Free Will Voting Guide: San Francisco Edition

November 2nd is almost upon us. Time to bust out the San Francisco Voters Guide and figure out how to vote on the 14 city propositions (actually they're called "measures") the voters have been tasked with deciding. Yes, there is such a thing as too much direct democracy.

Measure AA: would add $10 to car registration fees for vehicles registered in SF to fund "transportation projects." Dare I ask if these are "shovel ready" projects? There's a similar proposal to fund state parks on the state ballot, but with that one there's at least a trade-off: free admission to the parks for vehicles that paid the fee. No such "deal" here, of course. NO

Measure A: a $46 million bond to pay for earthquake retrofits for certain types of structures (mostly old residential buildings with a large groundfloor opening like, gulp, the one where Free Will is located). San Francisco is famously earthquake prone, yet it's filled with old buildings. Indeed, it's difficult to tear down and replace one. So, the City tends to just pay for retrofits. The opponents of this measure like to say insane things like "behind the mask of earthquake retrofit sit a group of very wealthy and greedy multimillionaires who refuse to repair their highly profitable slumlord hotels and apartment houses." Spare me. YES.

Measure B: the most heavily opposed measure this cycle. "No On B" flyers started appearing in my neighborhood two months ago with all sorts of dire warnings about "lost" health care. What this really is is a measure to increase the City employees' contributions to their pension plans and decrease the City's contributions to their health plans. This is the sort of thing we need to do around the state and around the country, so this will at least give us an idea of the appetite the voters have for this sort of thing. The City workers hate it, of course, and are putting a lot of time and effort into defeating it. YES.

Measure C: would require the Mayor to appear before the Board of Supervisors. They've tried to do this before, no doubt inspired by Britain's "Question Time." Should we make the mayor wear a powdered wig, too? NO

Measure D: would allow non-citizen residents of SF to vote for members of the local school board. The schools have enough problems. NO.

Measure E: would allow for Election Day registration for municipal elections. Also, would not require voters to show ID to prove they hadn't previously registered. No chance for fraud there! Sheesh! NO.

Measure F: something about reforming the way people are elected to the Health Services Board. The two most progressive members of the Board of Supes are opposed, so the choice is clear. YES.

Measure G: did you know that the City Charter guarantees that the City's bus drivers be paid the second highest wage in the country? Amazingly, the transit system is terminally beset my budget shortfall and system delays. G would change that "system" and replace it with a standard collective bargaining system. The drivers hate the idea. YES.

Measure H: would prohibit local elected officials from serving on the local political party's central committee (and let's face it, this is a problem only for Dems and Greens). I can't really bring myself to care, but the mayor says the current system allows people to avoid ethics rules for elected officials by submitting themselves to the less exacting standards of their party. I like to think this will be a headache for some liberal somewhere. YES.

Measure I: would allow for Saturday voting in the November 2011 election. Gotta say, it makes more sense to vote on Saturdays, rather than Tuesdays. YES.

Measure J: the first of a matching set (K is the doppelganger). This would raise the hotel tax to 16%. Since hotels are SF's version of the golden goose, this is lunacy. NO.

Measure K: would NOT raise the hotel tax, but would make some other changes set out in J (the hotels must collect the hotel tax from residents, only individuals can be "permanent residents" in a SRO). That's more like it. YES.

Measure L: would prohibit sitting or lying on a public sidewalk between 7 AM and 11 PM. This is yet another attempt by the City to try to control the homeless population by making it difficult for them to set up camp wherever the hell they please. Naturally, all "right thinking" (meaning "wrong thinking") people are against this Nazi-esque attack on the downtrodden by Mayor Newsom's brownshirts. Opponents like to say this is unnecessary, all you need to do is enforce existing law. Problem is, no one enforces existing law. It's a farce, and voting on this is a waste anyway, since it will be struck down by a local judge forthwith. Still, it's a small stand in favor of civilization. YES.

Measure M: oooh. This one's a "poison pill." The voter thinks that this is a means of setting up a system of police foot patrols, but buried in the bill's language (which no one reads) is a provision that says L won't go into effect if M passes. (and if M passes, I guarantee you won't be seeing any foot patrols, either). NO.

Measure N: would increase the City's property transfer tax. That's easy. NO.

