Thursday, May 31, 2007

'TB Patient ID'd As Atlanta Attorney, 31'

Dude's a lawyer? A personal injury lawyer? And he did this? And he didn't think it would be a problem?

To quote a Weekend Update feature - Really?

And he went out of his way to fly despite being told not to? Really.

It was while they were in Rome that he learned further U.S. tests had determined his TB was the rare, extensively drug-resistant form, far more dangerous than he knew. Officials told him turn himself over to Italian health officials and not to fly on any commercial airlines.

Instead, on May 24, he flew from Rome to Prague on Czech Air Flight 0727, then flew to Montreal aboard Czech Air Flight 0104 and drove into the U.S., according to CDC officials.
Gee, he didn't fly to the US directly, instead he flew a non-US carrier and then drove (no passport required kids!) into the U.S.

Maybe I'm overthinking it, but it seems to me like that kind of out-of-the-waying it extra-proves he knew he shouldn't have been doing what he was doing and that a US airline and US border patrol might now to watch for him. No worries! Let the Canucks take the hit! Who really likes the Quebecoise anyway?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On Why We Don't Impeach Now

From the same piece linked below, but seeming to demand its own post:

Some liberals find it hard to fathom that Bush hasn't already been tossed out of office. Salon's Gary Kamiya offers a theory:

"Why was Clinton, who was never as unpopular as Bush, impeached for lying about sex, while Bush faces no sanction for the far more serious offense of lying about war?

"The main reason is obvious: The Democrats think it's bad politics. Bush is dying politically and taking the GOP down with him, and impeachment is risky. It could, so the cautious Beltway wisdom has it, provoke a backlash, especially while the war is still going on. Why should the Democrats gamble on hitting the political jackpot when they're likely to walk away from the table big winners anyway?

"These realpolitik considerations might be sufficient by themselves to prevent Congress from impeaching Bush. Impeachment is a strange phenomenon -- a murky combination of the legal, the political and the emotional . . .

"But there's a deeper reason why the popular impeachment movement has never taken off -- and it has to do not with Bush but with the American people. Bush's warmongering spoke to something deep in our national psyche. The emotional force behind America's support for the Iraq war, the molten core of an angry, resentful patriotism, is still too hot for Congress, the media and even many Americans who oppose the war, to confront directly. It's a national myth. It's John Wayne. To impeach Bush would force us to directly confront our national core of violent self-righteousness -- come to terms with it, understand it and reject it. And we're not ready to do that.

"The truth is that Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors, far from being too small, are too great. What has saved Bush is the fact that his lies were, literally, a matter of life and death. They were about war. And they were sanctified by 9/11. Bush tapped into a deep American strain of fearful, reflexive bellicosity, which Congress and the media went along with for a long time and which has remained largely unexamined to this day. Congress, the media and most of the American people have yet to turn decisively against Bush because to do so would be to turn against some part of themselves."

Hard to square that, I think, with two-thirds of the country now being against the war. Maybe they just don't see impeachment as a suitable remedy.

The Surname Game

WaPo's Howard Kurtz looks at Bill Richardson and the campaign that practically isn't:

I've been scratching my head over the Richardson candidacy for some time. The guy's a governor, a westerner, a former Energy secretary, a former congressman, a former ambassador to the U.N. and a global troubleshooter who's managed to get hostages freed. Despite that resume, he is mired so deep in the Democratic second tier that it must be hard to see the first tier.
I agree with him. And it is a head-scratcher. Though, my guess is that this is just a case of peaking too soon. He was a party darling way back when, chattered about as an heir to Clinton (presumably then, Clinton/Gore) power. He was, as summarized above, a Hispanic from a western state, with knowledge and connections to spare.

But time passes and in comes Barack Obama, glamarous, younger, still a minority, and sexy in both the political and traditional senses of the word. You can hear the grinding of metal as the spotlight shifts away from the maybes of the past to the might-just-make-its of the current political world.

The article mentions that Richardson for years has bucked advice to campaign under his mom's maiden name, which is Lopez, and could be paying the price now with zero traction among his . . . I dunno, what? His hometeam? So Richardson remains a Charley Sheen in the age of Estevez. Can anyone say for sure that doing so is a mistake?

