As Publisher of The Carmel Pine Cone, I take great pride in our local news coverage. But I also have an extensive background in national TV, Internet and print media, and I am constantly consuming news in all three. To convey some of my insights about the big issues confronting our country, and how the various news media cover them, not to mention how they handle popular culture, I've assembled this collection of Internet links. I hope you find some interesting tidbits.
July 11 -- Two more absolutely awesome
columns by Thomas Sowell today. (Part
2.) I'd vote for him for president in a
heartbeat, because if his ideas were put into
practice, this country would have prosperity such as
it's never seen. Meanwhile, Obama lies to the voters
in order to get elected, and the country be damned.
June 28 -- My predictions about today's
Supreme Court decision came very close to the actual
result. Chief Justice Roberts produced a compromise
that upheld the individual mandate under the taxing
power on a 5-4 vote, but which rejected it under the
Commerce Clause on an 8-1 vote (only former ACLU
general counsel Ruth Ginsberg is fine with the federal
government telling people what they must buy). The
mandatory Medicaid expansion was also rejected on a
5-4 vote, with Roberts leading the way. His decision
is remarkable for its readability despite its
complexity, and I urge everyone to read it for
himself, instead of relying on media reports.
June 27 -- Tomorrow's Supreme Court
decision on Obamacare is sure to be some kind of
compromise worked out by one or two of the Republican
justices, just like the court's decision
this week on Arizona's immigration laws. One
thing we know for sure: All the Democrats on the court
(Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer and Ginsbger) will vote as a
bloc. Only Republicans on the court can be counted on
for independent, critical thinking, and
that's been true for almost half a century. The
only drama in tomorrow's decision is whether the
must-buy provision, which is obviously
unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, will be
overturned 9-0 or 5-4. My bet is on 9-0.
June 25 -- The federal government
refuses to release data showing where
food stamps are spent and what they are used to buy.
June 25 -- There has never been a
better example of an "activist" Supreme Court imposing
its own views of right and wrong on society and
overturning the duly enacted laws of the majority than
today's idiotic decision on the sentencing
of juvenile murderers. It is truly shocking to
me that after 40-plus continuous years with a majority
of Republican appointees on the High Court we are
still getting this kind of judicial abuse of power.
June 22 -- Next up for the European
the goldbrickers are going to move there.
June 22 -- According to the NYT, "Billions
of Dollars [are] in Play Over Health Care Law."
And you thought the law was going to save the country
June 15 -- The big city newspapers
having been cheerleading for illegal immigrants for
years, so their one-sided coverage of Obama's amnesty
announcement is no surprise, of course. Still, stories
such as the
Heralds are so utterly biased, they just leave me
shaking my head.
June 10 -- Nothing is funnier than when
pretends it isn't a "pulpit" for all sorts of
June 8 -- If it wasn't already obvious,
article explains why the Democrats never lift a
finger to slow down illegal immigration.
June 8 -- Why would someone be let into
college who can barely read and write? Because he can
play football, of course. But
is that good for him, or for his school?
June 2 -- Governor Brown wants to limit
CEQA review of his monster high-speed rail project.
Meanwhile, Carmel still can't sell Flanders Mansion
because of the idiot law.
June 1 -- Thomas Sowell has a wonderful
column today about voter
fraud and the Obama Department of Justice.
May 29 -- Facebook stock is down
so much, all those small
investors who were "shut out" of the IPO should
be really, really happy. On the other hand, Mark
Zuckerberg has "lost" billions since he "made" all
that money when the IPO sold out at $38 a share. Maybe
that's why he's been a lousy
tipper on his European honeymoon.
May 29 -- Apparently taxpayers
are supposed to give illegal immigrants free housing.
Also, it's worth noting in this story that, for all
the terrible living conditions endured by the
immigrants, there's no mention whatsoever of them
May 29 -- Another government
giveaway program the world can't possibly do without,
according to the NYT. Don't these kids have families?
May 29 -- It's revolting that anyone is
a finger to keep the crooked Charles Rangel in
May 29 -- If you're a Broadway Show
addict like me, nothing could warm your heart more
than news that the
movie version of "Les Miserables" (the musical) is
due out Dec. 14, starring Hugh Jackman as Jean
Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as
Fantine and Amanda Seyfried as Cosette. Also
heartening is word that the singers won't
be lipsynching while the cameras are rolling.
May 28 -- The California Teachers
Association has done tremendous damage not only to
schools, but to
the whole state.
May 28 -- The federal government is set
up to give away money to "the poor," and doesn't
seem to care how much of it is stolen in the process.
May 27 -- It wasn't long ago that the
NYT was telling us illegal immigration had basically
ended. But now they're reporting that people
are still risking life and limb in large numbers to
sneak into the country.
May 27 -- Virginia
Hennessey's hit piece on Dave Potter in this
morning's MoCo Herald is weak weak weak and
doesn't contain the slightest evidence of actual
impropriety, so of course the paper gave it huge play
on page one.
May 25 -- The SF Chronicle reports that
all San Francisco Bay area beaches are clean. Of
course, they're downstream from millions of people, as
I noted in my March 9 editorial. Our beaches are in
the watershed of only a few thousand people, so they
must be super clean. So I ask again: WTF is the State
Water Resources Control Board doing cracking down so
hard on us?
May 24 -- In Oregon, public schools are
prohibited from using names like "Warriors,"
"Redskins," and "Chiefs." And the
ban even applies to the state's Indian tribes!
May 22 -- A Philippine movie mocking the phoniness of Hollywood sensibilities sounds spot on. The same exploitation of the poor is also an essential part of the business model of the NYT, alternative weeklies, NPR, etc.
May 22 -- Victor Davis hits another home run with his essay explaining why some people, despite their crimes and sins, are given a pass by the left.
May 18 -- Noncitizens on the voter rolls in Florida? It can't be true!
May 18 -- A lot is being made of Warren Buffet's purchase of 63 newspapers for $142 million. Sure, it's a sign of confidence in the future of small town papers, but without P&Ls for the papers being acquired, it's impossible to know how much confidence.
May 13 -- Willie Brown is a die-hard Democrat who likes to tell the truth: Obama's sudden announcement last week that he favored gay marriage wasn't sudden at all. It was calculated. Brown also has a nice tidbit about Clint Eastwood.
May 13 -- The Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 75th anniversary May 27, and today's SF Chronicle has a wonderful article about the vehement opposition to the building of the bridge when it was going through the permit process in 1930. But the article falls flat when it compares the power of naysayers back then to what they enjoy today. In the 1930s, people who were predictably against everything were marginalized. Today, they are super-empowered, especially by the media and by ridiculous state laws such as CEQA and the California Coastal Act. BTW, if you want an even better illustration of bizarre opposition to a project that turned out to be a beloved icon, read "Eiffel's Tower" by Jill Jonnes .
May 13 -- The WSJ cogently explains why California is the worst state to do business.
May 8 -- Speaking of cynically and opportunistically hypocritical: The fact that the Obama administration left John Yoo to defend himself against the bizarre civil suit brought by a terrorist for allegedly violating his Constitutional rights is an example of partisan politics at its worst. If Yoo had been a Democrat, Obama would have defended him in a heartbeat. Even the Ninth Circuit saw the terrorist charges for what they were: complete crap.
May 8 -- It shocks me how the big city media are trumpeting Barack Obama's announcement that he favors gay marriage as an act of political courage. His position on this issue has been shamefully and opportunistically hypocritical, if you ask me.
May 8 -- A libertarian economist debunks the idea that 70 percent tax rates won't cause declines in government tax revenues. Of course, liberals don't care what happens to the economy, as long as tax rates are "fair."
May 6 -- Excuse me, but aren't subsidized students loans one of the main reasons college costs have gone up so fast? Why doesn't anybody report that easy money just causes inflation in the product being bought with it?
May 6 -- Wow ... in the people's paradise of Cuba, anyone who tested positive for HIV was quarantined.
May 6 -- It looks like Monterey Bay will be getting a lot more visits from cruise ships. Yaay!
May 2 -- I have a question: If 95 percent of marine species went extinct 252 million years ago, was that a bad thing?
May 1 -- The SF Chronicle has a moron
covering Silicon Valley. His column today about
tech companies supposedly "gaming
the tax system" is as ignorant as anything
you'll read in any big city newspaper. For
starters, don't the companies that own those
newspapers also do everything they can to
minimize their tax bills?
April 30 -- Does the NYT want police to have any weapons at all? The paper is running an unrelenting campaign against tasers.
April 29 -- Here's a very cute story about full-grown trees popping out of the tops of abandoned silos in the Midwest. The reporter is the son of NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger, and probably his eventual successor.
April 29 -- The housing bust is giving governments a tax windfall as fewer people take mortgage interest deductions.
April 25 -- With every government give-away program, it's the same story: It starts out modestly and with good intentions, and promptly turns into a monster.
April 25 -- Stanford University's Walter Williams offers a brilliant analysis of the real meaning of federal deficits and tax "fairness."
April 25 -- Is John Edwards the sleaziest politician ever? Yes, it seems he's got Bill Clinton beat by a country mile.
April 25 -- According to today's SF Chronicle, the owners of the belligerently left-wing San Francisco Bay Guardian are about to profit very handsomely with the sale of their newspaper and office building to the Examiner, which reminds us once again that there's plenty of money to be made pretending to be against capitalism.
April 24 -- Every time a Republican gets close to being elected president, activists and Hollywood celebrities can be heard promising to move to Canada if he wins. Of course, they never do. But plenty of Americans have renounced their citizenship because of Barack Obama's tax policies.
April 24 -- Finally! Someone makes the case for higher taxes on the rich without using the idiotic "fairness" argument.
April 20 -- Shouldn't the NYT be paying its "fair" share of taxes?
April 20 -- It's been proven over and over again in history, and it's being proven again right now in Venezuela: The only way to make everyone equal is to make everyone poor.
April 20 -- In New York City, officials concerned about childhood obesity are worried that low-income students are eating free breakfasts at school after also eating breakfast at home. Their solution? Encourage the parents not to feed them. The hunger crisis is really getting out of control!
April 19 -- Normally, I don't pay much attention to over-hyped scandals such as the Secret Service nonsense in Colombia. But this is really ridiculous.
April 18 -- Should unemployment insurance be extended beyond the current "emergency" maximum of 99 weeks to people who've found new jobs? Apparently, that's what the Obama administration is planning.
April 16 -- Here's another column that passes for sophisticated analysis but which actually states a patently obvious fact: That humans are genetically programmed to eat as much as they can as a safeguard against future famines, which were common events for our ancestors. Duh. (Some people have a problem with the fact that modern civilization is far better than the "state of nature," and that's why they pretend to be shocked when they "discover" it.)
April 8 -- This morning's MoCo Herald has a story about an immigration forum in Salinas that's so one-sided, it's hard to know where to begin. But this passage, about a woman in the audience, seemed particularly ridiculous: "A woman who only gave her name as Maria tearfully recounted how her daughter and son-in-law were deported, leaving behind their 5-year-old son. 'The worst part, what hurts me the most, is that he has to be alone,' she said. 'He's a very courageous child. He almost never cries. All he asks is, 'When is my mom coming home?'" Excuse me for asking, but if being separated from his parents is that traumatic for the 5-year-old, why didn't the deported parents take him to Mexico with them? Doesn't the reporter owe it to her readers to at least offer an explanation or ask the question?
April 8 -- CBS News just posted a bulletin that Mike Wallace died. When I was just a kid working at CBS in the 1970s, I learned a lot from him. (Tonight on 60 Minutes they only briefly mentioned Wallace, and promised to have an extensive look at his career next Sunday. Meanwhile, the CBS online obit is here.)
April 8 -- If you missed the "Sunday Morning" segment about Clint Eastwood, you can watch it here.
April 6 -- If you're interested in a hi-res version of our "Clint Wins" front page from April 10, 1986, you can download it here.
April 1 -- If you ever wonder why the
water that comes out of your tap has to have
chlorine in it, a quick read of today's NYT
story about the post-earthquake
cholera epidemic in Haiti, which spread
quickly through the population because of poor
sanitation and inadequate water treatment, will
set you straight. Another good source to
understand cholera and other water-borne
diseases is the classic medical history book, "The Ghost
Map," by Steven Johnson. As you read that
one, you'll realize there are lots of good
reasons to be happy the chlorine is in there.
March 31 -- I detest the lottery and all the slobbering news coverage, i.e., this morning's MoCo Herald front page, it gets. The "house edge" in the lottery is extremely high -- as much as 90 percent -- which means that the average return for all players is just ten percent of what they bet. In Las Vegas, the returns are much better. Roulette, for example, generally pays back about 95 percent of everything bet. In other words, if you play the lottery enough, you will definitely lose 90 percent of your money. If you play roulette, over the long run, you will lose 5 percent. For the people who play it, the lottery is by far the worst form of gambling in the world.
March 31 -- A commentary in today's NYT about the Obamacare debate at the Supreme Court illustrates perfectly why that newspaper is on a different planet — one where the Constitution's limitations on federal power and protections of individual liberty are meaningless, and the federal government can do whatever it wants: "Just a few weeks ago, the overwhelming view of constitutional scholars was that this wouldn’t be a close case, with even conservative justices likely to uphold the law." Huh? And this crazy thing: "That it now looks not only possible but perhaps likely that the Supreme Court will strike down the health care law as unconstitutional, probably in its entirety, is a tribute to some skilled and passionate advocacy and the persuasive power of conservative media — and what seems a breathtaking departure from decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence. " Again, complete nonsense.
March 30 -- Get ready to pay every time you call 911.
March 30 --All the reporters covering the Supreme Court agree: There's no chance whatsoever any of the justices appointed by Democratic presidents will deviate from their party's line and vote to overturn Obamacare. Only Republicans can be counted on to think for themselves. And that's the way it always is with the High Court. BTW, Bloomberg has the best online access to the case's important filings. C-Span has all of the oral arguments. During the severability argument, it was embrassing how Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Ginsburg desperately struggled to salvage something -- anything! -- of Obamacare. Also, it was refreshing to hear the justices admit they had not -- and could not -- even read the entire Obamacare law. So why did so many Democrats in Congress pretend they had a rational basis for voting for a law they, too, could not have possibly read?
March 30 -- An Oakland reporter made a very significant error in a story about the murder of Peter Cukor, but the big city media closed ranks and only got indignant about the police chief's reaction to the error.
March 30 -- Keith Olbermann is crazy, and so is Al Gore for hiring him. Who will pick up Mr. Looney Tunes now?
March 27 -- Mark my words ... this cute little publicity stunt by the Center for Biological Diversity will be picked up by the major news media. They worship that organization.
March 27 -- Even the NYT has to admit that most Americans are firmly against Obamacare. I think it's because they understand something that's hardly ever mentioned by the big city news media, especially in light of the health insurance mandate at the center of today's Supreme Court debate: This law is such a huge giveaway program ($1.76 trillion worth of health care over ten years, at last count) even Democrats think it has to incorporate some way to recover a bit of that revenue. Which is the only reason they included the mandate in the first place. Which makes it ironic that it's the part getting the most attention.
March 24 -- Here's how liberals view the world: If somebody gets hurt, there must be someone they can sue.
March 23 -- An environmental group announced today that San Pablo Bay -- which is part of the San Francisco Bay watershed -- receives the "highest volume of toxic discharges" in the state. So why, I ask again, is the State Water Recources Control Board cracking down so hard on tiny, insignifcant Pacific Grove, Carmel and Pebble Beach for the irrelevant amounts of pollution they send to the sea?
March 23 -- An update to my front-page story today about the coastal commission's crusade against the owners of a front-yard golf course in Pebble Beach: Monday's court session on their alleged violation of the order to quit watering and mowing it has been postponed. Could this mean the coastal commisson has decided to settle? I sure hope so.
March 23 -- The US Atty. has scheduled a news conference in Sacramento this morning. I understand it's to announce that agribusiness executive and Pebble Beach resident Scott Salyer has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a four-year sentence in federal prison. UPDATE: My sources were right.
March 23 -- Let's see ... the government sets up yet another well-intenioned but wasteful program for people it feels sorry for, the program is exploited by criminals, yet the fault lies with big business. Why do I feel like I've seen this script before?
March 23 -- "Smash" has been renewed for another season. Yaay! I love that show. But, of course, I'm addicted to Broadway musicals.
March 22 -- Tonight we release the results of our Carmel election reader poll. To see the detailed results, click here.
March 22 -- To read a collection of election letters to the editor I didn't have room to print this week, click here.
March 20 -- There's a tragic side-story to our Feb. 24 report about the $28 million Pebble Beach teardown. The former owner, Silicon Valley billionaire Tom Siebel, is severely disabled after being attacked by an elephant in 2009. That probably explains why he sold the house in 2010, even though he took an $11 million loss.
March 17 -- The Supreme Court will hear three days of oral arguments on Obamacare next week, and making audio recordings of the arguments available each day. I'll be listening to every minute.
March 16 -- Why does the NYT always take the side of unions against taxpayers?
March 14 -- In the latest of a never-ending series of hopelessly uninformative stories about global warming, the NYT offers an assessment of coming changes in sea level, which it tendentiously puts in perspective thusly: "The ocean has been rising slowly and relentlessly since the late 19th century, one of the hallmark indicators that the climate of the earth is changing." First of all, the earth's climate has always been changing. And so has the level of the sea. How about some analysis of current trends in light of truly long-term ones?
March 14 -- The MoCo Herald has a story today about the ridiculously high cost of CalStar's helicopter ambulance service. The Pine Cone's Mary Schley had a much better story on the same subject three years ago
Feb. 26 -- Paul Theroux is getting senile. His intrepid 1975 book, "The Great Railway Bazaar," is one of the best travel books ever written. In 2003, he published, "Dark Star Safari," which is not only a wonderful travel book, it's also a gold mine of insightful and iconoclastic political commentary. But in 2008, in "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star," Theroux idiotically compared Joseph McCarthy to Joseph Stalin. And in today's NYT, after a brief visit to Nogales, Mexico, he complains that the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico is "more formal than the Berlin Wall, more brutal than the Great Wall of China, yet in its way just as much an example of the same folie de grandeur." Of course, the beefed up fence is actually nothing more than a logical and necessary response to the invasion of this country by Mexican drug runners and illegal immigrants. (If Theroux favors open borders, I suggest he move from Hawaii to southern Arizona to partake directly of the results.)
Feb. 26 -- It's always amusing to see big city reporters twist themselves in knots to avoid or explain away obvious truths that conflict with their political orthodoxy. Today, the NYT expresses shock at the idea that people who are intelligent are more successful than people who aren't. (Liberals insists that poverty, criminal behavior, drug addiction, obesity, etc., are always caused by outside forces.)
Feb. 24 -- Hilarious! The lede story in today's SF Chronicle, "Voters willing to tax the wealthy," reports that 58 percent of voters are in favor of raising tax rates for people who make more than $1 million a year. But since liberals (and especially President Obama) constantly claim, and the big city media regularly report, that there isabsolutely no downside for the economy of imposing higher taxes on the rich, that the money is needed for vital government programs, and that raising taxes on the wealthy is "fair," a more interesting story would be to explain why 98 percent of voters — in other words, everyone who won't have to pay the higher taxes, will benefit from the money raised, and wholikes the idea of fairness— don't favor it.
Feb. 24 -- A commentary in today's WSJ about marshmallows brilliantly explains basic economic behavior. And an editorial explains the folly of believing raising tax rates necessarily increases government revenue.
Feb. 23 -- Predictably, the NYT hates Prop 13. But if it was such a disaster for state and local government revenues in California, why have public employee salaries and benefits gone up so much?
Feb. 23 -- As I pointed out in my editorial last week, newspaper people who pretend to be tree huggers are among the worst hypocrites in history. It turns out Warren Buffet is also a big phony.
Feb. 21 -- A new study shows that the U.S. is the fattest country in the world. But, hey, according to MoCo Weekly, hunger is rampant in Monterey County.
Feb. 22 -- The Occupy movement claims another casualty.
Feb. 21 -- William McGurn helpfully explains why liberals didn't care when Barack Obama campaigned for president on an anti-gay-marriage platform, but go nuts when Rick Santorum does the same thing. (Hint: They didn't mind what Obama said because they knew he was lying to get elected.)
Feb. 19 -- A dollar bill works just like a check anybody can cash, and a dollar bill that falls out of circulation becomes revenue for the person who originally wrote the check, which in the case of U.S. currency is the federal government. In other words, the pennies in your penny jar are like a gift to Washington. Don't believe me? Check out this story in today's NYT about the value of uncirculated French francs from the pre-Euro era.
Feb. 18 -- Can it be true the NYT has only recently discovered that the capital gains tax rate is lower than the tax on wages? They act like they never heard of it before. And in their hand-wringing over the inequity of the lower capital gains rate, and their demand it be raised, they don't provide the slightest analysis of what a doubling of the capital gains rate might mean.
Feb. 17 -- It's probably only going to take a few minutes for some people to start reacting to my editorial, "Stuff and nonsense," by saying, "But your newspaper is printed on paper, too!" I can never figure out how to respond to people whose thinking is so shallow. If you want to read Royal Calkins' column about his revelation that it's ok to cut down a tree once in awhile, you can find it here.
Feb. 17 -- Nobody has picked up on the ridiculousness of the Occupy movement better than Glenn Reynolds. Where do I sign up for the classes he proposes?
Feb. 16 -- Even liberals arewaking up to the evils of rent control. If there is to be subsidized housing for the poor, the subsidy should be provided by taxpayers generally, not handed to a few landlords.
Feb. 12 -- If you think about politics a lot (like I do), you're surely aware of the strengths and weaknesses of democracy, and you've probably wondered how, with the majority firmly in charge, things can get so screwed up. "The Myth of the Rational Voter," by Bryan Caplan, has the answer.
Feb. 5 -- Today's NYT editorial, "Politics and the Supreme Court," contains the biggest lies the newspaper has ever told (which is saying a lot, considering the paper's sorry record). This is how itsummarizes a few of the important issues facing the country: The Obamacare debate is "between a quest for universal coverage and the defense of big health care providers." The question of securing the border is "between an emphasis on openness and hostility toward immigrants." And efforts to tighten voter rolls exemplify a contrast "between a promise of access to the voting booth made nearly 50 years ago and the unyielding opposition to keeping that promise." Is it possible to imagine a more biased version of arguments the NYT opposes?
Feb. 5 -- I'm addicted to Broadway musicals, so of course I'm looking forward to the premiere of "Smash" tomorrow night. Even though NBC has been way over-promoting it, the critics all say the show's going to live up to its name. Weknow how good Katherine McPhee is from American Idol. I saw Megan Hilty in the role of Glinda in "Wicked" a few years back ... she was amazing.
Feb. 5 -- Clint Eastwood's Chrysler commercial shown during halftime at the Super Bowl was great! I totally agree with its message. Meanwhile, Madonna lipsynched throughout her show, but the production was great and her dancing was pretty good. She deserves the attention for all her hits over the years. My favorite is "Like a Prayer."
Feb. 3 -- If the ADA requires CNN to provide closed captioning for every video clip on its website, does that mean we have to provide an audio version of every story on our site?
Feb. 4 -- Demi Moore's recent 911 call could result in a major loss of public (and media) access to emergency responder info.
Feb. 1 -- Major oops! The MoCo Herald declared Sam Farr's congressional seat vacant in a prominent deadline today. Within a few hours, the congressman's office issued a press release mocking the Herald's mistake. And then the newspaper had to issue an even more embarrassing correction to another story claiming that a convicted child pornographer was a "longtime volunteer at Community Hospital." In fact, he hadn't volunteered there for more than 20 years. That's a pretty amazing mistake, considering that CHOMP's spokeswoman, Brenda Moore, is married to the Herald's editor, Royal Calkins.
Jan. 29 -- Speaking of Communists, the SF Chronicle's coverage of yesterday's violent Occupy protest in Oakland includes some beautiful quotes. My favorite was this, from a retired Cal State professor who spoke to the crowd: "Passionate, organized hatred is the element missing in all that we do. Now is the time to spread hated, hatred for the rich." To really understand what the public thinks about these idiot protesters, be sure to read the reader comments at the end of the story. And while 1,000 social misfits were trashing downtown Oakland yesterday, 100,000 law-abiding citizens were honoring veterans at a parade in St. Louis.
Jan. 29 -- The NYT calls Florida governor Rick Scott "an enigmatic, polarizing figure." Has the newspaper ever used language like that to describe any prominent Democrat?
Jan. 29 -- The Left is in love. But when the reporter says Camila Dowling is a Communist, what does that mean? She doesn't believe in ownership of private property? Or what?
Jan. 29 -- 60 Minutes will broadcast a profile of Leon Panetta tonight. UPDATE: Unfortunately, Scott Pelley did the story and it was pretty bad. Too bad Steve Kroft didn't handle it.
Jan. 29 -- The NYT has an editorial this morning calling for an end to filibustering of presidential nominees in the Senate — a position they're obviously taking only because a Democrat is in the White House. It makes you wonder how anyone can stand the hypocrisy. I guess I should be asking myself that question, because for all the horrible things the NYT prints, and all the damage it does to this country, I still read it every day.
Jan. 28 -- I find it very odd that none of the reporting about Mitt Romney's tax returns (example 1, example 2, example 3) mentions the obvious and interesting fact that he'll be hit especially hard by the new 3.8 percent Medicare tax on unearned income that takes effect next year. Figuring the tax is complicated (like everything else in our idiotic tax laws), but the way I see it, he'll owe about $760,000 a year. Will Democrats consider that a "fair" amount?
Jan. 28 -- Today's NYT has a wonderful story about the history of the New England Patriots and all the crazy places they called home in their early days.
Jan. 28 -- Today's WSJ has an interesting essay about statistics showing murder rates around the world and how unreliable they can be. What interested me most is how the murder rate in the U.S. is between that of Western Europe (very low) and Central and South America (very high) Makes sense, when you think about it.
Jan. 28 -- If you have an iPhone or an iPad (or both), you definitely want to start using the "Find my iPhone" app. You'll never lose your phone again, and if it's stolen, today's NYT shows how the latest version can really help out. Of course, we had a similar story more than two years ago.
Jan. 26 -- A few notes about my editorial, "Locavore, schmocavore,"this week: Milton Friedman's PBS essay on the pencil can be viewed here. Hans Rosling's interpretation of the washing machine can be seen here. Matt Ridley's wonderful book, "The Rational Optimist," can be ordered here. And Stephen Pinker's overview of the history of violence can be ordered here.