The Frayed Ends of Sanity: the John Stewart Rally

Comedy Central's "Rally to Restore Sanity" ended without incident, and apparently without a point. What can you expect from a bunch of self-proclaimed "moderates" who don't think Obama has been liberal enough(!) and who think it is the height of moderation to feature a performance from fatwa-supporting Yusef Islam (nee' Cat Stevens), and have him appear in a comedy bit featuring Ozzy Osbourne and the O'Jay's? Ann Applebaum, for one, despairs of what this will mean for the political reputations of political moderates, especially when these moderates are meant to include the hordes bused in by Arriana Huffington, not to mention the sort of jerks who carry signs featuring Glenn Beck with a Hitler mustache:
This is how words, and then ideas, vanish from our political lexicon: Whatever connotations it once had, the word "moderate" has now come to mean "liberal" or even "left-wing" in American politics. It has been a long time since "moderate" Republicans were regarded as important, centrist assets by their party: Nowadays, they are far more likely to be regarded as closet lefties and potential traitors. "Moderate" Democrats, meanwhile, no longer exist: In their place, we have "conservative Democrats." Nobody pays attention to them either -- unless, suddenly, one of them threatens to vote against health-care reform. And then he is vilified.
She's right about political moderates, especially those in politics and the media who have either proclaimed themselves as belonging to that special breed or professed to admiring them from afar. Maybe there was a time when "moderate" meant "Gerald Ford" on the one hand and "Scoop Jackson" on the other. But moderates are fast leaving the stage and they have no one but themselves to blame. Just the fact that Applebaum approvingly cites Mike Bloomberg as a moderate should be a clue. The man is a trimmer who uses party ID as a flag of convenience and nothing more, but his meddlesomeness (no salt?) marks him out as a Big Government liberal, no matter how wealthy or sophisticated he might think he is.

But, Bloomberg is just the tip of the moderate iceberg. In the last few years, so-called moderates have been behind some of the worst moments in American politics.

There were Arlen Spector, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins voting to pass the failed stimulus.

There were "conservative" Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu providing the final votes for health care reform based on frank political pay-offs.

There was "pro-life Democrat" (what a cruel joke) Bart Stupak who helped pass health care reform and then promptly retired rather than face the wrath of his constituents.

There were the sour grapes GOP moderates like Bob Bennet and Mike Castle who couldn't get out of the primary and then refused to endorse their party's nominees, something they wouldn't countenance if the situation was reversed.

There was Lincoln Chaffee who remained a Republican solely to provide cheap "GOP civil war" headlines for the media.

There was Arnold Schwarzennegar who ran on a campaign to shrink government...and expanded it, passing a high speed rail boondoggle, a cap & trade bill, and enough job killing legislation to ruin his state's economy.

There was Bob Casey, another "pro-life Democrat" who voted for health care reform.

There was Lindsay Graham who spent more time defending the civil rights of terrorists than defending the American soldiers tasked with fighting them.

There was the grotesque Charle Crist who has made the most brazen grab for power in recent years. Is there any doubt that if Crist were a south of the border caudillo that he would have had the army arrest Marco Rubio months ago? The only thing worse than Charlie Crist is knowing that he is the first choice of at least 20% of Florida voters.

Then there's the moderate voters, to whom some of the worst moments in politics have been directed because strategists on both sides know it's easier to stampede moderates with Willie Horton, James Byrd, Bushhitler, and "I can see Russia from my house" rather than appeal to their supposed wisdom and pragmatism.

And never forget that TARP was passed by moderates in both parties- the chest beating "party of the common man" Dems as well as the fiscal conservative "party of free markets" - while the Left and the Right joined in rare accord against the rip-off.

But, worst of all, there was Barack Obama, who declared himself a post-partisan from "purple" America who promised to unite the country under a fluffy cloud of reasonableness and sanity...and passed the most left-wing agenda in decades over the fierce objections of a plurality, if not a majority, of the citizenry.

These are the moderates whom Applebaum despairs of losing, and whom the Steward rally was supposed to be helping to save. But the atmosphere of the rally gave the game away by showing how little you can trust someone who declares moderation uber alles as the beau ideal of American politics. This was a political rally, held the weekend before an intensely contested election...yet its organizers disclaimed any political intent. They declared themselves to be representing the missing moderate middle...yet they spent the day telling jokes. We are constantly told how John Steward is a deep thinking, scary smart analyst, beloved by the culturally crucial urban hipster demographic...yet he admonishes us that he is "just a comedian." And., of course, there's plenty of time for Glen Beck=Hitler/Sarah Palin=I'm with stupid/Christine O'Donnell=masturbating witches jokes...but somehow not enough time for jokes about the other side.

