Friday, June 29, 2007

Court May Be 5-4-Crazy, But I'm Unanimously Peeved

Quite a year for the Supreme Court, not? Nothing but 5-4 decisions and crazy ones at that.

Then there's this ruling that seems to support a nearly throw-away comment in the bong-hits-4-jesus case that mentioned had the student's sign said "LEGALIZE bong hits 4 jesus," that would've been protected.

Ah. Fabulous, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

'Oropeza concedes party nomination to Richardson'

From The Daily Breeze:

Assemblywoman Laura Richardson won a two-month sprint to succeed the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald on Tuesday, besting a better financed and more experienced opponent with the help of labor and black leadership.

Richardson won 37.8 of the vote, to 31.3percent for state Sen. Jenny Oropeza. Millender-McDonald's daughter, Valerie McDonald, finished a distant third with 9.4 percent.

"I just thank God," Richardson said Tuesday night, from a party at the Home Depot Center's Stadium Club in Carson. "It's not just about money, and it's not just about the number of years you've served. It's about what's in your heart."
And what was in my heart: Congress is like a waaaay better gig. Way better. Tons. Job security forevs. Check ya later, term limits!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

'Gatekeepers of Hillaryland'

On a friend's recommendation, I looked up this piece on the women comprising Hillary Clinton's inner circle. Of particular note:

But among her own staff, she has cultivated a nurturing culture of collegiality and loyalty, a leadership style based in teamwork, and often favored by women, that values consensus over hierarchy.

"She never lets anyone criticize her staff," says Neel Lattimore, who was a spokesman for her in the White House. "The loyalty is a two-way street."
Criticism can be constructive, of course. Failing to recognize that criticism can be based in truth rather than in animosity - the presumption on which the second statement seems to be based - can kill a campaign pretty quickly. The article does address the oft-cited "bunker mentality" of the Clinton camp(s). Not satisfactorily. But it gets a hit.

Any thoughts on consensus vs. hierarchy? I have some. I'll come back to them later.

Monday, June 25, 2007

One More Immigration Story For Today

Ex-SoCal councilwoman could be deported for voting. Can you go through life not knowing you aren't really American? Sure you can. But she broke the law - let's kick her out! Oh wait, she's Cuban, we probably won't, because then the Communists would win!

(Note: I'd have used scare-quotes around the word "really" above, but that would've been anti-S&W. Would be nice if relative American-ness boiled down to paperwork, wouldn't it.)

But There Are So Many Other Good Reasons To Move, Why Use This One?

Public reaction to the proposal requiring all pets to be spayed/neutered unless owners obtain a permit to the contrary, features some interesting statements:

"I was born and raised here, but I will move if this law passes," said Kathryn Blink of San Carlos, whose Dalmatian was deemed the best in the nation in 2004. "I don't want to be a law-breaker. And I'm tired of being told what I can do with my property."
Get over it, you nut. Get Spot a permit and you're fine.

The rhetoric borrowed from other human policy areas is applied with laughable results in the article. Click on the link if you want a good laugh.

Dear California, You Don't Really Care About Protecting The Environment

Because if you did, you would pay more attention to the follow-up work required for enforcing all of the environmental protection laws you pat yourselves on the back for enacting.

Texas does. Do you like it when Texas does something better than we do on one of our issues?

Immi Woes Hit Cali GOP, Promting Nonsensical Reactions, Natch

So I don't get the reactions to the recent, quick resignation of the GOP's COO, an Reep from the land of OZ with history of immigration-related legal troubles.

Well, he WAS from Australia, isn't the whole outlaw thing kinda part of the culture? No? Bad joke? They can't all be winners.

At any rate, the guy gets slammed all over here, but there isn't much clear information yet on the underlying offenses that prompted the Aussie's arrest and deportation order. And he's suing the Feds, which seems to be the greatest sin of all. But if the arrest and deportation orders really WERE wrongly issued, then why would a suit be a sin?

