Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego Burning

Well my friends, once again San Diego County is on fire, fires to the North of me having burned 145,000 acres and hundreds of homes, a fire to the South of me 20,000 acres and unknown how many homes, but one life has been lost in the area where it started, Potrero.

We're fine, I don't think that the fires are going to head my way, but I'm keeping my eyes open just in case.

A quarter of a million people have been ordered to evacuate, or have evacuated, you never can be sure which it is. But it's a big mess, a true disaster, you look at pictures of the wind whipping the fire, it just doesn't look real, but look at this slide show for yourself. Look at that picture, 16, fire from side to side. Look at some of those pictures of this huge billowing cloud of smoke looming, boiling, on the horizon. Look at that blood red sunset picture.

All real. I've seen that tower of smoke so many times in my life, but somehow the last couple of times have just been disastrous to the people of the county. I remember the Laguna Fire in '70 as a young lad, the air brown and thick with ash, I remember the Cedar Fire in '03, the flames creeping down the hillsides by my house, I remember the canyon behind my Dad's house burning every other summer fior some reason (damn kids and firecrackers, a cherry bomb one year I know because I heard it go off!) and let me tell you, this shit ain't no fun.

But that's how it goes, I always knew that summer was over when the fires started up in the mountains, that's just the cycle we live by in San Diego. Only when I was a kid nobody lived in those areas. Now, they either are subdivisions like San Diego Country Estates, or people building on their remote properties to get away from the subdivisions and housing tracts.

Right now people are setting up camp with their animals, horses and dogs and cats, you just don't realize how many people have horses in this area, but they're all over the place, there are just so many rural areas in San Diego, it's not just this big ol beach town and biotech metropolis at all. The High School by my house is setting up, I'm going to go take a look and see if they need stuff, I'll give an update when i get back.

For now it's all quiet, but like Sunday afternoon, it can go from nothng to something in a matter of moments. Right now they're evacuating the northern beach cities, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, so the Northern fire, the Witch Creek Fire, has gone from the mountains to the ocean in a day, not sure when it's going to stop. Pretty freaky.


Nobody needs stuff, everything seems pretty calm in my neck of the woods. That's it, not much of an update.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In Our Name, Do Not Try This At Home

Just picture this in your neighborhood, think about what that would be like in your own town, and consider how that might influence your neighbors thinking. I'll highlight the key sentence from this article.

U.S. forces backed by airstrikes raided Sadr City, Baghdad's main Shiite district, killing 49 militants on Sunday as they targeted a militia leader accused in high-profile kidnappings, the military said. Iraqi officials said women and children were among the dead.

The US military is bombing a city, just consider how that works in reality, try to picture yourself on the ground as these innocuous sounding "airstrikes" start falling all around you in the middle of the night.

It's not a particularly comforting image, and it's why we will never "win" in Iraq, not just because there is no description of what "winning" is, but because the Iraqi people will never accept the American presence in Iraq. Look at how long the Jews and Arabs have been fighting in Canaan, do you think the Iraqi's are going to forget what we are doing to them now?

We will be paying the price of Cheney's and the Oil Lobby's stupidity and greed and fear for a long time to come. Thanks to one and all who made this possible.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Why Democrats Lose Arguments

In response to Mary's post at the mothership, I commented on the article about why the FISA Telcon debate matters. And it's long so I thought to immortalize it here for my edification. With some editorial improvements or additions.

Frankly, I have a HUGE problem with Dean's article, or rather Solove's article.

Yes, it's fine as an intellectual exercise, an underpinning of the philosophical in a broader context.

But that's the god damned problem. It's why people think the Democrats are weak and feeble. And they are. Because they never get practical and down and dirty. They still don't tell people why "I've got nothing to hide" completely misses the point and why it matters to YOU.

Privacy is namby pamby amorphous bullshit. How about it matters because the government can use the information they gather to ruin your life? Give your confidential business affairs to your competitor? Twist your innocent e-mail into a rendition trip to Kazakhistan? Find out about your health issues and use that information as leverage to shut you up?

Suppose you're a random blogger, and the Bushites want to shut you up. You haven't done anything wrong. But they can use information gleaned by spying on you to make you late for a Doctor's appointment, or let your red necked boss know about your political activities, and he can fire you for some bs reason.
They could say, "Steve, we know what schools your kids are going to, we know who you work for, we know what things concern you the most, and we can make sure that those things happen to you."

"Congressman McNerny, we can ruin the business you built, we can make sure that freeway offramp goes by Mr. Issa's car alarm shop, we can find out your scheduled flight and get it cancelled, we can find out where those runaway Democrats went from the Texas Statehouse, and get one of them to switch his vote by threats and pressure and demonstrations of crossing Tom DeLay because look at what power he can access from the NSA, even though he hadn't done anything wrong."

They can threaten to expose reporters sources unless the reporter stops asking questions, it goes on and on and on.

Yes, Solove is correct, that defense only works when you assume that privacy is only used to hide wrong doing. And yes, a lot of what we do is nobody else's business, i.e teenage angst, And yes, a leering, lurking government watcher inhibits freedom of expression.

But that doesn't account for the practical abuses, and that's what the republicans specialize in. Remember, republicans are, at their core, stupid and/or ignorant (at least the ones we have to deal with today). They don't trouble themselves with high notions or concepts. They only want to know how they can make MONEY from the deal. Who is on your side and who isn't. Who is helping Blackwater set up shop in Potrero, and who is working to stop them

Give practical reasons for why this spying must stop. Not because it's wrong, and runs completely counter to the basic core of the Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights, which it is and which it does, but because they can use it to screw over innocent Americans who get in the way of their greed and lust for power.