If you are confused, you are meant to be. Liberalism only survives when it can confuse people, and maintain what Thomas Lifson has called the liberal trance.
Having made the journey from liberalism to full-throated conservatism myself, I recognize the importance of this particular revelation. It is the key to opening a mind to rethinking other assumptions about politics. It breaks the trance, so to speak, which keeps many otherwise thoughtful, intelligent, caring people enmeshed in the delusions of modern American liberalism. To these liberals, membership in the cadre of caring, enlightened, public-spirited Americans defines what it means to be a good and responsible member of the civic community.

The overwhelming focus on caricaturing and demonizing conservatives as racist ignoramuses is based on a pragmatic understanding of the importance of maintaining this trance. Because liberal ideas manifestly fail when implemented, the liberal trance is the only way to maintain the allegiance of intelligent liberals to the cause. This is why academia, media, and other liberal hotbeds are so intolerant of conservatives. They fear that real and prolonged exposure to the vibrancy and humanity of modern American conservatism will bleed away the most thoughtful liberals from the cause.
Political moderation has always been derided more as a pose than a philosophy, a way to get things done and do the deal. But right now, political moderates have no place in a world where the Democratic Party has moved decisively to the Left and so many Americans have been radicalized by the assault on their liberties, much of it enabled by the moderates whom they had trusted to protect them and their Constitution.

The Wave Reaches San Francisco: Pelosi To Resign?

I've been readin' in the newspapers that this year's election is some sort of "wave" election that will see dozens of Dems forcibly retired after they tried to turn the United States into Holland. You wouldn't know it if you live in San Francisco, since our congresswoman is barely campaigning against her feisty opponent, John Dennis. But now, word's come down that she will resign her seat should the GOP take over the House. Wow, miracles do happen

Assuming that the Republicans take control of the House in the next session of Congress, what will happen with current Democratic leadership? Usually after an electoral debacle, the remaining members of the caucus want fresh voices at the top to recapture credibility with voters. Most Speakers don’t stick around Congress at all, and some speculation in Washington has Nancy Pelosi looking for greener pastures rather than suffer the humiliation of returning to back-bencher status. CQ Politics looks through the smoke signals, via Yahoo:

Democrats on Capitol Hill and K Street are increasingly convinced that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have little interest in being Minority Leader — and may start preparing to leave Congress altogether — if Republicans win the House next week.

Pelosi and her allies adamantly refuse to entertain questions about a possible Democratic minority. But Democratic sources say they have a hard time imagining the 70-year-old, independently wealthy California Democrat would want to return to the less-powerful post that she held for four years before becoming Speaker in 2007, particularly after having spent the past four years driving the Congressional agenda.

Fantasy time: if Pelosi resigns, could a Republican governor appoint her replacement? Ah-nuld's term expires on Jan. 3, 2011, after all. Sadly, fantasy will not be reality because congressmen must be replaced via special election, rather than appointment.

Still, San Franciscans will be going to the polls on Tuesday with the idea of voting for Nancy Pelosi (hard as it may be to believe). It seems a bit of a cheat for her to run for an office that she will immediately resign from. I say, make her keep her backbench status at least for a little while.

Btw, one of the surprising lessons of this election cycle is that the formerly feisty, bold & brassy feminist pols of my younger days have suddenly become...old.Barbara Boxer is 69, Pelosi is 70. Happens to all of us, I know. But, whenever progressives start talking about the tired ideas of the past, they might try looking in the mirror sometime.

I Don't Need Your Civil War: Party Unity My A**

Sorry for the light blogging, but a combination of work obligations and a downed internet connection have played havoc with my schedule. Anyway, as Althouse noted there is not that much political news out there this week, odd as that might seem. (Kentucky Headstompings don't count). While I gather my thoughts, go ahead and read a couple long, worthy pieces about the "true" nature of Obama

First, here's an open letter from Hillbuzz to Rush Limbaugh (h/t Ace) about the under-the-radar civil war in the Democratic Party. Dude claims there are "millions like me" who were turned off by the results of the 2008 primary, such that they will never vote Democrat again. That explains why McCain lost the election! (rim shot) I sure am getting tired of all of the "conservative" Democrats and "moderate" Republicans who were so cocksure that voting for Obama (and supporting Big Government causes in general) was the pathway to bliss and enlightenment and limited government/free market conservatism is the philosophy of bitter clingers. Still, it's an effective polemic:

During the campaign, Donna Brazile famously said that the Democrat Party no longer needed the people Obama once described as “bitter, religion-and-guns-clinging, Midwesterners”. Brazile took this further and said, outright, that the Democrat party did not need blue-collar white voters, the Jacksonian voters, the Hillary voters, because the party was “Obamafied” and would win elections for generations with the Obama coalition of blacks, Leftist elites, Hispanics, low information gay voters, and self-hating Jews.

