with 'politics' tag

but empty retail space is a dream

saeed farkhondehpour, developer of the medallion at 4th and main in downtown los angeles, plans to challenge the downtown women’s center’s plans to open a second-hand store because he thinks “a lot of people will not want to come shop near secondhand stores.”

so the toy district, where you can find blocks of stores selling nearly the exact same items, would somehow be tarnished by a second-hand store run by a non-profit organization in a space that is currently just a building behind an iron fence.

yeah, i don’t buy it.

an observer of his own legacy

one of the questionable habits i picked up in the run-up to the election is reading andrew sullivan’s blog at the atlantic. his thoughts about the recent interview with lame-duck president bush and how president bush seemed unable to take any responsibility for his own role for the failings of his presidency reminded me of monty’s thoughts on 5.1 being declared “generally available.”

yes we can

i voted!

go vote! i voted today. i had to wait in line for about 45 minutes (more or less — i forget to check when i was done).

don’t forget to vote, and don’t forget to vote no on 8.

vote no on prop 8

yesterday was write to marry day when many bloggers wrote about why you should vote no on proposition 8. there are many reasons to vote no, but the two that make voting yes pretty inconceivable to me are that it was only forty years ago that perez v. sharp was decided, which struck down california’s anti-miscegenation laws. those laws would have made my marriage impossible, and the idea that others in loving, committed relationships are still subject to the same bullshit makes my blood boil.

the other thing that makes my blood boil is that those at least some of the people supporting the initiative believe they are supporting family values of some sort. there are over 70,000 families in california where children have same-sex families. just read one story of the troubles they have because of their second-class status, and you will see how important it is that the parents in those families aren’t kept from being married.

screenwriter john august laid out his case for voting no on proposition 8 more eloquently than i ever could.

i bet he doesn’t like lutefisk, either

ashwin madia is an indian-american veteran of the iraq war running as a democrat for the house of representatives in minnesota’s 3rd district, where i grew up. i find it shocking that the republicans are using racially-loaded language in their campaign. madia has said he didn’t see any coded racism. reading the transcript, i am not convinced. it sounds like this is a tight race, so it is no surprise that it would come to these sorts of tactics. (video via angry asian man.)


i got snippy with brady this evening at a downtown los angeles neighborhood council “committee” hearing, and i am sorry about that. and really, i have a lot to thank brady for — he is helping to put in motion exciting things for both the community and me personally.

but i got snippy because once again a meeting devolved into a tussle over what the rules were, and what a committee can do, and whether this really was even a committee, and how it could become a committee, and what the composition of a committee should be.

all of which is spelled out very clearly in the bylaws and robert’s rules of order. you can even cheat and just read the “in brief” edition of robert’s rules.

it pisses me off to see the vp of administration, the closest thing that dlanc has to a parliamentarian, constantly cite undocumented “standing rules” as reasons to come up with more barriers for actually appointing members to the mostly-defunct standing committees.

and it is galling that the dlanc president still does not know how to count votes all these many months after one of the board members tried to school him. and makes jokes about it.

it is not about getting slowed down by a bunch of rules. it is about taking yourself seriously so that others will take you seriously. it is about realizing that if the neighborhood council wants to be effective in the broader political arena, it has to demonstrate some basic competence in its own meetings.

dlanc diversity and other issues

don garza speculated about the downtown los angeles neighborhood council board elections and complained about how his neighborhood is represented. no comment on the speculation, but as i have gotten more involved with the neighborhood council, i am more and more disappointed with how disengaged most of the business and social services stakeholders are. besides the planning committee, none of them are involved in any of the other board or ad-hoc committees.

i hope we can do a better job of reaching out to more business and social services stakeholders in the upcoming election, and get some people on the board who want to actually be involved. right now the executive committee can’t really take action because it has an over-representation of residential stakeholders, and the executive committee was unable to appoint members to the rules, bylaws and elections committee because that too would have been dominated by residents. (the bylaws prohibit board committees from being having a majority of any one stakeholder group.)

most of the board’s standing committees have fallen in status to ad-hoc committees because they don’t have the five appointed members necessary to constitute a standing committee.

as for the strangehold that people from the midnight mission have on the social services seats, perhaps the board should look at a bylaw amendment to restrict the number of seats that can be held by people from any one organization. even if you think the folks at the midnight mission are great, and even if they were engaged, i think it would be healthier for the board to have a more diverse composition.