At any rate, he may have bigger problems than his lack of minority-name-ID - like his penchant for embellishing and not fact-checking, er, his own bio. Shrug.

I'm always interested in these sorts of issues - more so at this point in my life, when the option of retaining my lifelong name, the only observable indication of my Mexican heritage (Richardson, who the article implies doesn't look the part, looks far more Mexican than do I) is staring me in the face. I dated a guy once who vehemently opposed the idea that I'd maintain my surname instead of swapping it for his - especially after I pointed out that, politically, I'd be a moron to do so. He though this was some form of manipulation or lying or deceit, or something equally damnable. Of course, unlike Richardson, who, as a "Lopez" would be reaching back a generation to adopt a name that was never his, my surname is mine. Changing it doesn't change my ethnic make-up. Nor does maintaining it falsely claim a right to a heritage that isn't mine. And of course, this is all before we get to the broader gender, cultural, and familial considerations involved in taking a married name. My married name would, by the way, be very similar to Richardson's.

I don't know what I will do. But I agree with Richardson for sticking it out with his own name.

(btw, this made me snort outloud: "Says MSNBC's Tucker Carlson: 'It strikes me as out of bounds for a candidate -- it ought to be out of bounds -- to campaign on his ethnicity.'")

Things About Which I Could And Should Blog

That giant immigration reform bill would be a start.

It's over 600 pages, though. I heard one talking head claim to have read it all. I call bullshit. I won't say I've read it. Maybe I will, but it's not likely I'll make it through cover-to-cover. Hope someone does!

And in the world of summaries . . . well, take your pick. They vary quite a bit, however. this one says look out for the flood of legal immigrants in the same way they might've said "look out for the flood of illegal immigrants." Amazing how we can't really hear whether "il" is included in front of "legal" anymore, no?

A quick reaction: the points-based system seems like a realllllly bad idea. Anyone else concerned? How well did this work for University of Michigan in building its classes? Are we talking points like Michigan grad or undergrad? The whole thing makes me itch with discomfort.

Second: I'm going to have to look at the family-based immigration changes a bit more. Some reviews say the proposed reform ends chain migration, some say it increases it. Attention is usually paid to the employment side of things (well, only in a "don't take'r'jobs, you brown people!" not in a reasoned-H1B-visa-allocation-discussion kind of way) while family-based issues stick to "no more anchor babies!" territory.

As I type, I realize that there's nothing in US immigration policy discussions that have much to do with non-hyperbole drenched rhetoric and chest beating.

That floods me with hope.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mostly, Yes

An SF Supe is busted, in several ways, it seems:

"One of the fundamental underpinnings of a representative democracy is that elected officials represent the area that they come from," said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin.

"Without commenting on the allegations that have surfaced, the notion of district elections is the notion that districts should be represented by people who come from the community."
I can't help but ponder the City's history with district vs. at-large elections. Not that it is an on-point ponder, but I love thinking about district vs. at-large elections because I'm a nerd like that.

Wonder if the Supe - already in trouble with the FBI and now facing a residency challenge too, with damning evidence of low-to-no water usage - can argue that he's just REALLY good at conserving resources?

No?

Yeah, probably not.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dear ABC,

Speed dating at the USS Arizona memorial is never going to be okay.

Seriously? Seriously. Seriously?

Yours truly,
Phoblog

You Shut Your Mouth

From an article on an Indiana school teacher who lost her job when she said she honked for peace in response to a student's question about her views toward the Iraq war:

As far as the courts are concerned, "public education is inherently a situation where the government is the speaker, and ... its employees are the mouthpieces of the government," said Vikram Amar, a professor at UC's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Whatever academic freedom exists for college teachers is "much, much less" in public schools, he said.
Glad he distinguished a bit between college-level and lower-level teachers, since Amar teaches at a public school where I never heard a professor hesitate much before espousing personal political views. Because clearly, for Hastings anyway, there was never a problem with this kind of expression in the classroom - academic environment be damned.*

*I do think the situations are distinguishable - if a teacher is asked a question direcly, a teacher should be able to answer, if able and willing. Contrast that with a situation where a professor decides to wax poetic about whatever political view moves him or her that day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

From The Oppo Files

A Chron profile of Sen. Clinton's California campaign head - a feared oppo guy.