This is all the Democrats have left, Rush.

Speaking from personal experience, as someone who has worked in fundraising for over 10 years and who has been a part of every presidential campaign since 1992, the Democrats have permanently alienated tens of millions of people who normally turned out reliably every year not just to vote Democrat, but also to write checks and otherwise participate in campaigns.

No more. Never again.

Second, there's this transcript of Hugh Hewitt interviewing Stanley Kurtz, author of Radical in Chief, who has researched Obama's Eighties intellectual milieu and concluded that Obama is a socialist. Kurtz isn't some Corsi-esque bomb thrower, either. He actually managed to gain access to the archives of some of the leading socialist organizations and front groups from back in the day. I've already put a hold request for a copy at the library, and will give you a report as soon as I am able. In the meantime, you should check out the interview:

HH: His roots in Alinskyism, Stanley, is what I was writing about this morning at Alinsky preached pick a target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. And Obama lived that. Thus I’m not surprised to hear him on the campaign trail say, for example, this about Latinos.

BHO: Well, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to see how well we do in this election. And I think a lot of it is going to depend on whether we still have some support not only from Democrats, but also Republicans. But they’re going to be paying attention to this election. And if Latinos sit out the election instead of saying we’re going to punish our enemies, and we’re going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us, if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder. And that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2nd.

HH: Punish our enemies, reward our friends. And then the President says this about Republicans.

BHO: We’ve got to have middle class families up in front. We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can go, come for the ride, but they’ve got to sit in back.

HH: Now that, Stanley, it makes so much more sense to me after I read your book. And especially as I get to the end, that the President’s long term strategy may be in fact to force a class-based realignment of American politics. And Alinsky would teach you, and the President would personify that by personalizing, objectifying and angering people about other people in America.

SK: Well, that’s right, Hugh. You’re absolutely right. And I go over this in many ways and at many points in the book. And I can’t tell you, Hugh, how many times during my research I ran across this notion of the enemy. The Alinskyite organizers, who were Obama’s mentors and colleagues, just constantly used this word enemy. And now I do mention this a few times in the book, but I made a conscious decision not to make too much of it, because maybe people wouldn’t believe or be persuaded by my constantly mentioning how they harped on this word. But it was almost a slip, I think, because he had to be used to hearing that all the time from his friends and colleagues. But the larger point is that this Alinskyite tactic of polarization has been put within the context of a long term socialists strategy for realigning the Democratic and Republican parties along class lines. This was the holy grail of the modern American socialist movement as Obama grew up in it. And the way it works is roughly like this. You launch a series of attacks on particularly business interests, and you treat them as enemies, whether you use that word or not. You try to drive them out of the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party. Now that might seem crazy. Why would anyone want to drive someone out of their party? But the other side of the coin is that once you start these anti-business attacks, you jump start a populist movement, an anti-business populist movement of the left. And those people start pouring into the Democratic party. Then, allied with that, you do a similar sort, you run a similar sort of polarization strategy with Latinos and blacks. And you assemble a rainbow coalition of radicalized minorities along with economic populists, with heavy participation from unions, especially public sector unions. And in this way, you try to activate the left into a kind of movement, into a kind of replay of the 60s, but this time grouped around economic populist issues. And with the business interests in the Republican party, and the what you might want to call the have-nots gathered in the Democratic party and activated, America is polarized along class lines. And the theory of Obama’s mentors and colleagues was that over time, the have-nots, once they were divided by class from the haves, would inevitably drift towards socialism.

Oracle: California's Governor's and Senate Races

The election is one week away, but the conventional wisdom in California's two headline races is beginning to harden, if not curdle. Meg Whitman is going down in the governor's race, while Carly Fiorina is still in position to grab Barbara Boxer's Senate seat away.

The Republican woman who has the best chance to win in California on Nov. 2 is not billionaire Meg Whitman, who has spent more than $140 million of her own money to make sure every living thing knows who she is. It's Carly Fiorina, another former Silicon Valley CEO with thinner pockets but a looser campaign style who has drawn incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer into a dead heat.

The two Republican candidates have not campaigned together, but when they have appeared at the same event, it has been Fiorina who gets the attention, pounding a shot of Tequila and letting loose a rolled-r trill at the Hispanic 100 Lifetime Achievement Award dinner in Newport Beach (Orange County) this month.

Even as Fiorina piggybacks on Whitman's high-tech ground operation to mobilize voters, her campaign is betting that she won't be sucked down with Whitman should the former eBay CEO lose the race for governor to Democrat Jerry Brown.

