Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh, I Forgot To Add . . . .

When I posted the previous entry about the sort-of-settlement between the LOCSD and Whittaker Construction on the start-up/stand-down costs owed when the sewer project at Tri-W was stopped, I forgot to mention that the $1.3 million was the maximum the arbitrator would allow to be claimed, the the real amount has yet to be figured out.

But whatever it is, people need to remember that none of it would have been owed if the previous recalled CSD board majority (Stan Gustafson, Richard LeGros and Gordon Hensley) hadn't unnecessarily started construction before the recall vote could be held.

At the time, in my September 14, 05 Bay News Can(n)on,"Bleep You AND The Horse You Rode In On," I wrote:

"CSD Director Tacker emailed CSD President Gustafson to ask for an emergency public meeting and Board vote regarding cutting the trees down before the recall election, before the citizens could even weigh in with their votes. NO! All kinds of citzens marched and held vigils and called the CSD office asking for a postponement of the cutting [of the huge trees on the Tri-W site] until after the election, a scant three weeks away. NO! Countless community members urged the CSD Board majority to hold off on doing anything irrevocable until their votes were cast on the 27th. NO! No, nope, nuh-huh, not interested, talk to the hand, not listening, don't care, go away, shut up, Bleep you and the horse you rode in on.

"Instead of good public policy and a piece of smart politics, what I saw in the great tree fall was a hissy-fit of pique by three directors enraged that enough members of their community (over 20% certified by the elections office )[recall initiative petition signatures & etc.] disagreed with their governance to get a recall as well as a Sewer Initiative on the ballot. Instead of taking a deep breath and pausing until the whole community could be heard from, they appeared hell-bent on a deliberate process of pounding as much State Loan Money into the ground as quickly as possible, doing as much irrevocable damage as possible, inflicting as much lasting physical and financial damage as posible so that they could turn around and blandly argue that voters shouldn't bother voting since it would be a shame to waste all that money and anyway, the trees are already dead, so bleep you, bleep your horse. The tin-eared message couldn't get any clearer than that.

"Sadly, no matter the election's outcome, the actions of the Board majority in the simple mattter of the trees has turned it into a Pyrrhic victory, evil and bitter, unforgivable and entirely unnecessary. That is the tragedy of what this Board majority has done and is still doing."

Lest folks who read the Septmber 26th partial, quasi "settlement" agreement and want to know who to thank for now owing maybe $1.3 million smackaroonies, there's your answer. Stan moved out of state, but Richard and "Coastkeeper" Gordon are still in town. And I'm sure Gordon, maybe even Richard, will be in the audience (or at their lawyer's table??) in the courtroom showing support for their and Taxpayers Watch's personal lawsuit against the current CSD members.

And thus, my children, does this twisted Medean history continue to play out in the present. (Oh, yes, that lawsuit is also costing the taxpayers as well. Deja vu.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It’s Not The Gong Show, But It Should Be

Our long national nightmare is almost over, but not quite. We’ve got, what? Three presidential debates and somewhere a veep debate to get through. Though that latter is one I’m sure everyone’s looking forward to – the Moose Shooter vs. Mr. Motormouth.

After watching the debate last night, it was clear that what’s needed are a couple of people from or some other Jes’ The Facts, Ma’m-type organization tstanding on stage next to a couple of HUGE gongs and when either candidate started fudging they’d hit the HUGE gong a good lick. Donnnngggggg!!!! Then a stentorian voice would ring out, “WRONG! THE CORRECT ANSWER IS . . . !” And so forth. That would save a lot of the embarrassing, “Senator, you’re wrong. No, Senator, you’re wrong” back and forth.

Which brings me to this question: Was it just me, or did last night’s debate begin to resemble a Marriage Counseling session, complete with defensive whining, rights-fighting and history-dregding (I always took better care of the kids than you did. You never visited my mother when she was sick. You forgot to mention back in 1953 when I took out the garbage for eight straight days. Don't be naive. I worked my fingers to the bone for this marriage and you never noticed. I never said that. You just don’t understand. You don't understand anything!) Oy!

LOCSD Candidate Meet ‘N Greets

The Red Barn in the South Bay Community Park will be jumping this weekend. The Bay News reports Today, Saturday, Sept 27, from 1 -5 pm, Marshall Ochylski and Maria Kelly are offering up eats with their meet n’ greet. Any questions, contact or

Then Tomorrow, Sunday, Sept 28 from 2 – 4pm, candidate Karen Venditti will be holding her eat ‘n meet n’ greet at the Barn. Any questions, call 528-7116.

And for info on all the CSD candidates, go to or stop by and meet them and ask them whatever in person.

Da Plane! Da Plane!

Well, not quite, but apparently we’re near to at least one settlement with one of the contractors who were hired to build the canceled “Tri-W” sewer plant. Reports the Sept 26 Tribune, Whitaker Contractors of Tempelton was claiming $6.9 million and the arbitrator, George Calkius with the state office of Administrative Hearings, ruled that Whitaker can claim about $1.3 million in legitimate start-up/work actually done/stand-down expenses.

The other two contactors, Barnard Construction and Monterey mechanical, which have claimed gazillions,still remain in arbitration.

What makes this interesting is whenever the Tribune so much as mentioned Los Osos and Sewer and Bankruptcy, they always tossed in the claimed figures $45 million in debt or $60 million or whatever number they were using that day, as if they were real numbers. What they never bothered to make clear was that these were whatever amount in claims the various parties wished to submit (no matter how cockamamie) and claims are not debts, they’re claims. If Whitaker and the CSD sign off on this arbitrated amount, THEN it'll become debt. Big difference.