Jan. 26 -- Did you catch the details of President Obama's testy exchange with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer?
Jan. 22 -- I agree with the LA Times that a screening of "Citizen Kane," at Hearst Castle during the upcoming San Luis Obispo International Film Festival is a newsworthy event. However, since the screening will be at the visitor's center, why does the headline say the film "gets inside the castle'?
Jan. 21 -- The NYT has a wonderfully detailed story explaining why iPhones aren't manufactured in the U.S. For all the paper's efforts to make it seem like Apple is doing something wrong, I think the company comes off as heroic. Can you believe it has been making a profit of $400,000 per year per employee?
Jan. 21 -- Once again we're reminded how cushy things are in the U.S., where it's considered a crisis that school buses don't have seatbelts. In Indonesia, the problems are slightly worse.
Jan. 20 -- After reading this story, I couldn't help wondering why liberals, and even feminists, want to treat grown women like helpless children.
Jan. 20 -- If birth control is a "preventive service" which must be provided free by health insurers or the government to anyone who asks for it, shouldn't food also be covered? And shelter and clothing? Being hungry or living on the streets is at least as deleterious to your health as being pregnant. "Hello, Blue Cross? Send me a half-dozen Big Macs right away. And make sure they're free!"
Jan. 20 -- Our new Police Log comic strip, by Owen Cook, is already becoming famous.
Jan. 18 -- It's impossible to believe, but the NYT gave a favorable write-up to Fox News anchor Bret Baier and the way he handled a Republican presidential candidates debate.
Jan. 18 -- If the big city media are going to report that obesity rates in the U.S. remain high, shouldn't they at least mention their other constantly reported theme that "hunger" is a major national problem?
Jan. 14 -- I missed the press release when it came out last month: Boeing put its first 787 Dreamliner on wheels just 24 months after breaking ground on its new South Carolina assembly facility. That's an amazing achievement. And this is the plant the Obama administration wanted to shut down?
Jan. 14 -- The NYT continues its pointless and historically ignorant campaign to discredit Orthodox Jews with a story today on the sect's treatment of women ("Strict religious rules place limits on half a nation's people"). But elsewhere in the same paper, a travel essay about Jerusalem shows that Israel's women are as free as they would be in the USA.
Jan. 14 -- I've often wondered, considering how global temperatures have fluctuated dramatically overthe eons, whether Global Warming might be harmful by making the earth warmer, or beneficial by keeping it from getting colder. Matt Ridley (whose book, "The Rational Optimist," is one of my favorites) has a column on that very subject today.
Jan. 13 -- The video of Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters has actually been downplayed by the big city news media, compared to how it would have been trumpeted if a Republican were in the White House. However, it's still being overplayed compared to its actual significance, as the Christian Science Monitor helpfully explained. There can be no doubt: The U.S. military is the most civilized major fighting force the world has ever seen.
Jan. 11 -- It may be miserably dry in Tahoe, but there's a ton of snow in the Alps. Courcheval, anyone?
Jan. 10 -- Barack Obama: Most lawless president ever?
Jan. 10 -- A "wealth tax" instead of an "income tax"? What would the Kennedys say???
Jan. 9 -- "Private sector gets job skills, public gets bill," huffs the NYT. Isn't that true of the entire public school system?
Jan. 8 -- David Bernahl and Rob Weakley's downtown Monterey restaurant, 1833, got a rave review in today's SF Chronicle.
Jan. 7 -- The NYT thinks it's terrible that police are ticketing, and even arresting, people for "petty" offenses on the subway. But from the examples cited in the story, it sounds to me like the program's a big success.
Jan. 7 -- If a private citizen disposed of Christmas trees by throwing them in a lake, he'd be immediately jailedand vilified in the media. Since the government is doing it, the SF Chronicle loves the idea. At least they could acknowledge the double standard.
Jan. 7 -- The lack of snow in Tahoe is surely the reason why the Peninsula has been inundated with tourists lately.
Jan. 7 -- The MoCo Herald is finally taking an interest in the cocaine bust of Gregory Tapson. But this morning's story contains the rather ludicrous assertion that, while Tapson and the infamous Carl Bergstrom "shared an office," they "never had a professional relationship." Huh?
Jan. 7 -- The NYT happened to have two veteran reporters on board a U.S. Navy ship when it rescued a group of Iranian fishermen from Somali pirates Thursday. The reporters' story is definitely worth reading. Their photos are good, too.
Jan. 6 -- The SF Chronicle has a fascinating story this morning about a local ocean researcher being indicted by a federal grand jury for feeding a killer whale in Monterey Bay. That's a good scoop for the Chron.
Jan. 6 --- Ann Coulter has a really good column this week analyzing the results of the Iowa caucuses.
Jan. 4 -- Our country would be much more prosperous -- to everyone's benefit -- if there were nocorporate income tax, minimum wage or rent control. Perhaps the Supreme Court is about to declare one of these things unconstitutional?
Jan. 4 -- The cop who arrested the L.A. arsonist was a volunteer sheriff's deputy who was born in Tehran.
Jan. 4 -- Stories like this one, about an injured illegal immigrant dying after being returned to Mexico, would be more useful if they included information about what his medical care cost and who paid for it. UPDATE: A previous story included some of the information. Mexican immigrants may have a hard time adapting to some aspects of life north of the border, but one thing they get right away is to start demanding stuff for free.
Jan. 1 -- There was an interesting conjunction of employment law stories in the SF Chronicle today: On the front page, "Lowest paid in S.F. get a raise," and in the business section, "Making employers play by the rules." One of the bizarre things about California politics is that many of the state's strictest laws are only enforced on people who obey the law anyway. Meanwhile, millions of California residents are here illegally, drive without licenses or insurance, pollute the environment whenever they want to, and pay their employees under the table, and nobody cares.
Jan. 1 -- The MoCo Herald front-paged an AP story today under the headline, "Flying is safer than ever." I'm pretty sure that's been continuously true ever since the invention of the airplane.
Dec. 31 -- I didn't find today's SF Chronicle story about an illegal immigrant's successful basketball career at Cal inspiring at all; I found it revolting. According to the State Dept., it can take decades for even a highly qualified would-be immigrant from India (for example) to get a visa. But we're supposed to celebrate the fact that a Mexican 16-year-old crossed the border because he had basketball dreams?
Dec. 31 -- According to NYT reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal, the organic food movement requires that produce be "not only free of chemicals and pesticides but also grown locally on small farms." That would mean that nobody in New York, Boston or Chicago would be able to get a fresh tomato except in July and August. Why do liberals engage in such moronic fantasies?
Dec. 28 -- Nancy Pelosi vacationing in a $10,000-a-day hotel suite? It can't be true.
Dec. 28 -- Have they no shame? Today's NYT repeatedly calls Orthodox Jews "extremists" because they spat upon a young girl who wasn't dressed modestly enough, and called her names. But stories in the very same newspaper about Muslims raping, murdering and performing "virginity tests" on young women in the name of religion do not use the word "extremists" at all.
Dec. 28 -- You really have to read between the lines to understand today's coverage of the coming $1.2 trillion increase in federal debt. For example, this sentence from the NYT: "Since President Obama took office, the debt has shot up 42 percent, to the current level of $15.1 trillion. Of that amount, $10.4 trillion is borrowed from the public, and $4.7 trillion consists of special-issue Treasury securities held by Social Security and other government trust funds." In other words, $4.7 trillion consists of phony securities which one part of the government pretends to owe another part. And this one: "Treasury officials said the debt often increased at the end of the year because of large interest payments that the government makes to Social Security and other trust funds. These payments will total $82 billion this month, the Treasury said. Money not immediately needed by the trust funds is invested in the special Treasury securities." Translation: The money "owed" to social security is immediately spent on other government programs.
Dec. 28 -- The NYT Co. is selling 16 of its smaller newspapers at a shockingly low price.
Dec. 28 -- No surprise here ... theDemocrats are definitely the party to go to if you're looking for government handouts. Unfortunately, most people in lower-income groups don't take the long view for economic growth.
Dec. 26 -- Is the purpose of taxation to raise money for the government or to redistribute income? For many Democrats, liberals and representatives of the big city media, it's the latter. They are always in favor of raising taxes on upper income groups, even if doing so reduces government revenues. Don't believe me? Barack Obama himself said so during the 2008 campaign.
Dec. 26 -- Bulletin to MoCo Weekly, The Herald, and everybody else who wanted to convict Rich Guillen based solely on Jane Miller's one-sided release of emails from him to her: Even the SF Chronicle thinks it's also important what the accuser said to the accused.
Dec. 24 --The MoCo Herald printed a very strange apology today.
Dec. 24 -- NYT columnists are unanimous: The mortgage meltdown was caused solely by Wall Street Greed, and government policies to promote affirmative action in mortgages had nothing to do with it. Haven't they read "Reckless Endangerment" by one of the NYT's own reporters?
Dec. 24 -- It's obvious that cell phones and other electronic devices cause no disruption of airliner electronics, since on every flight at least 10 people don't turn their phones off. Today's NYT adds a bit of scientific evidence to this conclusion. And what would the lab in the story have to say about smart meters?
Dec. 21 -- According to the WSJ, stockholders in AOL are rebelling against some of the company's money-losing web content strategies, including patch.com, which is designed to put The Pine Cone, and other small-town newspapers, out of business. Pardon me if I regard this story not as bad news, but as a very nice Christmas present for all of us at The Pine Cone.
Dec. 21 -- Kim Jong Il may be dead, but his legacy as one of the world's greatest athletes lives on.
Dec. 20 -- 2012 is another year, and with it comes a whole bunch of new, idiotic laws making it harder for businesses to succeed.
Dec. 19 -- The power keeps going out at Candlestick Park during Monday Night Football. How embarrassing for San Francisco and the 49ers.
Dec. 19 -- The WaPo is running an in-depth series on how things turned out for59 kids from minority neighborhoods who were grandly promised (when they were in the 5th grade) a free college education, courtesy of wealthy local businessmen. But it isn't already true that any black or Hispanic youngster who applies himself and has a decent high school record can get a free ride through college?
Dec. 19 -- I love stories like this one that pretend being arrested has nothing to do with committing crimes.
Dec. 19 -- Only the NYT could find something wrong with a change in the immigration system to make it easier for investors and other successful foreigners to get Green Cards. No matter the benefit for the country, if you can't feel sorry for someone, the NYT doesn't want the government doing anything to help them (unless the "them" is the NYT itself, which takes advantage of government tax breaks whenever it can).
Dec. 16 -- There are still a few looney tunes out there protesting smart meters, and the SF Chronicle continues to pretend their cause isn't just pathetic superstition (which it obviously is). And so does our Assemblyman, Bill Monning.
Dec. 16 -- While Congress and President Obama debate whether to extend the 2011 cuts in Social Security payroll taxes, many reporters are keeping themselves busy analyzing the impact the cuts might have on the "Social Security Trust Fund" (example 1, example 2). There is no such thing, and there never has been. All the money sent off to Washington from everybody's paychecks is immediately spent, and then some. You can't create a fund for yourself by declaring that you owe yourself money. Ari Fleischer has an insightful column on the subject in today's WSJ.
Dec. 16 -- In the view of the Obama administration, where illegal immigration is concerned, "law enforcement" is supposed to mean helping immigrants break the law. And as far as the NYT is concerned,a judge is only doing her job when she callously lets hardened criminals out on bail.
Dec. 16 -- A reader just reminded me how much our front page photo of a car halfway through a window at Taste Cafe resembles some of the Hard Rock Cafes around the world.
Dec. 11 -- I was in London yesterday and stopped by St. Paul's to check out the renown Occupy protest in the plaza (photo 1, photo 2). As these things drag on, they become more and more pointless. Also, by anybody's standards, this is a tiny group of protesters. Why do they get so bloody much attention?
Dec. 11 -- You're probably thinking excessive public pensions have been reigned in. But, according to USA Today, the giveaways have actually gotten worse.
Dec. 11 -- Why would a stealth drone be white? Stealth aircraft/ships/whatever are not only supposed to be difficult to track on radar, it's also important that they be hard to detect with regular old eyeballs. I think what Iran showed off was a crude fake.
Dec. 11 -- If the Occupy people and their supporters in the Democratic Party and themedia want to start making concrete proposals to promote income equality, why don't they start byasking Albert Pujols to work for a little less than $25.4 million a year? Left-wing activists always let athletes, Hollywood celebrities, journalists and popular musicians off the hook. The only people they resent are businessmen. Why?
Dec. 7 -- Crooked doctors beware! It's about to become a lot easier for law enforcement, the public and the media to track you down.
Dec. 6 -- Racism has actually become the defining belief of liberal activists, including many in the big city media.
Dec. 5 -- The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is coming up, and the NYT launched its coverage of the noteworthy event today with a story about various commemorative offerings, including $60,000 deepwater tours to the wreck itself. Included in the story was this gratuitously idiotic sentence: "The Titanic has long fascinated, because it symbolized the end of an era of technological innocence and seemed like a cosmic rebuke to privilege." So let's see ... when a TWA 747 crashed off Long Island in 1996, people cared because it was a rebuke to the passengers in first class? When the space shuttle Columbia blew up on liftoff in 1986, that "fascinated" because it ended the era of space travel innocence? Come on!
Dec. 3 -- In today's SF Chronicle Willie Brown gave his explanation why Herman Cain had to give up his campaign, and why Republican politicians in general suffer so much more for alleged infidelity than Democrats do: "Republicans are big family-values people ... getting caught having what appeared to be a 13-year-long affair was hypocrisy." No, the real reason Republicans are held to a different standard than Democrats is that the big city media love Democrats and give them a break even for the most egregious offenses (as in John Edwards) but hate Republicans (especially black ones) and try to eliminate them whenever the slightest opportunity presents itself (à la Cain and Clarence Thomas).
Dec. 3 -- Tonight on Sunday Night Football, one of the starters on the New Orleans Saints introduced himself as "Carl Nicks, Hartnell Junior College," and then Al Michaels said Nicks is "one of the best guards in the league." Cool!
Dec. 3 -- This year's Pine Cone Christmas Party is at my house, and the theme is "Vinyl Album Night." Every employee over the age of 35 (which is practically everybody) is allowed to bring one favorite LP from their youth. Mine is either going to be "Gaucho," by Steely Dan, or "Harvest," by Neil Young. I put together a pretty nifty retro stereo for the event: A new Audio-Technica turntable I bought at Amoeba Music in The Haight, a Marantz 2220B receiver (borrowed from Kelly Nix) and a pair of huge (by today's standards) B&W speakers I had buried in my garage. It's going to be fun!
Dec. 1 -- Peter Skerry's assessment of what President Obama and the Republican hopefuls are saying about illegal immigration is helpful, except for this sentence: "Democrats plausibly assume that Latinos will generally vote for them and don't really have anywhere else to go — especially when conservatives demand the mass deportation of illegals." Which conservatives, exactly, are demanding this?
Nov. 30 -- The MoCo Herald ran a big story the other day calling for "reform" of California's three-strikes law. The gist of the story? That local defense attorneys think convicted criminals should get lighter sentences. And what, exactly, is newsworthy about that?
Nov. 29 -- NBC Nightly News had an incredible report tonight about drug smugglers brazenly crossing the border from Mexico. Why the heck isn't there a fence along the Rio Grande?
Nov. 29 -- A NYT story today is headlined, "Public sector sheds jobs, blacks are hit hardest." It notes that because blacks make up a far bigger share of the workforce of many government agencies than their share of the population, when layoffs come, more blacks arelaid off than demographics would suggest. But did the NYT ever carry a story that said, "Public sector adds jobs, blacks benefit most"? Of course not.
Nov. 29 -- Almost all the "news" stories about the retirement of Barney Frank have been thinly disguised hagiographies. Among the big-city newspapers, only the WSJ noted that Frank was one of the principal architects of the mortgage affirmative action policies that caused the Great Recession. (See "Reckless Endangerment," by NYT reporter Gretchen Morgenson.)
Nov. 28 -- I could have written today's NYT story, "Fliers turn phones off, but it's clear why"several years ago. I've been asking for a long time why, if cell phones can interfere with aircraft navigation systems, we never hear anything about such interference causing real-world consequences. On every flight, numerous cell phones are left on, and nothing ever happens.
Nov. 26 -- Today the SF Chronicle reports how wonderfully things are working out now that police in Sonoma County are letting illegal immigrants off easy when they're caught driving without a license. Of course, there's just one little fact reporter Vivian Ho "forgets" to mention: People who drive without licenses also drive without insurance. And that's OK with her?
Nov. 26 -- Today's WSJ interview with historian Fred Siegel is full of wonderful insights. To me, the most interesting is how the Democratic Party has become the party of public employee unions. According to Siegel, since 1980 more than half the delegates to the Democratic conventions have been government employees, who of course have an overriding interest in big government and high taxes.
Nov. 26 -- It's shocking how much federal income taxes are going up in the next few years.
Nov. 24 -- Today's MoCo Herald story about yet another abandoned puppy found near Las Lomas leaves out one of the most important facts: The puppy was named "Felix" because it was discovered by KSBW reporter Felix Cortez.
Nov. 24 -- Did you know that not everything on your property tax bill is tax deductible? I sure didn't.
Nov. 24 -- The SF Chronicle has the most heartwarming story of the day.
Nov. 22 -- Did you know that, in the final month's of his life, FDR's blood pressure was 260/150? The medical history of his death is an interesting lesson in how much health care has improved in the last 60 years. (A good book about his final days, and the outpouring of national grief that followed, is "FDR's Funeral Train," by Robert Klara.)
Nov. 21 -- I'm sorry, but in my opinion, the woman in this SF Chronicle story, who piously insists on feeding her children raw milk, is not only historically and scientifically ignorant, she's guilty of child abuse.
Nov. 21 -- The Occupy movement: Most pointless protests ever?
Nov. 21 -- It's fine that somebody wants to ski across Antarctica, as long as they take complete personal responsibility for their actions. Since the reporter is evidently in favor of Felicity Aston's quest, this story makes no mention of (a) how she will pay for her escapade, or (b) what will happen if she needs to be rescued.
Nov. 20 -- With Carmel Valley resident Leon Panetta in charge at the Pentagon, and CHS grad John Amos running the Marine Corps, they shouldn't have any trouble settling budget disputes such as the future of the Osprey.
Nov. 20 -- Apparently Berkeley is one of the most economically unequal places in the country. How shocking.
Nov. 20 -- A sales tax on services? Since that would include legal bills, and since lawyers control the government at all levels, what the SF Chronicle approvingly calls a "broad overhaul" of the state's tax system seems unlikely to go anywhere.
Nov. 20 -- Ted Forstmann died today. The insights he developed over his career into some of the things that were wrong on Wall Street were certainly useful. He was a regular at the AT&T Pro-Am, too.
Nov. 17 -- Today's decision by the California Supreme Court that statewide ballot measures can be defended in the appeals courts by their proponents even if the governor and attorney general don't agree was an obvious outcome. Otherwise, the guv and the A.G. would have veto power over ballot measures. What sense would that be?
Nov. 7 -- Is Greece headed for a violent revolution? This story sure makes it seem like it is.
Nov. 7 -- In a dramatic shift from its glorification of the Occupy movement, today the NYT tackles the critical social issue of underpaid NBA players. But I have an idea: Instead of worrying about whether pro basketball players' compensation includes equity in their teams, why doesn't the NYT campaign for a .01 percent pay cut for the players and a 100 percent raise for the people who sell souvenirs and hotdogs?
Nov. 7 -- The SF Chronicle tries to make a saint out of Harry Bridges, militant leader of the city's longshoremen's union in the 1930s. But if he was so great, why aren't there any longshoremen in San Francisco now? Or, for that matter, any shipping? Because, while ostensibly protecting the interests of its members, the union actually drove all the ships (and all the union jobs) out of town, that's why. It's the same thing that happened in quite a few industries, including newspapers, railroads and airlines. And speaking of unions: Did you know that these days only seven percent of private industry workers belong to unions, while more than 36 percent of government employees do?
Nov. 6 -- A few days ago, Bayview resident Carolyn Craig was the SF Chronicle's poster child for being a victim of mortgage and foreclosure abuse. But today the paper acknowledged that the woman "never made a single payment" after taking out a $525,000 mortgage on her house in 2006 and "has filed for bankruptcy protection multiple times." (Scroll down in this story about Jean Quan to see the info.)
Nov. 6 -- A rather remarkable blog in today's NYT contains plenty of interesting nuggets about what's wrong with our economy. The most compelling is the author's statistical evidence that the federal government engages in blatantly racist hiring practices, turning a huge bloc of federal employees into a political arm of the Democratic Party, and thus making spending cutbacks much more difficult to achieve: "The federal work force is 18.6 percent African-American. The percentages of African-Americans are highest in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 38.3 percent; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 42.4 percent; and the Education Department, 36.6 percent."
Nov. 6 -- Who says the Occupy movement doesn't have a leader? It's Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
Nov. 6 -- Sarah Shourd was held in solitary confinement in Iran for more than a year for nothing. Now that she's free, and able to speak openly about the horrible experience, what does she do? She criticizes the United States.
Nov. 6 -- First Cuba decided its people should be allowed to own houses, and now they can buy and sell cars. In explaining the new policies, President Raoul Castro went so far as to proclaim that, “The state has no business getting involved in a matter between two individuals” — a statement no Democrat in this country would agree with. It seems capitalism is starting to run amok in Cuba. Pretty soon, there will even be rich people there! The Occupy movement better start getting involved ... they can't let the world's most beloved egalitarian paradise turn into another festering, evil, free-market swamp.
Nov. 6 -- The MoCo Herald, in its latest slobbering story about how wonderful the Occupy protests are, quotes our State Assemblyman, Bill Monning, as follows: "Media has asked about this movement's demands and wondered who represents the leadership. They're looking for people to which they can apply responsibility for the purpose of co-optation." So, according to Monning, the media is out to destroy the Occupy movement?
Nov. 6 -- Today's NYT has a long feature story about the career of Leonardo diCaprio, including lots of tidbits about working with Clint Eastwood on his new movie, J. Edgar. (I wrote about it Sept. 2.)
Nov. 4 -- Our story this morning about the MoCo Herald laying off people in its ad production department and shipping the work to India has a lot of people shaking their heads. They want to know: How can the Herald's management be so cruel to its employees? The top dogs all live in Denver, for one thing, so of course they don't care. And with the paper's circulation down by almost one-third in just five years, I suppose they think they don't have any choice. Meanwhile, in its news stories and editorials, the Herald continues to pretend to be a pro-labor and pro-union newspaper. The layoffs are sad, and so is the hypocrisy.
Nov. 4 -- There goes another socialist paradise down the tubes.
Nov. 4 -- A story by the Associated Press about Justin Bieber denying a paternity claim contains two memorably stupid assertions: "It's illegal in California to have sex with someone under age 18. If the other person is not more than three years older, it is a misdemeanor, which carries up to a one-year jail sentence." So teenagers can't have sex with each other? And "Bieber's appearance on the Today Show [Friday] was apparently timed to the release of a Christmas album." Apparently?
Nov. 4 -- A city in Michigan is trying to bemore like Carmel.
Nov. 4 -- It's truly revolting how much the big city news media tilt their coverage in favor of Democrats.
Nov. 3 -- There's bound to be plenty of "populist" outrage over today's decision by Greek Prime Minister Papandreou to call off a national referendum over his country's European bailout. Come to think of it, this country could use some national votes on important issues: Obamacare, illegal immigration, late-term abortions, etc., etc.
Nov. 3 -- Once again, with left-wingers going nuts in the streets, the big city media are bending over backwards to describe their protests as "mostly peaceful" and attributing the violence to"small groups." But last summer, when the Tea Party rallied (without breaking a single window), they were invariably called "angry."
Nov. 3 -- If you want to rape or murder someone, San Francisco is a pretty good place to do it.
Nov. 1 -- If leaving someone on death row for 30 or 40 years amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, then it's the opponents of the death penalty who are guilty of inflicting the mistreatment on the poor murderers. The majority of people are kinder and want them executed more quickly.
Oct. 31 -- When John Edwards fathered a child out of wedlock, put his girlfriend on his campaign's payroll and bizarrely conspired with a friend to cover up the baby's paternity, the NYT ignored the story for months. But as soon as the slightest allegation of misconduct is levelled against a Republican (especially a black one), the paper is on the story in an instant. And what's truly laughable is that the NYT's management won't drop the pretense of being totally objective.
Oct. 30 -- Excuse me for asking, but why isn't the headline on this story, "Women who choose the gang life"?
Oct. 30 -- This morning's MoCo Herald has a story about yesterday's shark attack in Marina. The shark,Dennis Taylor reports, "took a 19-inch chunk" from a surfer's red board. But the accompanying photos (photo 1, photo 2) show that the shark did no such thing. A small chunk is missing, but otherwise, the bite marks don't even go all the way through. Do the cutbacks at the Herald include not letting reporters look at news photos? UPDATE: Because the Herald is part of a big media company, its mistakes get spread around the world before, as Mark Twain said, the truth has a chance to put its boots on. This morning (Oct. 31), while on my five-minute drive to work, I heard a report on KCBS radio out of San Francisco about the Marina shark attack which contained the exact words, "took a 19-inch chunk." And when I got to the office, I did a web search for the phrase, which turned up on more than 800 web pages, all or most of them presumably parrotting the Herald's carelessness.
Oct. 29 -- The biography of Steve Jobs contains an interesting Carmel anecdote: In 1983, Jobs and the team developing the Macintosh computer held a retreat at La Playa Hotel. According to author Walter Isaacson, a party during the retreat "featured skinny-dipping in the pool, a bonfire at the beach, and loud music that lasted all night, which caused the hotel to ask them never to come back." Does anybody remember this incident?
Oct. 29 -- Today's story in the NYT by Ginia Bellafonte about the increasing number of iPhone thefts contains two of the most insipid paragraphs I've ever read: "Among his various legacies, Steve Jobs, whose memorial continues with the arrival of the iPhone 4S, left us with a tangible and resonant symbol of our economic frictions: an easily brandished, easily taken device that in its sleek design and intuitive simplicity flaunts the relative effortlessness of affluent, knowledge-class living. The have-nots, particularly teenagers, covet and seek what, by now, the haves assume as birthright and dependency." And, "The poignancy surrounding the current spate of iPhone thefts is that Apple products have always read as cooler than their rivals’ because their design suggests a gleaming world of innovation and opportunity, of capitalism behaving well — a world that seems ever diminishing, ever less accessible to the struggling and young. Unlike the sneakers and glasses that caused such a fury in the ’80s and ’90s, iPhones didn’t originate in the celebrity system. They come with a democratic ethos (if not the analogous price tag); BlackBerrys are for suits, but even a child can work an iPhone. Wasn’t everyone supposed to have a shot?" What the heck is she talking about?