Well, if I had to choose one, I would definitely take Fiorina beating Boxer over Whitman beating Brown. Sure, Jerry Brown is a doctrinaire liberal who has managed to hide his most liberal tendencies through a combination of strategic inaction and MSM cover, but Brown is also an impressive person: smart, thoughtful, and idealistic. Even the Free Will mother, a real Goldwater Girl and Reaganite, likes Jerry (she likes him personally, I hasten to add. She would never vote for him). There's an outside chance that Jerry very well could reform and shrink California government because he's too honest to keep papering over the state's unsustainable budgets. It could happen, but he's going to lack any real Republican foil with whom to strike any kind of grand bargains. Instead, Brown will be working to reform state government with the very interest groups, especially unions, environmentalists, and open borders types, who have done so much damage already.

Barbara Boxer, on the other hand? No redeeming qualities. Not only is she obnoxiously partisan. Not only has she embraced the farthest left-wing causes imaginable up to the unthinkable: assisting the treasonous Code Pink in their efforts to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Not only is she not nearly as smart as she thinks she is. She has done real harm to the state with her endless championing of hard-line environmental laws, often based on faulty politicized science. Defeating Boxer would not just be a necessary tonic for civil discourse. It can also provide the gentrified environmental movement with a rare, and much needed, defeat.

BTW, the pre-mortem on the governor's race is solidifying around something like this: sure Jerry Brown is a tired re-tread who will have trouble surviving the next 4 years, but it was fatal for Meg Whitman that the person presently in the governor's chair is a Republican widely seen as a failure. That only tells half the story and should be a real wake-up call to would-be moderate Republicans. The Governator - it can be hard to remember this - was the beneficiary of a recall campaign that was a real grassroots awakening in reaction to a liberal elite in Sacramento that was seen as too spend-happy and tied to the unions. While things weren't quite like the Tea Party, it was very similar both in enthusiasm and motivation. There was genuine excitement in state politics for a couple years, but ultimately Schwarzenegger lost his nerve. It was one of the great missed opportunities in living memory, and it hopelessly muddled if not ruined the GOP's reputation in CA, no matter how many times conservatives roll their eyes and make little rabbit ear motions with their fingers when they call Schwarzenegger a "Republican."

Government wants to grow and accumulate power to itself. When Republicans manages to win majorities on a promise to shrink government, the window is often pitifully small. And when they choose to moderate in pursuit of ephemeral compromise with foes who would never offer the same in return, they lose. November 3 Republicans would do well to remember that.

Conflict Of Vision: S.F. Homeless Politics

As usual, San Francisco has an initiative on the ballot, which would authorize the SFPD to arrest or cite people if they sit or lie on the sidewalk for too long. The idea is to clear the City's sidewalks of layabout bums. Of course, you could do this by enforcing existing laws, but we don't like to do things simply around here. The left-wing Bay Guardian has taken up the flag to defend the homeless from the depredations of the law. As the Guardian thinks the homeless are the unelected legislators of the world, their white-washing of the homeless is a wonder to behold (although actual washing would be preferable).

The impetus for the sit/lie law comes from the behavior of the gutter-punks who sprawl all over the Haight (they've pretty much replaced the hippies). But the Guardian says the kidz are actually all right:

I've been hanging out with the Haight Street kids. Over the course of a week or so, I smoked weed, drank malt liquor, witnessed nasty run-ins with police officers — all events that anyone who has walked down the sidewalks of that legendary street would expect. But I also met people who'd give away their last dollar to a friend, people who know a thing or two about community, and people who don't see sidewalks only as thoroughfares to commerce.

Ironically, though the homeless kids on Haight are the explicit inspiration for Proposition L, the sit-lie measure on the Nov. 2 ballot, their voices have been significantly absent from the vitriolic debate on its merits and faults. Ironic because of all people, it's these young men and women — and the citizens of San Francisco who interact humanely with them — who could teach us the most about what public space in San Francisco could be.

Not only that, the Guardian says that the City will lose its creative brio (the Soul of the City!) because no one will want to move to a place with a sit/lie law. This is classic stuff:

Most of the stories in this special anniversary issue are about marginalized youth — young people trying to survive and make their way against all odds in an increasingly hostile city and a bitter, harsh economy.

But there's an important difference about San Francisco today, something earlier generations of immigrants didn't face. The cost of housing, always high, has so outstripped the entry-level and nonprofit wage scale that it's almost impossible for young people to survive in this town — much less have the time to add to its artistic and creative culture.