The same sort of muddlment is taking place in the comment section of this blog whenever somebody calling himself Richard posts some TaxpayerWatch lawsuit/legal document then crows about it being a fact! No, until a judge rules or a jury rules (and/or an appeals court rules) the information contained in the sixteen-gazillion pounds of paperwork submitted by attorneys on either side of a case are merely claims, or factoids-out-of-context, followed by counter-claims and more factoids-out-of-context. It’s a very expensive legal version of, Uh-Huh, Nuh-Huh, Is So, Is Not, Neener Neener So’s Yer Momma. And there is no requirement that anything in the documents must be true, only “true” so far as whoever’s signing them “believes” them to be true, which gives everybody HUGE amounts of prevaricating wiggle room in a constantly changing field-of-belief-masquerading-as-fact.

Just part of the legal game.

Speaking of which, the Medean “Taxpayers Watch lawsuit filed personally against LOCSD board members, will have (unless it’s postponed again) a Hearing on the motion for summary judgment, Oct 1 at 8:30 a.m. at the SLO Vets Hall, followed by a Hearing on discovery motion October 8 at 9 a.m. also in the Vets hall, with the actual Trial itself scheduled for Nov 10, unless Judge La Barbara rules on something or other on Oct 1 or 8 or the whole things is postponed again so as to run the clock out or keep adding to the expense in hopes of bankrupting your opponent & etc. Also part of the legal game.

In this case, the taxpayers, the ones Taxpayers Watch are claiming to be looking out for, will be getting the bill, but I haven’t been able to figure out what benefit they’ll be getting. Medean Revenge will be on tap for the members of TPW, certainly, but what’s in it for the taxpayers and will the price be worth it to them?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO, CA for September 26, 08

American Bedtime Stories

There’s a new TV series barnstorming the country. It’s “The Mavericks,” starring John McCain and Sarah Palin as two rock em, sock ’em reformers ridin’ to Washington to clean out that nest of pork-swilling varmints. Never mind that one star was an ear-marked pork swiller herself, while the other was part and parcel of all the Washington de-regulators who helped bring about our present financial mess. Nope, this is a new series of repackaged stars calling out to the American Myth, our deep nostalgia for a world that never was.

As Joe Klein writes in his Sept 23 Time essay, Palin is from a state – Alaska – “that represents the last, lingering hint of that most basic Huckleberry Finn fantasy – lighting out for the territories.” And in her acceptance speech she spoke of good people in her small town, “ . . . the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars.” Except, Klein notes, “ . . . that’s not really true. We haven’t been a nation of small towns for nearly a century. It is the suburbanites and city dwellers who do the fighting and hourly wage work now, and the corporations who grow our food. But Palin’s embrace of small town values is where her hold on the national imagination begins. She embodies the most basic American myth – Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, the fantasia of rural righteousness – updated in a crucial way: now Mom works too.”

And so we have this political season’s newest stars – The Mavericks, campaigning on the great American Myth: Davy Crockett with lipstick, Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Jackson Go To Washington, “jes’ plain folks” ready to tromp through the White House, muddy boots, dead moose and all.

Along with another thread running through this election season that reappeared in a recent letter to the Tribune that noted with alarm that liberal Democrats had “pushed through the nomination of an intellectual elitist to head their party’s presidential ticket . . .” That too hews to the faux populist American Myth that anybody can (and should!) become President, a job that is something you or your neighbor could easily do. After all, we Americans don’t cotton to “intellectual elitists,” forgetting, of course, that this country was founded by French-looking, superbly educated, extremely intellectual elitists -- Guys who wore lace at their throats, not dead fur on their heads.

Both these myths – the Yeoman Farmer and the Common Man, with his distain for pointy headed intellectuals – are powerful stories that help illustrate and sustain the American Dream that we’re all equal and we can all reach the top. Reality, of course, is often very different, but that is of little account since Myths are intended to be lodestars, not operating manuals.

But myths can also be blinders. There are no territories left for Huck Finn to run to. Maw & Paw Kettle have sold the farm to an agribusiness conglomerate and moved to a condo in Florida. Davy Crockett settled into suburbia and watched his job get outsourced to India. And the whites-only, homogenized America of “Leave it To Beaver” has become a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic nation of Gen X,Y & Z’s who don’t think that letting gay people get married constitutes a national crisis. As Klein aptly observes, we now live in “. . . an America not yet mythologized, a country that is struggling to be born – a multi-racial country whose greatest cultural and economic strength is its diversity. It is the country where our children already live and that our parents will never really know, a country with a much greater potential for justice and creativity – and perhaps even prosperity – than the sepia tinted version of Main Street America.”

Which makes this particular election so interesting since the voters are faced with a transformational choice-- The Old Order with its old myths or A New Order creating our new myths.

Choose the wrong myth and America will likely get sidelined for 8 more years –stuck in sepia-toned nostalgia. In normal times, that choice might not be so fateful. But these are not normal times. A complicated 21st century world is rapidly on the move and will not wait around for American Nostalgia to play itself out. There simply isn’t enough time for that sort of self-comforting delusion.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh, Goody, A New Blogsite So Sewerites Can Go Squable Over All Things Los Ososish and Sewerish

Aaron Ochs (Ed Ochs & "The Rock") has started a blog at and first up to bat a very odd but interesting coloquy between Ed and CSD Candidate Maria Kelly over words on yard signs.


Question Of The Year

President Bush spoke to the nation last night. I didn't waste my time tuning in. I mean, who in their right mind would bother to listen to what that guy had to say on anything, let alone . . . on the economy? So, did he tell the nation that yellow-cake was discovered in the offices of Lehman Bros so we HAVE to bail out Wall Street IMMEDIATELY or else we'd soon be seeing a mushroom cloud over the Empire State Building? Or maybe he told Americans that we'd better give carte blanche to his guy, Paulson, RIGHT NOW WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED simply on his say-so? Like Bush knows what's going on with the economy, instead of merely acting like a groundhog who pops up to get scared of his shadow then zwoop! pops back into his hidey-hole?