fumble at the goal line

the draft special conditions for downtown filming have been made available for public comment, but i have to say i am tremendously disappointed about the method in which comments are being collected. the site says:

Comments must include the commenter’s full name and phone number for verification purposes. Multiple comments may be made by the same person or organization. Comments that do not contain verifiable contact information will not be recorded.

there is a long and rather proud tradition of anonymous or pseudonymous political speech in the united states (like the federalist papers), and this is very contrary to that.

it also totally fails to say who will be doing the verification of this contact information, or how the contact information may be published along with the comments in the future.

the way this is structured, a cut-and-paste feedback operation like the parents television council would be given more weight than cogent feedback from someone with good points to make but reasons for staying anonymous.

for example, let us assume that bert green or russell brown are reviewing these comments. now what if you are an artist who hopes to one day be represented by bert and his gallery (or his many friends in the downtown gallery community) — would you be comfortable sending comments that are critical of the conditions that bert has been so instrumental in drafting? what if you were someone looking for help in starting a new business from the historic core downtown business improvement district?

the public comments should speak for themselves. identifying yourself is simply part of the speech, it should not be a prerequisite for speaking at all.

go vote!

ten words, two movies

nacho libre: very sweet, quite funny, nacho!

an inconvenient truth: we are all boiling frogs.

go vote!

one can become quite detached from reality when one’s famous

the people’s choice by jeff greenfield is a novel about a presidential election where the president-elect dies in an accident shortly after the election — before he is sworn in. the vice president is a quayle-like dunderhead, and the constitutional quirk that is the electoral college comes into play. it’s a fun book, even if the ending isn’t totally satisfying.

american dreamz is a politics and pop culture satire mash-up, where a dimwitted president goes into a funk after being re-elected, starts reading the newspaper, and is put on happy pills so his cheney-esque chief of staff can whisper into his ear when appears as a guest judge on an american idol-like show. with a premise like that, it turns out to be a lot funnier than it should be. a lot of the reviews i’ve seen seem to have liked the iraqi contestant the most, but i think his american cousin steals every scene he’s in.


kjell hagen addresses the board the process of plopping a new police headquarters next to city hall in downtown los angeles ground a little further forward today, when the board of public works voted to approve the final environment impact report along with the waiver to go forward with unmitigated issues (like traffic).

my fiancée celia and i were there to lend our support. we tried to get one of the community members speaking to raise the example of how la gran marcha would have shut down the police headquarters at its new location, but he chose not to bring it up.

not a surprising outcome, but still a little disappointing.

(the picture is of kjell hagen, one of the founders of gallery row, addressing the board.)

like big rolling kegs

hedwig and the angry inch is a brilliant rock musical. hedwig is an east german transexual (almost — thus the angry inch) whose story is told in flashback as she tours with her band in venues in the shadow of the large concerts by the boy who spurned her and stole her songs. the songs are pretty much all works of genius, especially “the origin of love.”

syriana is a tight political thriller, and i think the rumblings about the complicated plot are largely overblown. it all pulls together in the end, and when i think people are responding to is the lack of clear good and bad guys. the performances are all stellar, and the direction is fantastic. there’s a scene involving an accident with a child that is just incredible in how it is handled.

rize is a documentary by photographer and music video director david lachapelle, and it was a real disappointment. it’s a chronicle of the clowning and krumping dance movements in south los angeles, and it veers from self-important and heavy-handed to not terribly interesting. the best-looking parts are entirely too good-looking, like clips from a music video. i think this was most disappointing because it could have been so good in the hands of a more capable documentary filmmaker.

go vote! go vote! my polling place was the midnight mission.

i find it a little humbling to have to walk past people living on the street to get to my polling place.

i wonder how many of my neighbors don’t vote because of that.

there’s an interesting little note in this story about the deal the bonaventure hotel owners are trying to cut with the city because they’re afraid the new convention center hotel being subsidized by the city may cut into their business — the bonaventure itself was subsidized. goose, gander, etc.

and as eric surmised, it appears all of the bonaventure’s saber rattling on this is to get leverage to do a partial conversion to condominiums.

i say hello

bowling alone: the collapse and revival of american community by robert d. putnam is a look at the decline of social capital in american culture over the last few decades. it is information-dense, but thought provoking.

