Two Tears in a Bucket

Random stuff. A mostly political discussion along with whatever else I feel like posting and borrowing and linking to, with a (left of) Orange County bent.

Blog Philosophy: "I'd rather be strongly wrong than weakly right."
-- Tallulah Bankhead

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Need a Porsche?

A friend is selling his '97 Porsche. He loves this car, so I'm sure he treated it like his own child. If you are interested, you can check out the details here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003
First it was the Nigerians...

Here's a nifty piece of spam I received at work today:

To whom this may concern:

I am looking for a firm to sue one of the largest petroleum/oil/gas companies in the world.

The firm must have expertise in handling very large class action personal injury cases. They must have at least one hundred thousand dollars available to front for out of pocket expenses. They must be willing to take the case on a 33% contingency bases. If money is recovered the out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed first and the remainder split according the fee agreement. They must be willing to take the case to the United States Supreme court if necessary to win. They must not quitters. They will be working for the International Advocate. I own this company. I try to get attorneys to help people who wold not have been able to contact an attorney and ask for help. You will not be splitting fees. You will be working for me and under my direction. I have been in this business for about thirteen years. This case is worth 50 billion dollars. The New York 2nd Circuit court ruled that the venue is in New York. The statute states I have ten years in which to bring suit. The firm that was handling this matter lost their funding. All of the research they did is evident in the complaint that they drafted. Upon request I can mail you the complete complaint. The complaint is twenty-five pages long. It is ready to be filed. The best time to contact me by phone is after 6PM MST. If you would like to talk to an attorney about this case and about me please call S. Austin Johnson. Mr. Johnson is a good friend of mine. He is currently handling another legal matter for me. He would handle this matter too but doesn't have the time or money. I have been working with Mr. Johnson for about seven years. I think you'll like him and what he has to say about me and this case. His number is 801-426-7900 MST.


International Advocate
Dwight J. Barrett
1898 W. Red Angus Dr.
S.L.C., Ut 84116

Intriguing, but I think I'll take a pass.

Friday, August 15, 2003
Almost forgot...

That it is "Fair and Balanced" Friday. Blog title and description have been modified in mocking parody.

Parody is still protected by the First Amendment, isn't it? Last time I checked it was. [See Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F. 3d 894 (9th Cir. 2002) (the manufacturer of Barbie® makes hay over a parody song and loses).]

Fox® might be wise to recall this line from the opinion: "Trademark rights do not entitle the owner to quash an unauthorized use of the mark by another who is communicating ideas or expressing points of view."

And that's what I do around here: express my point of view, fair and balanced.

Sunday, August 10, 2003
The recall post...

Here is the promised post regarding California's upcoming election for the recall of Governor Gray Davis. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts on this and may change my mind based on new information, but FWIW, here's my take:

I am Not A Fan of this recall. Now, some folks might guess that this is based on pure partisan loyalty, but they would be wrong. I'll admit that there is a part of me that is Not A Fan out of partisanship, but there is another, larger, part of me that is Not A Fan because I can't figure out why we should be tossing the guy out now.

After all, wasn't he just voted back in during a free and fair election? I understand that people don't like him, and I even understand why, but if that's the case, why was turnout for the November general election so low? If people didn't like him, they had the perfect opportunity to vote him out then.

And what has Davis done since the November election that justifies throwing him out? His original budget proposal was a combination of deep cuts and moderate tax hikes, something which irked the extremist leaders of both parties. Republicans say that Davis squandered the surplus, and that he should be tossed for that. As Kos pointed out, perhaps that reasoning should be applied further up the governmental ladder. And let's not forget, a budget was finally passed through the Legislature (and not on a party-line vote) only because Republicans received nearly $100 million in additional spending.* Who, exactly, are the fiscal conservatives here?

I also think that my conservative streak leads me to be against the recall. I was no fan of Pete Wilson's, but I wouldn't have supported a recall election against him either. There are those who are all in favor of guerilla government, who seek to win at all costs, consequences be damned. I'm not one of them.