And, of course, it's such an EMERGENCY that Senator McCain HAS to suspend his campaign, cancel Friday's presidential debates, so he can RUSH back to the capital and SOLVE the problem (publicly, microphones in place, cameras running, not that's any of this is . . . political, no, no, perish the thought), thereby SAVING the country. This from a guy who told reporters that, frankly, he didn't know that much about economic stuff. (And when you have so many houses you lose track of them, you can afford to not know much about econcomic stuff.)

It was an interesting move because, on the surface, it was framed as Mr. Don't Know Much About The Economy, Mr. DeRegulator , Mr. Keating Five Bail Out The Savings & Loans Deja Vu McCain Rushing To Save The Republic while Mr. Hates America Obama Wants A (yeeech) "Political" Debate To Go Forward While The Nation Burns To The Ground, O Mah Gawd!!!

On the other hand, the reality was likely very different. Why would the various econcomic experts (who apparently don't know what's going on either and have no idea what these proposals mean or will mean, very clever folks who are proposing America buy a pig in a poke) want some I Don't Know How Many Houses I Own Guy stomping in to play Lady Bountiful Come to Save The Nation (where's the cameras?) and because of his lack of expertise in things economic, ends up putting a political monkey wrench into what's bound to be a very delicate deal?

Or, having this politically honed announcement leaving a whole lot of people asking, Can't McCain walk and chew gum at the same time? If not, uh, don't think he's up to the multi-tasking job of Prez. And if McCain can't multi-task, think what would Moose Mamma One Heartbeat Away From The Oval Office be able to manage? I mean, put lipstick on a moose, it's still a moose, and flying to a fancy hotel in New York to meet some heads of state does not constitute foreign policy experience.

And, most important of all, why is the President (and McCain) in such a rush? Does that have a familiar ring to it? Naomi Klein, who wrote "Shock Economics" thinks she's seen this all before -- create chaos and in the panic, steal the silverware before anyone has a clear head and can deal with things properly, hurry-hurry-hurry!

Well, America, you'd better pray that there are sufficient people in Congress who DO know a whole lot about economics, people with very, very cool heads, who know a re-run when they see it, and have a keen eye on the nation's silverware. And before Bush's cronies scamper out of the room with the swag, they'll make sure the Taxpayer has at least some grip on the assets before they're fleeced . . . . again.

And in additon to praying, I'd suggest you call your Senator & Congressperson and tell them to take their time, do the deal properly, secure the assets, put into place proper checks and balances and regulations so we don't have to go through this Shock & Awe Economic Grand Larceny . . . once more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another Letter To The Editor That Will Go Unanswered?

Over at, Ron Crawford's sent along an interesting question to Sandra Duerr, ("My Open Letter to Tribune Executive Editor Sandra Duerr"). Shall we place bets that she'll answer it in her nifty little Let's Ask The Editor column that runs once in a while in the Trib? Bets? Any bets? No?

Mark Your Calendars, So Far

God willing and the creek don't rise, the League of Women Voters will be moderating a LOCSD candidate forum, October 13 from 7 - 9 at the Community Center in Los Osos. Come one, come all, the League does a teriffic job at these things and it's a chance to meet and hear and submit questions for the candidates.

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi strikes again

Peck's bad-boy, political writer Matt Taibbi, has been turning in some hilarious, take-no-prisoners reporting on the campaign trail, and this week's (Oct 2) piece is no exception since he's met the perfect subject (Sarah Palin) for his snarky, dead-on-the-mark observations ("Mad Dog Palin. The scarierst thing about John McCain's running mate isn't how unqualified she is -- it's what her candidacy says about America." Oct 2, 2008).

Taking no prisoners, Taibi notes that Palin's speech before the gathered Republicans was ". . . like watching Gidget address the Reichstag." Then goes on to note, with savage glee:

"Right-wingers of the Bush-Rove ilk have had a tough time finding a human face to put on their failed, inhuman, mean-as-hell policies. But it was hard not to recognize the genius of wedding that faltering brand of institutionalized greed to the image of the suburban American supermom. It's the perfect cover, for there is almost nothing in the world meaner than this species of provincial tyrant.

"Palin herself burned this political symbiosis into thepages of history with her seminal crack about the "difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick," blurring once and for all the lines between meanness on the grand political scale as understood by the Roves and Bushes of the world, and meanness of the small-town variety as understood by pretty much anyone who has ever sat around in his ranch-house den dreaming of a fourth plasma-screen TV or an extra set of KC HiLites for his truck, while some ghetto family a few miles away shares a hustkof government cheese.

"In her speech, Palin presented herself as a raging baby-making furnace of middle-class ambition next to whom the yuppies of the Obama set -- who never want anything all that badly except maybe a few afternoons with someone else's wife, or a few kind words in The New York Times Book Review -- seem like weak, self-doubting celibates, the kind of people who certainly cannot be trusted to believe in the right God or to defend a nation. We're used to seeing such blatant cultural caricaturing in our politicians. But Sarah Palin is something new. She's all caricature. As the candidate of a party whose positions on individual issues are poll losers almost across the board, her shtick is not even designed to sell a line of policies. It's just designed to sell her. The thing was as much as admitted in the on-air gaffe by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who was inadvertently caught saying on MSNBC that Palin wasn't the most qualified candidate, that the party 'went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narrative.'