I met the 21-year-old daughter of a college friend the other day. She's as idealistic as we all were. She wants to move to San Francisco for the same reasons we did and you did — except maybe she won't. Because she felt as if she had to come visit first, to use her dad's network, see if she could line up a job and figure out if her likely earnings would cover the cost of living. When I mentioned that I'd just up and left the East Coast and headed west, planning to figure it out when I got here, she gave me a look that was part amazement and part sadness. You just can't do that anymore.

The odds are pretty good that San Francisco won't get her — her talent and energy will go somewhere else, somewhere that's not so harsh on young people. I wondered, as I do every once in a while when I'm feeling halfway between an angry political writer and an old curmudgeon: would I come to San Francisco today?

Would Harvey Milk? Would Jello Biafra? Would Dave Eggers? Would you?

If you were born here, would you stay?

Are we squandering this city's greatest resource — its ability to attract and retain creative people?

So that's fantasy. Here's reality:

Creative Class!

How can we live without this guy?

Who is your City?

The next Jello Biafra?

This could be you!

PC Re-runs: Clarence Thomas, Redux

Batten down the hatches, boys. The Washington Post "Style" section is reporting that Lillian McEwen is "breaking her silence" and is finally prepared to tell her story...

Whatddaya mean, who's Lillian McEwen?? Now I know who I don't want on my team for Anita Hill Trivia Night at the Old Ebbit Grill:
For nearly two decades, Lillian McEwen has been silent -- a part of history, yet absent from it.

When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his explosive 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Thomas vehemently denied the allegations and his handlers cited his steady relationship with another woman in an effort to deflect Hill's allegations.

Lillian McEwen was that woman.

At the time, she was on good terms with Thomas. The former assistant U.S. attorney and Senate Judiciary Committee counsel had dated him for years, even attending a March 1985 White House state dinner as his guest. She had worked on the Hill and was wary of entering the political cauldron of the hearings. She was never asked to testify, as then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who headed the committee, limited witnesses to women who had a "professional relationship" with Thomas.

Now, she says that Thomas often said inappropriate things about women he met at work -- and that she could have added her voice to the others, but didn't.

Spare me the crap about McEwen being a "part of history." She slept with a guy who was later appointed to the Supreme Court. But for that, no one would give two sh*ts about her, even if she went to law school, worked for Joe Biden, and did all sorts of other fabulous things.

Nobody, least of all Clarence Thomas, has ever claimed that he was a paragon of virtue. But all anyone seems to want to talk about is a controversy that is nearly 20(!) years old, yet seems like yesterday because the "tolerant" Left just can't seem to let go. But you know what?

Clarence Thomas never got blowjobs from an intern young enough to be his daughter.

He never made a waitress sandwich with one of his debauched drinking buddies.

He never managed to get himself photographed on a yacht with a young woman not his wife.

He didn't treat his office as a means of having as much sex as possible, whether with movie stars or with the secretarial pool.

He didn't crash his car in a river and then abandon a young woman to her fate.

He didn't patronize a $10,000/night prostitute.

He never had a stripper girlfriend who jumped into the Tidal Basin.

He wasn't videotaped smoking crack with his skanky mistress.

He didn't father an illegitimate child with his mistress, who also worked for him.

He didn't have an affair with an intern and then, when the young woman disappeared, refused to assist the police in finding her.

I know this because if Clarence Thomas had done any of these things, we would have heard about it. Instead, all we get are prissy former employees who were his ideological opposites and couldn't countenance some crude talk that was nothing compared to the crude behavior of their preferred "leaders."

PJ Media

This PJ O'Rourke piece has been getting linked everywhere, and for good reason. When PJ is going at full blast, there are few conservative writers who can match him for rage and wit (even Ann Coulter comes across as a cool ironist compared to PJ's blue collar polemics).

Armed with the panoply of lawmaking, these moonstruck fools for power go about in a jealous rage. They fear power’s charms may be lavished elsewhere, even for a moment.

Democrats hate success. Success could supply the funds for a power elopement. Fire up the Learjet. Flight plan: Grand Cayman. Democrats hate failure too. The true American loser laughs at legal monopoly on force. He’s got his own gun.

Democrats hate productivity, lest production be outsourced to someplace their beloved power can’t go. And Democrats also hate us none-too-productive drones in our cubicles or behind the counters of our service economy jobs. Tax us as hard as they will, we modest earners don’t generate enough government revenue to dress and adorn the power that Democrats worship.

Democrats hate stay-at-home spouses, no matter what gender or gender preference. Democratic advocacy for feminism, gay marriage, children’s rights, and “reproductive choice” is simply a way to invade -power’s little realm of domestic private life and bring it under the domination of Democrats.