Oct. 28 -- Is being against illegal immigration the same thing as being against immigration? Of course not. But the NYT acts like it is.
Oct. 27 -- Did you know that the Monterey County Herald is one of just a handful of newspapers in the country that have banned the term "illegal immigrant"? Today's one-sided story by Claudia Melendez is a perfect illustration of the Herald's pro-illegal immigrant bias. Meanwhile, regardless of the Herald's activism, it remains true that evading immigration officials to cross the border is a serious federal crime. Thus, it's much more accurate to describe immigrants who criminally entered the U.S. from Mexico as "illegal" than as "undocumented."
Oct. 25 -- The underlying premise of this story about the failure of Obamacare's long-term care program is that only the rich should be responsible for caring for their own elderly relatives. Everybody else should be able to ship them off to a free government-funded facility.
Oct. 25 -- As I have pointed out before, it is blatantly hypocritical for anyone who profits from the newspaper business (owners, managers, employees, contractors and suppliers) to claim to be a tree-hugger. Nevertheless, so many in the industry pretend to abhor the very thing that makes their paychecks possible.
Oct. 25 -- Medicaid is already giving away far more medical care than it can afford. What the heck is going to happen after Obama adds 16 million people to the Medicaid rolls?
Oct. 25 -- I love this quote from Herman Cain: "Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich. Blame yourself!" And: "It is not a person's fault because they succeeded, it is a person's fault if they failed." While those statements obviously don't apply to everybody, our country would be a lot better off if everybody believed them.
Oct. 25 -- It sure would be fun to be in Moscow for the reopening of the Bolshoi Theater Friday.
Oct. 24 -- In the first few chapters of his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson describes Jobs' early interest in video games, and gives a brief description of Pong, adding, "If you're under 30, ask your parents." But even less comprehensible to young people today must be Jobs' obsessionwith meditating, fasting and taking drugs. That era seems as long ago as the Middle Ages ....
Oct. 23 -- 60 Minutes had a preview of Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs tonight — a book that evidently contains a lot of surprises. The book became available on iTunes at 9 p.m. Pacific Time, and I downloaded it right away. Also worth noting: Today isthe 10th anniversary of the iPod.
Oct. 23 -- If a law is commonly broken, resulting in stepped-up enforcement, leading in turn to a public backlash against the lawbreakers, is the stepped up enforcement responsible for the backlash? According to the Associated Press it is, of course, when the subject is illegal immigration. But rational people might also conclude that the lawbreakers bear some responsibility for the reaction to their illegal deeds. Once again in this story, the reporter acknowledges only the most minimal possible basis for curtailing illegal immigration, ignoring things that concerned (for example) Cesar Chavez, who bitterly objected toits impact on blue collar wages. So much that masquerades as disinterested reporting is actually political campaigning.
Oct. 23 -- Another thing that couldn't be less interesting: The NYT's opinion of Clarence Thomas.
Oct. 22 -- Frank Bruni reports something today that could only be a revelation to the fantasists at the NYT: Hollywood celebrities who lend their support to the Occupy protesters are actually rich, hard-nosed business people who only take an interest in what's going on with the 99 percent after they've gotten their own fortunes wrapped up, and whose everyday money-making activities are inextricably dependent on the big corporations they pretend to detest. And, you know what? The same thing is true of the NYT.
Oct. 22 -- Joe Nocera barely scratched the surface in his essay about the horrible way Robert Bork was treated by Senate Democrats when he was nominated for the Supreme Court in 1987. The truth is, Democrats invented Borking and Republicans have never done it.
Oct. 22 -- A new study on global temperature changes has an interesting sidenote: The Earth's urban areas make up just one percent of its land mass.
Oct. 21 -- Could there be anything more irrelevant in the world than a U.N. "human rights" official saying he wants an investigation into how Moammar Khaddafi died? (You'll notice the reporter leaves out a key point: Why the Libyan rebels or its new government would have the slightest inclination to respond to what the U.N. official said.)
Oct. 19 -- Why do I call it the "idiot NYT"? Because of idiot stories like this one: "Latinos said to bear weight of deportation program."The Onion couldn't have written a more perfect headline.
Oct. 18 -- I was at the new MLK Memorial in Washington again this weekend, and I learned something fascinating: The family was paid $800,000 to "license" Dr. King's likeness and words for the memorial. What a fascinating precedent!
Oct. 18 -- Another super-stupid moment in the NYT: In a story about airlines shifting the benefits of their frequent flier programs to passengers who pay more, reporter Jane Levere quotes a "travel industry analyst" as attributing the change to the airlines becoming "all about the bottom line." Excuse me, but what were they before? Isn't the point of every profit-making company to make money? And isn't that good for everyone because the only way companies canearn profits is by pleasing their customers? Reporters and editors at the NYT, like the "occupy" protesters, live in a fairy-tale world. And the funny thing is, their bosses obviously know better, but have settled on pretending to be against capitalism as an essential part of their profit strategy.
Oct. 18 -- I'm sorry, but stories about whether car racing is too dangerous after the death of Dan Wheldon in Las Vegas Sunday miss the point. Indy car races are supposed to be dangerous: The drivers get paid big money for risking their lives, and the fans, sponsors and advertisers pay to watch them because they do.
Oct. 17 -- The "occupy"protests are amusing but don't seem to have any real point, especially not this weekend's gathering in Monterey. They would do a lot more good if their goal was to occupy Congress by kicking out all the extremists. UPDATE: I was in Washington, D.C. this weekend. The protesters there are just a ragtag bunch of unemployed malcontents. Why are they being glorified so much by the big city news media?
Oct. 15 -- Today's AP story about Mexico planning desal plants to export water to the U.S. contains a lot of misinformation, but it's interesting nonetheless. Excessive environmental regulations are one of the major factors hurting the U.S. economy, and desal is the latest example. Meanwhile, Chicago is trying to convince its residents to accept water meters. In other words, they don't have them now, and everybody can use as much water as they like and still pay the same water bill as someone who conserves like crazy. What a weird situation that would be.
Oct. 14 -- In all of human history, has there ever been an entity easier to defraud than the U.S. government?
Oct. 14 -- We need to see a lot more stories like this. Hiring illegal workers should not be tolerated.
Oct. 14 -- What is the point of stories like today's offering from the LA Times about the aftermath of the beauty salon slayings in Seal Beach? Isn't it obvious that disturbed people can strike anywhere, and so can domestic violence?
Oct. 13 -- Our story tonight about Rider McDowell's film being shown at the Carmel Art and Film Festival, which also briefly mentioned his role as a co-founder of the company that produced Airborne, elicited a bizarre and disturbing response from him.
Oct. 13 -- This morning's report in the MoCo Herald about alleged deficiencies in local educational programs for "English learners" does not contain the words "Spanish," "Mexican" or "immigrant." Is there supposed to be affirmative action in news stories?
Oct. 13 -- Victor Davis Hanson explains why, having campaigned against waterboarding, rendition and Guantanamo, President Obama finds it much more convenient to blow up terrorists than capture them.
Oct. 13 -- John Stossel's show tonight about the Wall Street protesters provided some fascinating insights into what the protestors really want.
Oct. 11 -- Poverty does not cause crime. It's been proven over and over again, including now.
Oct. 11 -- The ultimate Halloween horror story.
Oct. 11 -- State tax revenues are still going down.
Oct. 10 -- It's official: The governor and his allies in the state Legislature think it's fine for illegal immigrants to drive without a license or insurance.
Oct. 10 -- I've said it before and I'll say it again: There's a lot of money to be made pretending to be against capitalism, and Hollywood has used the strategy as well as anybody.
Oct. 9 -- Since the NYT and the Obama administration are political allies, and since this story, "Secret U.S. memo made legal case to kill a citizen," is complimentary to the president, it seems obvious that the anonymous source for the story was either the president himself or someone in the White House who leaked the memo at the president's behest. Andthe column printed a few days earlier to complain that the Obama administration is overly secretive just made the strategic leak more effective.
Oct. 8 -- MoCo Herald editor Royal Calkins' attempts at humor aren't as funny as his regular editorials.
Oct. 7 -- Overly generous unemployment benefits discourage the unemployed from trying to find new jobs. That much is obvious. So it's no surprise that even some of the unemployed will admit as much.
Oct. 5 -- Steve Jobs sure changed my life. And he changed The Pine Cone, which is produced entirely with Apple products. Our sales, accounting and production departments use iMacs. Our reporters use MacBook Pros. Most of our employees have iPads. Our router and backup server is an Apple Time Machine. Our file and email server is a Mac mini. And I use a MacBook Air. Thank you, Steve.
Oct. 3 -- If Herman Cain's 999 tax proposal is piqueing the left and the right, it must really be worth considering. As I pointed out July 29, reducing the influence of extremists should be one of our top national priorities.
Oct. 2 -- Does the Associated Press purposely hire dumb reporters? This story, that illegal immigrants are illegal, is utterly pointless. And what are the editors at the NYT smoking? Lately, they've been reassuring everybody that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle, but today they're reporting (sympathetically, of course) that large numbers of illegals cross the border over and over again.
Oct. 2 -- Here's another drooling article about retired Supreme Court Justice John Stevens which fails to address the most interesting aspect of his career: That he was appointed by a Republican president during a time of national outrage about the liberal policies of the Warren Court, yet became a leading liberal himself. How does he explain that? Meanwhile, since the court finally has an actual conservative majority, it's upcoming term could produce some major Constitutional changes for the country.
Oct. 1 -- An obvious followup to the story about the racist name bestowed on Rick Perry's hunting camp will be the revelation about which presidential candidates have racist covenants in the deeds on their homes. Watch for it.
Oct. 1 -- It seems pretty obvious that the Establishment Clause prohibits the government from creating a national religion, and perhaps even favoring one. But does the principal extend to preventing churches from trying to influence politics? I've never understood why it should.
Sept. 30 -- I really like Herman Cain's 999 tax plan. And now it seems he's starting to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.
Sept. 30 -- Today's Washington Post has a fascinating, interactive graphic showing town-by-town census data for racial groups, families, and many other categories.
Sept. 30 -- One reliable way to detect a reporter's bias is to see how he ends a story, because most journalists can't resist giving the last word to whomever they think is right. No better example can be found than today's NYT story about deporting illegal immigrant criminals.
Sept. 28 -- Tonight's last-minute victory by the Baltimore Orioles over the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth, followed within a minute or two by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beating the New York Yankees in extra innings, was perhaps the most dramatic night in baseball history.
Sept. 28 -- I've been saying it for years: Everything the government wants to give away to people depends on businesses and workers in the private economy providing the money to pay for it. Charles Schwab, in today's WSJ, said it better. UPDATE: In the Sept. 30 WSJ, Andy Kessler added even more coals to the "free enterprise" fire.
Sept. 28 -- Next thing you know, the Truther nutcases will be saying Al Qaeda is in on the conspiracy to cover up what really happened on 9/11.
Sept. 28 -- A new NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles and other mega development projects will be allowed to sail through the CEQA process, thanks toHispanic-backed legislation signed yesterday by Gov. Jerry Brown. Meanwhile, minuscule "projects" with zero environmental impacts, such as the sale of Flanders Mansion, are tied up in court for years.
Sept. 27 -- I'm reading the biography of President James Polk, "A Country of Vast Designs,"by Robert Merry, which details the dramatic and contentious process that resulted in Texas and California becoming states. A particularly relevant passage to the modern Mexican Reconquista movement is this: "In 1842 California had only about 5,000 white inhabitants — about 4,000 of Spanish (Mexican) origin, some four hundred U.S. immigrants, and the rest of European origin." And this, which is relevant to local history: "About thirteen hundred lived around San Diego, another thousand at Monterey and some eight hundred each at Santa Barbara and San Francisco."
Sept. 27 -- Countries with capitalist, free market economies have the best air quality. Duh.
Sept. 27 -- If only a small percentage of college freshman graduate within four years, maybe it's time to ask whether too many people are going to college.
Sept. 27 -- The new Boeing 787 has been delivered to its first airline customer.
Sept. 26 -- The WSJ offers some useful details about the various people who don't have medical insurance, and why they don't have it. Meanwhile, Obamacare is headed for a Supreme Court review this term, it seems.
Sept. 25 -- If the hikers freed after two years being held hostage by Iran think it's a good idea to attribute their captivity to "political differences" between Iran and the U.S., and to call it "ironic" they were held because they "oppose U.S. policies toward Iran which perpetuate the hostility between the countries," then they should have brilliant futures as elected officials in San Francisco. UPDATE: The hikers' political idiocy is far worse than I thought.
Sept. 24 -- Income taxes should be structured to promote prosperity as much as to provide revenue for the government. That's what I said in my Aug. 12 editorial. And Herman Cain is the only presidential candidate who's making the same point.
Sept. 24 -- Today the NYT reveals that junk food isn't really cheaper than food which is good for you — a fact which has always been patently obvious to anyone not blinded by the ideological need to believepoor people don't cause their own obesity. Most Americans are too intelligent to fall for the myths that the poor are forced to eat unhealthy food, that criminals aren't responsible for their crimes, and that wealth comes from government spending. And that's one of the main reasons the influence of The Left, which cherishes these myths, has waned so much.
Sept. 24 -- Are we living in the most peaceful era in human history? The answer is emphatically, "Yes," according to Steven Pinker.
Sept. 24 -- What on Earth is a "middle class welfare state"? Does anyone seriously doubt that for a welfare state to exist for the poor and elderly, the people in the middle class have to work their tails off? If they go on welfare, who will pay for it?
Sept. 24 -- Of course it's racist to charge different prices for baked goods depending on the color of the person buying. But a much more damaging form of racism is giving certain races preference in college admissions, hiring, government contracts, etc. And that's why liberals, while they insist that affirmative action in such venues must happen, want its extent kept hidden. Don't believe me? Just try to find out the average SAT scores by race for top colleges.
Sept. 23 -- The problem with Palestinian statehood is that the Palestinians, and most Arab nations, have never acceptedIsrael's right to exist, which Michael Oren explains very cogently in today's WSJ.
Sept. 22 -- In the 1930s, Japan was a racist, aggressive, semi-feudal country that perpetrated unspeakable cruelties against its neighbors, where everyone believed the emperor was a god, and where men would happily commit suicide in his service. Now, its a peaceful, democratic and harmless nation where the highest national virtue is to be honest. And the transformation happened in only a few decades.
Sept. 22 -- Herald reporter Claudia Melendez frequently uses the phrase "indigenous migrants." Isn't that an oxymoron?
Sept. 22 -- If you want to get an idea how long it takes to execute someone, and how far our legal system goes to protect the rights of convicted murderers, scroll down through the Savannah Morning News' archives about Troy Davis.
Sept. 21 -- According to Gallup, public support for the death penalty has remained steady at about 65 percent. Nevertheless, the presumptuous LAT calls the death penalty "primitive" and the anti-democratic NYT says it "must be abolished." Who made them God? UPDATE: There's yet another "the death penalty must be abolished" editorial in the Sept. 25 NYT.
Sept. 21 -- There's yet another story in the NYT today about the mistreatment of illegal immigrants in the U.S. Why don't these articles ever include the slightest mention of the possibility of immigrants escaping the supposed persecution they suffer here by returning to their home countries?
Sept. 21 -- Seismologists on trial for failing to warn people about an earthquake? What's next ... lynching of Punxsutawney Phil?
Sept. 21 -- The WSJ's review today of insipid NYT columnist Tom Friedman's latest book is one of the funniest articles I've ever read.
Sept. 21 -- The former president of American Express says the details of Obama's latest jobs bill "reveal a depth of cluelessness that boggles the mind."
Sept. 20 -- The Sacramento Bee offers a nifty interactive tool to track changes to California's Congressional, State Assembly and State Senate Districts. For example, you can easily see that our State Senate district will now include Santa Cruz, which means it will be handed to the Democrats. (The tool doesn't seem to work in Safari.)
Sept. 20 -- KABC has uncovered the latest ADA scam artist.
Sept. 20 -- I read this story about a renegade political party called the "Pirates" doing very well in municipal elections in Berlin yesterday with a lot of interest right up until the point the reporter attributed the shocking result to the fact that "the Pirates’ call for complete transparency in politics resonates powerfully with a generation disillusioned by the American case for war in Iraq." Is everything George Bush's fault?
Sept. 19 -- Is the Palestinian bid for membership in the U.N. simply an expression of "their frustration over stalled peace talks with Israel," as the NYT reported, or "another tool in their perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel," as the WSJ opined? Duh ... the WSJ has it right.
Sept. 19 -- President Obama says he just wants to "ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share of taxes." And the Republicans say his proposal amounts to "class warfare." Both statements are fatuous and pointless and have nothing to do with whether raising taxes on the rich would be good policy. In other words, "'Fair' has nothing to do with it."
Sept. 18 -- I agree with President Obama that tax rates on the wealthy should be raised, but only if doing so will (a) increase federal tax revenues and (b) stimulate economic growth. Is raising the capital gains rate going to do either? (The NYT's headline this morning is pure propaganda: "Obama tax plan would ask more of millionaires.")
Sept. 18 -- The NYT is always pretending to be against the objectification of women and the idealization of an unrealistically thin body image. But the truth is, the paper is perfectly willing to make money by exploiting super-thin teenagers. (Grotesque examples from today's NYT website: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3. If someone submitted pictures like these to The Pine Cone, I'd refuse to publish them.)
Sept. 18 -- It's hilarious to me that all of a sudden reporters are noticing that air races are hazardous. Like many other events that draw eager, risk-taking participants and large crowds of thrill-seeking spectators, such as car races, boxing, and even NFL football, air races are death-defying on purpose.
Sept. 16 -- The Marine, Dakota Meyer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor yesterday at the White House wouldn't take President Barack Obama's congratulatory phone call telling him he won the award because it came while he was at work. The call was then rescheduled for his lunch hour, according to the NYT. What a wonderful detail!
Sept. 16 -- Spain is reinstituting a "wealth tax" on assets instead of income. What would the Kennedys say?
Sept. 16 -- I don't care whether exploits are as daring as they used to be. My concern is that, when a reckless adventurer puts himself in harm's way and has to be rescued at great expense, taxpayers usually end up having to foot the bill. For example, our recent stories about idiot tourists being saved from the cliffs below the Bixby Bridge or the Big Sur backcountry.
Sept. 16 -- According to today's SF Chronicle, criminals sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole usually serve about 20 years and "almost never commit new crimes after being released." Incredible! All my life I've been indoctrinated to believe that our prison system is a vengeful failure that only makes criminals worse while they're incarcerated, compelling them to return to a life of crime after they've done their time. Now, it turns out the prisons are actually fantastic successes that somehow manage to turn hardened criminals into law-abiding citizens.
Sept. 14 -- The Republican win in Anthony Weiner's old Congressional district yesterday is stunning ... even more so than Scott Brown taking Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. The last time a Republican carried Weiner's district was 1920.
Sept. 13 -- Paul Krugman should have called his 9/11 blog post, "The 'conscience' of an idiot."
Sept. 13 -- Bret Stephens of the WSJ asks (and answers) the question: Why is Israel judged so harshly?
Sept. 13 -- The NYT is taking its pro-criminal campaign beyond being against the death penalty. Now the newspaper has decided to be against life without parole.
Sept. 13 -- Google has a new tool for finding cheap flights between destinations inside the U.S.
Sept. 13 -- The big city media constantly report that huge numbers of Americans are destitute and hungry. But what does it really mean to be poor? In this country, is it hunger, deprivation and sickness ... or air conditioning, color TV and obesity? To understand the answer to this question, you must read this paper from the The Heritage Foundation.
Sept. 13 -- Former CBS News correspondent Judy Muller's book aboutweekly newspapers, "Emus Loose in Egnar: Big Stories From Small Towns," is on my reading list. Her column in today's LA Times provides a fascinating preview.
Sept. 13 -- USA Today has some interesting details about the personal life of Martin Luther King and how the FBI monitored it.
Sept. 13 -- The World Trade Center as it was.
Sept. 12 -- I've been beating the "CEQA is a Disaster" drum for 10 years. Now, things have gotten so bad, even the big city media are starting to notice.
Sept. 9 -- The bill to make it, in effect, legal to drive without a drivers license or insurance is almost law. Some legislators will stop at nothing to help illegal immigrants, not matter how much it hurts the rest of us.
Sept. 9 -- Yet another huge NFL stadium project is on its way to expedited CEQA review after a vote today by the California Senate. If only the state's thousands of smaller projects, such as insignificant Flanders Mansion, would get the same benefit!
Sept. 8 -- Tom Hayden's useless 9/11 "blame America" essay is printed in this week's Monterey County Weekly and Santa Cruz Weekly. I feel very sorry for the trees that died so they could print such drivel.
Sept. 6 -- The LA Times is on a campaign to get California to be nicer to criminals. Yesterday, it was that "three strikes" is too harsh. Today, it's that solitary confinement is "torture." At least, that's what "critics say" (which is newspaper speak for "insert reporter's opinion here").
Sept. 5 -- The "illegal immigrants pay taxes" crowd needs to read the story in Friday's WaPo, which says that 72 percent of tax filers who used a TIN claimed the EIC.
Sept. 5 -- I thought this story about memory loss was interesting, and I'm sure glad I didn't forget to post it!
Sept. 5 -- There's no drama whatsoever in the California Supreme Court's consideration of standing in the federal lawsuit over Prop. 8. Of course sponsors of ballot measures have the right to defend them in court. To hold otherwise would be to say that the governor and attorney general have veto power over them.
Sept. 5 -- It's amazing how stories like this one can be so one-sided. So Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown both vetoed legislation to do away with secret ballots in union elections ... and the LA Times doesn't see fit to give one single reason why they did so? Is this legislation really about making it "easier for agriculture workers to unionize"? Or is it about union bosses being able to intimidate workers into voting for union representation against their free will? I belonged to three different unions in my days in network TV. All my coworkers and I resented the unions, and didn't feel they did anything except take 7 percent from our paychecks and protect incompetent workers from being fired.
Sept. 5 -- The three strikes law may be "hotly debated," as in, some people strongly support it and others strongly oppose it. But, just like the death penalty, most people favor it, and that's why we have it. And nothing in today's LA Times story will erode that public support one iota.
Sept. 4 -- A British film critic offers a highly unusual list of 10 Films That Changed the World.
Sept. 3 -- Aaron Bassler may be a mentally ill murderer, but at least his medical privacy was protected.
Sept. 3 -- Today's NYT celebrates, with a laudatory obituary, the life of a WWII Coast Guardsman whose alertness led to the capture of four Nazi saboteurs on Long Island in June 1942. As the paper notes, despite having been caught before they could do any damage, three of the undercover invaders were executed just a few weeks later after being swiftly tried by a military tribunal and denied the right to appeal in civilian courts. Apparently, that was a good thing at the time. But can the article that happily summarizes the episode be the in the same NYT that these days demands full Constitutional rights for alien terrorists such as Sheik Khaled Mohammed and gets its knickers in a twist any time a terror suspect is treated with anything less than the utmost courtesy? Yes, it can. But don't ask me how. (Speaking of being impolite to terrorists, John Yoo has a new book, "Confronting Terror: 9/11 and the Future of American National Security." I'm going to read it right away.)
Sept. 3 -- Apparently it's a bad thing (according to the NYT) that the board of News Corp is "deferential" to Rupert Murdoch. But isn't the NYT's corporate board literally controlled by the Sulzberger family?
Sept. 3 -- According to today's SF Chronicle, there are 642 illegal immigrants enrolled in the UC system, 3,400 in the CSU system, and 34,000 in community colleges. And it's supposedly only going to cost "up to $40 million per year" to give them all Cal Grants for "tuition, fees, books and living expenses"? That's only about $1,050 per student.
Sept. 3 -- Since this story doesn't contain any information about pay scales and benefits in Costa Mesa, it's impossible to know whether the city's cutbacks are justified. On the other hand, since the SF Chronicle would surely take the employees' side, the fact that the $$$ info is missing probably means they're grossly overpaid.
Sept. 2 -- Bruce Thornton on the two Californias. I especially like this sentence about what happened when water allocations were cut back in the San Joaquin Valley to protect the Delta smelt: "Tens of thousands of jobs were lost and land left uncultivated just so city dwellers could indulge their romantic environmentalism, a luxury of the well-fed who take the abundance of food for granted."
Sept. 2 -- CNBC has been replaying a 2001 documentary about the life of Walt Disney, "The Man Behind the Myth," narrated by Dick Van Dyke. It's a fascinating work, and one highlight is that, in 1954, when Disney's oldest daughter, Diane, married Ron Miller, she lived in Pacific Grove. What a wonderful story! I need to find out more about it.
Sept. 1 -- If you're old enough to remember the assassination of President John Kennedy, you absolutely must watch the NatGeo special, "Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination," which contains a surprising amount of contemporaneous film that's never been seen before. Watching the documentary, I really had to admire the job the local reporters did during those tumultuous and frightening days. I also cried. If you're especially interested in the inside story of what happenend on Nov. 22, 1963, I recommend you read, "The Kennedy Detail," by Gerald Blaine.
Aug. 31 -- Here's another story that illustrates the demographic destiny of the United States.
Aug. 31 -- Cuba claims to have a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S. But is that country's dictatorship telling the truth?
Aug. 31 -- A headline like this, "Fertile flood plain is a two-edged sword," will someday apply to Carmel Valley and the Salinas Valley. All that lovely flat ground was created by floods, FYI. And they'll be back.
Aug. 31 -- The nightmare is coming true. Since the people wouldn't let them give illegal immigrants driver's licenses, our state legislators are making it legal to drive without one. (See my May 27 editorial.)
Aug. 31 -- Jay Leno thought this story was so ridiculous, he used it as one of his "Headlines" last night. I have to agree. Only a nutso reporter would think a headline that said, "Execution drug may be hazardous to inmate," wasn't satirical. (Of course the story is from the Associated Press.)
Aug. 30 -- According to today's editorial in the NYT, Alabama's new anti-illegal-immigration law is "cruel," "inhumane," "brutal," and "ruthless." In fact, the law is moderate. What adjectives would the NYT use for a law that, for example, deported the illegals?