"The great insight of the Palin VP choice is that huge chunks of American voters no longer even demand that their candidates actually have policy positions; they simply consume them as media entertainment, rooting for or agains them according to the reflexive prejudices of their demographic, as they would for reality-show contestants or sitcom characters. Hicks root for hicks, moms for moms, born-agains for born-agains. Sure, there was politics in the Palin speech, but it was all either silly lies or merely incidental fluffery buttressing the theatrical performance. A classic example of what was at work here came when Palin proudly introduced her Down-syndrome baby, Trig, then stared into the camera and somberly promised parents of special-needs kids that they would "have a friend and advocate in the White House." This was about a half-hour before she raised her hands in triumph with McCain, a man who voted against increasing funding for special-needs education."

Gidget and the Reichstag, indeed. Bwa-hahahah. Get a copy, on newsstands today! Read it and weep.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reruns, Again?

Here’s what the American people will learn about the most recent financial meltdown –

That’s right. Nothing.

And in a few years, (or earlier, since it appears from the polls people have no clue the role John McCain has played in all this since he’s rebranded himself with a new Big Lie as the New-To-Washington, No, I Don’t Know Phil Gramm, Phil Who?, “reforming” Maverick, a deliciously phony story that’s apparently being bought by a whole lot of people), when the dust settles, some new! Improved! Pied Pipers will come along and tell the “American Public,” better known as Uninformed, Ignorant, Immature, Willful Children, “Oh, you poor dears, laboring under all those high taxes to pay for stuff you want or use like roads and bridges and decent healthcare and a functioning, working FDA that helps keep you from being poisoned by your food and drugs, Don’t you understand, it’s MORNING IN AMERICA, you don’t need to keep paying all those big, nasty TAXES for that wicked, evil BIG GOVERNMENT! All those evil people do is take your money and make your life more complicated with all their tiresome RULES AND REGULATIONS. Plus, you don’t need to be frugal and conserve resources. No, No, elect ME and you can buy a Hummer AND we’ll do away with all that “public” stuff, we’ll privatize it all, LET THE MARKET TAKE CARE OF ANY PROBLEMS and you’ll end up with mountains of wonderful, yummy FREE PUDDING and NO NEW TAXES!”

And the American Voter, children that they are, will yell, “Yaaaayyyy! Free Pudding! And it doesn’t cost me a penny! Yaaaaayyyyyy!”

And the whole pathetic train of events we’ve witnessed AGAIN will start up . . . again. Rerun nation.

Your Sunday Poem

From “Belongings, by Sandra M. Gilbert


Like a two-toed sloth you
dangle in a tidy
jar of sleep, sleep

accretes around you –
expensive honey,
thick and sticky-sweet –

so over and over again
you dip, you lick,
though just outside

the rain is busy
weaving a shawl of dark
canals around the house,

and the garden is turning
into little Venice, little
Amsterdam, except

without traditions,
since after all the gods
packed up their vast majestic

bags some centuries ago,
and now not a single black umbrella
sets off down the hill to church . . . .

Why bother to stand
upright on a day like this?

Why not just bury your
snout in utter honey?

Old leaves are shredding
in the canals, and the streets
are full of strange debris.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

LOCSD Candidate Info Link

Alon Pearlman [GAAAKKK! correction: Perlman. My apolgies, wet noodles!]sent the following link along, for those interested in getting LOCSD candidate info. It's It lists bios of the candidates and/or their web links. Now, let's see if the link works.

ALSO, Friday Sept 19, Los Osos Community Center, 7 pm - 9 pm. Ginormous "community/townhallish" meeting on sewer collection systems, a chance to ask questions of experts, green-build folks, and get more info of what the County is looking at.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Sunday Mystery To Ponder

L.A. Times story yesterday on the ongoing battle over the 43 foot cross atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego. The cross was slated for removal by judicial order, but Congress passed a bill in 2006 and President Bush signed it, "transferring the property to the federal government as an official war memorial."

"On walls surrounding the cross are 2,000-plus plaques memorializing the lives of service personnel, including soldiers who served in the Spanish-American War and Marines killed in Iraq.

"Then in late July, a new judge issued a ruling that seemed to wash away all the previous rulings that had favored the plaintiffs. [i.e. unconsituttional intrusion of religion on public property.]

"U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled that Congress had taken the property not to advance Christianity, but to maintain the cross as an integral part of a war memorial. As such, he reasoned, there was nothing unconsitutional about the cross.

"In a 36-page opinion, Burns, a graduate of San Diego's Point Loma Nazarene University, ruled that a cross doesn't necessarily have to be seen as a religious symbol:

"The Latin cross is, to be sure, the preeminent symbol of Christianity, but it does not follow that the cross has no other meaning or significance. Depending on the context in which it is displayed, the cross may evoke no particular religious impression at all." . . . .

"The cross has a broadly-understood ancillary meaning as a symbol of military service, sacrifice,and death; it is displayed along with mumerous purely secular symbols in an overall context that reinforces its secular message."

Needless to say, " . . . . .the ACLU, representing several plaintiffs including the Jewish War Veterans aof the Unites States of America, has appealed Burns' ruling to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals."

Now, that's a good one. The Latin cross is now understood as a symbol of military service? The Latin cross "may evoke no particular religious impression at all? "

Really. I guess when President Bush used the words "crusade" in speaking of his war in Iraq, he wasn't kidding. Our soldiers must all now be wearing shoulder patches bearing a cross? Or heading into battle carrying the American Flag surmounted by a cross and singing "Onward Christian Soldiers?"

And, pray tell, what "secular impression" does a cross give that doesn't involve a "christian" meaning that relates to death, resurrection, and/or salvation of a particular type, all relating to. . . uh . . .Christ?

If, instead of a 43-foot cross atop Mt. Soledad, what would happen if they had replaced that with a 43-foot Star of David? Why wouldn't that be seen as "a symbol of military service, sacrifice and death. . .?" And surely the Star of David has a "secular impression" not associated with a particular religion? Ditto for the Star and Crescent?


O.K. There's your challenge. In what way is the cross a "secular" sign of military service that doesn't "evoke" a "particular religious impression at all?"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ah Am Mah Own Granpaw, twang-twang-twang . . .