Democrats hate immigrants. Immigrants can’t stay illegal because illegality puts immigrants outside the legal monopoly on force. But immigrants can’t become legal either. They’d prosper and vote Republican.

Democrats hate America being a world power because world power gives power to the nation instead of to Democrats.

And Democrats hate the military, of course. Soldiers set a bad example. Here are men and women who possess what, if they chose, could be complete control over power. Yet they treat power with honor and respect. Members of the armed forces fight not to seize power for themselves but to ensure that power can bestow its favors upon all Americans.

O'Rourke's been writing variations of that for 30 years, but it's still a necessary tonic to the tediously smug PC prose normally found in journalism and in public discourse in general. I can remember first reading Parliament of Whores 20 years ago and being amazed that someone could write so many insulting and funny things about Democrats and liberals. For a 21 year old going to college in San Francisco, this was a difficult perspective to come across. 20 years later, he's still got it, and we still need it.

The Oak and the Calf

"The one possibility that I tried to ignore was that the interview had been published in full and on time, taking up four pages in each of four newspapers with a total circulation of five million (in Japanese characters, it is true, but still...) and not had been noticed by a single person in the West! Every radio station in the world quoted Japanese reporters daily in connection with the cultural revoluition in China, so obviously their newspapers were monitored, yet no one had noticed my interview. Could this be because fame in this world in short lived, and the West had long ago got bored with What's-His-Name, that Russian writer, who had tickled their fancy for two whole weeks with a badly translated best seller about life in Stalin's concentration camps? That was no doubt part of it. Still, if in some out of the way spot in Polynesia or New Guinea, let's say, the most fugitive report had appeared that some Greek leftist had failed to find a publisher in Greece for one single paragraph of his work, we should have had Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre and the Labor Left screaming bloody murder, expressing their lack of confidence in the British Prime Minister, hurling inprecations at the American President, and promptly convening an international conference to anathmetize the Greek butchers. Whereas if the process of smothering a Russian writer not quite extinguished under Stalin continued under the collective leadership, and if the end could be expected pretty soon, this did not insult their leftist creed: if people were stifled in the land of communism, that must be what progress demanded!"

Appropriations: Defunding NPR

The funniest aftereffect of GOP posturing that they will actively work to defund NPR in the wake of the Juan Williams firing is the claim by NPR and its friends in the media that the money it gets from the gummint is negligible, such that defunding will have little to no effect on its operations. This exchange on MSNBC is typical.
CHUCK TODD: NPR says the feelings Williams expressed were not compatible with his job as a news analyst, and that's drawn fire from the right, including calls to cut NPR's limited amount of federal funding. Norah O'Donnell is MSNBC's chief Washington correspondent. So Norah, how real are these threats about seeing its federal funding, and how much money, what percentage of NPR's budget is federal funds, taxpayer money?

NORAH O'DONNELL: It's about 1-3% that NPR receives in some taxpayer money. Most of NPR is funded through their local stations, through corporations, through the people who like NPR, private donations. They apply for grants and then, to the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, and some of that is federal money [try virtually all], so 1-3% is what they say.

TODD: But a very small amount.

O'DONNELL: It's a very small amount. So cutting their funding won't really cripple NPR.

I am not going to claim to know with metaphysical certitude what percentage of NPR's (or PBS's) budget is funded by the Feds because it won't matter during the defunding debate. At all. That's because NPR/PBS are perrenial targets of flinty-eyed budget cutters, who have always been able to emerge unscathed from funding battles because their cultural cache has traditionally outweighed whatever political momentum conservatives might have. Just you watch, six months from now Chuck Todd and Norah O'Donnell will be bemoaning how the GOP is destroying American culture by threatening to cut NPR's budget.

I well remember efforts to defund PBS back in the budget-cutting Nineties. This was back in the Gingrich Revolution/Ross Perot days, when voters professed great interest in restraining the growth of deficits. And, yet the conversation magically turned to penny-ante PBS, rather than the real budget busters like Social Security and Medicare, not to mention useless bureaucracies like HUD and the Departments of Energy and Education. Democrats on the Hill (I forget if it was the Senate or the House) called in Big Bird and a few other prominent muppets to testify and that was that. It led every newscast and made the GOP look like a**holes. Pretty sweet deal: five seconds of Big Bird on Capitol Hill was enough to secure billions of dollars in appropriations for the next 15 years. (Ace is right that Republicans shouldn't even bother trying to eliminate PBS until they can explain what they will do about Sesame Street).