Oh well. Good luck, GOP. This is why you might not want to take such a hardline approach to immigration issues. Lots of people - god-fearing, law-abiding, freedom-lovers - can have trouble with immigration laws. Shocking, isn't it.

There MUST be a lot more to this story.

Let's look for more - and let's ask flasy Fleischman about it: it seems based on his reaction along with others quoted in the Chron article, that the Party's party line will fall on the Aussie's act of concealing information from his employer, regardless of what the nature of that secret is. Fleischman is pissed that the Aussie didn't disclose past arrests or that he was suing the feds. I'm still especially unclear about the latter fact's importance.

Let's take a look at this in hypothetical terms. Say he was arrested mistakenly and the deportation order was improperly issued. There are about 1000 reasons I can imagine for this to occur. And I'm guessing 98% of my readership will never have to think about things like "gee, what could cause someone to get carted-off?" Consider yourself very, very lucky. Anyway - if it was all false (and I've seen nothing either way on the ACTUAL meat of the story) - why would you disclose it to your employer? You wouldn't.

UNLESS, of course, it was material to your employer's interests. There's certainly a strong argument for that here - given the GOP's [ed.'s note: largely unreasonable] take on immigration and their desparate need to be deathly serious about the matter at all costs and in all, all, ALL circumstances, then yeah, even your brush with mistaken law enforcement should be disclosed.

Nice mess for the CRP. I don't mean that in a celebratory way, either. Of course, if the eventual facts help open eyes to the problems with current immigration laws, then great. If they, as they very well might, make them want to hate immigrants even more, then, well, that's all we need, isn't it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sob-Worthy News Clip Of The Day

CNN asks: "Is Ralph Nader what's missing from the 2008 presidential race?"

Really? Bored already, guys?

This Kid Is Cool

High Schooler schools teachers on real estate: I don't usually go for the inspirational-kid-does-good stories, but this one seemed extra-ordinary and post-worthy.

Top Ten Things Not To Say To The California Electorate

The Peripheral Canal, like the South's need for water, may rise again. The storied and frequently revived only to be killed Canal gets the Capitol Weekly treatment in the above linked article. Couldn't help but chuckle at this choice quotation from Central Valley State Senatory Dean Florez:

It was never built. The Legislature approved it, but voters rejected it in 1982 in a package of water projects known as SB 200. Denounced by some environmentalists as a catastrophe-in-waiting for the Delta and many in the north state as a Southern California water grab, the canal died at the polls.

"But we're not in 1982 anymore. Things have changed. We've got a governor who is willing to take the lead. There are different players. We have municipal water agencies that are bigger, more powerful now than they were back in 1982. They understand that we are all connected in this state. In my district, this is life or death to them," said Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter. "This time," he added, "it could be done without the voters."
Oh man. That guy should've just lit a match and tossed it into a powder keg while saying, "really though, what could go wrong?" Is there anything California voters enjoy MORE than reminding their elected officials that their understanding of representative democracy emphasizes the democracy over the representation?

Californians LOVE killing things in the polling booth. Or creating things that kill members. We should call ourselves, collectively, Dr. California Frankenstein for all the little direct democracy oddballs we reanimate and experiment with.

I'm sure there's a joke in here about whether voters will give Florez the Shafter for his "neener neener we don't need you" attitude, but I won't make it here. Too easy.

Of course, on the article's substance, I'd hate to see some modernized take on California water management go down because it gets slapped with ever-effective "Southern Cali water grab!" hysteria. I used to buy that - until I realized how much water EVERYONE steels from EVERYWHERE else (Bay Area, I'm looking at you).

From a wonk-view, I'd love to see active debate over new canals and damns. Gets me as riled up as a good redistricting debate. But I don't think ANYONE is served by telling the voters they aren't needed. They always manage to hear that message loud and clear - and the seldom ignore it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

PL8 News

The California Memorial License Plate has raised some $7 million since it's 2002 creation. But none of it has been spent yet. The linked article touches on renewed efforts to bring home some of that cash for port security - a worthy cause spearheaded by Pedro Assemblywoman Betty Karnette.