OMG, I see everything twice! Is that recalled CSD member Gordon Hensley X 2. Is it cloning? Franchising? And just who IS WHO2, anyway? It's a mystery perhaps only CSD candidate Maria Kelley can answer. Over at Ron Crawford's blog it's "I Want To Be Like Gordon Hensley." twang-twang-twang . . .

Friday, September 12, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO, CA for Sept 12, 2008

Dangerous Dreams

There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.
Andre Ledru-Rollin

In a recent commentary titled, “McCain’s clarity vs. Obama’s nuance,” Sally Quinn of the Washington Post, wrote of a recurring dream she had as a child. An earthquake had happened and her “father, his body a horse with wings, swooped down from the sky, kneeled so [she] could jump on his back and flew away . . .”

For her, it was a comforting dream from an earlier time when all fathers had wings and the complicated scary problems of the adult world could be solved with the appearance of a flying chevalier. For Quinn, that world was personified by candidate McCain during his “interview” with Pastor Rick Warren at the recent Saddleback College forum. McCain played to the crowd with snappy sound bites, exuding confidence and absolute certitude --a warrior with wings -- and at the end of the interview, writes Quinn “. . . I was curled up in a fetal position in my chair, wrapped in a mohair throw, practically sucking my thumb.”

By contrast, candidate Obama’s answers left Quinn in a far different chair. His answers were loaded with complex nuance, no certitudes, just more questions, more choices, “Obama’s world can be scarier. It’s multicultural. It’s realistic. . . . It’s honest.”

And she then penned an amazing cri de Coeur that is undoubtedly also resonating secretly throughout the country in so many other hearts: “I would rather live in McCain’s world than Obama’s. But I believe that we live in Obama’s world.”

What’s so astonishing to me is that such an incredibly sophisticated, Washington-wise, politically savvy woman would have thought, even for even a moment, that McCain’s World ever existed, except in dreams. There was never a time when the world was that simple. That’s the stuff of fairy tales and Hollywood Movies. And a corporate manipulated media, a sound-bite-driven politics and a dumbed-down, deliberately polarized electorate that allows itself to mistake reality for a sit-com world where problems can be pitched and solved in 25 minutes.

Worse yet, we groom, massage, manipulate, market-test, package and sell our presidents like soap. John McCain has voted with President Bush 95% of the time, yet he’s being portrayed as a “Maverick.” Mavericks don’t consistently do anything 95% of the time. Barack Obama’s career and voting record show him to be a cautious, collaborative, incrementalist, yet he’s being presented and peddled as a wild-eyed reforming barn burner.

And the voters who too often buy into these phony images always get the surprise of their lives after the election. “Defeat Evil” is not even possible in this sinful world. “Drill here. Drill now” is not a coherent energy policy. “Mission accomplished” is not an accurate statement, let alone a competent battle strategy. Those are advertising slogans used to sell product. And only in the world of advertising would a photogenic, caribou-shooting, “soul-mate,” Hocky Mom, barely two years into her second year in public office as governor of a lightly populated, anomalous state, be offered up as a President-Ready Veep of the most powerful nation on earth, a nation beset with Obama-World complex and nuanced problems that cannot be solved by a Republican-base, Karl Rovian, McCain-World wedge-issue platform of God, Guns ‘n Gays.

Obama World – the real world in all its tiresome, scary, shifting, complex, nuanced, incremental realities – has always been with us. It is the stuff of our nightmares. It is the stuff that causes us to dream of Warrior Daddies with Wings coming to save us.

But the only wings we have ever had are our own wits, our own willingness to think hard, work hard, and make sound judgment calls in everything we do, knowing that in this democratic society, it is the citizens – not their clay-footed elected representatives – who have the power to change anything. It is the citizens who must understand the nuance in that ever-changing reality and be prepared to make some complicated pragmatic tradeoffs in order to keep ahead of a Real World that constantly offers hundreds of options at lightening speed, and if the choices made are the wrong ones, gives no quarter and takes no prisoners.

There are no wings in that world, except our own. And that is enough. It’s always been enough. We forget that at our peril.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Calling All Sewer Collection Systems
Below is a Press Release on an upcoming townhall meeting on sewer collection systems (the biggest cost of any sewer system). Good chance to get information directly from the experts and ask questions.

Media Release-----------------------------------------

Contact: Gail McPherson

Los Osos Townhall Meeting:

Date: Friday September 19th , 2008 -7:00pm to 9:00 PM

Collection Systems for the 21st Century -Sustainable Sewers –It’s No Pipe Dream

In partnership, Surfrider, Sierra Club & SLO Green-Build; invites residents of Los Osos to “Join friends and neighbors to find out more about the collection system options for informed choices.”

Divided into three parts speakers will address:
Collection System 101: Presentation will cover the background and basic description of collections systems. The most common is gravity piping system with lift stations and pressure mains. Additional system options, including Septic Tank Effluent Pumping will be presented.

Design and construction issues: Speakers will address new design and construction Requirements-(I&I-CMOM-WDR) dealing with Regulations and site conditions. Modern cleaning & maintenance requirements, and monitoring using web-based remote telemetry system.

Method to develop and compare system costs
Why Forecasting Costs through Life Cycle is Important to You

Q& A Panel The program will conclude with participation and interaction from experts and the audience to answer questions.
(The County may be on hand to address on-lot policy questions if they arise, but it is my understanding that the Co will not be presenting. In any case we will compile questions for the County to address separately.)

