cup of coffee lawsuit award anecdote: all of these ideas are presented in a way that belies the frequently reasonable motivations behind them. Except of course for bills like that one letting 14 year olds vote. That was stupid.

Friday, March 09, 2007

That Is Just A Lawsuit Waiting To Happen

So, standing and immunity problems notwithstanding, could I bring suit against USCIS for gross discrepencies in the petition processing time due to geographical discrimination?

If you check the link above, scroll down to the first chart under the two graphs, not the difference in processing times between the California and Vermont Service Centers. Note also that Nebraska and Texas Service Centers no longer process I-129Fs, the petition for a K1 (fiance) visa. They forward received I-129Fs to . . . California Service Center.

So three centers worth of data (two of which draw from, I'm guessing, very immigrant-rich areas of the country - drawing from Mexico, Central and South Americas, and the entire Pacific Rim), go to California and Vermont has some New Englanders to worry about.

Average processing time at the California Service Center:

85 days.

Average processing time at the Vermont Service Center:

30 days.

Oh, and this week alone, there have been reports of Vermont clearing applications in 3 or 10 days. I sh*t you not.

Does that seem fair to you? We all pay the same filing fee. We all fill out the same paperwork and meet the same requirements. And yet, we seem to be handled so differently. And there isn't boo to do about it. This is the feds we're talking about.

Since I've blocked out most of my Con Law barbri experience, I can't recall if this kind of thing would be an equal protection challenge, etc. Well, it wouldn't likely be anything, but still . . . one (with a license to practice law) wonders.

I don't want VSCers equally screwed, mind you, I just want us CSCers less screwed.

Goddammit, I know we have CMCers in high places - someone do something.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Offensive Tradmarking, 15 Yard Penalty

A week or so before the Super Bowl, I read an article about the quiet shift in marketing around the game. Seems no one beats the NFL at cease-and-desist letters aimed at unauthorized, well, anyone, using the term "Super Bowl" to advertise products if they aren't licensed to do so. Instead, there's just been a subtle shift to buying x, y, or z goods in time for the "big game."

Savvy players that they are, the NFL marketers want 'Big Game' trademarked too.

Sigh.

This has Cal and Stanford hot and bothered because since 1902 their yearly match up has been called the Big Game.

The NFL swears it doesn't mean to go after those sorts of usages:

"This filing was done in regard to companies that have attempted an end-run around the term 'Super Bowl,' " said Brian McCarthy, the NFL's director of corporate communications. "So this would not affect the college game that's played in the fall.

"It would affect somebody who was trying to intimate a relationship with the NFL or the Super Bowl. They're trying to draft off the goodwill we've built up over the years.''
Oh wouldn't it?

Pro sports kinda suck.