No mention is made in the article of the balance of raised funds being held for scholarships for the children of 9/11 victims. I don't think that's been accessed yet either.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Stupid Claims Lawyers Shouldn't File

MLB Takes Fantasy League to Court:

Attorneys representing Major League Baseball argued Thursday that online fantasy baseball companies cannot operate without paying license fees to MLB to compensate players for the use of their names.

A federal appeals panel of three judges seemed skeptical that MLB could take financial control of a game that uses publicly available statistics and widely known names of players.

"MLB is like a public religion. Everyone knows (the players') names and what they look like," said U.S. Judge Morris Arnold. "This is just part of being an American, isn't it?"

MLB's lawyer Virginia Seitz said online fantasy games exploit players by effectively turning them into game pieces and using their names to draw more customers.

"There's no way of escaping the fact that players' names are on the product," Seitz said.
What if the fantasy players names all used the popular "schm" construct. So instead of drafting Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire, you draft Schmary Schmonds and Schmark Smcguire? Shouldn't you have to add the same to the statistics. Now batting schmreehundred?

Whoops: lawyers should never file clams either. They leave too much sand in the judge's in-box.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Scientists Discover Gigantoraptor

No, seriously.

Moore Bad Health News

Last night, I saw the premiere of Michael Moore's new film, Sicko, along with a theater full of legislators, legislative staff, lobbyists, and other political types and policy wonks. Moore himself was there as well, to introduce the film and answer a handful of (almost entirely friendly) questions after the screening. It was a good film. It won't pack houses like Fahrenheit 9/11, but it will be seen by its target audience, I'm sure.

I've discussed the screening and the film more thoroughly over at Metroblogging Sacramento, if you're curious. But one part of the movie warrants separate coverage here.

Moore's film begins by highlighting our failure in comparison to the rest of the world. According to he World Health Organization's ranking of the world's health systems, we come in at a shameful #37. This puts us, Moore is quick to point out with amusing visual hyperbole, just one mark above a butcher with a hack saw that is the primary provided for #38 Slovenia. Moore shows a graphic of the rankings. He focuses on a swath in the upper 30s that includes us and Slovenia.

Now, let me break for a moment to touch on the aspect of the movie getting the most media attention right now: Moore's trip to Cuba with a handful of ailing 9/11 rescue workers to seek medical care they've been unable to attain or afford here in the US. It's a classic Moore party trick and I think the film suffers for his lack of discipline. It wasn't needed. It detracts from his main message. But so be it.

The screaming, raging, head-scratcher of a problem?

Let's go back to that WHO ranking and the graphic shown with it at the start of the film.

To review, we've got the United States at #37, Slovenia at #38, and, why, who's that at #39? Let's look - I'll even circle it for you, in case you can't tell what I'm talking about:

Meet #39, our friend, Cuba.

Sloppy film making? Some broader message we're meant to deduce? Something that will come back to bite Moore's large message squarely in its uninsured butt? You make the call.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Obligatory Paris Reference

From the Chron:

Note that a failure to appear gets our little Delta Defendant 90 days instead of 45. And the judge certainly wasn't dainty in his no-really-I-mean-go-to-jail instructions.

Canadian Terrorists Free To Strike Again

The Feds suspended new passport rules requiring the documents for travel - by air - between the US and Canada, Mexico, and the Carribean because of an endless backlog and angered travelers who were having to cancel vacations [because they didn't see it coming].

One wonders how, exactly, this requirement really beefs up national security and remedies what was wrong with pre-9/11 world security measures.

Part of the problem with the backlog? Battle of the Big Brothers part 13453498908 as State and Homeland Security duke it out for who gets to be bitchier toward whom:

Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., whose district lies near the Canadian border, said White House officials had been on Capitol Hill trying to work out a compromise amid what he called a "turf war" between State and Homeland Security.