Project Posters and system displays: Gravity and STEP or Effluent sewers are both presented. However, STEP effluent sewers are becoming recognized as the best solution for collecting and transporting wastewater in small to mid-sized communities, new subdivisions, and environmentally sensitive areas. Effluent sewers are often one-fourth to one-half the cost of conventional gravity sewers. When properly designed, they are easy to install and maintain, they require less costly treatment systems.
Top National Beauty Secrets

“That’s not change. That’s just calling the same thing something different. But you can’t put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig. . . .”
Barack Obama, criticizing McCain’s policies

“I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
John McCain, criticizing Hillary
Clinton’s healthcare plan last year

Ah, but the question of NATIONAL IMPORTANCE in this critical national election is, what KIND of lipstick was it? Revlon’s “Yummy Mummy Red?” Max Factor’s “Bitch Broad Burgundy?” Cover Girl's, "Moose Shooter Melon?" That’s what this country needs to know. We don’t need to discuss energy policy or the economy. Nope. We need to spend one whole news day reporting on the Republican’s faux OUTRAGE about lipstick.

Like Sarah Palin now has a copyright on the word lipstick when it’s used in the context of putting it on an animal, such as a pit bull? Or when John McCain uses the phrase, he’s using a familiar, folksy phrase to describe Hillary’s policy but when Obama uses it, he’s a SEXIST BEAST WHO’S CALLING SARAH A PIG AND WHO MUST APOLOGIZE FORTHWITH! Stamp-feet, pound-table-Puff, Faux Faux Huff, Faux Huff, Faux Huff.Paff-paff-paff- for one full news cycle.

And then have McCain stand up there and whine that this negative campaigning (his own) is all Obama’s fault because he wouldn’t go on a Dog & Pony show town-hall debating tour with him. Boo-hoo, poor me, it’s all his fault.

This my friends is what happens to you when you hire Karl Rove to “help” with your campaign. Rove poisons and corrupts and kills everything he touches. John McCain had already sold his soul when he hopped up on stage to hug President Bush, the man whose Rovian minions had already trashed his family. That’s how desperately he wanted the Presidency. Hiring Rove now for his own campaign can’t really do any more damage to the man’s soul. Rather it’s just like putting lipstick on a zombie.


It is a day that will, again, hurt the heart.

A Brief For The Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island; the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back in is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

-- Jack Gilbert

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oops, It’s Dat Ol’ Karmic Wheel, Again

The prison guards union, ticked off over the failure of the Governator to cough up various demands and increases in their contracts and other such like, has announced a petition drive to recall Gov. Schwarzenegger.


I predict the effort will go nowhere because 1) people HATE recalls and 2) they’re busy with national politics and likely don’t give a hoot about the prison guards who, in this economic downturn, still have jobs that pay well and have benefits, so what are they whining about anyway? and 3) the budget impasse isn’t all the Governator’s fault -- we’ve got a totally polarized state assembly and senate filled with enough people who have drunk ideological kook-aid and are locked into No Taxes No Time No How, or No Cuts No Time No How, all running a system that’s been a dysfunctional mess for a long time.

The weird thing about so much of what’s happening across the country is this: When you devalue the commons and shove all kinds of infrastructure needs off the table –“ Nuh-huh, I’m not going to raise taxes to fix roads, let’s get Mikeeee to do it” and, of course, Mikeee doesn’t do anything – eventually something has to be done when bridges start falling down and cars disappear into sinkholes, and state parks are turning into a crumbling mess due to lack of maintenance budget, and so forth. But by then the price tag is waaaayyyy more expensive than if things were maintained all along. Every homeowner knows this reality. But the voters apparently don’t. Neither do our elected officials.

Instead, the voters, who know better – they really do – vote into office Anti Tax Idealogues who promise to maintain the status quo (or vote to repeal a luxury tax on yachts – clearly a state priority!) and things crumble down around their ears, whining all the way, but refusing to bite any bullets and fairly set things right.

Sign of the Times

Headline in the L.A. Times story, “CEOs’ golden parachutes,” concerning the heads of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac (and dozens of other private corporations) who will walk away from the companies they ran into the ground with gazillions of dollars . “It’s just another example of pay for failure,” said Amy Borrus, deputy director of the Council of Institutional Investors. “How can we pay these people these exorbitant amounts of money when they brought us to the brink of financial disaster,” said Michael Greenberger, a University of Maryland law professor and former director at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.”


Because we live in the Era of No Accountibility, that’s why. Thieves and idiots and other no accounts can run amok in this country and not only are they never brought to any kind of justice, but are given sacks of money and another company to run. Even our Commander in Chief, the top guy, will waltz out of the White House with fat book contracts, a vast array of huge speaking fees and a nice life indeed, while those young soldiers he sent to their pointless deaths will still be rotting in their graves, and the wounded warriors who returned will continue to see their benefits cut as they’re shoved off the radar. No accountability.

Meanwhile, Americans have forgotten everything and are now ripe for more bamboozling on the campaign trail and will likely go vote for the next guy they feel they want to have a beer with. No accountability, no coherence, no understanding of history, no connecting the dots, it’s all Karl Rovian sound-bites, a country run on advertising slogans, where up is down and MSNBC “Hardball’s” Chris Mathews is now setting up a GOP Veep Watch to count how many times Palin repeats that phony “Bridge to Nowhere – Thanks But No Thanks” claim, well after all major media outlets demonstrated its patent falsity.

So far the number is up to 7 repeats and counting, with no indication that Palin (or McCain) even cares that she’s out on the stump repeating a lie, and no indication that the voters even care. Give ‘em snappy patter and pass the snake oil and they’re happy.

Oh, yeah, and be sure to tell them that Mikeeeee will foot the bill for all the pudding they demand and pudding they’re being promised. Yep, the bill goes to Mikeeee, but not to them. Noooo, noooo. Never them.

Hell of a way to run a company. Hell of a way to run a country.

Friday, September 05, 2008

CSD Kick-Off Party Date Change

Got the following info regarding Candidate Karen Venditti’s kick-off plans. If other CSD candidates have things planned, let me know and I’ll post the information here.