At the same time, I think Armed Liberal has a point. He writes:
I know it's going to cost us money, and distract our politicians' attention from the current set of crises. But I think that it's a giant bucket of ice water splashed in the political establishment's face, waking them up to the peasants with pitchforks standing outside the building howling with rage.

If you've read much of my stuff, you'll know that I'm one of them. I'm tired of 'seagull government', I'm tired of paying taxes for programs that don't work while ones that do get cut off and abandon people in real need, I'm tired of a government that manages to lack compassion, common sense, a sense of humility, and a sense of purpose beyond lunch and eventually getting a nice retirement paycheck ...

I think AL's comments are shared by a large number of people and those feelings are a great contributor to voter apathy. Rather than the governorship, I wonder if AL's comments are not more properly directed to the stanglehold of party politics. When your choices in a general election are between someone you loathe and someone with less competence than the helmsman of the Titanic, it is very easy to throw up your hands and walk away muttering about the futility of it all. I think this is why so many non-political junkies are fascinated by the prospect of the recall -- they get the opportunity to vote in an election not (primarily) dominated by the political parties, but by the people themselves, should they choose to vote. [The people who started this ball rolling were counting on low turnout, will they get it?]

But like it or not, the recall election is a done deal. As someone who is Not A Fan, I will be voting against the recall. Polls say that I'm in the minority, but until all the votes are counted, who really knows? It's easy to respond to a poll, it's something else entirely to drag your butt down to polls on a random Tuesday.

Of course, it's always good to have a back up plan (as the Democrats finally figured out) and now that the candidate list is nearly final, I can say with all certainty that I am pissed off that I won't be able to vote for John Garamendi. Courtesy of Richie Ross (who has his own interesting history), the only serious Democratic candidate is the current Lieutenant Governor, Cruz Bustamante. It's my feeling that if Bustamante wins the recall, the Democrats will win the battle for the state, but lose the war.

Any why is that? If the reason for recalling Davis is because he misspent the surplus, guess who was the Speaker of the Assembly during part of the time the State possessed a surplus and who shepherded "wild spending" bills through the Assembly? None other than Bustamante. Further, Bustamante's opening salvo for the recall was a promise to reverse the increase in the vehicle license fee and replace that revenue with higher taxes on alcohol, tobacco and the wealthy. Talk of taxes will make a number of voters particularly unhappy, and, if I recall correctly, it was California's overreliance on the income tax that is part of the reason for the State's deficit. I am also aware of Bustamante's ... uh, "tendency" to freely spend his campaign funds. This tendency might carry over to the state fisc, and it is one that I fear an overly liberal Legislature would exploit.

If there was an ABC ("Anyone But Cruz") group in the state Democratic party, I'd be it's president.

So since I can't vote for Garamendi and because I won't vote for Bustamante, who have I selected? It's still early in the campaign, so my decision is far from final, but at this point I rather like Peter Ueberroth, based upon what he has accomplished in the past. I'm not thrilled about the prospect of voting for a Republican, but I'd vote for a moderate Republican before I'd vote for Bustamante.

*After this was published, Henry noted that the number was closer to $300 million, citing this.

FURTHER UPDATE: Richard Bennett doesn't like Bustamante either. Not that this is a surprise or anything...

Thursday, August 07, 2003
Promises, promises... and thanks!!

Although I have not yet blogged about it, we got to have lunch with Jonas on vacation, prior to the Blogathon. He and Henry both informed me that Jonas passed the $500 mark, so you will get a post about the recall out of me soon. I've got quite a bit to say (I think), but my tendinitis has been acting up and I need to save my typing for work. How about on Sunday after we know the full field of candidates?

Many, many thanks to all of you who contributed -- and to Jonas who blogged for the cause. All of you have made someone's life a little bit better.

