Archive for 2013

Red States Fixin’ to Gut Progressive California Laws

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

toxicBy Chuck McFadden
Special to Calbuzz

We  Californians have been pretty smug about it for years now — even decades.  But it all may be coming to an end.

I’m talking about our laws addressing climate change, the way we treat animals, consumer protections and workplace safety — you know, all that effete left-coast stuff.

We’ve congratulated ourselves on how advanced, far-seeing, humanitarian and generous we are.  We didn’t seem to know, or care, that the California approach to issues was resented by those in other parts of the country (read: Republicans) who thought it was all profit-eating nonsense.

Now, they’re mounting an attempt in Washington to gut California laws that we think are splendid and they think are anti-bidness.

Chief among them is a California law that protects consumers from toxic chemicals.  A bill in Congress would strengthen federal law on the issue (hooray!) but in so doing would overrule California’s stricter law.  Federal law preempts state law.  But you know that.

Man Holding Stop Sign“… Republicans have taken up the argument that they need to curb such regulatory trailblazing to protect the rights of other states, particularly deep-red ones that don’t want their industries faced with either following California’s rules or being cut off from the country’s biggest market.  They argue that the state’s regulations have gotten more aggressive.  State officials say a more conservative Republican Party now puts business interests ahead of protecting states from Washington’s authority,” the estimable Evan Halper tells us in the (still mighty) Los Angeles Times.

The view from Sacramento, Westside Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area has pretty much always been that those ill-educated, ill-informed, obese primitives living in large portions of the South and Midwest have their quaint customs and folkways.  They pursue their native dances, eat their simple foods and seek to preserve their ancient legends.  We tsk, tsk, the way a missionary would do upon meeting tribes in the backwaters of New Guinea, but unlike the missionaries, live and let live, that’s our motto.

Now, the primitives are taking advantage of gridlock and Republican control of the House  and are setting off on a crusade to override, among other things, California laws prohibiting the sale of eggs from hens who are confined to narrow cages.  They also don’t like this nonsense about banning the sale of foie gras because it’s cruel to geese.  And phasing out inefficient light bulbs?  Please.

It’s all hard on profits, you see.  You can make much more money destroying the environment, harming animals and harming people than you can by paying attention to the environment and decency.

lautenbergA bill by the late Democratic(!) Sen. Frank Lautenberg and David Vittner, who is a Republican from that environmental paradise known as Louisiana, would override California law on toxic chemicals.  It goes by the knee-slapper title of the “Chemical Safety Improvement Act.”

If you were a political scientist you might say, “What about the traditional Republican regard for states’ rights in the face of an overweening federal government?  California is a state, remember?”

To which the Party of No would reply, “What are you talking about?  This has to do with profits.  Never mind the damn geese and the damn chickens and fancy-ass light bulbs and this idea that chemicals used by Americans may not always be good for you. States’ rights are fine when it comes to putting obstacles in the way of undesirable voters, but not when it comes to profits.  What are you, anyway, a Muslim?”

There may be hope of salvaging something from the red onslaught.  Sen. Barbara Boxer, that stalwart California liberal,  chairs the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, after all.

Rep. Jared Huffman,  whose district is based in deep blue Marin, summed it up nicely for the Times’s Halper:

mcfadden“I have a state that wants to set the bar higher.  On human health, on animal cruelty, on all sorts of things.  The federal government should be supporting that.  But there are some industries that are on a race to the bottom.”


McFadden, who molded public opinion as a reporter for The Associated Press more years ago than he likes to think about, is the author of “Trailblazer: A Biography of Jerry Brown” recently published by The University of California Press.

Pervs Cling to Power While a Gassy Cop Wants Cash

Monday, July 29th, 2013

weinerfilnerOn one coast, we have a prick of a mayor and on the other coast we have a would-be mayor obsessed by his prick. It’s hard to say who’s the creepiest perv: San Diego Mayor Bob Filner or New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. What we do know is this: neither jackass should be the top elected official of a major American city.

Filner, 70, has alienated just about everyone in his base with his handsy, mouthy harassment of engaged, dedicated women who worked like crazy to get an improbable Democrat elected in conservative San Diego.

Now he’s going into “intensive therapy” to fix a problem that obviously predated his mayoralty. What he ought to do is work a deal that if he resigns, nobody will sue him so he can just crawl back under whatever rock from which beneath he slimed.

Weiner, 48, has been exposed as an Internet streaker of the first order, having texted not just explicitly sexual messages to various women but a picture of his naked junk – after resigning from Congress and pledging that he’d never act the digital weirdo again.

John Oliver, sitting in for Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, summed up Weiner’s problem better than anyone in his epic takedown:  “Anthony Weiner does suffer from a debilitating addiction . . . He’s addicted to running for office. And if he could just give that up he could live a full, productive life as an internet sex freak.”

craig-larryNarcissistic aphrodisiacs: They are hardly the first politicians to engage in kinky, illicit, sexualized behavior, of course. The list is long and thoroughly bipartisan, including the likes of John F. Kennedy, Gary Hart, Bill Clinton and John Edwards, and Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, Larry Craig and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to name just a few.

What is common among these Type P personalities (a label invented by our friend Garry South) is that they believe they are invisible and invincible. Perhaps it’s unfair to quote the old adage that politics is show business for ugly people because some of the afflicted are not ugly people (although Filner and Weiner certainly qualify).

But there’s no question that some people who might otherwise go unnoticed are attracted to politics because it is glamorous, offering an aphrodisiac and lots of potential victims. They think the rules don’t apply to them; they engage in a pursuit that is rife with opportunities for quick, easy, insincere relationships, and many have strained marriages already stressed by the demands of constant campaigning.


Moreover, power corrupts. Only men and women of great integrity can resist the constant opportunity to cheat, accept favors, take advantage and otherwise profit from public office. Men of questionable character – like Filner and Weiner – are the first to succumb to the temptations presented by power. Instead, they get drunk on the magic elixir. And they do stupid, untoward and disgusting things.

And they think they can get away with it. They’re never really sorry. They’re just sorry they got caught.

“I don’t mean to sound like a prude, but what the hell do you have to do to be disqualified from high-level politics in this country?” asked the far-from-squeamish Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone, the other day.

Your Calbuzzers are no prudes, but we have to ask: Gentlemen, have you no sense of decency?

Gas Man Seeks Recompense

Meanwhile up in Davis, wUC-Davis-pepper-spraye’ve got ex-UC cop John Pike. Not since the kid who axe murdered his parents and then pleaded for mercy because he was an orphan have we seen such indecent chutzpah as that displayed by Officer Pike.

Pike, as every fellow-traveling lefty knows so well, is the dimwitted bozo who infamously and heedlessly pepper sprayed students during an Occupy protest at UC Davis a few years back, inadvertently becoming an internets virus viral sensation and, in the process, costing the university $1 million to fend off a pack of lawsuits while getting his boss fired as campus chief cop.

Now comes Pike, applying for workers’ comp benefits because he suffered psychiatric injury from the incident, no doubt because his secret fantasies of busting heads as a Chinese street thug cop leading the charge against peacefully protesting Tibetan Buddhist monks no longer provide him relief.