Just a reminder to change the announcement on your website: the party had to be postponed due to our host's illness. It's now on for Friday, Sept. 12, 5:30 - 7:30. Please note that this is a party for Supporters. We are planning a Kick-Off Rally at the Red Barn for Sunday, Sept. 28, where we hope to draw the larger public.

regret to say that our host is under the weather and that we have rescheduled Karen's supporter party for next Friday.

We hope all can join us then.

KICK-OFF Wine & Cheese Party for Supportersto Elect Karen Venditti... POSITIVELY !
5:30-7:30 p.m.
at the Home of Keith & Beth Wimer 1101 14th St. (last house on left before Elfin Forest)
RSVP ASAP Email Piper at or call (805) 704-7255
Please bring a bottle of your favorite wine to share ... and join us for hors d'oeuvres and roasted veggies to kick off the campaign to elect Karen to the LOCSD board.
Come share your enthusiasm, ideas and support ... and get energized to win this election. Donations of time, talent and dollars to Karen's campaign will be greatly appreciated.
Vote Venditti ... Positively!

Ooooo Noooo, Harry & Louise are Baaaaccckkkkk

Remember during the Clinton administration, when Hillary had her national medical plan and Bob Done had his and everyone was finally discussing some kind of medical insurance plans and reforms when up popped an ad, sponsored by big pharma, the AMA, various insurance companies, featuring Harry & Louise sitting at the kitchen table, all wrinkle-browed and concerned, pouring over the Clinton proposal and crying, “Oh Lord, under this terrible, awful, horrible plan, we’ll LOSE CHOICE, Ooooo Noooo, tell your Senator and Congressmen that we don’t like this plan because we’ll LOSE CHOICE!” And so forth?

Well, so effective was that ad in scaring people that any and all medical insurance reforms and plans were soon tossed into the dust bin, followed by a HUGE sign of relief from all the players who sponsored that ad.

Fast forward 20 plus years. Into the void of any reform or re-done national plan, big businesses were free to herd their employees into HMOs, thereby offering “NO CHOICE” and soon, citizens were waking up to find out they had another “choice” coming down on them: NO HEALTH INSURANCE AT ALL, as company after company kept cutting benefits, or even dropping insurance coverage all together, and rates kept rising thereby forcing more and more millions of Harry and Louises off the health insurance rolls all together, which is truly NO CHOICE.

Now – NOW – all the same players – Big Pharama, AMA, various business leaders, insurance companies, etc. have hired Harry and Louise again, only this time, they’re all wrinkle browed and crying, “Call your Congressman or Senator and tell them WE NEED HELP, WE NEED SOME KIND OF COHERENT PLANS LIKE THE ONES WE TORPEDOED YEARS AGO, HELLLPPPPPP US.”

Feh. Personally, I’d like to see Harry and Louise laying in the street bleeding from their mouths and rectums, dying in the broiling sun, while passersby step over them and keep on walking. Those two (and the big guns behind them) are responsible for years and years of misery and death, all in the name of profit. Let them die, I say.

That Was One For The Gipper

The old guy, John McCain, hit one out of the park last night and set a high tone for the coming brawl which both candidates can follow while letting their various pit bulls and disavowed Swift Boatie Groups free to savage and slash and scare and bamboozle.

Did find it delicious that McCain’s main emphasis (which, ironically, got lots of applause) was all about the politics of corruption in that nest of vipers in Washington, about how he intends to stop all that pork and sleaze and earmarks (while gazing over at his Veep Soul Mate who was an old hand at getting pork for her town and state, having learned under the King of Pork and Emperor of Earmarks – Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska), and change the culture of that Den in Iniquity which has been run for the past 12 years by the very people all those delegates sitting in that convention hall voted and re-voted and re-re-re-voted to keep in office again and again and again!

Well the battle royal will be joined, the hideous stealth swift boaties will be let loose in the land, the very air will fill with half-lies and more lies and hokum and misdirection (and look out for a phony “October Surprise” (Red Alerts! Amber Alerts! Look! Blinking Lights!) to try to terrorize the population into voting for whoever gives them the illusion of “safety” from a phony alert, while continuing dangerous policies that actually keep them in real harm’s way. And Karl Rove’s God, Guns n’ Gays (and the shorthand coded language of not-so-soft bigotry) will be heard throughout the battleground states.

Seems to work every time. Let’s see if the country’s finally figured out the scam. I won’t hold my breath.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Oooooo Noooo Part Tewwwwww

According to documents dribbling out from the civil lawsuit regarding Sheriff Pat Hedges secretly taping his chief deputy and reported in the Tribune, “A tearful Pat Hedges punished himself by docking his wages and also told then-Chief Deputy Hoving that Hoving ‘may have been the victim of a crime.’”

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to read about our Sheriff [beginning] to “tear up and grab[bing] a tissue” . . “partly because of the situation and because the two had been talking about Hoving’s son, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2001.”

No, no, no, no tissues. And I don’t want to read the allegation that Hedges’ actions were done outside the usual department procedures, that “he did not consult anyone beforehand about whether the taping was legal and did not tell anyone he was conducting a criminal investigation,” and that he didn’t do any of that because he “made an exception for himself.”

Nor do I want to hear, after all this fine mess, created because the Sheriff “made an exception for himself,” that he earns $700 a day.

What I should have been reading is a headline that says, “Sheriff resigns, says, ‘I really screwed up big time, sorry.’” No tears, just the sound of the door slamming on his way out. Followed by a grand jury investigation to see if the Department itself, and its procedures, have been muddled up by a leadership that makes himself “an exception,” or whether this was a one-time fluke and the department is basically sound.