Why do you think republicans always seem to get the best deals, the best contracts, the best jobs? Dumb luck? Because they earned it? Please.

So, to sum up, don't just make the philosophical argument, make the practical argument, and make the practical argument first, then buoy it up with the deeper underpinnings. I'm sure you all can think of real examples of how all that gathered information can be used against perfectly innocent Americans, so use them instead of the touchy feely weak ass stupidity that Democrats usually use and lose with.

Thanks, rant off.

Friday, October 12, 2007

San Diego's own Bush

I'm tellin ya, readers, the rest of you got nothin on San Diego.

Long ruled by Building Developers, we're finally getting to the point of unsustainability. Everybody wants to live here because of the weather, never mind the realities that make it possible to actually live here, like water and housing and infrastructure. There were plenty of jobs thanks to the Navy, airplane pioneers like Ryan and Lindburgh, Jonas Salk, and others. There was lots of open land to build on, and so we grew, and grew, and grew, 600,000+ when I was a lad to 1.2 million today, just for the city mind you, county population growth is even bigger.

Lots of changes, twists, turns, as America's Finest City has become Enron by the Bay. And you might have seen the sinkhole/landslide/slippage recently in La Jolla, up on Mt Soledad specifically, CNN had it I'm sure, and like all good teevee journalists, they showed the disaster, then left.

But what really happened there? Did this just suddenly appear overnight? Were there no warnings? Mountains (okay, it's a tall hill, covered in houses) generally don't just move on their own, so what preciptated the move? Mayor Sanders was quick to deny City culpability, that evil bastard City Attorney Mike Aguirre said we better look into it.

Could it be that maybe the developers have built in places they shouldn't be? Like on an earthquake fault, hillside slip zone? And could it be that the bought and paid for mayor, former Police Chief and Savior of the corrupt Red Cross of San Diego is working overtime to protect the developers and the city from assignation of fault? Because if the city gets assigned the blame, more questions arise, like who let them build there, who wasn't doing their jobs, and how much money did the developers spend to get their way?

Look at these e-mails and tell me that the City, and by extension, the Mayor, weren't aware of a looming problem on the Mountain.

The designated area of concern, the 5700 block of Soledad Mountain Road, is on the verge of possible catastrophic failure due to continual ground movement caused by an unknown condition...

Which is why they were letting a quarter million dollar sole source request for monitoring ground movement in the area, on 9/27/07. And the slide occured on 10/3/07, and the city's responses had been band-aid at best.

After all, they were getting reports about problems since June, there had been serious slides in the area in the past, and yet, the Mayor was vacationing, er, sitting in a classroom, sorry, lobbying in Washington DC when the slide occured, and nothing had been done to address the problem, or prepare for an inevitable problem.

So the next time you think you have it bad, think about San Diego. We have the worst President ever, the most evil Vice President ever, a horrible actor as Governor, and Mini Me Jerry Sanders Bush as Mayor, a real trifecta if there ever was one.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Corpirate America

I typo'ed that title but it seems appropo so I left it!

Looking for something to do? Strike a blow against the corporations. Just got a Cisco proxy material in the mail, perusing the Board of Directors to elect, I had recently decided to just vote no against all directors regardless, but then when I was looking at the list I thought that might dilute the impact of my no votes, so I did my due diligence.

Anything to do with Wal Mart ever, "No" vote. Stanford University, until they repudiate Rice, "No" vote. Bankers, "No" vote. Too many boards already, "No" vote (although none of Cisco's fell into that category. Michael Powell, "Noooooooo" hold on, can I vote twice?

Yes, that feckless, soulless, lever on Dad's soul, Michael Powell. They list the committees the members sit on, and guess what, Michael Powell doesn't sit on a committee. He just gets his $50,000 fee and $69,699 option award to do nothing, to show up at a couple of posh board meetings and agree with everybody else and pocket over a hundred grand.

So, my fellow ducklings, if you happen to own Cisco stock and get to vote your proxy, please vote no against Michael Powell. And should you happen to be at the shareholder meeting, ask them what it is that he did to earn that money.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Airport Security Isn't

This story just outrages, me as it does you all I'm sure. There's just no excuse for this kind of crap happening in this country, just imagine if that had been Bob Filner getting treated that way, as it probably almost was.

Authorities have said Gotbaum, who was handcuffed and shackled to a bench, may have accidentally strangled herself Friday.

Does that sound like a likely scenario, shackled to the bench and handcuffed she somehow managed to strangle herself?

Just another dead American to chalk up to the Republicans fear and cowardice and greed.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Free Trade with Columbia on CNBC

Yes, I'm still alive, faithful readers.

Just watched a bit of debate about the looming free trade agreement with Columbia. What I love the most is that the reporter had a pro and con and some business talkers on, and as soon as the con started talking, she, the reporter, had to talk over and interrupt her because she wanted to argue with what the woman was saying. Was I watching O'Leilly all of the sudden?

Say what you will about Jim Lehrer (I won't, much) but the strongest part of his show is that the reporters DO NOT become part of the report. When they do, they get axed, like Stuart Taylor did some years back to be replaced by Jan Crawford Greenburg.

Back to CNBC. The great Gen. McCafferty said, "Polls, schmolls" when asked to comment on the fact that the majority of Columbians oppose the agreement, because the business community is all for it. And we know who matters in the world, right, great General? Then some Wall Street guy started talking about how it helps keep cheap, low cost goods available for Americans. To which I say, WE ALREADY GET THAT POISON FROM CHINA, why do we need somebody else's?

Then the reporter was all happy, at which point I cursed the teevee and turned it off. Better Democrats, better reporters, how about better JOURNALISM SCHOOLS?