Aug. 30 -- As Hispanics become more powerful in state government, environmental laws are going to be weakened. Here's the latest example of this nascent phenomenon.
Aug. 30 -- I've got news for Andrew Ross Sorkin: Steve Jobs has created so many jobs, it doesn't matter how much he's given to charity.
Aug. 30 -- The Obama administration's NLRB is a disaster, and nothing the outgoing head can say changes it.
Aug. 29 -- If the Greek bailout fails, expect the streets of Athens to fill up again with angry protesters chanting (in effect), "Give us more free stuff, and make sure it's paid for with borrowed money."
Aug. 29 -- A British journalist says American politicians and the media hyped Hurricane Irene far beyond what it was. Could that be true? Nah.
Aug. 29 -- Yesterday was the 46th anniversary of the 1965 performance by The Beatles in San Diego, and the SDUT has some great coverage on its website, including this story and this one. The tiny details are great, and even the comments are worth reading.
Aug. 28 -- The Science Channel and the Discovery Channel are showing an exceptional series of documentaries about the rebuilding of Ground Zero. You should definitely watch them.
Aug. 28 -- From the Department of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: If you let the walls of your unused warehouse be used for graffiti, when you eventually decide to tear the building down and build something useful on the site, the "artists" you accommodated will demand that you be stopped and required to preserve their work. And the NYT will enable them.
Aug. 28 -- Today the NYT carried the latest in a series of columns and editorials decrying discrimination against ugly people and calling for federal intervention to protect their civil rights. The WaPo has also jumped on the "ugly is beautiful" bandwagon. But I have a question: Don't these newspapers, like almost all media outlets, constantly feature images of people who are attractive? Of course they do. It's an essential part of their business strategy, because you draw more readers and therefore make more money by filling the pages of your newspaper with cute girls and handsome men than the opposite. So before they start calling for a national policy of affirmative action for the unattractive, maybe the NYT and WaPo should start devoting at least 20 percent of their editorial space to stories featuring the homely, and requiring important advertisers to use overweight and unsightly models.
Aug. 28 -- Tonight on KION's 6 o'clock news, neophyte anchorwoman Suzanne Brunner said that a CNN correspondent in Libya had tracked down "the man responsible for bombing the Scottish town of Lockerbie." Maybe she should check in with the Center for Investigative Action to see if she got that right.
Aug. 27 -- Another stellar piece of writing in today's WSJ: In a review of a biography of Jane Fonda, Clare McHugh notes that Fonda wanted to please her first husband, Roger Vadim, so much that she acceded to his request that she "find women for the threesomes he enjoyed." But their marriage foundered anyway, because he "drank too much and had affairs with women even when his wife wasn't in the room."
Aug. 27 -- It must be Saturday, because the WSJ is full of features, including two worth noting. The photo essay about innovative advertising campaigns is priceless. And the overview of biographies of one-term presidents (a bit of wishful thinking by the WSJ, perhaps?) recommends several books I really want to read, especially the one about James Polk, who was president during the Mexican-American War (1848), when California was captured from Mexico.
Aug. 27 -- I propose a national moratorium on photos of waves crashing into piers as part of hurricane coverage. All the photos look the same (example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4), and we've seen them a gazillion times. This, on the other hand, is unique storm reporting.
Aug. 27 -- According to the SF Chronicle, 3,390 employees of the UC system earn more than $218,000 a year.
Aug. 27 -- For the NYT, today's story about Al Sharpton's hands-off approach to the DSK scandal is actually pretty fair. But you have to read all the way down to learn any details about what an angry, deceitful and opportunistic presence he's been on the national political stage. It's also completely omitted, of course, how, for all Sharpton's race-baiting and lies, he's been regularly fawned over by the big city media.
Aug. 26 -- This story, about the man who tried to expose Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, contains lots of gems, not the least of which is the investigator's description of how little he has earned off his book. Would-be authors, take note!
Aug. 26 -- If I were the editor on this story, about how immunizations cause few serious health problems, I would have asked the reporter, "Don't you think you should include at least one sentence about all the horrible diseases they prevent?" They've been so successful that many crippling and deadly illnesses -- polio, measles, smallpox, etc. -- have become extremely uncommon, which makes a lot of people think they don't need to be vaccinated any more. It's the news media's job to put important context into stories, isn't it?
Aug. 26 -- A solid majority of the public wants the death penalty imposed on the worst criminals, and that's why not even the ultra-left-wing California Legislature dares to repeal it.
Aug. 24 -- This kind of publicity really makes the president look bad.
Aug. 24 -- Buried in this story about the National Park Service setting out to "annihilate" lake trout in Lake Yellowstone because it's harming the park's native fish is a sentence with local importance: "The theme is echoed elsewhere, in worries over the Asian carp or sea lamprey in the Great Lakes, or even the rainbow trout, a species native to the Pacific coast, which was spread all over the world by hatcheries, especially after World War II and often to the detriment of native fish." This rainbow trout, which the NYT says is so common it's harming the ecology of rivers and streams "all over the world," is the exact same species as the steelhead trout which is supposedly "threatened" in the Carmel River, and for which the people of the Monterey Peninsula are facing a dire, politically mandated, water shortage.
Aug. 24 -- It turns out the damage from yesterday's East Coast earthquake was pretty bad.
Aug. 24 -- The WaPo has an editorial today recommending "fair" taxation ... an editorial that makes no sense. Shouldn't they do at least a tiny bit of research into the economic effect, not to mention the impact on federal revenues, of a major increase in the capital gains tax? It's not exactly a new subject.
Aug. 23 -- 17 people have died at Yosemite National Park this year.
Aug. 23 -- Ooops! Isn't our medical care system supposed to be one of the worst in the world?
Aug. 23 -- Hurricane Irene is the first hurricane to threaten the United States is three years. That must be kind of a shock to the "what's happening with our weather?" global warming crowd.
Aug. 23 -- Kudos to the LA Times, on the eve of the dedication of the MLK Memorial on the National Mall, to offer an assessment of whether too many monuments and memorials are degrading the mall's beauty and national significance. For my part, I think two of the recently added edifices, the FDR memorial and the WWII memorial, are horrible.
Aug. 23 -- Why is it this state has so much trouble keeping unlicensed drivers off the road?
Aug. 23 -- Did you ever see the photos of Michelle Obama serving at a soup kitchen and having one of the clients take her picture with his Blackberry?
Aug. 23 -- Even a cat has no idea what to do with a featherless chicken.
Aug. 22 -- With all charges dropped against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, it has to be said that he suffered a lot for nothing. (To read the prosecutor's filing for dismissal in full, click here.) It also shows, once again, how far our legal system goes to protect the rights of the accused, based on a fundamental belief, as the prosecutors' dismissal motion says, that "it is far worse to convict an innocent person that to let a guilty person go free." Adult content warning: The evidence of various stains in the carpet and on the wall of DSK's hotel suit (see page 18 of the motion to dismiss) could be enough to make you swear off staying in hotels -- even luxurious ones -- for the rest of your life.
Aug. 22 -- If you want to voluntarily pay more taxes, the Treasury Department has a special website for it. Is Warren Buffet listening?
Aug. 22 -- A new film about survivors of 9/11 will be shown Monday on PBS. The music for the film is by Philip Glass, who's currently presenting the Days and Nights Festival at Hidden Valley. I'm not usually into avant garde music or theater, but I caught the festival performance Saturday afternoon by John Moran and Saori, and I absolutely loved it.
Aug. 22 -- The WSJ explains why states that rely most heavily on income taxes have seen the biggest drop in revenues during the Great Recession. And I wonder what the tax-the-rich crowd thinks about this chart showing how much of this state's income tax is paid by different income groups. Are the rich in California paying their "fair" share?
Aug. 22 -- Can there be any reason to be interested in the SF Chronicle's assessment of Rick Perry's qualifications for president? It's a foregone conclusion they're going to hate the guy. And so will NBC, CBS and ABC. But is their chorus actually giving Perry a boost?
Aug. 21 -- The photos in this exhibit about the death of Detroit are chilling. Especially the one of Henry Ford's office! (Liberal commentators hate the exhibit, because Detroit's decay is a direct result of their failed pro-union, anti-business agenda.)
Aug. 21 -- The NYT is taking its immigrants-can-do-no-wrong slant across the pond.
Aug. 20 -- This is President Obama's America: Illegal immigrants will be left alone unless they commit "serious" crimes. And food stamp recipients won't be prevented from using taxpayer subsidies to buy soft drinks and junk food because such a ban would "stigmatize them by taking away their right to shop like other consumers," because the idea of restricting food stamp purchases to healthier foods is "based on the false assumption that poor people are somehow ignorant or culturally deficient" and because approving the ban would “perpetuate the myth that food stamp users make poor shopping decisions." Is George Orwell running the NYT?
Aug. 20 -- They dropped the 100-year-old anchor back into the sea off Wharf II? A little more explanation would be nice.
Aug. 20 -- A Carmel resident was just named America's Most Trusted Celebrity!
Aug. 19 -- Here's another column that explains much about how our economy works. I especially like the author's assessment of how his two sons spent their summer vacations.
Aug. 19 -- A long peace is threatened, yes. But, as always, it's the Palestinians who break the peace.
Aug. 19 -- This isn't exactly how Georgetown University wanted its basketball team's "goodwill" tour of China to turn out.
Aug. 19 -- Sometimes Ann Coulter really hits the nail on the head, as in her discussion this week of the "causes" of rioting.
Aug. 17 -- If, as I argued last Thursday, tax rates should be set to maximize government revenues and promote prosperity, rather than redistribute wealth, might it also be advisable to eliminate corporate taxes, with profits taxed only when they are paid to stockholders? A column in today's NYT gives a hint of what that might mean.
Aug. 17 -- The Eleventh Circuit's ruling on Obamacare contains not only an excellent analysis of relevant Constitutional issues, it's the first thing I've read that explains in comprehensible detail what the 995-page health insurance law contains. The court's key point in striking down the law's cradle-to-grave health insurance mandate: Since it would only reach healthy people who could afford private insurance but choose not to buy it, Congress does not have the power (under the Commerce Clause) to force them to buy something they don't want (see pages 137 and following). Everyone else currently without health insurance either doesn't haven't it because they can't afford it, in which case they'll get it free, or doesn't qualify for it because of pre-existing conditions, in which case the insurance companies will be compelled to start selling it to them at low cost. "Requiring" these two groups to buy health insurance would raise no Constitutional issues, the court said, because they wouldn't be forced to do anything they don't already want to. But forcing someone to buy something he doesn't want is beyond the enumerated powers of the federal government, the court said, and upholding Constitutional limits on federal power is essential to the preservation of individual liberty. It's a brilliant decision. (Don't forget to read my editorial this week.)
Aug. 17 -- Newspapers are produced under deadline pressure, and so we all have typos and sometimes even make significant factual errors. But this morning's MoCo Herald takes the art of the photo mistake to impressive new levels. First of all, the paper's expensive special section, "Classic Car Weekend," has a two-page spread about famed automotive artist Barry Rowe. Unfortunately, the large picture of Rowe is not him. It's artist Tim Layzell (who's about 30 years younger than Rowe). And today's A section includes a photo from the Concours on the Avenue yesterday, which the paper said shows a 1952 Jaguar on Ocean Avenue. But in the background is the Tuck Box, which is one of Carmel's most famous buildings, and which is equally famously not on Ocean Avenue ... it's on Dolores Street. More than 24 hours after the print edition was finished, the Herald's website still had the same embarrassing mistake.
Aug. 17 -- Why is that "civil rights groups" and the media are always in favor of lighter sentences and more leniency for criminals? There are two examples (story one and story two) in today's SF Chronicle.
Aug. 17 -- I love this story about our new ambassador to China, although the reporter's reference to a supposed saying of Mao Zedong, "Serve the people," as though Mao ever did that, seems a bit random and gratuitous. Mao oppressed, starved and exploited the people of China, not only to serve his bizarre dreams of Communist advancement and glory, but also frequently to satisfy his own megalomaniacal venality. (For starters, see "The Private Life of Chairman Mao," by Li Zhi-Sui.)
Aug. 15 -- Can you believe the minuscule ratings some "successful" cable news shows get? Last Friday (to cite one example), Anderson Cooper 360 had just 386,000 viewers at 8 p.m. That's in a nation of 307 million ... and the guy is paid a king's ransom. (For you Keith Olbermann fans, the best information I could find is that he has about 100,000 viewers a night. In other words, nothing. And Olbermann's paid enough to ransom several kings.)
Aug. 15 -- I had a chance to catch up on the weekend papers tonight. The Herald's disappearing act continues unabated. Saturday's print edition had just three stories by the paper's staffers. Sunday's total was four and today's was five. Those have to be just about the lowest totals for any daily newspaper in the country. What do they do all day out there at Ryan Ranch besides clip wires?
Aug. 15 -- I'm beginning to change my mind about my old broadcast, NBC Nightly News, with Brian Williams as anchor. More and more, his content is insipid. Tonight, introducing a segment about the collapse of the stage at the Indiana State Fair, Williams gravely asked, "Could it have been prevented?" Any idiot can see that the answer is, "Yes." The stage could have been stronger, or it could have been evacuated as the storm moved in. And then Williams said, "Tonight, the people of Indiana are dealing with a massive tragedy." Five people dead is a "massive tragedy"? Tom Brokaw usually played chess, but his successor seems to be playing checkers.
Aug. 14 -- I spent the weekend in Las Vegas, where my daughter was competing in a karate tournament. This morning I took a brief side trip to the new Highway 93 bridge over the Colorado River just downstream from Hoover Dam. What an impressive structure! Even if you're not a fan of the dam, it's worth revisiting now that the bridge is open. For one thing, what used to be an insanely busy two-lane highway along the crest is now a quiet road which allows for much better appreciation of Hoover Dam's history and design. The bridge itself also offers a graceful contrast to the surrounding desert and has a very convenient footpath that offers never-before-seen views of the dam (not unless you were in a helicopter). Despite this year's heavy rains, Lake Mead (capacity, 27,000,000 acre-feet) is still less than 50 percent full, but that's just because all the water's currently being captured upstream in Lake Powell.
Aug. 13 -- The NYT has a lengthy, informative feature today about what it takes to get a car ready for the Concours d'Elegance. In this case, a 1957 Pinin Farina Ferrari 250 GT at a restoration shop in New Hampshire.
Aug. 13 -- Today's item about allegedly racist hiring practices at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles reminds me of a hilarious incident that occurred there in 1986. I was a producer for the Brokaw show, working on the 4th floor of the NBC building in Burbank. KNBC was on the third floor (the Johnny Carson show was on the first), and I got to know quite a few of the people working at the station very well. One of their best reporters was Carol Hutchison, who happened to be fluent in Spanish and did a wonderful job covering the city's Hispanic community. During the 1980s wave of station management deciding it should have more Hispanics on air, KNBC's idiot general manager, John Rohrbeck, fired Carol and replaced her with a reporter who had the last name Ramirez or Gomez or something like that. But the new reporter didn't speak a word of Spanish!
Aug. 13 -- I love headlines that say "Some people are unhappy ...." such as this one from today's LA Times: "Some London residents unhappy with police response." Isn't that always true?
Aug. 13 -- I'm sorry, but the myriad stories about the retirement of Peter Douglas have been hagiography, not journalism. The man has been the most powerful and controversial public employee in California in 100 years and has harmed a lot of people in his take-no-prisoners opposition to development along the coast. Furthermore, if you read his blog about his illness, which includes lots of nostalgia for the early days of his career, you'll see that Douglas' political views have been far to the left of Michael Moore. But to reporters, he's practically achieved sainthood, and they don't see the need even to pretend to be objective about him. You won't read about it in the LA Times or SF Chronicle, but Douglas' overreaching had to be restrained several times by the U.S. Supreme Court, most notably in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, which put an end to his habit of extorting trail easements from innocent property owners. But he also committed many only slightly less outrageous acts that brought reprimands from other courts. One of the craziest policies Douglas attempted to impose on our part of the coast was back in 2004, when he decided the Coastal Act gave him the authority to protect the viewshed from boats. Big Sur residents practically lynched the toady Douglas sent down to explain what a good idea the viewshed-from-boats policy would be. Later, an appeals court laughed at the proposal, sarcastically proclaiming that Douglas and the commission lacked the power to write their own laws. I could go on and on ....
Aug. 13 -- MoCo Herald executive editor Joe Livernois has a good sense of humor, so of course it was difficult for him to resist poking fun at me in today's Professor Toro column. But he did it in a very irresponsible way. First of all, to link MoCo Weekly's silly column about my beard to our coverage ofErik Cushman's multiple DUIs is to trivialize what Cushman did. Even worse, by selectively quoting one sentence from my May 15, 2009, editorial about the Herald's persecution of Carmel school chief Marvin Biasotti for his DUI arrest, Livernois intentionally misrepresented what I said. Biasotti's DUI was his first, and he was driving safely; the only reason the officer gave for pulling him over was that one of his tail lights wasn't quite red enough. Cushman was arrested not only for having a BAC over .08, but also for swerving across the double-yellow line several times on his way down Highway 68, and for blatantly violating his probation for an earlier DUI conviction. My editorial plainly says we don't consider DUIs especially newsworthy, even when prominent people are nabbed, unless the driver has more than one, crashes into something or is caught driving erratically. The Herald put Biasotti on the front page over and over again for his low-level offense; we did a single story about Cushman's much worse crime and put it on page 5. And Joe thinks what's meaningful is that he's discovered a "spat" between myself and MCW? Am I the only grownup running a newspaper in this town?
Aug. 12 -- I am so disappointed that John Burns, who has heretofore been just about the only fair reporter at the NYT, would write such a one-sided story as this. He actually feels sorry for the British rioters! Why don't liberals realize that excusing anti-social behavior only causes more anti-social behavior?
Aug. 12 -- I agree with Matt Bai: The pandering in national politics is awful. The Republican candidates for president are doing it, but (unmentioned by Bai) President Obama does it constantly as well, such as when he called for "fair" taxation of the rich, and when he said he couldn't guarantee Social Security checks would go out if the debt ceiling weren't raised.
Aug. 12 -- If you want to read today's opinion from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Obamacare insurance mandate is unconstitutional, you can find it here.
Aug. 12 -- It's astonishing that newspapers such as the LA Times can pretend there's been no downside to the mass illegal immigration this country has experienced for the last 30 years. None whatsoever. Every story is about how wonderful the illegals are, and how mistreated they are.
Aug. 12 -- Want a basic lesson in how the U.S. economy works? You can't do better than this essay by Paul Gregory of Stanford University, which was published yesterday in Forbes.
Aug. 11 -- It will be such a shame if the six Democrat and six Republican members of the deficit super committee just toe their respective party lines. Maybe they should be reading my editorial this week about the right way to set income tax rates?
Aug. 10 -- The results of yesterday's recall elections in Wisconsin don't bode well for Obama's reelection chances.
Aug. 9 -- Here's yet another story that purports to show how difficult we make life for illegal immigrants in the U.S., but which actually shows (yet again) how generous and tolerant we are toward them.
Aug. 9 -- Did hell just freeze over? According to an article in today's NYT, the anti-establishment, pro-drug-use, anyone-with-a-job-is-a-traitor musical, "Rent," is about to reopen Off Broadway because (quoting producer Jeffrey Seller), "Theater is a business and we do it to make money, and I’m a producer and I have to make a living, and we have a director who needs to make a living, and we have actors who act to make a living.” Presumably, the NYT will run an editorial tomorrow attacking Seller's prehistoric views. (BTW, I love "Rent" and will definitely see the new production next time I'm in NY.)
Aug. 9 -- Why is that some "progressives" are such condescending racists? According to C.W. Nevius in today's SF Chronicle, former San Francisco ultra-liberal supervisor Chris Daly called mayoral candidate Ed Lee a "dorky, Chinese Willie Brown."
Aug. 8 -- No wonder President Obama's handling of the debt crisis has seemed so inept. He's helpless.
Aug. 8 -- I've asked the question 1,000 times and can never get any journalist interested in providing an answer: When the stock market is crashing, and all the talk is of a "selloff" and "investors fleeing the market," who are the people buying stocks? Every trade has a willing seller and a willing buyer, but when the market is headed sharply down, the news media act as if the buyers are ghosts or something.
Aug. 8 -- Today's SF Chronicle takes a kindergarten look at who pays taxes. How can this story not mention the Earned Income Credit? (Please note that the term, "refundable tax credit," means you get a "refund" even if you had no income taxes withheld.)
Aug. 8 -- The MoCo Herald's content gets even worse today: The print edition contains just three stories by the paper's own staff, and all of the stories are features; not a single news story was written by a Herald reporter. And on its editorial page, the newspaper has a letter criticizing Supervisor Dave Potter's environmental record. The letter was written by a Carmel Valley man who's been convicted of threatening Potter's life, had a restraining order issued against him for leavning menacing voicemails at Potter's office and been forced to surrender dozens of firearms. Do the remaining Herald employees have no standards at all? Or do they just not know what's going on in their own community?
Aug. 7 -- Last Sunday, I wondered why the MoCo Herald gave such big, front-page play to a two-day-old story from the Sacramento Bee. Today I'm wondering whether the Herald has given up trying to make its Sunday edition relevant. The thing weighs several pounds, and all the advertisers are assuming somebody will want to read it. But today's entire paper contains only four stories by Herald reporters, and only one of them could be called news. There are also two columns by local contributors. Everything else in the entire paper is either a brief or from the wires and syndication services. Meanwhile, a 30-acre grassfire that shut Highway 101 through Prunedale yesterday afternoon, threatening several homes and inconveniencing thousands of motorists on their way to and from Monterey County, is barely mentioned. To sum it up: the Herald is a very sad vestige of what it used to be, and seems to be on the way to disappearing.
Aug. 6 -- I'm sorry, but this kid is a moron. I'm glad he was rescued, but he's still a moron.
Aug. 6 -- After eight days, the massive spill of raw sewage into the Hudson River from New York's Harlem treatment plant has finally been curtailed. I guess that means it's time for federal and state water quality officials to resume picking nits about Carmel's stormwater runoff.
Aug. 6 -- A NYT columnist apologized today for calling people who don't agree with his ultra-left-wing political views "terrorists." But he's still grossly misrepresenting the opinions of anyone who believes in economic freedom instead of government control.
Aug. 6 -- Details are starting to come out about the polar bear attack on a group of British schoolboys in Norway Friday morning. I don't really understand this kind of extreme tourism. On a completely different note: Did you see the photos of a leopard attacking armed forest guards in India?
Aug. 6 -- And you thought nudists at Garrapata Beach had problems.
Aug. 5 -- Update on the crash of AF 447: With the release of the cockpit voice recording transcript, we see that the crew didn't know they were in a stall. But how is that possible? It's insane that a large jet can stall at 38,000 feet and then fall all the way to the sea without the stall being corrected. They had so much time! Some of the families must be wishing they never learned how easily this crash could have been avoided.
Aug. 5 -- Let's see ... if I leave for Fresno right now, I could be back this afternoon. And if I manage to get some of Fresno State's famous corn, you're all invited to my house for dinner.
Aug. 5 -- I'm sorry to beat a dead turkey, but if you're worried about salmonella in your food, once again I remind you that all you have to do is cook it. All raw meat is potentially dangerous, for pete's sake, but when you cook it, whatever bacteria are present are killed. Even the worst ones.
Aug. 3 -- Greatest rock lyric ever: "Well, we got no class, and we got no principles." (Alice Cooper, "School's Out," 1972.) Worst rock lyric ever: "Only time will tell if we stand the test of time." (Van Halen, "Why Can't This be Love?" 1986.)
Aug. 3 -- Here's the latest example of a fairy tale that was printed as fact in the NYT. Like all reporters, when the folks at the NYT commit such horrible mistakes, it's because the fiction they treat as fact conforms to their world view. In other words, a reporter gives away his bias by the mistakes he makes.
Aug. 3 -- When the government requires that somebody (in this case, a person who is sick) be given a benefit (medical care) for free or at very low cost, the person is usually happy to receive the gift. But it isn't given in a vacuum: Persons B through Z have to pay for Person A's benefit. Except for Kathleen Pender, nobody at the SF Chronicle seems to be aware of this basic and inevitable fact.
Aug. 3 -- Plans for a new World's Tallest Building were announced in Saudia Arabia yesterday. The new tower, unveiled by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, will reach 3,281 feet -- more than 2.3 times the height of the WTC towers destroyed on 9/11. And, in a rather ironic note, the new building will be constructed and partly owned by the Bin Laden Group, which is controlled by Osama bin Laden's family. (If you'd like to know more about the company, which is where bin Laden got the money to start Al Qaeda, you should read "The Bin Ladens," by Steve Coll.)
Aug. 3 -- My nephew, John W. Miller, has an interesting feature story on the front page of today's WSJ. Imagine a whole town agreeing to be moved so the ground beneath could be mined ... and not a single person objects! Don't they have activists in Sweden? (The dictionary says an "activist" is someone who "vigorously advocates for a political cause." But around here, it's someone who "vigorously advocates for any old thing in order to get attention, especially from the media.")
Aug. 2 -- Gabrielle Giffords may have walked onto the House floor last night, but the era of civility that was supposed to follow her attempted assassination has been utterly disavowed by many on the left. Over at the NYT, for example, they're working overtime trying to incite violence against anyone who believes prosperity comes from lower taxes, less government and more freedom. Such beliefs are "terrorism," "jihad," and an attempt to "blow up the country," don't you see?
Aug. 2 -- In remarks this morning about the deal to raise the debt ceiling, President Obama said reducing the federal deficit shouldn't be done by "asking seniors to pay more for medical care." But aren't they the richest group in America?
Aug. 1 -- I have to agree with the results of this poll. The debt ceiling debate was disgusting and phony. As I explained in my editorial this week, our country would be much better off if there were no extremists in Congress, either on the left or the right. But the place is full of them.
Aug. 1 -- Nothing was more predictable than that Sam Farr would vote against the debt ceiling bill. Even Nancy Pelosi supported, it for God's sake.
Aug. 1 -- The New Yorker is copying The Pine Cone's iPad strategy.
Aug. 1 -- Finally! Somebody's taking (or at least mentioning) the side of taxpayers in the Internet sales tax debate.
July 31 -- There are echoes of Jason Burnett, and his promise to serve all four years when he ran for city council in 2010, in the controversy over the possibility SF Mayor Ed Lee will run for a full term. But there's also an important difference: Lee was appointed by the city council after Gavin Newsom resigned to become lieutenant governor, so the people who made the appointment could make a credible case that Lee would never have become mayor without it. But Burnett was elected in a landslide, and obviously would have been elected to the council even if he never said a word about serving four years. If Jason wants to run for mayor in April 2012, that's fine with me.