And the advantage in the delay of my post? Last weekend, a friend of mine persuaded Henry and I to both post our thoughts on the recall here, so you can get a view from both the Left and the Right.

Road Tripping (part 1)...

I finally took a vacation. The California Division of Tourism ought to be pleased, as it was a road trip around California -- up the coast, through Wine Country, and down the Eastern Sierras. I even got to meet and have lunch with Jonas, finally.

So where did we go and what did we do? Here's the scoop (or at least the first day -- it's taken me nearly a week to write what's below):

Since we were leaving on Sunday and wanted to make the most of the seven days we had, we grabbed I-5 and headed North. We stopped at Fort Tejon to look around. The Fort was almost the home of the US Army's only camel corps. Now, the Fort is home to Civil War reenactments. We caught them between "shows" and were able to see them shoot off a cannon, which was very loud.

From Fort Tejon, we continued up I-5 to Mettler and headed West on SR 166. SR 166 took us through part of California's Farm Belt to Maricopa, which, interestingly, is largely an oil town. (Maybe some of you knew that, but I didn't expect it that far South in Kern County.) From Maricopa, we climbed over the Temblor Range and passed South of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Traveling along the Cuyama River, we passed through the Sierra Madre Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest, and into Santa Maria. A brief trip along the 101 brought us into downtown Santa Maria, where we dropped the top on the car and continued West on SR 166 to Guadalupe, an older farming town on the coast with an interesting downtown area.

From Guadalupe, we caught SR 1 (aka Pacific Coast Highway) and went North. This was a beautiful drive, alternating between sunny and foggy. There seems to be quite a number of homes for sale on the Coast in unincorporated San Luis Obispo County between Guadalupe and Grover Beach. What's up with that?

We took a side trip through Avila Beach, which Unocal had singlehandedly poisoned and then cleaned up. It was newer and brighter than the Avila I recalled from a decade ago, but it appeared to be better planned for the crowds it attracts, as well.

We zipped past Morro Bay (and Morro Rock) and stopped in Harmony, an artsy tourist trap of populated by approximately 18 people and a dog or two. Once we figured that the art was out of our price range, we fled further North to our final destination of the day, Cambria.

I had passed through Cambria before, but never stopped. It's a cute little place that is great for a short get-away. It looked exactly like the photograph in the link, except really, really foggy. For the short time we were there, I think the sun came out for a total of two hours. We stayed on Moonstone Beach in a cozy bed and breakfast and spent some time walking along the shore.

Monday, July 14, 2003
Once More, with Feeling...

Yeah, I'm shilling for Jonas again. But he said something that jogged my memory and I thought I'd share my thinking with y'all.

Awhile back Fritz Schranck wrote about his idea for the Brown Ribbon. He related that over 2.75 million people a year die from diarrhea -- and that nearly 2.5 million of those are children under the age of five.

Now, diarrhea is not a complicated malady overcome. No genes have to be mapped and no one needs to study the effects of certain drugs on the body's enzymes to reduce the number of people who die each year from diarrhea. Nope, two things (which ought to be simple) could reduce the number deaths dramatically. The "miracle" cure? Clean drinking water and oral rehydration therapy.

And this pertains to Jonas how, exactly? Well, he was touched by the number and amount of contributions received for his participation in the Blogathon and he detailed the ways in which the contributions would affect real people. He relates, "[Y]our donation of $15 (with my match, that�d be $30) buys a surgical kit containing essential instruments to carry out emergency examinations and basic surgery in the field. Or provides two months of clean water to 40 refugees." Clean water for refugees is important because "[t]here are two categories of disease that are likely to appear in a refugee camp. The most common non-epidemic diseases are malnutrition, acute respiratory infections (like pneumonia), diarrhea, and malaria. There are also deadly diseases that can turn into epidemics, such as measles, meningitis, dysentery, and cholera. "

Persuaded? If so, donate to the cause here.