i can’t help but feel to be an example of the sort of disconnectedness and disengagement that putnam writes about, but i think i am getting better at fighting against it. bettertogether is a project headed up by putnam, and this list of 150 ways to build social capital would make a fine todo list. and i’m even already doing some of them, like volunteering at the library (#75).

a small irony is that staying in on a friday night to finish the book isn’t a particularly social thing to do.

tony pierce wrote up his experience from last night’s politics of science journalism panel so i think that means i don’t have to. it was entertaining.

daniel c. dennett, a professor of philosophy at tufts university, dissects the intelligent design hoax in the new york times.

massive change by bruce mau and the institute without boundaries bears a certain resemblance to wired magazine in book form — very graphic, concise (and fairly shallow) text, and too-short interviews with some interesting people. lots of great photographs.

according to the washington post, bush says that intelligent design should be taught. i agree. it should be taught, and exposed as the totally bullshit ignorance and fraud that it is. that’d be putting some real education into the schools.

zócalo will be having one of their events at the dorothy chandler pavilion later this month, “is california governable? a conversation with gray davis, pete wilson, george deukmejian, and jerry brown.” that’s four former governors for the price of none — it’s a free event.

they also have an upcoming event with wonkette’s ana marie cox, and one at the california plaza with the editor-in-chief of the hollywood reporter and joel stein, everyone’s favorite hollywood-wannabe opinion columnist for the los angeles times.

matt welch has another good opinion piece on the los angeles times, this time about the city of los angeles and how it keeps handing money to poor hollywood companies. the title itself is pretty brilliant: “the rubes in la city hall have swallowed hollywood’s hard-luck story”.

go vote! i voted! i decided to not deal with heading to the polling place for the upcoming mayoral election, and voted by mail already.

somehow i doubt this will eliminate the campaign mailers and phone calls.

i guess sunday’s opinion section in the los angeles times was about transportation, because there were a number of interesting commentary pieces on the issue over the weekend: why free parking may be hurting; why tolls are the answer, not rail; how privatization could help, and why rail is a good long-term solution because it reshapes the landscape.

it takes serious cajones to call judges marxist and leninist and then adopt a quote from stalin as your own.

this is the sort of event that i hope gets lost in the history books, and doesn’t resurface as an example of how things got really bad.

california democrats have proposed cutting the gas tax and raising the sales tax to make up for it. what a staggeringly bad idea. it’s almost as bad as bustamante’s idea to have the goverment regulate the price of gasoline that he floated during the recall/governor election.

and lucky me, my state assembly member is the idiot who unveiled this stupid plan. (how is it that i keep living in the district where the assembly speaker is from? i lived in hertzberg’s district before moving downtown.)

go vote! go vote!

great quote from this article on the fight to cut cotton subsidies from the washington post:

“We have a farm program for two reasons, and cotton doesn't fall into either. One is food security for the American people and the other is national defense,” Grassley said. “Napoleon said an army moves on its stomach. I can’t eat cotton.”

the founder of go daddy has a blog where he says something very interesting about their super bowl advertising: “There was also one other benefit -- it’s tax deductible, so the Federal and State governments will pay a little more than 38% of the cost.”

advertising is tax deductible? what kind of insanity is that?

while i like the spoof-the-censors spirit of the commercial, i have to say i found it pretty weak, even in the extended version.

city of angels to adopt open source?

a few los angeles city councilmembers have introduced a measure to have the city study using open-source software, and putting the possible money saved towards hiring new police officers. it sounds like a great plan, and i hope to get around to writing my city councilmember soon to encourage her to support the motion.

speaking of my city councilmember, i have gotten four calls from her campaign in the last few days. one of them was actually from the councilmember herself (before this open-source motion came up) due to some sort of mix-up by her campaign staff that led her to believe i had some issue i wanted to discuss. as i was sucking on the world of warcrack pipe at the time, i was in no mood to talk to her. then today was call number four, and i pointed out to the caller that if they called me again, i would almost certainly not vote for her in the upcoming primary. (the only other call i’ve gotten is from the bernard parks mayoral campaign.)

wow. just wow.