July 31 -- Caddies for top PGA pros make $1 million a year? Wow.
July 31 -- Why are big city reporters always campaigning for lighter prison sentences? Because they think criminals aren't responsible for their crimes, that's why. They're society's fault.
July 31 -- Of course the sure cure for the debt problem is economic growth. Equally obvious is the way to do it: Cut taxes. But Democrats don't want economic growth unless it distributes wealth equally, which tax cuts don't do. Some people would rather have everybody be poor than let anybody be rich.
July 31 -- A front-page item in today's NYT positively drips with condescension for people who want to ban Shariah law from the United States. Right below it, another story tells how a young Afghan couple faces death by stoning for falling in love. Even the girl's father wants her killed, because that's what Shariah law demands. Hmmmmm ...
July 31 -- A Sacramento Bee story I linked to last Friday is back ... above the fold on the front page of today's MoCo Herald. Since the Sunday paper is the most important one of the week (biggest circulation and most advertising), it's noteworthy that the Herald decided to feature such an old story, and means one of two things: Either nobody at the Herald cares, or they think the story, "Workers, families go home to Mexico," is exceptionally important. It couldn't be the former, so it must be that the Herald considers the idea of illegals fleeing the U.S. unusually newsworthy. But can this story be true? I have my doubts, especially since, right there on page three of today's Herald, there's another story (picked up from today's NYT) about illegal ag workers, and how numerous and important they are. "Farmers oppose GOP's bill on worker immigration status" tells how farmers vehemently oppose a crackdown that would require them to verify the legal status of their employees, because without millions of these low-wage, uneducated, illegal workers, the farmers couldn't afford to harvest their crops. Let's see ... illegals are leaving in droves, but farmers still can't even think of getting by without them. Aren't these stories contradictory? Are the Herald's readers supposed to reconcile them on their own? Isn't that what editors are for?
July 31 -- Speaking of contradictory, over at MCW, owner Brad Zeve, who calls himself "Founder and CEO," thinks it's fine to print random, infantile and humorless attacks on various people in the community, such as he did to me this week. But, even in casual conversations, he insists on being called "Bradley." Meanwhile, in the same silly column he used to mock me, Zeve pretends to be an ardent tree hugger, protesting plans for a new transit center at Ford Ord. But he makes his living killing trees so they can be turned into newsprint. Too bad the association of "alternative newsweeklies" he belongs to doesn't have an award for "most ridiculous hypocrite."
July 30 -- Amid all the cynical, phony maneuvering in Washington about the debt ceiling, I can't help thinking that the most important fact is that this year the federal government will collect $2.2 trillion in taxes, but spend $3.8 trillion.
July 30 -- Remember last month when a big rig crashed into the side of an Amtrak train at a Nevada highway crossing? Yesterday, the company that owned the truck filed suit, claiming Amtrak had an obligation to make its trains jump out of the way of oncoming trucks ... or something.
July 30 -- More on the plan to save spotted owls by shooting barred owls. Makes you wonder.
July 30 -- I don't understand today's stories about the cause of the AF Rio to Paris crash two years ago. Isn't lowering the nose to avert a stall something they teach you during your first week of flight school? And isn't the artificial horizon, in effect, an angle-of-attack indicator? I don't get it.
July 29 -- I love the fact that the protesters' answer to the shooting of Wade Harding, who ran from cops after failing to pay his Muni fare, is to demand that public transit be free. The only way anyone could make such an idiotic suggestion would be if they'd spent their whole lives being taught (by the media) that criminals are actually the victims.
July 29 -- This sounds like so much fun! How do I get an invite?
July 29 -- There's yet another huge spill of raw sewage from New York into the Hudson River going on. It started Tuesday and continues unabated. Monterey Peninsula residents might be forgiven for wondering why the government doesn't use the Clean Water Act to stop those massive spills instead of ordering small communities such as Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Carmel not to let any storm water run off into the ocean.
July 29 -- When I read stories like this one about atheists suing to stop the 9/11 cross from being displayed at the Ground Zero Memorial, and I realize that some judges would actually be inclined to rule in their favor, I feel very sorry for our country.
July 28 -- Now the Sacramento Bee is pushing the "things are so good in Mexico illegal immigrants have stopped coming" story. The only angle I buy is the low-birthrate one. Otherwise, the wage discrepancy for uneducated workers remains so huge, the lure of easy money on our side of the border still has to be very strong. UPDATE: Jay Leno had a funny joke. "They say women in Mexico are only having two children. Sure. And then they come here and have four more."
July 28 -- Privatizing the L.A. Zoo would "save $20 million over five years," according to city officials. But "critics say" [a meaningless phrase not permitted in the The Pine Cone] the savings would come at a cost of "less transparency over animal welfare." Why is it that, for activists, the tiniest benefit to their cause is always worth any amount of the taxpayers' money?
July 28 -- The power of social networking now includes the power to incite a near-riot over nothing.
July 27 -- Why do so many sports stars live in Florida? It has nice weather, of course. But much more importantly, it has no state income tax. If Tiger Woods, for example, makes $20 million in a year, living in Florida would save him almost $2 million a year in taxes, compared to what he would pay if he lived in California.
July 26 -- Once again the NYT treats the obvious as something shocking: Evolution is still going on. The silly idea that evolution has stopped, or could be stopped, is perhaps the most extreme example of temporocentrism, i.e., that the way the world is now is the way it's supposed to be.
July 26 -- Esalen founder Michael Murphy got quite a write up in today's NYT. The movie based on his 1972 novel, "Golf in the Kingdom," opens Friday.
July 26 -- If Hispanics were hit the hardest, in terms of percent of net worth, by the decline in real estate values during the Great Recession, it follows that they benefitted the most, in terms of percent of net worth, during the big runup in real estate prices that preceded it. But was there ever an "Hispanics benefit most" story in the NYT or any other big city newspaper in 2005 or 2006? Of course not, because their agenda is to promote the idea that minorities are mistreated in the U.S., not that they're given tremendous opportunities.
July 26 -- Fascinating! In Norway, the maximum penalty for any crime, even mass murder, is 21 years in prison.
July 26 -- The first problem I have with San Francisco's proposed law creating a right for ex-cons to housing, employment, etc., is that it makes no distinction between someone whose felony was 20 years ago and someone who just got out of prison.
July 26 -- The SF Chronicle has an interesting addendum to the resignation of Rep. David Wu: In 1976, he was accused by a fellow student at Stanford of attempted rape.
July 25 -- Have you seen, "Limitless"? I love that movie! Especially when the guy (played by Bradley Cooper) becomes super smart and the first thing he does is clean his apartment.
July 24 -- People are living longer, but there seems to be a ceiling on how old they can be. A more important question is whether the quality of life of people over 90 is improving. Or are more and more people just living out more years in states of semi-functional senility?
July 24 -- Don't bother sending a voluntary contribution to reduce the national debt. As the WaPo reports today, the government will just immediately spend it, and then borrow 40 percent more to spend as well.
July 23 -- According to the nonpartisan website www.govtrack.us, Sam Farr has been in the House of Representatives since 1993, and during that time has sponsored 84 bills, but only three have become law.
July 23 -- The Daily Telegraph has an interesting footnote to the death today of singer Amy Winehouse, who was 27. All these other musicians also died at 27: Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Kurt Cobain. Weird.
July 22 -- Kimberly Strassel in the WSJ is one of Washington's best columnists, but she missed the point today with her essay on how Senator Al Franken and others like him are working overtime to create more lawsuits. As I have pointed out numerous times, their goal is to have the civil courts engage in widespread income redistribution, rather than deliver justice. In my opinion (and according to the Constitution's Contract Clause), the government has no business overturning a private contract unless one of the parties committed fraud, no matter how much Sen. Franken doesn't happen to like what the contract says.
July 22 -- A man who murdered his parents and sister in 1993 was finally executed Thursday night in Georgia. His execution was videotaped to document what his lawyers believed would be evidence that Georgia's method of lethal injection causes pain before death, thereby bolstering their argument that the method is unconstitutional (which is just a phony part of their campaign to have the death penalty eliminated altogether). Excuse me, but unless the government intentionally inflicts unnecessary pain on someone being executed, who gives a hoot? Does something in the Constitution guarantee a pain-free death for heinous murderers?
July 21 -- I got two very sarcastic letters to the editor this week about my July 15 editorial calling for modifications to unemployment insurance to give the unemployed strong incentives to go back to work. In fact, I learned from one local contractor that my ideas were "mean." Today, the SF Chronicle reported that disabled parking placards are routinely mailed out to people for years after they're dead, and that about one-third of all disabled placards are used fraudulently. Would it be mean to suggest that this practice be stopped?
July 21 -- KION broadcast one of the silliest stories of the year last night. Based on what it called "reports," the station sent a live crew to Monterey Peninsula Airport to stake out the arrival of Rupert Murdoch. Trouble was, he was actually on his way to NY. The station also said Murdoch "reportedly owns a home in Pebble Beach." While Murdoch loves Carmel and Pebble Beach, and even brought his entire corporate leadership here for a five-day strategy retreat in 2006, there is no reason to believe he owns property anywhere in the Monterey Peninsula today. He sold his Carmel Valley Ranch last summer for $17.8 million (as we reported). Over at MCW, they have even less knowledge about Murdoch's whereabouts. In Thursday's edition, the Weekly speculated that Murdoch and his wife, Wendi, "might retreat to their Carmel Valley Ranch." Ooops!
July 20 -- Want a job for life? Go to work for the federal government. It never fires anybody.
July 20 -- The Chicago Sun-Times is shutting a printing plant that was built only 12 years ago and cost $100 million. The Salinas California closed its printing plant last fall and now has its downtown Salinas headquarters for sale. Neither paper is shutting down; they're just relocating operations to save money.
July 20 -- Their deaths are tragic, but if the LAT's story is accurate it also has to be said that the three people swept over Vernal Falls yesterday were being incredibly stupid.
July 20 -- Let's all go to London, part 2: A musical version of the movie, "Ghost," just opened in the West End, and it's getting terrific reviews. UPDATE: Okay, the NYT hated it. But they're always so snooty about theater. Don't forget that the NYT famously turned its nose up at "Wicked" and also didn't like "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," which are both fantastic shows.
July 18 -- The LAT has yet another story today about the pros and cons of the Internet sales tax that fails to mention the people who will pay it. Is this only a contest between the companies that will collect the tax and the governments that will receive it? Are taxpayers a bottomless well that doesn't even have to be acknowledged? According to columnist Michael Hiltzik (author of a wonderful book, Colossus, about the construction of the Hoover Dam), about $1 billion a year in sales tax goes uncollected by companies such as Amazon and eBay. That's a lot of money, but the big city media don't have the slightest interest in the people who will have to provide it. Apparently, reporters love new taxes so much, they can't find even the slightest thing wrong with ones that mainly fall on the little guy.
July 17 -- New of the World may have hacked phones. But the NYT regularly prints stories which are pure fiction. The latest example: The paper's unwarranted denigration of the natural gas industry.
July 17 -- The Daily Telegraph (London's best newspaper) has a sweet article today about David and Victoria Beckham's newborn daughter. But can you believe the nitwit who criticized them for having four children because of the family's "carbon footprint"? Truly retarded. I hope the reporter included the comment to show how ridiculous it was.
July 16 -- I was at the opening night concert of this year's Bach Festival this evening. The new conductor, Paul Goodwin, is certainly an energetic and animated fellow, as this shot of him from a rehearsal earlier in the week clearly shows.
July 16 -- No surprise here. The big city news media usually ignore stories they don't agree with.
July 15 -- An interesting sidelight to my editorial today about reforming unemployment insurance: Last week, USA Today reported that unemployment insurance fraud is at an all-time high. Also, the EDD website has a lot of interesting -- and troubling -- facts about UI in California, including the fact that the state's unemployment insurance fund is $8 billion in the red.
July 15 -- Almost all big city news coverage is biassed in favor of the Democrats and liberal policies in general. Duh. But the coverage of the debate over the debt ceiling is one of the worst examples ever, with Republicans constantly depicted as uncompromising idiots, and Democrats as unselfish geniuses. A very good example in today's NYT: The lede story, "Behind battle over debt, a war over government," says Obama is trying to achieve "deficit reduction, including tax increases for wealthier Americans and corporations," whereas Congressional Republicans are demanding "a vastly smaller government."Why not say Obama's demanding vast tax increases and Republicans are seeking to limit the role of government?
July 15 -- David Brooks' column today, about the cost of keeping terminally ill people alive a few extra weeks, is definitely worth reading.
July 15 -- Goodbye, bookstores. You'll be missed. But I have to admit I'm doing all my book-buying (at least $1,000 a year) on my iPad.
July 15 -- I don't know much about the contributions made by the LGBT community throughout history. So it'll be interesting to see exactly what changes are made to public school textbooks to comply with this law.
July 15 -- While I was out of the country for a few days, I missed the latest example of San Francisco's political looniness: Turning ex-cons into a "protected" class.
July 15 -- What on earth is the point of quoting the someone from the ACLU on any subject? You always know what they're going to say. Cameras are proliferating on city streets. And guess what? The ACLU is against them.
July 15 -- The federal government is addicted to spending money in limitless amounts. Our congressman, with his ultra-left-wing voting record, is as responsible as anyone.
July 12 -- I was lucky enough to make the trip to FRA from SFO and back on Lufthansa's new A-380 service. And I was in first class! It was an unforgettable experience, and I'll have a full report in the July 22 Pine Cone.
July 12 -- One of our excursions was to Bastogne, where we visited the Mardasson Memorial to the 75,000 American casulties in the Battle of the Bulge. Unfortunately, the memorial is crumbling, and badly needs renovation
July 12 -- I spent the last few days at a family gathering in a small town in southern Belgium. Today at 4 a.m. I left the home where 16 of my relatives were sleeping to make the one-and-a-half hour drive in my rented SEAT Ibiza to the Brussels airport for my flight to FRA and then SFO. On the way, with nothing but the darkness of the Ardennes around me, the Belgian radio station I happened upon played the entire 17-minute version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterly. What a crazy world!
July 11 -- The big city news media are starting to pick on Leon Panetta. I wonder why. Maybe he supports the military too much?
July 7 -- Rupert Murdoch is shutting News of the World after the horrible revelation that a private investigator hacked the voicemail of a murder victim. That's a genius solution to the scandal, and one that hadn't occured to me. It also never would have occured to me to do what the PI did.
July 7 -- Most obvious news story of the year: When you spend hundreds of billions of dollars giving free medical care to the poor, many of the recipients benefit.
July 5 -- I was in San Diego for Independence Day. It's a great town for the Fourth of July because so many San Diegans are openly patriotic, lots of military take part in the parades, the ships in the harbor are all flying flags and pennants, and the fireworks over the bay are spectactular. The nightclub scene in the Gaslamp District is pretty amazing, too. But the most interesting part of the my trip was a visit to the very corner of our nation, where the US-Mexico border reaches the Pacific Ocean. The brand-new border fence, watched by dozens of closed-circuit cameras and with a wide patrol road on both sides, is very impressive and amply demonstrates that it is, indeed, possible to sharply curtail illegal immigration. In the 1980s, on assignment for NBC Nightly News, I visited this same border area, which was completely unobstructed. On the day my crew and I were there, just on the other side of the international boundary, at least 1,000 Mexicans were assembled, waiting for darkness. When it came, so did they. A few were arrested by the completely overmatched border patrol, while everybody else headed north unmolested. But now, on the busiest parts of the border at least, those days are over. Yippee!
July 2 -- Are there idiots on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit? It's one thing for the courts to rule that affirmative action is constitutionally permissible, but something else entirely for them to rule that it's constitutionally mandatory, as a three-judge panel did yesterday, striking down a 2006 Michigan ballot measure that barred racial preferences. (To read the decision in its entirety, with all its twisted logic, click here.)
July 2 -- The WSJ has a very useful feature today: "25 Documents You Need Before You Die."
July 1 -- Today's remarkable story in the NYT about the case against DSK falling apart obviously came from a defense leak. Among other things, what the defense leaked was a memo from prosecutors describing the alleged victim's numerous lies. Around the world, the fact that Americans are saps is well known, and where immigration issues are concerned, obviously well deserved. UPDATE: Hot Air has a good analysis of what may happen to the case now.
July 1 -- At the close of the Supreme Court's latest term, again we see that Republicans on the court are much more flexible and non-ideological than Democrats, and vote as a bloc much less frequently.
July 1 -- Because the Supreme Court finally is showing some conservative tendencies, the NYT is on a campaign to discredit its integrity. (On a local level, the same dishonest tactic is the subject of my editorial today.) Next thing you know, the paper will be calling for legislation to let President Obama appoint a new justice for every sitting justice over the age of 70.
June 30 -- Irony of ironies: The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is protecting the northern spotted owl by shooting "hundreds" of barred owls?
June 30 -- Are you kidding me? MSNBC suspended ultra-liberal journalist Mark Halperin for using a very mildly offensive phrase to describe President Obama's performance at a news conference last night, and then issued a statement claiming he was suspended because MSNBC strives for "a high level of discourse and comments"?? This from the network that let Keith Olbermann have a prime time show for years?
June 28 -- Once again the NYT flogs the "oppression" horse today when it comes to illegal immigrants. So oppressed are they, the newspaper says, even the usually-socially-conservative Catholic immigrants from Mexico have empathy for gays who want to marry. But I have a question: If things are so bad in the USA for the illegals, why do they want to be here? By their own actions -- especially the risks they take to cross the border -- they practically shout from the rooftops how good things are for them in this country. Of course, the many advantages of being an immigrant here, even an illegal one, are never mentioned in the big city media, because writing about that would get in the way of their aggressive and politically motivated victimhood narrative. Meanwhile, another story in today's NYT continues the paper's unblemished record of never reporting any valid public concern behind the drive in many states to restrict illegal immigration. The only things that matter, according to the NYT, are how the immigrants feel and what they want. And anybody who disagrees is just a bigot.
June 28 -- The NYT has another good example today of the money that's inevitably wasted when the government decides the sky's the limit when it comes to paying private companies to "do good" (see my June 24 editorial). The WSJ also had a great example yesterday. If you read both together, you realize they're very closely related, because if hospitals can get much higher reimbursement rates for discharging patients and then readmitting them, hospices are obviously a convenient place to put them.
June 28 -- There's another pointless editorial about the local water shortage in today's MoCo Herald. When the newspaper's editors say the "public" has been "shut out" of the desal process (a laughably untrue statement), what they mean is that the small group of activists favored by the Herald didn't get its way.
June 28 -- According to USA Today, 532 cars were destroyed in the filming of the new Transformers movie.
June 27 -- Why don't reporters understand what bankruptcy is? Today's filing under Chapter 11 by the L.A. Dodgers is a potential disaster for the team's unsecured creditors, but does not mean the team will stop playing or the players won't get paid or any of the other completely irrelevant things the media are mentioning. On KSBW tonight (sorry, no video seems to be available online), a report from KNBC sportscaster Fred Roggin (whom KSBW called an "Action News Reporter") listed many of the Dodgers' creditors, including Manny Ramirez, Continental Airlines and the City of Los Angeles, and then he said they're all part of a "payroll" due on Thursday. Dumb dumb dumb. The L.A. Times has a story tonight which is a bit more informative.
June 26 -- One of the most hilarious stories of all time: San Francisco is considering banning the sale of all live animals for pets. But you'll still be able to buy live animals you intend to eat!
June 24 -- For all the advantages he got in this country, and all the felonies he committed, illegal immigrant journalist Jose Vargas still manages to paint himself as a victim. I'm sorry, but that's B.S. UPDATE: It's interesting that one of the employers Vargas duped, the Washington Post, wouldn't run his self-exposé, which is actually nothing more than a demand for amnesty.
June 22 -- Last night on KCBS radio, the astonished news readers were told smart meters are being installed in many countries, with the only sizable opposition being in Northern California. The explanation? That PG&E didn't do enough "end-user" education. How about this for an alternate explanation: That San Francisco and its environs have way more than their fair share of nutjobs.
June 21 -- I don't understand commentators who say the president is obligated to follow the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel in deciding whether he has the authority to do something. Wouldn't that make the OLC the de facto president?
June 21 -- You know a pro-environment lawsuit has no merit when not even the four Democrats on the Supreme Court buy it.
June 21 -- Imagine how different the world would be if whenever you saw someone's picture on the Internet you could instantly find out who it was. According to the NYT, that day is coming.
June 20 -- Labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan had an amazing day: He had a piece in the WSJ attacking Boeing, and another in the NYT calling for an major increase in Social Security benefits. Who does his PR?
June 20 -- Taken together, two AP stories reprinted in today's MoCo Herald perfectly embodied what's wrong with the big-city media's coverage of government taxing and spending issues. The first, "Internet sales tax would bring in $23 billion to states," discusses the pros and cons of taxing Internet sales without ever mentioning who would pay them (consumers). The second, "Seniors face Medicare cost barrier for cancer meds," focusses on the suffering of a single individual who needs expensive cancer meds but can't afford them. But the story doesn't includethe slightest analysis of what it would cost taxpayers to extend to everyone the benefits she seeks.
June 20 -- Today the NYT worries that the advent of micro drones will "turn war into a video game, inflict civilian casualties and, with no Americans directly at risk, more easily draw the United States into conflicts." But don't worry, casualties or no, the newspaper will figure out a way to be against anything that actually protects our national security.
June 20 -- USA Today's review of "Reckless Endangerment" by Gretchen Morgenson completely missed the point of the book. Yes, greed by mortgage brokers, bankers and Wall Street investors was an important factor in the real estate meltdown that led to the worldwide recession. But the principal cause was the series of decisions, starting in 1990, by Democrats on Capitol Hill and the head of Fannie Mae to start playing affirmative action with mortgages. Read the book, people!
June 20 -- Freak show. On the debut of his "new" show tonight, Keith Olbermann's first guest was Michael Moore. Neither of them made any sense, but at least MM spoke clearly, whereas KO mumbled and bumbled all the way through every nonsensical thing he said. The man is crazy.
June 19 -- The commentators on NBC this afternoon are saying Rory McIlroy could turn out to be the "new Tiger Woods." And the great thing is, McIlroy seems to be friendly and appreciative of his success. Here's hoping he'll play in next year's Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
June 18 -- Are our legislators completely nuts? In April, they passed a bill requiring everyone in the state who lives in a single-family home to install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of their home. And they all have to do it by July 1 or be fined $200. Don't the people in Sacramento realize it makes a joke of the legislative process, if not the entire legal system, to put a law on the books which is impossible to be complied with, and which nobody thinks will be complied with? By July 1, only a small percentage of the people in California will even know about the law, much less have gone to the trouble to comply with it. BTW, this law, like so many other laws that require us to buy things, is a creature of lobbyists for the people who make them.
June 18 -- The Dalai Lama is a Marxist? Now we finally understand why people on the left love him so much.
June 17 -- U2 guitarist David Evans, better known as The Edge, had quite a week last week. Sunday he was on The Tonys. Tuesday, Spiderman officially opened on Broadway. And Thursday the coastal commission flatly denied his proposal for a new home in the hills above Malibu. The staff report on his application is long, but it makes fascinating reading.
June 17 -- A San Diego County Superior Court Judge has temporarily put on hold her earlier ruling that Fourth of July fireworks displays and many other public events are subject to CEQA. But the ruling is an inevitable consequence of the incredible overreach of state environmental laws. Better catch fireworks while you can; soon, in California at least, they'll be no more.
June 16 -- Obnoxious atheist Michael Newdow has lost again at the Supreme Court trying to get the words "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. Now will he please go away?
June 16 -- So the Legislature passed a budget yesterday, only to have it vetoed immediately by Gov. Jerry Brown ... isn't it a bit obvious the whole thing was staged so legislators wouldn't have their pay docked?
June 15 -- KION is bragging that it covers a lot more local stories than KSBW. Sounds plausible to me.
June 14 -- As I've been saying since Obamacare was passed, Medicaid is already a disaster, and Obama's only going to make it a lot worse.
June 14 -- The NLRB's effort to make Boeing move all its 787 production to Seattle, and leave unused its new plant in South Carolina, could be the most ridiculous thing the federal government has ever done. One thing's for sure: The union's backing of the NLRB effort is going to discourageother companies from doing business in Washington State.
June 14 -- Affirmative Action in college admissions is a pathetic, arbitrary joke, as today's NYT story amply (albeit unintentionally) demonstrates.
June 14 -- It looks like Ben Wilson is the new Banksy.
June 14 -- I don't understand the argument that Vaughn Walker should have disqualified himself from ruling on Prop 8 because he's gay and in a long-term relationship. Does that mean a heterosexual judge who was married or about to be married should also be disqualified from ruling on gay marriage? Walker's decision was wrong: As I explained in two earlier editorials, the courts should let basic policy issues, such as gay marriage, be decided through the democratic process. But there are plenty of other safeguards built into our court system to prevent his erroneous ruling from standing. Disqualifying a judge because he's part of a broad class potentially affected by the outcome of a case would disqualify every judge from every case. UPDATE: Judge James Ware ruled today that Judge Walker's ruling should stand. Ware is the same judge who presided over Clint Eastwood's ADA trial in 2000.
June 13 -- USA Today's advice: Never eat raw sprouts. Meanwhile, the WSJ warns that 98 percent of the nation's apple crop has pesticide residue (meaningless advice, since the amounts are so small), while simultaneously opining that irradiation of raw foods is the key to reducing the danger to public health of bacterial food contamination (a serious and ongoing threat).
June 12 -- For all those worrywarts who think California's coast is overdeveloped, the SF Chronicle has an interesting feature today about hiking along the shore from Santa Cruz to Monterey. The hikers who wrote the story said the four-day journey included several long stretches when they didn't see another person.The same thing is true, BTW, if you simply walk from Sand City to Marina, which I did on Thanksgiving Day several years ago. I saw a lot of buzzards feasting on a very large dead sea lion, but hardly any people.
June 11 -- There's very good news from the tax court for people who foster care homeless dogs and cats.
June 11 -- The redistricting maps are out, and it looks like we'll still be stuck in a district with Santa Cruz. Which means the people of Carmel and Pebble Beach will also be stuck with a Congressman with an extreme-left-wing voting record.