Reynolds faulted "arrogant" officials for failing to get the system working properly, and said he was worried about even more headaches next year when passports will be required to drive into Canada or Mexico.
By the way, the name of the measure requiring passports strikes me as another bright star in the sky of creepily-named laws: the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Make no mistake about how much of the world we control here, people.

When it comes to border crossings and required documentation, though, we already know that neither Department moves quickly, don't we.

Update: excellent quote -

"We are absolutely thrilled," said Jennifer Wilson, co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel, a $330 million luxury travel agency in Manhattan. "The backlog was too inhibiting."
Inhibiting? I know, laws, like, really blow and stuff, don't they. Especially when they interfere with luxury travel. Funny, when they change immigration laws and procedures, not too much grandfathering allowed there. But if we've learned nothing else this week in America, we've learned that if you have money, your complaints are much better received.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Town, Poised To Start Blowing It Again

"Wine shop put on hold at San Pedro loft space"

Dang it, y'all. Get it together! Seriously, enough with the bitching and debating about planning. There is good stuff. If you build it, they will come. But not so many "they" that you won't be able to get from here to there without sitting in traffic. In fact, the people who bitch the loudest, I have a sneaky feeling, are the least likely to be found in downtown San Pedro to begin with.

Monday, June 04, 2007

'Parents of TB Patient Are 'In Hell' - And Yet Still Not Getting It

These 'rents may think they are helping, but even if Speaker wasn't prohibited to board a plane to get to his wedding, their excuses for why he boarded one (again, kids, via Canada) are still weaker than an opera singers cough in act one:

Despite warnings from federal health officials not to board another long flight, he flew home for treatment, fearing he wouldn't survive if he didn't reach the U.S., he said.

The family said that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official told them the only way for him to get back to America from Italy would be to hire a private plane.

But the parents said they are not rich and could not have easily afforded a private jet.

"We work hard," said Betsy Cooksey, a school teacher and mother of Andrew Speaker's new bride, Sarah. "We're not in careers that are high paying."
Right, and so screw everyone else on that plane, right? And their families? And their health? Andrew Speaker was so worried about surviving he was willing to jeopardize others?

Someone should muffle these people before they attempt to excuse this incident again.

Spend, Spend, Spend

Via The Roundup, a story of irony in state politics (as if those are hard to find):

"State spending under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been growing faster than it did under former Gov. Gray Davis, who was ousted in a historic recall election driven mainly by a huge budget gap," writes the U-T's Ed Mendel.

"The new state budget proposed by Schwarzenegger would spend $103.8 billion in the general fund, which pays for most programs – an increase of more than 30 percent since he took office, about the same as the boost under Davis.

"But it took Davis five years to raise spending by about one-third. Schwarzenegger, who was elected in the fall 2003 recall, has done the same thing in four."
I'd laugh more if it all weren't so ignored . . . . .

And speaking of ignored - this is off-topic - I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow this morning at coverage of the weekend's Democratic presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire. Whatever news analyst was discussing the match-up commented that the front-runners, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards (ish, I suppose), managed to hold their own and not let the rest of the back gain any ground.

Um, call me a political journalism cynic, but isn't it the political journalists who determine if anyone in a barely broadcast New Hampshire candidate debate gain any ground? Do you really - really really - think that Clinton/Obama/Edwards performed THAT MUCH better than Dodd, Biden, Richardson, Auntie Maybel, whomever else may have been on the stage but who wasn't a primary variable in the expectation equation?

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

The slack-jawed awe with which poljourns wonder at the process makes me wanna boot.

And lastly for today - an immigration update: Because I haven't mentioned it in awhile, and I've received a few congratulatory emails about my fiance receiving his visa. He hasn't yet. The previous "approved" posts responded to approval from the Department of Homeland Security. We're now in Department of State land - where life is far, far better and more swiftly moving. We're still awaiting an interview date - and no I have no prediction for that date, nor his entry to the U.S. I don't speculate. As mentioned in the blurb above, I don't dig on the expectation game - in politics or in my personal life.