Ooooohhh, Nooooooo Part Threeeeee

Aw dang! Remember “Bob,” that goofy smiling doofus on the TV ads, all thrilled about his new-found, uh, “confidence?” And Bob’s wife, all a-twitter and cooing on about Bob’s, uh, new-found, uh, male “enhancement,” while surrounded by enough phallic symbols to make Adonis blush?

Well, the product, “Enzyte,” has been yanked from the shelves and the inventor of Bob’s newfound happiness, Steven Warshak, is going to the slammer for 25 years, where it’s likely that some fellow cell-mates named Bubba need neither Enzyte nor Viagra to make Warshak’s life a living hell.

But Poor Bob. No more smiles. Poor Mrs. Bob. She’ll have to garage sale all those tall, round, stiff tea-glasses and very tall, really, really stiff straws and things. And poor Bob, he won’t have any friends at all since he lost all his, uh, confidence. He’ll have to play golf alone with his long, long, stiff clubs and dive alone into the swimming pool, no be-suited cute young things to gawk at his baggy trunks. Pretty soon, Mrs. Bob will divorce the poor slob, citing his infernal grinning as cruel and unusual punishment, and take the house and kids and Poor Bob will end up out on the street, maybe with some of those tall, round, stiff tea-glasses for company.

Ooooooo Noooo, Part Forrrrrr

Oh, dear. You think Poor Bob has trouble. Consider the Poor Republicans. Great Speech by our Caribou-Shooting Hockey Mom, Veep Wannabe, a red-meat speech hitting on all the Conservative Mantras – i.e. those evil democrats want to tax you and spend all your money (Maybe on decent health care, please? Fix the roads and bridges? Maybe work on infrastructure that’s been moldering for years while Wall Streeters made out like bandits? and such like?)

But the funniest note was this: We Republicans need to go to Washington and clean out that nest of vipers!

Right, you mean all the Republicans who have had control of “Washington” for years and years and who created the disastrous mess we’re in? Those vipers?

Well, that’s par for the course. Interesting, for last night at least, I didn’t hear much of what the Republicans were for or had planned, if elected, but I sure did hear a lot about Barack Obama. He must feel flattered that they would spend so much critical prime time sticking pins in him (It’s Obama this, Obamma that, 24/7, prime time) and so little time outlining what they have in mind – except going to Washington to clean out their fellow Republican snakes, that is.

Meantime, the Rovian Playbook is working full time casting Republicans as Victim and Palin as a “victim” of the Liberal Media for DARING to inquire about her qualifications to be president. OUTRAGEOUS! The same press that McCain refers to as “my base,” is now being cast as the wicked hounds unfairly trying to bring down the fleet, beautiful, hockey-Mom Diana.


But such dishonest hokum worked in the past. It may well work this time, too. Never underestimate the power of the American people to swallow style for substance, especially when substance demands some tough pills for everyone to gag down. Nope, much easier to go with the Image. Let the NEXT administration deal with the tough stuff.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ooooo Nooooo

Has the Republican Party finally jumped the shark? Now we have GOP candidate John McCain’s “soul mate," a NRA-loving, weaponized Hocky Mom, faux “reformer” (she voted for the Bridge to Nowhere before she voted against it and when the money came through anyway, she kept it – so much for standing up to the corrupt earmarked culture of DC and Alaska’s Sen. Stevens, the biggest pork-barrel earmark delivery guy in history), staunch anti-abortion proponent supposedly picked to appease the Moral Majority Family Values “base,” all set for the Karl Rove polish-up into the poster-woman for the Culture Wars and . . . Ooooo Noooo . . . . up pops her 17 year-old pregnant out-of-wedlock daughter. (“Uh, Mummy, Daddy, you know how we’ve been reading that the Bush-supported, Conservative-pushed Family Values Abstinence Only sex-ed programs don’t work as well as the science/medico/informational-type of programs? Uh . . .”)

Enough already. Here’s Mother Calhoun’s modest proposal for the GOP and all politicians: Get off the Culture Wars. There’s nothing stupider than some senator braying about Family Values to charge up his Moral Majority Base while working hard to make sure gay people can’t get married, who then gets busted tap-tapping in a public bathroom like a love-sick woodpecker. (I’m a happily married man. I am not gay. I’m a Senator!!)

Enough. Zip it. This country has sooooo many serious problems facing it and sooooo little time to set things right. Making sure gay people can’t get married or kids get official, state-led prayers in their classrooms, or women can’t make decisions about their own bodies or the government needs to be parked in people’s bedrooms shouldn’t even be on the radar.

Movies, Imagery and Time

If you get a chance, get to the Palm Theatre to see the documentary, “Man on Wire.” It’s an amazing film about a French wire-walker and his years-long dream to pull off a stealth wire walk between the Twin Towers some 28 years ago. The story of how this came about, told by many of the now much older (and wiser?) principals, is part thriller (close calls, sheer dumb luck), part fairy story, part mystery of the heart.

But the most interesting thing in the film for me is the amazing ability of the language of film to create an extraordinarily powerful synergy through the constant mixing of images and memory. Throughout the film, what happened to those towers is never mentioned. Never. But their fate haunts the heart in almost every scene. Especially eerie is a photograph taken at the time that shows edges of the two towers, in the middle the wire and on it the walker, as elegant as a dancer, and at the top of the picture, a large airliner zooming by. Absolutely chilling in its foreshadowing. And it’s an especially eerie image for anyone who later saw another famous photo of The Falling Man, one of the victims plummeting down from the towers during 9/11 horror, as small and elegant a figure as the wire walker floating in the sky years before, but one with a far different fate.

Don’t miss it.

Props, Finally

George Bush, the governors and mayors of several southern states in the path of the latest hurricaine, the citizens, and Homeland Security finally learned something and so got it right this time. Heck of a job, Non-Brownie. Heck of a job!