June 11 -- The NYT reiterates this morning that sprouts from an organic farm were the source the of the deadly German E. coli outbreak. I hate to tell you, folks, but when it comes to bacterial contamination, organic produce is more dangerous than conventional, and anything grown close to the ground and eaten raw and unpeeled is the most dangerous of all. Also, my "just cook it" advice is starting to become more widely acknowledged.
June 10 -- "Reckless Endangerment," by Gretchen Morgenson, is next on my reading list. Apparently, she tells the truth about the economic meltdown, even though she works for the NYT.
June 10 -- Today's NYT calls yesterday's Senate confirmation hearing for Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense a "celebration of Panetta." And so, for the man who tracked down Osama bin Laden, it should be.
June 10 -- Today's SF Chron has one of the dumbest columns ever. In a nutshell, James Temple's advice for the city of Cupertino is to screw with Apple and make its bosses jump through all sorts of hoops to get their new headquarters approved, no matter how obviously beneficial it will be for the city. That's what activism has come to: Being against everything. And then, no matter how much tax Apple already pays, Temple wants it to "give" more, such as free WiFi throughout the city. Where does this idiot think money comes from?
June 9 -- How bad is "green" energy for the environment? A column in today's NYT has the numbers. Obviously, nuclear energy is the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to produce electricity. But it's been mindlessly vilified so much, people can't help being afraid of it.
June 8 -- I'm sorry, but it's just plain dumb to blame every incidence of extreme or unusual weather on global warming. Today's SF Chron even attributes this spring's cold weather in California to it. Why not say, "If it weren't for global warming, the cold spell would have been even worse"?
June 8 -- Minority kids spend "far more time" using media devices than their white counterparts? That's what a study by Northwestern University found. Does that mean I can quite worrying about the digital divide? UPDATE: Nevermind. It's still there.
June 8 -- Did you catch Steve Jobs' presentation about the new Apple headquarters building to the Cupertino city council last night? I wonder if they'll make him do an EIR and pay a lot of mitigation fees. After all, no other city would want Apple in town.
June 6 -- Today's announcement that NBC Universal won the right to broadcast four more Olympics did a lot to reassure people -- especially inside the company's headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza -- about the new Comcast era as owner of NBC.
June 6 -- Any bit of news that purports to show the evils of modern civilization will be instantly spread by the media and then believed by millions around the world. But it can take 20 or 30 years to find out the truth. The latest example: The supposed decline of sperm counts during the 20th century.
June 5 -- I detest the euphemism "at-risk youth" (more than 6 million Google results, whereas there are only 900,000 for "juvenile delinquent.")
June 5 -- More anti-Israel coverage in the NYT: Syrian protesters trying to to storm the border yesterday were simply "disillusioned with the stymied peace talks and continued Israeli settlement building." That's it? They don't want to extinguish the Jewish state?
June 5 -- According to health authorities in Germany, the source of the E. coli outbreak in Germany was bean sprouts grown on an organic farm. Is that why they call it "health food"? BTW, the advice I gave last year about protecting yourself from contaminated eggs, "Just cook them," also applies to tainted meat and vegetables.
June 5 -- The MoCo Herald is giving Steve Collins the full Marvin Biasotti treatment: Big stories on the front page day after day, with very little new information, but dripping with condemnation.
June 5 -- According to today's SF Chron, the Carmel Unified School District is the paramount example ofunfair school funding in the state.
June 5 -- Drug labels have so many warnings, they've become useless for deciding which drugs to take. In fact, we are warned so often, and about so many things, most people no longer pay any attention.
June 5 -- The SF Chron did a decent job outlining the legal issues the family of Brian Stow faces in suing the L.A. Dodgers. But the article's tone is one of indignation, as though no one in his right mind would think the Dodger's weren't responsible for his injuries. But lots of people (including me) think this type of lawsuit is exactly what's wrong with our courts.
June 3 -- Chuck Norris has a column in today's WSJ about the need for a "loser pays" system in civil courts. His interest in the subject was piqued when two women got in a fight in the bathroom at a restaurant he owns in Newport Beach and then sued him for not having someone in the restroom to break up the fight.
June 3 -- The NYT's reporting on illegal immigration is perhaps more biased than on any other topic. And to see it, all you need to do it read the headline on today's story about a new law in Alabama to curtail illegal immigration in the state: "In Alabama, a Harsh Bill for Residents Here Illegally." Harsh is a value judgment. And it's not even true. "Harsh" would be mass deportations.
June 2 -- The public supports the death penalty, but opponents invent so many obstacles to imposing it, executing even the most heinous criminals becomes a ridiculously time-consuming and expensive process. And then opponents cite the expense as yet another reason for the death penalty to be banned.
June 1 -- Have you noticed that KSBW and KION both constantly brag about winning something called the "Walter Cronkite Award." What is that?
May 31 -- The coastal commission staff has prepared an interesting backgrounder on tsunamis and California's level of preparedness for them.
May 30 -- Speaking of City Journal, Heather MacDonald has come up with another remarkably insightful essay. This time, she exposes the destructive hypocrisy of Hollywood and New York elites who love grafitti, as long as it isn't on their own buildings.
May 30 -- Who's really to blame for the Supreme Court's order that tens of thousands of California felons be let out of prison? City Journal has the answer.
May 30 -- The NYT sees it as something to celebrate, but the subtext to this story about doctors changing their political views has an ominous subtext: The government has made private practice so difficult, doctors are being forced to abandon it and become cogs in a huge medical machine. Once there, they become beholden to the Washington bureaucrats who tell it what to do. The problem is that, as more and more of the economy becomes a creature of the government, efficiency and productivity are lost, and the whole country becomes dramatically less prosperous. But the NYT doesn't care, because when everybody's poor and has lousy medical care, at least they'll be equal.
May 29 -- This story on the LA Times' website about the intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden has a correction in the middle that says, in effect, "This story's central premise is wrong." In that case, shouldn't they just take it down?
May 28 -- David Mamet for president! (Can you believe the condescension in the interviewer's questions?)
May 27 -- Sam Farr voted against renewing the Patriot Act yesterday. Is this really the man we want representing us in Washington?
May 27 -- While I'm making cultural recommendations, I should probably mention that last weekend I was in NY for my daughter's college graduation. She and I saw the show everybody's raving about, "The Book of Mormon," and thought it was just so-so. But we also saw, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," and thought it was tremendous. The performances, costumes and staging were among the best I've ever seen on Broadway. (And I've been to at least 100 shows over the years.)
May 27 -- I'm in Washington D.C. for my dad's memorial service. My son and I had dinner tonight at the Old Ebbitt Grill, which is just a short walk from the White House. Our waiter told us President Obama has eaten there "at least 15 times." So if you're in D.C., that could be the place to try to catch a glimpse of him. (Another favorite of mine is Sequoia, on the Georgetown waterfront. You just can't beat it on a hot summer evening.)
May 26 -- Sometimes the NYT's coverage of the Middle East is laughably wrong, and ridiculously anti-Israeli. Timeswatch.org documents the latest example.
May 25 -- Thinking just about African-Americans: Would you say that smarter people tend to make more money than dumber ones? Of course you would. And among black families, is intelligence largely inherited? Of course it is. Then why on earth is the news media always shocked and horrified that more kids from affluent families go to college than kids from lower income groups?
May 25 -- The public is constantly being presented with alarming information about supposed contaminants in the environment, even as the government imposes strict (and costly) rules to curtail them. Now it turns out even mercury is nowhere near as dangerous as we've been told.
May 24 -- Political cynicism at its worst: The Patriot Act is suddenly a favorite of Democrats. Oh, how they hated it when George Bush was president. I detest the cynicism and phoniness of politics.
May 23 -- The Supreme Court's decision on overcrowding in California prisons makes fascinating reading. I suggest you start with the dissents (which begin on page 59 of the pdf) and then read the majority opinion (which begins on page 7). It's certainly ironic that a law intended to limit judicial interference in prison administration is being used in such a sweeping way for the opposite purpose. Update: A rapist who's serving a long prison sentence was denied "medical parole" this week. One thing's for sure ... whether he's in prison or free, taxpayers will be taking care of him.
May 21 -- Dennis Ross, an advisor to President Obama, comes under serious criticism in today's NYT. His offense? That he "Defends Israel" (as the headline says). Whereas Obama has "bold instincts" that often "put him at odds with Israel's "conservsative prime minister," Ross "eschews game-changing plays" and opposes the "compromise" of having Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders suggested by Obama this week. On the other hand, George Mitchell, who resigned as Obama's Middle East negotiator last week, had "pro-Palestinian sympathies" and therefore wanted Obama's policy to be "more forward-leaning." All these statements, and indeed today's entire story, once again shout out the NYT's blatant anti-Israeli bias.
May 20 -- The NYT and the Chicago Trib both have interesting takes this morning on the end of the world, which is tomorrow, I understand. I'll be in Times Square and I'll be sure to file plenty of photos if it actually happens. Update: The NY Daily News has the best front page.
May 19 -- President Obama wants Israel to pull back to the 1967 borders? Even the Old City of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall?? That is ridiculous.
May 18 -- My daughter graduated from NYU today. The ceremony was at Yankee Stadium, and the speaker was Bill Clinton. He set up a straw man and then knocked him down: "I think public-private partnerships are the key to a successful economy, but for the last 30 years many people have argued that every government regulation is bad, and so is every tax." Nobody has said this.
May 17 -- My editorial this week will be about what a recent survey of CEOs says is the worst place in this country to do business (guess where!), and how the results of the survey have been ignored by the media.
May 17 -- If demography is destiny, then it's pretty clear what California's future is. But I have a question: If every part of the state will soon be mostly Hispanic, why is that necessarily doom for Republicans? Won't quite a few of those Hispanics make their way into the upper middle class, and even become rich?
May 17 -- Did this dog actually jump out of an airplane on its own?
May 17 -- The woman who captured those neat photos of the shuttle on its way to space Monday has posted the originals on her flickr site.
May 16 -- Speaking of socialists, the head of a NY musicians union, and the NYT reporter who quoted him today, consider this a damning comment about the producers of a Broadway show who want to use recorded music: “They’re getting away with putting an orchestra string section on a recording in order to save money." Horrors!
May 16 -- When someone says he's a "socialist," I often wonder exactly what he means. Now, with the revelation that the head of the French Socialist Party was arrested in his Air France First Class seat on charges of attempted rape of a maid in a $3,000-a-night Manhattan hotel suite, at least I know he certainly doesn't mean giving up personal luxuries for the common good.
May 14 -- There's some really good news today for the smart meter looneys: The "Council of Europe" has recommended a ban on WiFi networks and cell phones in schools.
May 14 -- I suppose it's interesting that Cesar Chavez' children are feuding, but much more enlightening would be to know whether they are carrying forward their father's adamant opposition to illegal immigration and support for secret ballots in union elections.
May 12 -- Does the Constitution mean anything to the people who run the NYT? Today's editorial mocking Mitt Romney for being in favor of a universal health insurance requirement in Massachusetts but being against the same thing on a national level completely ignores the limitations on federal power which are an essential part of our system of government. Just because something's a good idea doesn't mean Congress can impose it on the entire nation. Read the Commerce Clause, for pete's sake.
May 12 -- Give KSBW the Walter Cronkite Award for most boneheaded news bulletin of the year: Last night, almost two hours before American Idol started on the West Coast, they sent out an urgent email with a subject line that said: "James Durbin voted off American Idol." Here's a screenshot.
May 11 -- Noam Chomsky: Is he the biggest traitor ever? Or maybe he's just the biggest idiot.
May 11 -- San Francisco has taken another big step to protect the city's illegal immigrant criminals. Presumably, the mayor and board of supervisors are doing what they think their constituents want. But when you read the comments at the bottom of the SF Chronicle story about the new policy, you see that not one supports it, and most are vehemently against. Can anybody explain this?
May 10 -- Debra Saunders in today's SF Chronicle does a nice job explaining why President Obama thinks it's OK to shoot terrorists through the head, even while he has often complained that it's wrong to listen in on their phone calls, put them in military prisons or question them harshly.
May 10 -- Speaking of USA Today, this morning the Gannett flagship paper took an ultra-liberal line on the story that $49 billion in hospital bills are unpaid every year by people who have no insurance and also don't qualify for Medicare of Medicaid. The answer? Expand Medicare and Medicaid eligibility, of course.
May 10 -- From the department of Idiot Editorials: This morning, USA Today came out against "indiscriminate use of torture." And who, exactly, is in favor of that?
May 10 -- NBC Nightly News reported tonight that the flooding Mississippi is flowing at a rate of 1.8 million cubic feet per second, or 41.4 acre feet per second. In other words, an amount equivalent to an entire year's water supply for the Monterey Peninsula is flowing down the Mississippi every six hours.
May 9 -- My father passed away April 9. Writing his obit, which I printed in The Pine Cone April 29, involved quite a bit of digging through his personal papers and retrieving various family anecdotes from the memories of my mother and siblings. One of my dad's favorite stories was how Leon Panetta came to our house in 1970 on his way to be honored by the Presbyterian Interracial Council (my dad was president) for his stand on civil rights (which got Panetta fired from the Nixon Department of Justice). I included the story in my dad's obit because of Panetta's prominence as Director of the CIA. Little did I know he would soon be far more famous as the man who tracked down Osama bin Laden.
May 9 -- Stanford's alumni magazine has a fascinating article about how ownership and management of federal lands has influenced the development of the West. Can you believe the U.S. directly owns 84.5 percent of Nevada, 69 percent of Alaska and 45 percent of California, but only 1.8 percent of Illinois and .8 percent of New York? (For a closeup of a map of each state's percentage, click here.)
May 9 -- Wedding news: Lauren Bush is engaged to David Lauren. And she'll be wearing Ralph Lauren.
May 8 -- On the other hand, if you missed 60 Minutes tonight, you definitely should catch up. President Obama did a wonderful job explaining how the mission to kill bin Laden was planned and executed. And there's an especially interesting moment for us when the president thanks Leon Panetta.
May 8 -- If you're afraid you missed out on some great bin Laden humor on Saturday Night Live last night, forget about it. Except for one or two jokes in Weekend Update, the show was lame. Has it been funny in the last 20 years? Wait ... the sketch about natural childbirth was pretty good.
May 8 -- When the White House announced bin Laden's death late Sunday, it threw quite a money wrench into the production cycle for East Coast daily newspapers. The NYT's public editor explains how they handled it.
May 7 -- In this morning's Washington Post, Bob Woodward provides some fascinating details about how Osama bin Laden was tracked down. Wouldn't it be nice if Leon Panetta could tell us if news accounts like this were accurate?
May 7 -- Paul Brodeur is upset because the New York Public Library is disrespecting his personal papers? He's lucky they haven't burned them. Brodeur is one of history's most irresponsible journalists. His 1993 series in the New Yorker on the supposed dangers of electromagnetic radiation caused a lot of hysteria, which turned out to be entirely unfounded.
May 6 -- Even Palestinians would rather be in an Israeli prison than one run by their own people.
May 6 -- The level of the ocean has been falling at the Golden Gate for 30 years. But don't worry ... the NYT is sure it's about to start rising.
May 5 -- One newspaper has the exclusive on the reaction in hell when bin Laden arrived.
May 5 -- When "Dereliction of Duty" is turned into a movie, they should call it "Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue."
May 5 -- The Obama administration is taking dirty politics to an entirely new level with its demand that bidders for federal contracts disclose their political contributions.
May 3 -- Anderson Cooper reported that President Barack Obama invited President George W. Bush to join him at Ground Zero Thursday, but that Bush "chooses to remain largely of the spotlight after his presidency." I wish he would have reconsidered!
May 3 -- Historic preservation is so out of control, even the San Francisco Chronicle has noticed.
May 3 -- For some people, it may be controversial to listen in on terrorists' phone calls, put them in military prisons or waterboard them to get critical information, but apparently it's ok with everybody to shoot them in the head. Jay Leno last night: "The good news is, Osama bin Laden is dead, and the bad news is ... wait ... there is no bad news!" David Letterman: "We're getting our money's worth out of the Navy Seals, aren't we? They jump out of a helicopter, they break into the compound, and they fire a warning shot in his head!" Jon Stewart: "As an American, as a New Yorker ... the news couldn't get any better." For details about how word of Osama's death was leaked to the news media, it's worth watching the appearance of Brian Williams on Letterman Monday night.
May 3 -- Even the NYT is hitting the point: Obamacare mandates a "huge expansion of Medicaid."
May 2 -- Quite a few news outlets apparently made rather awkward typos in reporting bin Laden's death.
May 2 -- London's Telegraph newspaper has a nifty collection of U.S. front pages on the death of bin Laden.
May 2 -- A Stanford scholar argues that California has a grim future because it has "the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption." Can someone make a coherent argument that he's wrong?
May 2 -- The NYT's obit for David Hackett credits him with leading the "effort" to fight juvenile crime in the early 1960s without noting that those efforts utterly failed.
May 2 -- Thank God we finally got him. You can revisit The Pine Cone's September 14, 2001, front page by clicking here.
May 1 -- A big crowd has gathered outside the White House tonight to celebrate the killing of Osama bin Laden.
May 1 -- San Francisco's tenant-protection laws are so bizarrely unfair to property owners, even the NYT has started to notice.
May 1 -- Where natural disasters are concerned, did you know the entire coast of California is one of the safest places in the U.S. to live?
May 1 -- According to today's MoCo Herald (courtesy of the Amateur Press), one year after a bomber tried to attack Times Square, "concerns still linger" that it could happen again, while, "behind the scenes, the New York Police Department and other law enforcement agencies still watch for and worry about the next terror plot against the city." Really?!?? And here I was,thinking we could all just relax and forget about Islamic terrorism.
May 1 -- This morning's MoCo Herald editorial begins with these words: "If your position on the proposed Marina desalination plant is that you're for it, no matter what, don't bother reading this. But if you support the idea, and want to see it done right, you might want to pay attention." Fairenough. But since the Herald has already made up its mind that the desal plant is a bad idea, why should anyone pay attention to its doubts about how it's being implemented?
May 1 -- If you happen to be in one of their favored groups, liberals' orthodoxy holds that you can never be held responsible for your own failings. Thus, according to this morning's NYT, someone who gets a scholarship for law school and then loses it because his grades aren't good enough is the victim of a "bait and switch."
April 30 -- Did you know that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars a year go to buying soft drinks for food stamp recipients? The Mayor of New York wants to change that, but his effort has drawn vehement opposition from the Black Congressional Caucus because, members of the caucus say, the soft-drink ban would "treat food stamp recipients differently from other customers." What about the fact that they're already treated differently when they don't have to pay for their own food?
April 30 -- The Obama administration's relations with the news media have gotten so bad, now it's even feuding with the SF Chronicle. Somebody's lying here, and it seems pretty obvious it's the White House.
April 29 -- A new website gives you the chance to get your own, genuine, long-form Hawaii birth certificate. If it's legal, that's good entrepreneurship!
April 29 -- Don't know how I missed it: The LAT reported last month on a valiant effort in Sacramento to slightly loosen the stranglehold CEQA has on the state's economy. Most people would think any law that spawns so many lawsuits (hundreds a year) and was so difficult to follow would be an obvious candidate for reform. But lawsuits are environmentalists' best friends, and the more the better! By now, the effort reported by the LAT has probably already been killed.
April 26 -- The NYT has an article today that purports to expose efforts by many colleges to "undermine gender equity" by faking the number of female students who participate in sports. What the article really does is expose the idiotic thinking behind the federal law that insists women and men be exactly equal in their interest in playing sports.
April 26 -- So the NYT thinks Boeing (one of this country's most successful exporters) should be punished for trying to move 787 production to a right-to-work state. Funny how the NYT Co. is all for workers' rights, unless it's dealing with one of its own unions. In fact, is there any big media company in this country that doesn't pretend to love unions in their editorial output, but squash them at every opportunity in its own shop?
April 26 -- Today's column by Gerald Seib in the WSJ laying out the consistent partisanship in votes to raise the debt ceiling makes me wonder whether what this country needs is a complete reinvention of the legislative process, starting with term limits. In so many ways, the government we have now is utterly dysfunctional, and everyone member of Congress who's been there more than a few months is responsible.
April 25 -- The more you learn about Obamacare, the crazier it seems. The expansion of Medicaid to everyone earning up to 134 percent of the poverty level is going to cost a ton of money. And the private health insurance subsidies for people who make up to 400 percent of the poverty level are going to cost even more ... and will have all sorts of dire consequences for the economy, such as discouraging people from working.
April 24 -- Speaking of what a pefect newspaper the Herald is, today's editorial repeats the big lie that the rich don't pay taxes. Thank goodness the paper's readers are smarter than its editors (scroll down to the letter by Jeffrey Flathers).
April 24 -- The final report from the MoCo Herald's advisory board is in. And what a shocker it is! According to the report, the Herald is committed to "responsible, unbiased local reporting" that is "unfiltered by special interests," but, gosh darn it, the drive for perfection among the crew at Ryan Ranch is hampered, if not thwarted, by the Herald's greedy corporate owners.
April 22 -- Tim McCormick for president! The fired county planning official told the MoCo Herald how he viewed his job: "It's important that any enforcement officer balance the needs of all parties, not just those who yell the loudest." We need a lot more officials like him conducting public hearings. And more reporters with that same perspective covering them. I always tell reporters who work for me that they can get a more accurate idea about public opinion by calling people randomly out of the phone book than by listening to people who testify at public hearings.
April 22 -- The NYT has an interesting profile today of a political reporter for a competing newspaper. But the story included this dumb assessment of New York Post reporter Frederic Dicker's political views: "Though his generally conservative and libertarian politics today might suggest otherwise, he harbored leftish sympathies as a young man." Only at the NYT would it be considered surprising that someone became more conservative as they became more educated and experienced.
April 22 -- In my March 11 editorial, I pointed out that it was possible, on a local political level, to no-growth yourself out of existence. It turns out the same thing is true of the entire economy of the State of California.
April 22 -- I think it would be wonderful if the National Park Service turned the old Salinas jail into a Cesar Chavez museum (he was briefly detained there in 1970). But only if the museum tells the truth about the union leader's vehement opposition to illegal immigration. Por supuesto, the MoCo Herald's story about the possible park service takeover of the jail made no mention of it.
April 22 -- Rich and Holly German got a very nice write-up in today's WSJ about their Carmel Highlands home, which is for sale for $9 million. Meanwhile, Barron's says prices in second-home markets are on their way up, and that Pebble Beach is one of the best places to own a second home.
April 20 -- The NYT reports today that "Israeli intellectuals" are supporting the creation of a Palestinian state based on "1967 borders." Really? Including the Old City of Jerusalem? I find it hard to believe that any Israeli with a brain would publicly endorse such a scheme. If you asked those intellectuals point-blank, "Should the Old City be part of the Palestinian state?" I'll bet they'd all say no. The media are always glossing over the true sticking points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferring to simplistically paint Israel as the bad guy.
April 14 -- More from the racists at the NYT: According to Tyler Kepner, Barry Bonds' use of performance-enhancing drugs does nothing to diminsh his home-run records, which are "as historically valid as the 714 homers Babe Ruth hit without ever facing an African-American pitcher." This inane statement assumes that blacks are better pitchers than whites.
April 13 -- Horrors! In Queens, N.Y., judges do not autmatically approve Social Security Disability appeals. (While reading the story, keep in mind that the cases involve people who were already denied their disability claim by the Social Security Administration. The NYT is upset because these judges only overturn the SSA one-third of the time, as opposed to 75 percent of the time, the way most judges do.)
April 13 -- A Haitian earthquake victim got a rebuilt ankle in San Francisco. Who paid for it? MediCal, of course.
April 13 -- Do the rich pay taxes? In California they sure do, with just 280,654 tax filers (less than one percent of the population) paying half the income taxes and (counting their income taxes only) one-fourth of the state's entire general fund. But MC Weekly is still flogging the ridiculous liberal myth that the rich don't pay their fair share.
April 12 -- As part of its campaign to promote bigger and bigger government, the NYT purported to show once again today that anything that's the slightest bit worthy of being done by mankind is also worthy of being paid for by U.S. taxpayers. In other words, the only programs that can legitimately be cut from the federal budget are those which are worthless to everyone. In other other words, none.
April 12 -- In USA Today, a Harvard professor sheds some light on the relative danger of nuclear power generation vs. coal.
April 12 -- Here's an interesting idea: Make the tax rate 100 percent for the rich ($250,000-plus a year). That'll solve everything, right?
April 11 -- Leon Panetta is being mentioned all over the place as a possible Secretary of Defense after Robert Gates leaves office in a few weeks.
April 11 -- Today the MoCo Herald carries an editorial from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, which was presumably printed in the Herald because the folks out at Ryan Ranch thought it was worthwhile. Well, I thought the editorial was stupid and historically illiterate. According to the SLPD, the Obama administration's decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a military tribunal instead of a civilian court was a racist capitulation to "fear mongers," tantamount to the internment of Japanese during World War II. Jeez. Liberals are so arrogant, they think their casual intuitions, based on minimal information, are superior to the reasoned decisions of a president and an attorney general who have access to the full facts. Is guesswork by amateurs really enough to decide important national security issues?
April 10 -- According to a columnist in this morning's NYT, Barry Bonds is being prosecuted because he's black. Can you imagine anything more idiotic? Don't we have a black president and a black attorney general?
April 9 -- This morning MoCo Herald executive editor Joe Livernois decries the fact that the Peninsula has been "dithering" about a desal plant since 1991. It goes back a lot farther than that, Joe. The water district was created in 1977 after a terrible drought, with a mandate to augment the Monterey Peninsula's water supply. Since then, the legal supply has actually been reduced by 75 percent, thanks to ever-increasing environmental restrictions, even as very little water has been added. And indecisiveness is the opposite of what's gone on. So adamant have no-growth zealots been about curtailing infrastructure to limit development, they've cut off access to the water needed for every day life by the people who already live here, never mind preventing people from adding a bathroom, expanding a small business or building on a vacant lot. Even the $400 million desal plant proposed for Marina won't provide a single drop of water for any of these humble, but necessary, purposes. So dithering isn't the problem. And, pardon me for mentioning it, but The Herald's consistently weak advocacy on water issues (see yesterday's moronic editorial endorsing Brenda Lewis) hasn't exactly helped.
April 9 -- Most of today's report from the MoCo Herald's citizen advisory board wasn't even worth reading (especially the part about the Herald having "no bias.") But this sentence was quite telling: "Important local stories often go uncovered by The Herald as the result of an alarmingly small staff that continues to dwindle to meet corporate financial expectations."