A similar dynamic played out during the 1995 government shutdown. Among other things, the shutdown temporarily closed a "once in a lifetime" Vermeer exhibit at the Smithsonian. There were a lot of issues involved in the shut down show down, including the clash of personalities between "rock star" Bill Clinton and "big jerk" Newt Gingrich (that's how it played out in the media, at least), but still that Vermeer exhibit sure did get a lot of press at the time. And the end result was the GOP "lost" the government shut down fight, and the limited government cause suffered as a result. You could almost draw a line from Big Bird and those damned Vermeers straight through the big spending DeLay Congress, TARP, and Obamacare.

OK, I kid a little, but not much. The easiest thing in the world is for conservatives to start fantasizing about what government programs to cut. The only thing easier is for liberals to demagogue those cuts as being directed at Sesame Street (i.e. The Children), and liberals win this one every time. NPR is filled with pompous twits who I'd love to see try to survive in the free market, but taking away their clubhouse would not be worth the inevitable loss of political capital that would entail. We want to get rid of Obamacare, ethanol subsidies, a half dozen cabinet departments and a thousand other things, yet it will be very easy for all of these to hide behind the skirts of Ira Glass and Big Bird if the GOP gets distracted by a high profile fight over public broadcasting of a sort that it is doomed to lose.

Within The Law: Defending Foreclosures

The Wall Street Journal has a front-page story about attorneys practicing "foreclosure defense," which the WSJ seems to think is a "new" practice area. I don't know. If someone shows up in your office facing a foreclosure, and you take the case, you're a "foreclosure attorney." Still, it's an interesting look into the other side of foreclosures:

The paperwork mess muddying home foreclosures erupted last month. But the legal strategy behind it traces to a lawyer's gambit in 2006 that has helped keep one couple in their home six years beyond their last mortgage payment.

Lillian and Robert Jackson stopped paying on their home in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2004 when business dropped off at their cleaning company. Eviction might have seemed inevitable when they faced a foreclosure hearing two years later.

But their lawyer, James Kowalski, had the idea of taking a deposition from the signer of the mortgage papers. When a document processor for GMAC Mortgage admitted she routinely signed such papers without being familiar with details of the loans, she was tagged as one of a species now known as robo-signers.

It was a first step in the growth of a legal sub-specialty called foreclosure defense that has sown confusion and turmoil in the housing market. Lawyers in the field now commonly use a technique more identified with corporate litigation: probing depositions, designed to uncover any lapses in judgment, flaws in a process or wrongdoing. In the 23 states where foreclosures entail a court hearing, the bank may be ordered to pay the homeowner's legal bill if a lawyer can convince a judge that the bank has submitted false documents, such as affidavits saying employees personally reviewed the details of loans when they didn't.

What these guys did differently is that they actually deposed the people signing documents on behalf of the banks. Depositions - or any sort of intensive litigation activity - don't often happen on the defense side of foreclosures because the defendants lack the cash to fund an aggressive defense. And that's the thing; often foreclosures go through because the homeowners lack the resources to fight, and even if they did have the resources, it would be economically irrational for them to do do.

Still, I would make an exception for homeowners like the Jacksons and, of course, my clients who may have the wherewithal to refinance their loans and make payments at a reduced monthly rate. Banks haven't just been using robo-signers to sign affidavits en masse. They have also been disregarding any and all efforts by the borrowers to refinance. And, having obtained title to properties, they always go for the eviction, rather than allowing the homeowner to negotiate to repurchase. This doesn't strike me as rational either.

If you are defending a renter being evicted for failing to pay his rent, your job usually involves negotiating either an orderly move-out or some sort of payment plan so the tenant can remain in place. I don't see how a foreclosed homeower is all that different in a conceptual sense. But, the banks don't seem to want to do much for them, HAMP notwithstanding. For the Jacksons, they've been able to stay in their home, rent free, for six years. Six years! Does GMAC honestly think this is a good result? The Jacksons also say they're happy to renegotiate, but GMAC is ignoring them and going for the traditional demand for relief from foreclosure: repayment of the entire amount due, an impossible hurdle. Again, how is this a good result?

The fact is that banks have simultaneously rushed to do these foreclosures and then dragged their feet both in responding to homeowners and in moving people out of their homes. In an environment like that, I don't think there's anything wrong with people hiring an attorney and fighting back even if they have defaulted on their payments. People on the right have been pontificating about the sanctity of contracts and following the law; two positions I heartily endorse. But, it's a bit rich for banks to hold borrowers to the letter of the law, and then brush off their own half-assed document handling as "close enough for jazz."

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