“Thanks for that stupid woman that you call council member to vote against the baseball stadium. Do you really think that that dumbass jungle monkey and her socialist ways is going to win? Why are you people full of envy for upstarting and growing a community that needs something like this? No wonder so many of you kill each other, none of you don't have brains and feed off like animals. Nice job socialists!!!!” — e-mail to D.C. Council Chairman Linda Cropp at 8:26 a.m. on Dec. 15. quoted in the washington post

wow, that is so tremendously stupid it just boggles the mind. opposing public financing for the welfare queens of major league baseball is some sort of socialist policy? someone needs to pull their head out of their ass.

this commentary in the los angeles times attributes the decline in book readership to the rise of book prices (at least in part). i’m not sure i believe it is a significant component. the commentary neglects the impact of internet usage (which involves lots of reading and time).

but i do wonder what the trend of per-capita spending on libraries looks like.

oh, and of course the major thing neglected is the impact of amazon and other online retailers. book prices aren’t as high as they seem, especially not for books that have been out long enough to make it into the used market.

la weekly has a long article about ed reyes, los angeles council member, whose pet issue is affordable housing. (he had to take back what he said about fellow council member tom labonge.) i will fully admit that it’s not an issue that i’m intimate with, but seeing it phrased in terms like “developers must devote 12 percent to 15 percent of the project to affordable housing” make me think it is destined to fail. it does seem like a good way to encourage development outside of the city.

and on that note, the los angeles times recently had a story about los angeles residents buying out-of-state properties for rental, as a way of building up equity for purchasing a home in southern california. it makes a certain amount of sense, but of course you’re betting that your returns on the rental real estate will be better than what you could do with other investments. and as the article points out, you’re taking on the headache of out-of-state tenants.

arafat may have money stashed all over the place. maybe in two hundred years, there will be a movie staring a distant relative of nicolas cage where part of the map to the treasure is on the back of palestine’s constitution.

one hell of a candidate: a novel of politics by william f. gavin is set against the backdrop of a special election for an open congressional seat in a district in a southern state, where the seat opened up due to the sitting congressman going into a coma after suffering a heart attack. it’s a good and fun book, but it suffers from not having a real central character, and some rather foreseeable plot points. there’s more of a focus on the republican side of the race, with the democratic candidates falling into more obvious stereotypes, but the novel doesn’t really let anyone off the hook.


go vote! go vote!

i find it somewhat subversive that the google zeitgeist special edition - election 2004 (via jeremy zawodny) uses blue for bush, and red for kerry.

this los angeles times piece looks at people who summarize the ballot initiatives for friends. they mention steve friedl, whose blog i read every once in a while (it’s one of those i don’t follow closely, but sometimes click through to read from other people’s blogrolls), and his 2004 california ballot analysis is online. (no link from the la times article, of course.) i think i agree with most of what he has to say, although i would say no on 67, and am a little wobbly on 65 and 1A.

there’s a new site opposing software patents in the european union called, appropriately enough, no software patents! the very clever might notice that the domain is registered in my name (along with the .org and .net variants), which is just a side effect of how the project got initiated within mysql (whose position on patents is online, incidentally). my involvement basically ended at registering the domain names, and they will be getting transferred to someone else soon.

you only have a few more days to register to vote in california. (and probably too late to do it online, really — you should be able to register at a nearby post office or library). and when you do register (or if you are already registered), you should go sign up at voteornot.org for a chance to win $100,000. (and if you register using that link, i get a shot of winning $100,000 with you.)

charitable contributions, as percentage of adjusted gross income (tax year 2003 edition)

the cheneys beat me out by donating almost all of the royalties from mrs. cheney’s books to charity. (data for everyone who is not me comes from tax history project.)

and yes, that 23.9% is pretty absurdly high. that’s the result of turning around and donating most of last year’s tax refund to charity, and donating my used car to the eff. i suspect i’ll be back below the teens again for 2004.

reason has an interesting article about the drug enforcement agency’s microgram newsletter, now on the web, and puts it in the broader context of the government’s failure to compete in the marketplace of ideas on the internet, at least with regards to controlled substances.

send in the clowns

i don’t even remember the context in which it came up, but one thing that came up briefly in a conversation at foo camp was people who have way too much time on their hands for being a nuisance, like the folks who jump all over anything jeremy says.

the manchurian candidate (the original) is playing tonight at the arclight.

and by tonight, i of course mean tomorrow.