Ok, how's this? If Jonas reaches donations totaling $500, I'll blog -- in at least 250 words -- what I think about the (possible / probable) recall vote of California Governor Gray Davis. As many of you know, I was the great apologist for the Gov in November's election and I have not said one thing (pro or con) about the recall. Are you curious enough to pledge $10 to Doctors without Borders to find out?

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Friday, May 16, 2003
Hitting a little close to home, perhaps...

but hopefully not completely.

Thursday, May 08, 2003
A couple of one-offs...

The U.S. adds a Basque group to its list of terrorist organizations. Soon after it is announced that Spain will join the US and Britain in introducing a UN resolution to lift sanctions against Iraq. Coincidence? I think not.

Karl Rove must have decided that the President needed his "Sister Souljah" moment, as the President takes on the NRA over semi-automatic assault weapons. This is an area I don't know much about, so maybe someone can explain to me why a civilian would need a semi-automatic assault weapon in the first place.

Monday, May 05, 2003
Spring Cleaning...

I've spent the last couple of days updating links, clearing out dead links, and adding reciprocal links and links to folks I like. If I deleted your site from the blogroll and you're still blogging, drop me a line and let me know.

Now there are some of you that have linked me that I haven't linked back. That's usually because I find out about it due to my referral log and when I do, I bookmark the site. I've updated the sites bookmarked in the new laptop. (The old laptop met its demise recently and suddenly, so I lost all the bookmarks on that one.) I'll update the ones on my home desktop and my work computer shortly.

Friday, May 02, 2003
Speaking of things I overlooked...

April 27th was my blogversary.

Thursday, May 01, 2003
I guess some people just can't learn from the example of others...

As most people know, California Republicans are, at this point ... well, not "irrelevant," but darn near. It didn't happen overnight and the current history of the CRP could be instructive to anyone who wanted to pay attention. Long story, short: the Republicans pandered to their base, overreached, and turned off the middle. It's a lesson that Gray Davis took to heart, which, among other things, explained his 20 point victory over Dan Lundgren in 1998.

Unfortunately, the Republicans� experience is a warning that California's liberal legislators are steadfastly refusing to heed. If this story can be believed (and I'd put my money on Walters to have his facts straight), the California Libs are looking to turn the state into Scandinavia of the West, creating programs for "universal access to income support, health care, higher education and other benefits."

In a perfect world, all that might be nice to have. But really, what in heaven's name are they thinking?

California has a very progressive income tax. As it stands now, a family of four reporting income of just less than $40,000 pays no state income tax, whereas the state relies on only 32,000 people to cover a full 12 1/2 percent of the current budget (a/k/a $10.2 billion).

I don�t know about anyone else, but those figures were stunning to me. I�m all for progressive taxation, but to rely on so few for so much seems perilous.

And that is why I think the plans of California�s Liberals to create their own Great Society are downright dangerous. The programs they allegedly propose would not only support lower income folks here, but would likely draw them from other states and countries. So you would have an increasing underclass relying on the income tax payments of a relatively small number of people � people who could easily move to states that lack an income tax.

Move to avoid income tax? "Pish, posh," you say. But it's true. Look at Tiger Woods, who moved to Florida, and Kristi Yamaguchi and several (former) Northern California executives who moved to Nevada.

And while the California Libs would have to find creative ways to deal with a shrinking tax base, they would also have to take heed of those taxpayers that would remain in California, as taxpayers tend to be regular voters. At some point, those middle-of-the-road voters will say, �Enough is enough,� and send the Libs (and possibly most of the Democrats) packing in the same way they did to the Republicans.

And props to Martin for suggesting long ago that I be careful what I wish for when asking for Democratic hegemony in Sacramento � because I just might get it.

Somewhat related update: The folks at Reason propose a state budget without tax increases.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003
How out of it was I...

during my de facto hiatus? I received a mention in this article on March 27th and I only found out about it today.

Monday, April 28, 2003
This is so cool...

UComics has brought back Bloom County.