April 8 -- The MoCo Herald prints weird editorials. Today's endorses Brenda Lewis for a seat on the water board, because she "comes down on the conservation side of the water divide" and because "her election would tip the board toward small desalination projects rather than the large one envisioned in Marina and toward conservation, recycling and other alternatives to construction." That kind of thinking makes the Sierra Club and other no-growth zealots happy, but what about local businesses that need water to expand or relocate? Owners of vacant lots? The entire hospitality industry? The Herald evidently doesn't care a whit about them.
April 5 -- "The Panic Virus," by Seth Mnookin, is an indictment of the media as much as anything else. Without guileless, lying and/or lazy reporters, the dangerous misinformation about vaccinations chronicled in the book could never have become so widespread.
April 4 -- It's been obvious from the very beginning that Khalid Mohammed -- mastermind of 9/11 and the man who personally decapitated Daniel Pearl -- would have to be tried in a military court, if at all, and it's good to see that Eric Holder has finally come to his senses.
April 1 -- The MoCo Herald has a front-page headline today that leaves me flummoxed. "Big Sur: Despite slides, CHP aircraft are still on patrol." Does that mean that ordinarily rock slides would be expected to interfere with airplane flights?
April 1 -- AP reporter Jason Dearen commits one of the all-time hallmarks of bad reporting today. In a story about the sale of a $100 million home in Los Altos Hills, Dearen says: "The sale is believed to be one of the largest in U.S. history for a single-family home." How can anyone who works as a reporter be so uninformed or so uncertain that he's afraid to report that a $100 million home sale definitely is one of the biggest in U.S. history? BTW, that particular cliché shows up all the time in weak reporting, i.e., "one of the worst storms in recent memory," "believed to be one of the fastest races in collegiate history," etc. What those sentences really mean is that the reporter was too lazy to do any actual research into his subject matter.
April 1 -- This morning's NYT reports that the traffic fatality rate on the nation's highways fell last year to 1.09 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles driven. That means that if you drive 10,000 miles a year, it will only take 9,174 years for you to definitely be killed at some point!
March 31 -- I understand the TSA has a new policy. On your way into security, when an agents checks your official government ID, he asks you to say your last name out loud, which is fine for someone like me. But what about when Mr. Hu travels?
March 31 -- President Obama has already accomplished a lot with his Libya policy. A Stanford University expert explains.
March 30 -- I'm certainly glad I don't live near the Bronx Zoo.
March 29 -- Today the NYT explores "maternity tourism," which the paper says is too insignificant a phenomenon to warrant "repeal of the 14th Amendment." But if so few women are coming to the U.S. to give birth, what's the harm in denying automatic citizenship to their babies? (BTW, nobody that I know of has called for the 14th Amendment to be repealed, just reinterpreted to deny citizenship to the babies of women who are in the country illegally.)
March 29 -- As I have observed before, people are as superstitious today as ever, and are always seizing on all sorts of random causes to get excited about. According to early reviews, Seth Mnookin's new book, "The Panic Virus," shows that, while hysterical opposition to smart meters and fearmongering about global warming can be harmless hobbies for the people who pursue them, some phony beliefs can be seriously dangerous.
March 29 -- I thought Obama's speech last night was great. And his appearance on NBC Nightly News tonight was even better. If anything, I thought he should have been even more unequivocal in laying out the case for ridding the world of lunatic dictators. The world was far more dangerous 50 years ago than it is today, but President Kennedy didn't flinch in laying out his view of America's proper role: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge -- and more." (From his inaugural address, January, 20, 1961.)UPDATE: But some commentators think Obama's acting like a weakling.
March 28 -- It's beyond me how so many big city politicians and media can describe current levels of Medicaid spending as "bloated" and say they're about to "quadruple," yet still manage to celebrate Obamacare, which has as one of its central tenets a vast expansion of the Medicaid rolls.
March 28 -- Bill Monning took some heat over the weekend for not doing enough to help Big Sur residents isolated by road closures. This morning he posted a response on The Wild Big Sur forum which almost reads like satire: "Big Sur Friends, As we mark Cesar Chavez Day in California, the skies are clear and the sun is shining. Hopefully, this break in the weather will allow Cal Trans crews to make progress with road clearance to the south and road repair to the north. I want to applaud the community spirit and cooperation that has marked the response to the road closures. I also want to thank all Big Sur residents for their patience and perseverance amidst the storms and the storm impacts. We will continue to monitor Cal Trans progress and planning and I want to thank the CHP and community leaders for your regular on line updates that have helped move important information quickly to residents. Again, thanks to Pelican Network and all of you for your support of one another. Big Sur's magic is manifest not only in its natural beauty, but also in the cooperative spirit of the community. Step by step toward road reconstruction and recovery. Again, thanks to all who are working to help one another." Monning has a few pet subjects he's interested in (as reflected in his office's meager press releases). Otherwise, he seems to be content to let his constituents fend for themselves. But does he have to inflict such insipid messages on them?
March 28 -- And speaking of social security, the MoCo Herald has a touching story this morning about a 92-year-old Salinas woman who's finally retiring from her job as a telephone receptionist for an ag company. Aside from the silly idea that her continuing good health and mental acuity are a result of her "active lifestyle" (instead of the other way around), the story contains quite a few gems. Most noteworthy: In her advancing years, according to reporter Dennis Taylor, the woman has taken "25 trips to Europe" with friends. How wonderful that we live in a country, and in a time, when a woman with a blue-collar job, and whose husband was a construction worker, can afford such luxuries!
March 28 -- How can reporters be so uninformed about the subjects they write about? Today, in a piece carried in dozens of newspapers, and which the MoCo Herald put at the top of the front page, AP reporter Stephen Ohlemacher states that Social Security recipients will get a small increase in benefits next year, but the increase will be eaten up by a corresponding rise in Medicare Part B premiums, a development the reporter says will mean that "millions of people living on fixed incomes won't get raises." Huh? The definition of a "fixed income" is that you never get a raise, isn't it? Presumably, Ohlemacher is too young to remember the days when pension and social security benefits were, in fact, fixed, and that in 1972 Congress addressed the problem by linking Social Security payments to inflation. But even reporters are capable of doing a little research once in awhile, instead of just mindlessly repeating clichés.
March 27 -- From the Department of the Obvious: Your cell phone knows where you are.
March 27 -- I forgot to mention: On 60 Minutes last week, in a piece that included a heartbreaking segment from the tsunami-devastated coastal village of Matsushima, Scott Pelley said this to explain how beautiful a town it was, and how treasured as a vacation spot: "For the Japanese,the name has the same ring as 'Big Sur' or 'Cape Cod' does to an American." BTW, Pelley is being mentioned as Katie Couric's probable replacement.
March 26 -- Did you catch the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables tonight on KQED? The musical is one of my favorites, and this special was definitely worth seeing, especially Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, Lea Salonga as Fantine, Nick Jonas (yes, that Nick Jonas) as Marius and Samantha Barks as Eponine. The encore sequence, with four Jean Valjeans, including the incomparable Colm Wilkinson, had me in tears. And speaking of Colm Wilkinson, the 10th Anniversary Concert version (17 Jean Valjeans in the encore) is also worth revisiting.
March 26 -- I couldn't believe my eyes when I read this review of Joseph Lelyveld's new biography of Mohandas Gandhi. Is there any great figure of history we weren't lied to about in school?
March 26 -- This morning's NYT has an opinion piece dripping with condescension about early-20th Century racial prejudices. Imagine our forefathers having the gall to attribute different personality traits to people from different parts of the world. Why, the morons who came before us actually believed, among other things, that Northern Italians were “cool, deliberate, patient and practical" and “capable of great progress in the political and social organization of modern civilization.” Thank God we've moved beyond that sort of thing, and thanks to the NYT for pointing out how randomly and stupidly judgmental people used to be ... except ... hold on a sec ... on the front page of the very same edition there's a story that credits all sorts of wonderful qualities to the Japanese, as reflected intheir response to the earthquake and tsunami: "stoicism and self-sacrifice," "quiet bravery in the face of tragedy that seems almost woven into the national character," "deep-rooted passion for order and civility," etc., etc. Aren't these generalizations, so proudly reported on the front page, exactly the same kind of racism sarcastically decried on the opinion page?
March 26 -- The MoCo Herald made a big deal yesterday about the PUC's water moratorium (it was their lede with a huge headline, "PUC passes local water hookup ban"), while we played the same story down, with just a small item inside. Why'd we think the PUC's action wasn't front-page news? Because 95 percent of projects that might be affected already can't get water because of a moratorium declared in the mid-1990s. So the latest moratorium doesn't really mean much. The Herald's story doesn't even mention the long-standing, far-reaching moratorium. Do they know about it?
March 25 -- When people claim that illegal immigrants are needed for field work because "there aren't enough American workers willing to pick crops," what they mean is that illegal immigrants will work for much lower wages than citizens will accept. Which is precisely why Cesar Chavez was vehemently opposed to illegal immigration.
March 25 -- Today's article in the NYT about the Obama administration's decision not to Mirandize terror suspects before interrogating them is too cynical even for the NYT. Especially this paragraph: "The practice of reading Miranda warnings to terrorism suspects arrested in the United States has led to political disputes. In particular, Republicans, seeking to portray the Obama administration as soft on terrorism, criticized the reading of a Miranda warning to the main suspect in the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25, 2009." No, Republicans criticized the reading of a Miranda warning to the Detroit bomber because they thought doing so endangered the public.
March 25 -- John Yoo for Supreme Court! His column today in the WSJ assessing President Obama's power to take military action in Libya is brilliant. And indisputable.
March 25 -- Are our elected officials incompetent, dishonest or just plain stupid? The way they manage things such as the California unemployment insurance fund, the answer has gotta be: Yes.
March 25 -- It doesn't bother me if GE pays hardly any corporate income tax. In fact, I don't think there should be a corporate income tax at all, because that means profits are taxed twice. Instead, they should just be taxed when they're paid to shareholders.
March 25 -- Today is the 100th anniversary of the fire in NYC's Triangle shirtwaist (a type of women's blouse) factory. The building where the fire happened was very modern for its time, ironically suffered no structural damage in the fire that killed 146 seamstresses and other factory workers, and is now a classroom building for New York University, just off Washington Square Park. A very good book on the fire, which led to all sorts of workplace safety improvements in the U.S. at the time, and even sparked pro-union protests today, is "Triangle, the Fire that Changed America," by David von Drehle.
March 24 -- Tonight's American Idol was one of the greatest TV shows ever. I've done a lot of live TV, and I'm telling you, the producers of that show are geniuses. NB: During Casey Abrams' emotional scene, you may have noticed that the audio kept cutting out. I'm pretty sure that was because he kept using bad words.
March 24 -- Henry Miller hoists a NYT columnist on his own ignorance. I especially loved his observation that the columnist's "nonsense makes one wonder whether there is any adult supervision at the Times." Where do I sign up to start buying genetically engineered salmon?
March 24 -- Most of this week's Elizabeth Taylor retrospectives highlight her winsome role in the 1944 film, "National Velvet," which was largely shot on the Monterey Peninsula and features lots of magnificent local scenery. And, of course, you can never go wrong watching "The Sandpiper," starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, which was filmed in Big Sur and Monterey. The plot of "The Sandpiper" is ridiculous, but the beatnik dance party scene at Nepenthe is worth the price of admission, the scenic shots of Big Sur almost make you want to move here, the theme song, "The Shadow of Your Smile," is one of the best Hollywood ever produced, and Edmund Kara's voluptuous redwood sculpture of Elizabeth Taylor is unforgettable. Whatever became of it? (Comcast has both movies On Demand in HD.)
March 23 -- Katie Couric and David Letterman both came off as extremely uninformed on his show last night. Their comments about gun control were positively insipid.
March 23 -- As usual, the big city news media pretend that violence between Israel and its neighbors is equally the fault of both sides. Buried or nonexistent in every story is the fact that the Palestinian terrorists are always the ones who break the peace.
March 23 -- Are you kidding me? Now environmentalists have decided cats are the enemy.
March 23 -- The CBS Morning Show (good new anchor team, BTW), had some incredible video yesterday of an enormous shark prowling near a kayaker.
March 22 -- The SF Chronicle has a site where you can find detailed inundation maps and research local tsunami danger.
March 22 -- While they're on strike, NFL players have to pay for their own massages? Say it ain't so!
March 22 -- Here's a piece of news you'll never see in the NYT: No country taxes the rich the way the U.S. does.
March 21 -- I can't figure out why environmentalists and historic preservationists celebrate things in the past they would bitterly oppose if they were proposed today. Dozens of examples spring to mind, but the NYT produced a doozy today: The blasting through Manhattan Island, without regard for flora or fauna, of a rigid grid of streets that would be considered an arrogant environmental nightmare were it attempted now, but is oh-so-wonderful because it happened two centuries ago.
March 21 -- If you've been hiding income from the tax man, you might want to rethink the strategy ... or get a cheaper car.
March 21 -- Ralph Nader wants President Obama impeached for war crimes. Looney Tunes! In my opinion, it's a great thing that President Obama has turned out to be more of a hawk on national defense (a la John Kennedy) than a wimp (Bill Clinton). Even Nancy Pelosi seems to agree. Or, as WSJ columnist Bret Stephens put it, "We're (almost) all Neocons now."
March 21 -- What is to be done? The 9th Circuit is out of control, and no matter how many times it's put in its place by the Supreme Court, some of the circuit's judges continue to act like they're God or something. (Read the latest 9th Circuit reversal by the Supreme Court here. And please revisit my Feb. 9 entry about a U.S. District Court judge sticking his nose into the minutiae of California's administration of the death penalty.)
March 21 -- Impossible but true ... Santa Barbara got more than 5 inches of rain yesterday. And it was just announced that all roads into Yosemite Park are closed because of heavy snowfall, including more than three feet in Yosemite Valley. It would be so much fun to be staying at the Ahwahnee right now! UPDATE: But it wasn't fun to be skiing in the Yosemite backcountry.
March 20 -- Obviously, the forces of NATO and the U.S. will be able to take Gaddafi out whenever they want to, and they should be able to do it with minimum casualties. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein eight years ago was accomplished very well, too. Where we went wrong in Iraq was our plan (or lack thereof) for running the country after he was gone. Whenever a tyrant is dethroned, factional violence is likely to be unleashed, and that seems inevitable in Libya, just as it was in Iraq. Are we prepared?
March 20 -- The NYT is really late on the story of the end of the phone call. In another couple of years, they'll report that people are using their cell phone cameras, instead of copiers, to make reference copies of documents.
March 19 -- When there's a storm coming onshore and you want to see how bad it's likely to be and what's heading for you, I recommend you use this site for the latest weather radar. (Click on "animate map" just above the clock to really get the picture.) Tonight's radar showed a ton of red -- heavy rain and wind -- getting ready to blast the entire coast of California. The radar is better than any weatherman.
March 19 -- Today's our day to get rid of tyrants, apparently. It was March 19, 2003, we started the process of dethroning the bloodthirsty lunatic Saddam Hussein, and today we've begun military action against an even worse madman, Muammar Gaddafi. Hooray for President Obama and Sec. of State Clinton! But why'd we wait so long?
March 19 -- The NYT, as usual, glosses over the cost to taxpayers of Obamacare, but today's article about "insurance" for those with preexisting conditions can't help but disclose some of the facts: Mr. Garner let his previous coverage lapse, and then was upset he couldn't find "insurance" to cover his long-standing $2,000-a-month prescriptions in exchange for a "premium" of $300 or $400 a month. His solution? The taxpayers should cover the difference. And we are.
March 19 -- There was some interesting rock history, and some important MoCo history, on display during last night's Tonight Show. Rock Hall of Fame inductee Alice Cooper performed "School's Out," accompanied by the super Tonight Show Bank plus Dweezil Zappa playing some wicked solos on a guitar that (according to Leno's intro) once belonged to and was burned by Jimi Hendrix. Could it be the one he burned at the Monterey Fairgrounds in 1967? (The musical number begins about 42 minutes into the show ... sorry about the annoying commercials.)
March 19 -- The WSJ has a comprehensive look today at nuclear power plants in seismic hazard zones around the world. Japan and Taiwan have dozens. California has three.
March 19 -- Where, exactly, do Graham Nash, James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen, all of whom have used vast amounts of electricity to make their fortunes, think it was supposed to have come from? Environ-mentalists have long been against nuclear, hydroelectric, oil, coal and natural gas power plants, and now they're even fighting wind and solar power ... but they still want the lights to come on when they hit a switch, don't they? Magic, anyone?
March 19 -- The SF Chronicle's chart today of cuts in the state budget makes one thing very clear: California taxpayers have been very, very generous with the poor, the elderly and the sick. Next year, they're going to have to be a little less generous.
March 18 -- In the U.K., the media also don't seem to understand the difference between paying taxes and having your subsidy from the government reduced.
March 18 -- Have you heard about the doughnut shop near Fresno that's been sued for ADA violations? (Download the complaint here.) The owner, Lee Ky, has been in a wheelchair her entire life. Her dilemma reminds me of the story I did in 2004 about an ADA lawsuit against the Running Iron in Carmel Valley brought by a disabled activist from the San Fernando Valley. Just down the road from the Running Iron is the Rippling River county housing project, which has many residents in wheelchairs. When I interviewed them about the suit, they said, "We love the Running Iron ... they're always so good to us there!" The ADA should be fixed to make compliance easier and eliminate abuse and extortion, but it won't be, of course, because so many lawmakers love lawsuits.
March 18 -- Our story this morning about Chelsie Hill's plan to sue Toyota shows once again that American civil courts aren't about justice ... they're about finding someone rich who can be forced to give money to someone a jury feels sorry for.
March 18 -- Ann Coulter's column on the health benefits of radiation certainly comes as a surprise. And even if she's exaggerating, I have to agree with Paul Gregory that media coverage of the nuclear situation in Japan has been borderline hysterical. (Gregory's new book about Stalin, mentioned on the same web page, looks interesting. I'll get to it as soon as I finish reading "Gulag, A History," by Anne Applebaum.)
March 18 -- In an email to subscribers and registered users of its website this morning, the NYT announced it will start charging for content online. The entire media industry will be holding its breath to see what happens. The most interesting aspect is that, while you'll be charged to view more than 20 articles a month on nyt.com, you'll continue to have unlimited, free access to articles linked from blogs and social media sites. That aspect of the program must have been hotly debated inside the NYT, because it will obviously give most people an easy way to avoid signing up. And it shows that companies such as the NYT are still befuddled about what their online business model should be. UPDATE: "Hotly debated" was an understatement.
March 17 -- The MoCo Herald gave the collapse of Highway 1 last night a Pearl-Harbor-Attacked size headline this morning. And they called it a "washout," which it wasn't. I'm often left wondering who writes their headlines, and whether they read the stories first.
March 15 -- Katie Couric can usually be counted on to give her stories a left-wing, pro-union, affirmative action slant. But her piece on 60 Minutes Sunday about an innovative New York City school was a refreshing departure.
March 15 -- Polar bears rule.
March 15 -- I must be stupid. Every time there's a big decline in one of the world's stock markets, the news reports are all about "sell-offs,'" "dumping stocks for cash," "investors heading for the exits," etc. But I'm always wondering: Doesn't every stock transaction include a buyer and a seller? Isn't every sell-off, therefore, also a buy-in? Even in steep market declines, aren't some traders "dumping" cash for stocks and rushing to get in? Why isn't this ever mentioned? It must be me.
March 15 -- Thomas Sowell has a great lede sentence on the first of his brilliant columns today: "Why are so many people who are opposed to development nevertheless in favor of 'redevelopment'"? And in his other column he artfully explains why extreme environmentalism hurts the interests of minorities. (Also see my March 11 editorial.)
March 15 -- And you thought the battle over fire prevention in Big Sur had gotten weird.
March 15 -- On the Today Show this morning, George Lewis warned of the possibility of a tsunami-generating earthquake on the Cascadian subduction zone, which runs along the coast of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. But then he jumped to the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which is in Orange County and nowhere near a subduction earthquake fault, to assess what such an event could mean to you and me. (See my March 12 entry about the SF Chronicle's coverage of this question.) Does Lewis think he's Jane Fonda?
March 14 -- The NYT has a clever, but heartbreaking, photo feature today showing before and after images of the area hit by the Japanese tsunami. (In the center of each photo set is a small blue bar you can drag across to switch from "before" to "after" and vv.) For all its blatant biases, the NYT still produces wonderful work. Also, the BBC has the unedited footage of the black wave destroying Sendai. Even if you've already had your fill of tsunami coverage, it's worth watching.
March 14 -- Did you know the California Public Utilities Commission has a formal process for certifying WMBEs?
March 14 -- There's an interesting discussion underway on the Daily Telegraph's website about why there's been no looting in Japan.
March 13 -- If there's a word in Chinese for, "No-growth Movement," it apparently doesn't get used very often.
March 13 -- This story, the 1,000,000th in a row about how hard life is in the U.S. for illegal immigrants, is also the 1,000,000th that provides no context for readers to understand why the immigrants didn't stay in Mexico to begin with. In other words, no matter how bad things are in Salinas, they're still better than in Oaxaca, Sinaloa or wherever. Right?
March 13 -- I knew divorce could get ugly, but I didn't know it could get this ugly.
March 12 -- I love the correction in the MoCo Herald this morning: "Vince Otoupal, CSU Monterey Bay's athletic director, said if the women's basketball team makes the NCAA Division II tournament again next year, 'We're going to get the student body and the community out there to see the team off properly.' In a story on page A1 Friday, Otoupal was misquoted as saying the marching band and cheerleaders would also come out. CSUMB doesn't have a marching band or cheerleaders."
March 12 -- How many of you, upon hearing that document-leaker Bradley Manning was being "forced to sleep naked" assumed this meant he was shivering all night with his skin exposed to a hard bed and the cold night air? But, now it turns out, while he may be sleeping without pajamas or underwear, he has a mattress with a built-in pillow and two blankets! Why are so many people such shameful idiots?
March 12 -- More interesting facts about earthquakes: According to this morning's SF Chronicle, an 8.9 earthquake in California is unlikely, because our faults aren't long enough to unleash that much energy in one go. Also, because we have strike/slip faults instead of subduction faults, major tsunamis aren't likely to be generated by local earthquakes. And the best news of all: The section of the San Andreas fault opposite the Monterey Peninsula constantly "creeps" and probably won't generate a major quake at all. I'll sleep soundly tonight! On the other hand, I recently read Simon Winchester's, "A Crack in the Edge of the World," so maybe I'll have nightmares. UPDATE: Winchester has a column in Newsweek this week attempting to link recent earthquakes around the Pacific Rim, and predicting a really big one on the West Coast.
March 12 -- Amid all the handwringing and outrage about Wisconsin's public employees losing some of their collective bargaining power comes this news: NFL players voted yesterday to "decertify" their union. None of the news stories I could find explained why the players decided it was in their interest to take this step. Contract negotiations broke down, so the workers decide they no longer wanted to have a union? How could that be?? Since the explanation has gone unmentioned, whatever it is must be contrary to the news media's preferred narrative: Bosses, rich and bad; employees, poor and good. UPDATE: Most of the March 13 coverage of the NFL labor dispute (here and here, for example), still has the same flaw, but the Washington Post at least tried to explain the players' perceived advantage in dissolving their union.
March 12 -- In my younger days, I belonged to three different unions: IATSE, NABET and WGA. In every case, the consensus among my co-workers and I was that unions were good for people who were older or mediocre at their jobs, but held back younger people who excelled. And all of us resented being forced to contribute seven or eight percent of our paychecks to the unions. Therefore, I think Scott Walker may be right that support for his union-busting bill will quickly increase among Wisconsin workers. And, obviously, despite the hysteria in Madison, there still has been no outcry about the lack of collective bargaining rights or compulsory union dues among federal workers or state workers in many states.
March 11 -- If the Japanese earthquake was really 8.9, that would make it the fifth-largest on earth since 1900. Keep in mind that the Richter scale is ten-scale logarithmic, so that an increase of one whole number means a tenfold increase in intensity. Put another way, an earthquake with a value of 9 on the Richter scale would be 1,000 times more powerful than an earthquake rated 6.
March 11 -- Here's the website where you can register for emergency bulletins from the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services.
March 11 -- The earthquake and tsunami video from Japan has been horrifying. But local coverage of the tsunami warning along the California coast this morning was kinda humorous, as newscasters on KSBW and KION tried to make something out of nothing. In the end, a few boats in Santa Cruz harbor were damaged by the surge, but with the tsunami no more than three feet high (much smaller than waves from a weak winter storm), most of the Monterey Bay coastline was unscathed. And this wasn't exactly a surprise: As it headed this way, the tsunami's height was measured at dozens of places across the Pacific -- information that was readily available from the National Weather Service. So why the panic? UPDATE: Norm Hoffman (who seems to have actual expertise, instead of just tidbits picked up from the Internet) and KION were by far the best this morning. And the station's time-lapse of the water receding and surging in Santa Cruz was the most informative local video we saw. The most colorful reporter turned out to be John Madden on KCBS radio in San Francisco, who provided outstanding sideline commentary of the tsunami watch from his house on Carmel Beach. ANOTHER UPDATE: I live at the beach, too. From my vantage point, this morning's tsunami was indistinguishable from normal wave action.
March 9 -- So Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate "forced through" a bill curtailing public employees' collective bargaining rights today by stripping the bill of its components affecting the budget, thus eliminating the need for a super-quorum. Did the NYT ever use such derogatory language to describe how Democrats passed Obamacare?
March 9 -- It's ironic that so many commentators and even reporters who pretend to be objective are trying to discredit Rep. Peter King's hearings on Islamic radicals by comparing him to Sen. Joseph McCarthy. In fact, McCarthy's efforts were the opposite of a "witch hunt." Documents uncovered and declassified since the collapse of the USSR in 1991 show that he actually grossly underestimated the number of Soviet spies in the U.S. government in the early 1950s, and the damage they did. See "Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage Espionage in America" and "Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America." (Sorry to keep harping on this, but it takes a long time to correct 50 years of bogus history.)
March 8 -- The headline on today's release of census data for California (according to the NYT): "The number of white children dropped by 21 percent in the last decade, with a similar decline in the number of black children." California is becoming an Hispanic state, and it's happening with breathtaking speed.