Pluses: I love oppo guys.

Minuses: He helped Villaraigosa win in 2005.

Hillary, I'm still not loving you.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fire Abating, Plenty of Damage Done

Thanks to better weather, the fire seems to be less of a danger to Avalon, though it has still done considerable damage is not out yet.

The LAT breaking news blog, linked above, asks whether goats would've helped. Goats, which were plentiful on the island, have been removed by the thousands in a bid to restore the natural ecosystem. Even more than their several-tons-larger friends, the Bison, the goats were eating the crap out of Catalina, reducing the native plant count to zero for some types.

Of course, goats also control the amount of flammable scrub brush, so maybe they'd have cut the fire risk.

Except, in their heyday, the lived more toward the western edge of the island, past Two Harbors, and were helping it erode into the ocean. At least, that's what I remember learning at CIMI during the great 90s goat crisis years.

The best part of the LAT post about it, however, was their chosen goat visual aid. I don't believe it to be more than a rough approximation of the real deal:



The goats I saw were much less animated.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Island Is Burning


It's breaking my heart. Don't let it reach Avalon.

p.s. this photo, earlier today and before things were as dire as they seem to be now, was taken by the same photog who snapped my US Today photo.

p.p.s. For those of you unfamiliar with Catalina Island, some brief history and some facts: During Hollywood's golden age, Catalina was a movie-star playground. Anyone who was anyone enjoyed it's euro-resort vibe. Two great steamers would ferry party-goers over each evening to dine and dance and party along the water front and in the landmark, art-deco wonder of a Casino, over by Descanso Beach. The Casino - named in the classical sense as a place of entertainment, NOT a card game location.

Most of the island was owned by the Wrigley family - as in gum and field. In fact, ramps leading from the Casino's lower floor movie house to its upper floor dance hall were constructed with the same proportions as the ramps at Wrigley Field. Wrigley recognized the importance of preserving the island and so deemed some 85% protected - as it still remains, managed by the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy.

In the 1920s, a film crew, seeking to recreate the old West, shipped a barge of bison, wild boar, and goats over to the island. To that point, the largest native animal was the Catalina Island fox. You can imagine how well it fared with its larger competitors. It was making a comeback. I suppose by morning, we'll know if it still is.

Another animal of note: the bald eagle.

I have camped on this island since I was 5 years old. Most summers in high school were highlighted by time working there as a camp counselor. Spending a day or two in Avalon is like . . . . well, if you have spent some time there, you know what I mean. It is lovely beyond words. A tiny, quiet, golf-cart-strewn oasis, 26 miles across the sea. It is Hollywood and Europe and retro and relaxing.

Let it all be there tomorrow. I hate not being able to see more coverage up here in Sac.

More photos of my pretty island here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

'Name and spell all the United States in alphabetical order'

Just for kicks, I had a quick look at the paperwork we'll be facing down the road a-ways. on the Adjustment of Status form, Part 3(c) requests the following information:

List your present and past membership in or affiliation with every organization, association, fund, foundation, party, club, society or similar group in the United States or in other places since your 16th birthday. Include any foreign military service in this part. If none, write "none." Include thename(s) of organization(s), location(s), dates of membership, from and to, and the nature of the organization(s). If additional space is needed, use aseparate piece of paper.
Seriously?

For anyone who knows me out there, can you imagine if I had to fill this out? From my 16th birthday on? I mean, just, wow. Combine the membership montages of both Election and Rushmore.

That'd be a start.

Also fun reading - the questions on page 3 of the document (scroll past long instructions). Really, they are great. I mean, I'm glad they ask, but, really, who checks yes, exactly? And if someone does, does he or she get a pass for being, like, super honest?

p.s. Bonus points for id-ing the source of this post's title quotation.

When Animals Attack, Vol. 513988798

Giraffe Attack!

Is it just me or is there little glory to be gained from telling THAT story later on.

"Yeah, I got rolled by a giraffe. It was pretty hardcore."