$2.4 billion for milk. this is the sort of thing that deserves more in-depth reporting. is the money really going to small farmers? there’s nothing in the criteria for eligible dairy producers that indicates that is the case, although there is a cap on the amount of milk (2.4 million pounds) that will be price-supported annually. but from what i can tell, that is below the production of an average-size dairy farm.

how dell got soul (via evhead) is an interesting profile of how dell re-examined its corporate culture when its growth decelerated a few years ago. key paragraph:

“I realized that we had created a culture of stock price, a culture of financial performance, and a culture of ‘what's in it for me?’ throughout our employee base,” says [Kevin] Rollins, who this year became Dell's chief executive officer. “There had to be something more in this institution that we loved and enjoyed than just making money or just having a stock price that went up.”

ken layne makes a great point in saying that what the cable news networks cover doesn’t reflect what bloggers write about (or vice versa). on the television, it’s all dead pregnant women all the time, and to bloggers, it’s all about the politics. (ignoring, of course, the vast majority of bloggers who just write about personal stuff for their small circle of friends. or their cats.)

counting people

this article about a protest against bush in cuba, lead by castro caught my eye because the lede said it consisted of hundreds of thousands of people, and it turns out the official claim is 1.2 million people. the population of the havana area is 2.6 million. surveying the news reports, the only comment on the 1.2 million number was that it “appeared possible”. right.

california state senator william “pete” knight, author of the (passed) state proposition recognizing only marriage between a man and a woman, and whose son got “civil unionized” in vermont, on gay marriage: “This is the biggest public policy issue since slavery,” Knight said, his voice rising. “I don't believe that the judges or the Legislature ought to be making that decision. It ought to be the people of the country deciding.”

the more i think about it, the more astounding it is to me that someone opposed to gay marriage would even invite that comparison.

liz marlantes on the mclaughlin group

to assuage my guilt about the daily show with jon stewart being my only source of news and political commentary, and because i enjoy the show, the pbs version of the mclaughlin group is one of my tivo season passes.

it is a shame that the two most frequent and vocal panelists on, tony blankley and eleanor clift, are such one-note partisan hacks. i’m not sure that liz marlantes has much more to say (in particular, one of her answers to a question this week seemed to be little more than a long-winded restatement of the question), but i’m willing to endure more screen-time from her to find out.

that’s me, taking one for the team. or something.

(side note: i found pat buchanan to be a surprisingly entertaining panelist. oh, and it’s not quite true about the daily show being my only news source. i also read the week.)

electronic voting print-outs

as suspected, some misguided folks oppose mandatory voting receipts as wisely required by california secretary of state kevin shelley. people like mischelle townsend, voter registrar of riverside county, should be bounced from office for not recognizing the very real problem demonstrated by the likes of the diebold voting machine shenanigans.

what happened to the greens?

peter camejo got 213,087 votes in the recall election. he got 381,700 in last november’s general election.

did the greens not turn out to vote? did they try to throw their support to bustamante? do the greens normally benefit from an “anyone but the republicrats” crowd that instead went for the plethora of other candidates?

the other third-party candidates took an even greater dip in the recall vs. the last general election, and overall a smaller percentage of voters went for someone other than schwarzenegger, bustamante, or mcclintock than went for a third-party candidate in the general election.

the big loser in the election? todd richard “the bumhunter” lewis. 172 votes.


go vote! go vote!

how i voted:

i watched the california recall debate last night (most of it, at least — i started to lose interest towards the end), and i agree with the one thing i think everyone agrees on: mcclintock put in a solid performance, whether you like his politics or not. i did not expect much from arnold, and was not at all disappointed. whereas bustamante, camejo, and mcclintock were all pretty good about easing from the question (or topic they’d jumped into the middle of) to what they really wanted to say, arnold seemed to clumsily lurch from the topic to his prepared punchline. and arianna was just nuts, but certainly helped make the whole thing entertaining.

i haven’t decided who to vote for in the recall, but i feel a little more prepared in making the decision by having watched the debate.

why bustamante is unelectable

he called for regulation to treat the gasoline industry like a public utility.

budgeting at the ballot box

michael hiltzik of the los angeles times writes about proposition 53 and the continued efforts to budget via state initiative in california. the ballot initiative, which will be on the october ballot along with the recall meshugas, would require that 3% of the state budget be used to finance the construction and upkeep of infrastructure projects (bridges, roads, parks, school buildings and hospitals).