Monday, May 07, 2007

There's Movie Fodder In Here, I Know It

Queen Elizabeth Welcomed at White House

The Prez has already had one slip-of-the-tongue and I can only imagine more are coming. Frankly, his clean-up comment on the slip was kind slippy itself.

Hope he pulls off that white-tie thing well.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Best. Email. Ever.

*** DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS E-MAIL ***

The last processing action taken on your case

Receipt Number: WACxxxxxxxxxx

Application Type: I129F , PETITION FOR FIANCE(E)

Current Status: Approval notice sent.

On May 3, 2007, we mailed you a notice that we have approved this I129F PETITION FOR FIANCE(E). Please follow any instructions on the notice. If you move before you receive the notice, call customer service.

If you have questions or concerns about your application or the case status results listed above, or if you have not received a decision from USCIS within the current processing time listed*, please contact USCIS Customer Service at (800) 375-5283.

*Current processing times can be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov under Case Status & Processing Dates.

*** Please do not respond to this e-mail message.

Sincerely,

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)


This arrived on Friday. Two emails, actually, simultaneously delivered, each taking my breath away. I'd have posted the good news sooner, but, well, I had to, like, drink and stuff.

Thanks for the kind words of support offered in response to some of my more despairing posts. This is only the midway point of the process, but it was the longest, most frustrating part as well. We move now to the State Department. So long, Department of Homeland Security. I always knew you were a bad idea whose time had passed.

So anyway - for those curious, the brief overview of what remains is as follows:
1.) The petition needs to move from USCIS CSC to the National Visa Center - that's its first stop in magical State Departmentland. This is the remaining uncertain-duration part, assuming London remains its lately speedy self for a bit longer. It can take a few weeks. Lately its been taking around 20 days. We'll see.
2.) NVC has to send it to the London Embassy. This takes a few days. DHL delivers it. We can track it. Sometimes there are bizarre short delays getting London to check its mailbox.
3.) London gets the materials, gets them into the computer system, and get the actual visa application forms out to Rob. Being the superprepared genius that he is, he will return them nearly immediately.
4.) Rob will need to have a medical exam from a specified practitioner. No really. People always seem surprised by this requirement.
5.) London, having received the forms back from Rob, schedules an interview. He goes to the interview, hauling our mountain of accumulated evidence. They interivew, they, I hope, approve, and he leaves his passport there to have a shiny new visa pasted into it, and goes home to wait for the courier to bring it back to him.

On average, all of these steps have taken most people between 70 and 80 days. Of course, on average, most people lately have processed through CSC in 85 days. So, you know, take from all this guessing what you will.

(p.s. Remember in that last post where I said those saying "hang in there" would bear my wrath? Well, the same threat applies to anyone who offers a "see, not so bad" or a "see, now you're moving along," or a "bet it seems like no time now that it is passed." There are still thousands of couples who are currently or who will become stuck in DHS's inefficient web of soul-crushing frustration - most of them residents of the 37 states and one territory condemned to wallow at the California Service Center. It remains very much un-okay for a majority of Americans to received lesser services for their fee money. It remains fundamentally unfair and unAmerican. Do not for get these people. Do not forget my 111 days of nothingness. If you ever have the opportunity to change the situation, please take it.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Day 100

I feel like there should be a cake with candles or something.

Today is May 2, 2007. It also marks the passage of 100 days since I received my first notice of action from United State Citizenship and Immigration Services.

I'm past the 2.9 month processing average. Past the initial estimates. Past the point of being reasonable and remaining patient. Yet, what can I do?

The irony, of course, is that my desire to serve the public and remain involved with American government is what necessitates this process and Rob's coming to the U.S. And so what gets in the way? Yeah, annoying, right?

(p.s. I love you all for your supportive comments, but my eyes are not prone to receiving "hang in theres" or "but think of how good it will feel when it's over and he's heres." Because even when I'm through this process, the disparity between processing centers will remain, allowed to continue due to the fatigue of those who make it, and the powerlessness of those who don't. And besides, all I can feel is now. And I feel bad.)

(p.p.s. Anyone high enough in government to do something, if such a person exists, however, is free to contact me. Once he/she is done having a tea party with Harvey.)