March 7 -- The NYT just posted a news alert, "President Obama decides to resume military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay." And then the newspaper offered this brief analysis: "The order ends a two-year ban on new cases. President Obama took office promising to close the detention center and prosecute suspects held there in domestic civilian courts, but the plan was blocked by controversies over where to hold the suspects and try them." Isn't it also just possible that, after two years in office, Obama realized that military tribunals are the best way to bring terrorists to justice? Every president before him would have done the same thing. (See John Yoo's excellent book, "Crisis and Command.")
March 7 -- The MoCo Herald has one of the most laughably ignorant "news" stories of all time today (mercifully, it's only in print, but I've scanned the front page and the jump). Herald reporter Dennis Taylor interviewed P.G. resident Lydia Henricksen, who (poor thing) was 14 and "happy and doing well" in Giessen, Germany, when WWII "broke out." But this isn't one of those "I miraculously survived the Holocaust" reports, although it pretends to be. Instead, Ms. Henricksen was a citizen of Nazi Germany who "became a bookkeeper" for Hitler's Wehrmacht and whose husband was a test pilot in the Luftwaffe. Did you know that, for Germans, things weren't too bad during most of the war? (Duh ... they invaded neighboring countries, not the other way around.) And that things actually got worse for them after the war ended? (Good thing for Ms. Henricksen she wasn't in the Soviet-occupied sector, where most of the women were raped by Russian soldiers seeking retribution for the horrific crimes committed by Germans in their country.) I'm sorry, but every German who was alive in the 1930s and 1940s has questions to answer: How did Hitler come to power? What were the roots of his murderously racist state? How was it that so many ordinary Germans were turned into genocidal maniacs? Alas, Taylor doesn't ask any of them, and actually seems to believe that Germans such as Ms. Henricksen were innocent victims during WWII, just like the Jews, the Poles, the Ukrainians .... (Dennis, you can cure your historical illiteracy any number of ways, such as picking up a junior high school history book, but I recommend you begin by reading "Armageddon," by Max Hastings, "Bloodlands," by Timothy Snyder, and "Hitler's Willing Executioners," by Daniel Goldhagen.)
March 6 -- Always missing from stories like this one about party affiliations in the South is any mention of why states such as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi were solidly Democratic from Reconstruction until the 1960s: Republicans freed the slaves, while the Democratic Party was, for many decades, the party of racists, super-racists, and super-duper racists. Only in the era of affirmative action have African-Americans flocked to the Democrats, and Southern whites gone Republican.
March 6 -- If you're wondering whether the United States is still a great nation, all you have to do is watch the Tonight Show's report Friday from the Eelpout festival in Walker, Minn. Maybe it's just me, but the report reminded me of Sascha Cohen's "Borat." Both were actually very complimentary to our country!
March 6 -- Smart meters (gas and electric) were installed at my house last week. So far, I've managed to stay alive. But when I told my son, he said, "Is it the beginning of Skynet?"
March 6 -- Today I learned that our country's health care system is not only bad, it's worse than Rwanda's! The story also reminded me that some immigrants manage to adapt very quickly to the American way of life ... especially the part where, if you don't get enough free stuff from the government, you demand more. And, pardon me for asking, but even though the official statistics don't say so, isn't dehydration or starvation the immediate cause of death for quite a few gravely ill old people?
March 5 -- The Concorde anecdotes in yesterday's editorial,"Protesters don't need facts," came from personal experience. In late 1976 and early 1977, when the anti-Concorde protests were at their peak, I was a copy boy for CBS News in New York. You can read more about my experiences in network news here.
March 4 -- Indiana must have much stricter voter residency rules than California. Here, to protect the voting rights of the homeless, the legislature decided that a person lives pretty much wherever he says he lives ... even if it's a parking lot. (In 1998, The Pine Cone was featured on 60 Minutes for our story on California's lax voter registration laws, "Voter Fraud, easy as 1-2-3.")
March 4 -- This appeals court decision seems idiotic to me. Imagine saying a private shopping mall is Constitutionally obligated to let protesters picket in front of one of its stores. The only place they have a right to be is on the nearest pubic street.
March 4 -- James Franco ... smartest movie star ever?
March 4 -- Speaking of wacky conspiracy theories, one of our best stories on the subject (okay, I wrote it) was about the chemtrail nuts. (After downloading the pdf, scroll down to the bottom of page one.)
March 4 -- On the subject of wacky protesters taking over public hearings (our lede today): MoCo Herald editor Joe Livernois had a very good column on "gadflies" and "kooks" two years ago. If you're interested, you should also revisit my April 3, 2009, editorial, "Public comment is not sacred," and maybe even, "The Dilworth phenomenon."
March 3 -- I have no idea if this gossipy report in the MCW about even more layoffs at the MoCo Herald is accurate, but if it is, it makes me sad.
March 2 -- The big city newspapers passionately defend unions, unless they're in the way of the newspapers' profits. The NYT, WaPo and many other newspapers have repeatedly broken unions that stood in the way of modernization and efficiency in their newsrooms, pressrooms and delivery systems. And they're still doing it.
March 2 -- Obamacare is going to increase Medicaid costs so much, the nation's governors are starting to panic.
March 2 -- Yesterday, the NYT offered up its 1,000,000th example of how to sugarcoat the treason of Americans who spied for Stalin. UPDATE: But the newspaper also can't help occasionally reporting the truth about the terrible damage the traitors of the 1940s and 1950s did to their country.
March 1 -- Shouldn't the union protesters in Wisconsin start paying attention to the numerous states (including several with Democratic Party governors), not to mention the federal government, where public employees have little or no collective bargaining rights?
March 1 -- The NYT's "ethicist" is calling it quits. Good riddance. His columns have been ultra-left-wing, which would have been fine, except that, by calling him an "ethicist," the NYT has therefore been claiming that the only way to be ethical is to be liberal. UPDATE: Maybe there's hope for the NYT after all? Frank Rich is also leaving. True, he's just going to New York Magazine. But I don't care ... because I never read it!
March 1 -- Even if you don't like American Idol, you might want to start paying attention to a singer from Compton named Jacob Lusk. So far, it looks like he might be the best singer ever on the show. His Feb. 17 performance of "God Bless The Child" was unforgettable.
Feb. 28 -- I'm reading "Bloodlands," by Timothy Snyder. This impressive book presents several new theories to explain why Stalin and Hitler acted the way they did during WWII. One example: Snyder asserts that Hitler's original "final solution" was to relocate many Jews to remote parts of his hoped-for empire, and that he built the gas chambers and crematoria to exterminate them all only after Dec. 1941, when he knew the war was lost. Definitely a must read. Gruesome, though.
Feb. 28 -- CIA director (and Carmel Valley resident) Leon Panetta cancelled an appearance tonight at the NYT. Did he cancel because he's too busy dealing with Egypt, Libya and Pakistan? Or because, in the end, he couldn't stomach appearing at a newspaper that has done so much damage (example 1, example 2) to this country's intelligence gathering?
Feb. 27 -- Just about everything in today's NYT editorial, "Angry Arizona," is idiotic. But the dumbest thing is this gem: "The Supreme Court has ruled that undocumented children have a right to primary education, because the country is not served by perpetuating an illiterate underclass." Well, there you have it: In the world of the NYT, the Supreme Court is supposed to issue rulings based on what the justices think is good for the country, rather than on the law.
Feb. 26 -- When it comes to spending your money, things seem to have actually improved in the House of Representatives with Republicans in charge.
Feb. 26 -- For decades, the government has been making promises of massive future benefits (social security, public employee pensions and retiree health care) without even pretending to set aside enough money to make good on them. How is that different from a Ponzi scheme exactly?
Feb. 26 -- If you're interested in China, and particularly the arbitrary brutality of the reign of Mao, you'll want to see this exhibit at the Yerba Buena Center.
Feb. 26 -- What is a "pink slip"? As far as I know, it's a notice that you've been fired. But nowadays, the media all use it to refer to a notice that you might be fired. Conjoined with the crazy laws that teachers be notified in the spring if there's any possibility they might be laid off in the fall, and you have an avalanche of alarming stories (example 1, example 2, example 3), most of which do not come true.
Feb. 25 -- It's hard to see the situation in Wisconsin as an "assault on unions," as President Obama said the other day, when you consider that federal employees have none of the rights being fought over in Madison. If Democrats believe so strongly that public employees should have collective bargaining rights, why haven't they lifted a finger to give that to federal workers?
Feb. 25 -- There's a fascinating sidelight to our story today about the latest lawsuit against Monterey County over permits. The man behind the suit, Ed Leeper, is a well known local activist who likes to get involved in all sorts of causes. But three years ago, one of his fellow activists revealed that Leeper is a fake.
Feb. 25 -- According to this story in today's MoCo Herald, the Secure Communities anti-illegal-immigrant fingerprinting program has "finally linked all California police agencies." Can that be true? Have Santa Cruz and Berkeley actually signed up?
Feb. 23 -- I think if somebody really dug into it, they'd find that community colleges waste a lot of money. The SF Chronicle has one very interesting example today.
Feb. 22 -- Clever! The Wisconsin Senate imposed a new rule today: Any member who misses two legislative days will henceforth have to pick up his paycheck in person on the Senate floor while the Senate is in session. Now, just wait for the media to paint this as a dirty tactic, even while they continue to sugarcoat the uber-fillibuster the Democrats are using to thwart majority rule.
Feb. 22 -- Revealed: The most thin-skinned person in the world.
Feb. 22 -- It's amazing that cops in San Francisco are allowed to carry arms at all.
Feb. 22 -- According to ABC News, "experts" are "divided" over whether it was a good idea for a NY school to suspend a 9-year-old for sticking a "kick me" sign on a classmate's back. Usually, that kind of generalization shows that the reporter was too lazy to do any research or interviews. In this case, it seems as if he must have actually been hallucinating. Could any expert in any relevant field actually believe that such a harsh punishment was justified for such a trivial offense?
Feb. 19 -- I've got news for the WSJ: Colleges giving priority to prospective students who can pay full fare has been going on for a long time. And why shouldn't it? They're subsidizing the free or low-cost educations given to most of their classmates. Truth be told, a college that didn't try to admit as many academically qualified full-freight students as possible would have to be crazy.
Feb. 19 -- So New York State spends a quarter of its entire budget on Medicaid. The taxpayers of NY are certainly very generous with their less well-off brethren! But, according to Democrats, the problem with health care in NY, and all other states for that matter, is that they're just not generous enough.
Feb. 17 -- Good for Steve Jobs finally tearing down the old home on his property in Woodside. Historic preservation has gone way too far in California. After all, even people living today have something to contribute. One thing's for sure: Whatever Jobs builds in place of the old Spanish-style place will one day be considered historic because Jobs built it.
Feb. 16 -- It shocks me that so many people got mortgages in the early 2000s without making any down payment. How on earth did that happen? One thing's for sure: That kind of irresponsible lending is what caused the entire economic crash.
Feb. 16 -- The LAT is doing a good job digging up details of how state employees have been having their way in Sacramento for years. And why not? They (literally) run the place.
Feb. 15 -- When you control the cookie jar, you can help yourself and be very generous with your friends. Officials in Bell did it to an outrageous degree -- which they freely admitted in their private communications -- but every level of government does it.
Feb. 14 -- In most communities, opposition to Wal-Mart is based on fears that small businesses will suffer and/or close because of the competition. In other words, some neighborhoods don't want Wal-Marts because the people who live nearby won't be able to stop themselves from shopping there. But in a poor part of D.C., the opposition is that local residents won't be able to stop themselves from shoplifting!
Feb. 14 -- I loved Scott Ostler's column in this morning's SF Chronicle about the conclusion of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The NYT also had a great write-up. The sport of golf could certainly loosen up a bit. It's not church, for pete's sake. I followed D.A. Points and Bill Murray for six or seven holes at Pebble Beach on Saturday, and the whole atmosphere was fun for everybody ... including them. The best moment (beside's Points' incredible eagle on 14 yesterday) was when, after wrapping up his tournment-winning round, Points turned to the big crowd in the grandstand at 18 and said, very sincerely, "Thank you all for coming." Quite a contrast to the sullen, it's-all-about-me attitude Tiger Woods often exhibited. And why was Woods playing in Dubai this weekend instead of at Pebble Beach? Ann Killion of SI.com has the answer.
Feb. 13 -- The tax increases to support Obamacare have barely begun. But they are going to be huge. The program is going to cost this country trillions.
Feb. 13 -- I have another suggestion under the heading of Making Legislators Follow The Rules They Impose On Everybody Else: Institute a "public comment" period at the California Legislature and all of its committees. They wouldn't be able to stand it more than a few weeks.
Feb. 13 -- If historians are going to start revisiting FDR's presidency, I think they also have to include his intentional killing of hundreds of thousands of helpless civilians in Japan and Germany in the waning days of WWII.
Feb. 13 -- Watching CBS' coverage of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am today makes me wonder why everyone in the country doesn't try to move here. The broadcast constantly depicts the Monterey Peninsula as paradise which, of course, it is!
Feb. 12 -- The Herald continued its campaign in favor of a public takeover of Cal Am with its lede story Thursday, headlined "Water buyout bid draws crowd." Once again, the story made no mention of the slightly inconvenient fact that an identical effort was overwhelmingly shot down at the ballot box just five years ago.
Feb. 11 -- There's lots to think about in this story about the number of Chinese heading to the U.S. for college, especially the observation that, even at a small college in Iowa, half the applicants from China scored a perfect 800 on the math SAT. And then this: "But the most accomplished applicants will have grades in the 70s or 80s, because Chinese schools tend to grade on a far less generous curve than American high schools." In other words, Chinese students have higher SATs and lower high school grades than their American counterparts. Hmmmm. No wonder affirnative-action-obsessed American colleges want to drop the SAT (which can't be faked) and put more emphasis on grades (which commonly are).
Feb. 11 -- What happened in Egypt today leaves me wondering how other, much worse dictators have managed to escape the same fate. Saddam Hussein, for example, was far more hated in Iraq than Mubarak was in Egypt, yet it took an American invasion to put an end to his crimes. And what about my old friends Stalin and Mao? Their policies caused unmeasurable suffering among their own people, yet they were never the subjects of popular uprisings. The advent of the Internet is the reason most commentators are citing as the difference today, but I think it's something more basic. Mubarak ruled with only half an iron fist, and allowed his country to become highly Western and modern, even going so far as to allow free access to American reports (I have worked there myself quite a few times). His biggest crackdowns were reserved for Muslim extremists, not opponents on the side of Democratic reforms. Thus, he was vulnerable to his own people. For all his faults, we should be grateful to him for keeping peace with Israel these last 30 years. The future for Egypt is now highly uncertain. From the interviews being gathered among the crowd in Tahrir Square, it seems possible to be optimistic. But who knows?
Feb. 11 -- Even left-wing
environmentalist rock musicians can feel
the coastal commission's wrath. BTW, the
reporters lede ("A rock star's dream of building
a secluded compound of homes on a ridge high
above Malibu has been dealt a serious blow by
state regulators, who accuse U2 guitarist the
Edge of scheming to get around environmental
rules by concealing who owns the property.") is
dumb. Mr. Edge isn't concealing who owns the
land. He's just pointing out that it consists of
Feb. 9 -- Tonight's American Idol, from San Francisco, was just awesome television. I know I've said it before, but the producers of that show are geniuses.
Feb. 9 -- The latest in a long series of one-sided stories about the supposed persecutions inflicted on illegal immigrants in the U.S. is today's offering from the NYT about students disappointed by the defeat of the Dream Act. The story could just as easily have been about the wonderful opportunities they've enjoyed, even as massive illegal immigration has imposed tremendous costs on the country. But it's not. Of course.
Feb. 9 -- Greatest headline ever ... in today's WSJ, on a story about actors who specialize in portraying corpses: "No experience needed to play dead."
Feb. 9 -- When Keith Olbermann is given the title, "Chief News Officer," and his boss at Current TV, Al Gore, says Olbermann's been hired so he can speak "Truth to Power," you know the entire arrangement is really about ratings and, therefore, money. Nothing wrong with that ... but why lie? Oh, wait, I know ... it's because the pretense of pursuing objectivity and seeking the truth, while doing the opposite, is an essential part of a tried-and-true media money-making strategy.
Feb. 9 -- So a federal judge toured San Quentin's new $900,000 death chamber yesterday to determine whether executing people in it will constitute "cruel and unusual" punishment. I'm sorry, but where the heck does a federal judge get the authority to stick his nose into the minutiae of California's execution procedures? Unless the state is intentionally inflicting pain or doing something grossly negligent, he should have no power to intervene at all. This constant dickering over death penalty methods is grossly unfair to the families of crime victims and eliminates the deterrent effect the death penalty would have if it were applied in four or five years instead of 25. The people of California want the death penalty for the worst criminals -- recent polls even show support for the death penalty increasing -- and the courts should quit thwarting their will.
Feb. 9 -- Get ready for the latest front in the war on personal responsibility. Now we're being told it's not french fries and lack of exercise that are making everyone fat, but "obesogens." Hahaha ...
Feb. 8 -- In the debate over illegal immigration, one side is (once again) definitely winning.
Feb. 8 -- Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe was the Obama administration's "senior counselor for access to justice." Can it actually be newsworthy that he thinks it's a slam dunk that the Supreme Court will uphold Obamacare?
Feb. 8 -- I'm sure you all heard about the Minneapolis woman who tried to mail a puppy to her son in Atlanta. Her court appearance yesterday trying to get the puppy back is one of the saddest, but also one of the funniest, things I've seen in years. BTW, no matter what you read in blogs like this one, it's not true that cargo holds on passenger planes are unheated and unpressurized. If they were, when you got your suitcases back everything would be frozen and exploded.
Feb. 8 -- The second most hilarious story of the day: Julian Assange is upset because Swedish prosecutors may have leaked information about him to the media.
Feb. 8 -- It's long been obvious to anyone with a brain that our airport security network, which searches for weapons instead of terrorists, has been a ridiculous and counterproductive exercise in political correctness. Now, even the NYT is beginning to agree.
Feb. 8 -- Obama's message to businesses yesterday was that they should be asking themselves what their responsibilities are to America. And the answer is obvious: The most important thing any business can do is be successful. A thriving private economy is the key to everything the government -- even liberals in government -- want to do.
Feb. 7 -- Things in San Francisco are almost as bad as they were in Bell. Why am I not surprised?
Feb. 7 -- The truth about the colossal expense of Obamacare is finally getting some attention in the media.
Feb. 7 -- The NYT just posted a review of the troubled Broadway production, "Spider-man: Turn off the dark." They hated it! Ben Brantley calls it "one of the worst musicals ever made." Of course, this may not be the last word on the $65 million show. Just the day before, the same paper printed a highly favorable article about the buzz Spider-man was generating. And, back in Oct. 2003, the same critic also didn't like "Wicked."
Feb. 6 -- The half-time show at the Super Bowl tonight (loved the light people) seemed to be our answer to the Opening Ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. We weren't quite as precise, but still pretty good for a free nation of 300 million, as opposed to a regimented nation of 1.4 billion! Too bad so many of our microphones didn't work. Christina Aguilera mixed up the lyrics on the Star Spangled Banner ... so what? That could happen to anybody ... and it has.
Feb. 6 -- The government makes it so easy to steal, you can't really blame people for doing it.
Feb. 6 -- Will the Livermore Fire Department have to replace its 110-year-old incandescent bulb with a CFL? Or (get ready for a profound question) will CEQA protect the bulb as an historic resource? The SF Chronicle's story today on this weighty subject would have benefitted from a little explanation of how incandescent bulbs work: A thin wire (the filament) is overloaded with electricity, causing it to heat up and glow. Because the filament is in a vacuum chamber, and because the bulb is sealed very tightly to the base, no oxygen is present to allow the filament to burn. But no vacuum chamber is perfect and eventually enough oxygen works its way into the bulb for the filament to fail (burn), and for the lightbulb, therefore, to "burn out." The inevitability of that oxygen leakage is why some scientists think the Livermore bulb must be a hoax.
Feb. 6 -- I read Jim Johnson's story today in the MoCo Herald about the latest Cal Am takeover attempt several times, but still couldn't figure out what it's meant to be about. Since the Herald doesn't mention the 2005 failed ballot measure to take over the water company (rejected by voters 63-37) or the fact that Waterplus is grossly underestimating the cost of buying Cal Am (as we reported Friday), you have to assume that the Herald made the omissions because it supports the takeover, facts be damned, and that today's story is the paper's best attempt, however feeble, to promote the cause.
Feb. 6 -- There wasn't much news in Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Barack Obama during the Super Bowl pregame show. O'Reilly tried to restrain himself from interrupting the president, but he just couldn't. At least he interrupted Obama a little less frequently than he does with guests on his prime time show ... I guess you could call that respect. Obama comported himself very well and I liked his optimism. But his comments about Egypt and the recent federal court decision overturning his health care bill didn't really amount to anything.
Feb. 6 -- Speaking of musicals, I would like to call everyone's attention to the genius of Kenny Ortega. The choreographer of "Dirty Dancing" and director of the brilliant but unheralded 1992 newspaper movie, "Newsies," Ortega also directed and all three "High School Musical" movies and was then hired by Michael Jackson to produce his final concert tour. After Jackson's death, Ortega turned the rehearsal footage into the amazing "This Is It" -- one of my top-ten all time favorite films. If you're not paying attention to Ortega's work, you should be.
Feb. 6 -- I'm addicted to Broadway musicals, and this story really made me want to see Spiderman.
Feb. 5 -- Going through the chore of getting the 1099s ready for my business last week reminded me of what a dumb idea it was to expand the requirement by tenfold or more. While I was having this thought, both houses of Congress voted to repeal the new 1099 rule. Hooray! Kimberley Strassel did a good job of explaining the fiasco in her Friday column in the WSJ. But is her description of how a law gets passed for real? If it is, we should all feel ashamed for letting our government become so cynical.
Feb. 5 -- My friends know that I have an an inordinate fascination with Stalin and Mao, and have read multiple biographies of both of them. How were they able to exist? And how did so many in the West come to admire them? These are the kind of questions that occupy my mind. Meanwhile, American and European authors continue to idiotically sugarcoat the two dictators' horrible deeds (e.g., Paul Theroux's visit to a Stalin-era prison in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, in which he tells a Russian guide that "we had our own oppressor ... his name was Joseph McCarthy," only to have the guard laugh in his face). Anyway, a movie's about to come out about Stalin's network of concentration camps for his political opponents (real and imagined). It's called "The Way Back," directed by Peter Weir, and I can't wait to see it.
Feb. 4 -- "The Gun," by C.J. Chivers, is an enlightening and disturbing book about the development of military rifles and machine guns. I had no idea, for example, we sent our men into battle in Vietnam with such inferior weapons. Speaking of guns, I don't know much about them, and have never even fired one. So, is this column by Ann Coulter right?
Feb. 3 -- Dictators everywhere are resolving today not to let Western reporters inside their borders. When Iran cracked down brutally on dissidents in 2009, the international outcry was minimal because there was no way Brian Williams, Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper could get to Tehran to cover it. But with all of them broadcasting live from Egypt this week, the condemnation of Mubarak has been much more intense.
Feb. 2 -- The arrogance of the people who run the NYT is actually unbelievable. And so is their delusional and unnecessary insistence that their newspaper doesn't have a left-wing slant. For any news outlet to pretend it is utterly objective and reports both sides of every political issue with complete neutrality is just silly. (At the Pine Cone, we believe in things like the importance of individual liberty and the benefits of limited government, and we're proud of it.) Furthermore, as soon as they no longer find it necessary to bother with the pure-as-new-snow pretense, quite a few former NYT execs manage to tell the truth and, in their memoirs and autobiographies, you'll frequently find them bragging about their active roles in the political controversies of their times. "City Room," by 1960s-era managing editor Arthur Gelb, is a wonderful book about the glory days of print journalism. In it, Gelb doesn't even try to hide his enthusiasm for the Supreme Court's Miranda Ruling, and enthusiastically discusses the NYT's role in pushing the court to make it. And in the autobiography of recently disgraced executive editor Howell Raines, he boasts of his aggressive support for affirmative action, not only as a human resources issue at the paper, but as a matter of law for the whole country. When current publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller retire, can there be any doubt that they'll proudly write about their admiration for Barack Obama, support for gay marriage and belief in the importance of national health care, gun control, citizenship for illegal immigrants, etc., etc.?
Feb. 1 -- Yesterday's ruling by Judge Roger Vinson overturning Obamacare in its entirety is a very impressive piece of legal scholarship and seems irrefutable. The most interesting sections are the extensive admissions Vinson cited from even the law's most ardent supporters that requiring everyone to buy health insurance would be a vast expansion of federal power. Obamacare supporters have also admitted that the entire program would collapse without the everyone-must-buy provision because, without it, healthy people would put off buying health insurance until they got sick, at which point the law would require insurers to accept them (and charge them modest premiums) regardless of their health. That linkage is why Judge Vinson struck down the entire law. Also, the decision contains an extensive discussion of the tremendous cost of giving free health care to millions of additional people via expansion of Medicaid, and a fascinating and inspiring explication of the history of the Commerce Clause.
Jan. 31 -- According to a report from the Violence Policy Center, Monterey County has the highest homicide rate for young people in the state. It's all about the Mexican gangs, folks. But tonight's report on KSBW never mentioned them.
Jan. 31 -- Watching the massive demonstrations this week demanding Mubarak's ouster, and the increasing support for the protesters among the Egyptian military, one can't help but wonder how far worse tyrants in recent history -- especially Stalin, Mao and Hitler -- managed to stay in power so long. The regimes of Stalin and Mao lasted until they died peacefully in their beds, while Hitler was overthrown only by an all-out foreign war.
Jan. 31 -- Most hilarious video of all time! It's 1994 and Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric and Elizabeth Vargas are trying to explain the Internet.
Jan. 31 -- It's amusing to see the news media flounder around trying to figure out the best way to vilify Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and glorify the protesters calling for his ouster without actually having any idea what each side stands for. On the other hand, because the Egyptian uprising doesn't having any clear partisan significance in this country, it's refreshing to see CNN, MSNBC and FOX report the story without their usual biases.
Jan. 31 -- Here's the complete text of the ruling today by a U.S. District Court judge in Florida striking down the Obamacare bill. While the law's unconstitutionality is obvious, there also can be no doubt that it's bad policy because of its tremendous cost. And that's the most important reason why 28 states have sued to overturn it.
Jan. 31 -- According to Politico, the Obama health care bill is at its lowest-ever popularity. The reason most often cited is that it was passed in the middle of the night and with hardly any debate. But I think the main reason most people don't like it is that they know giving away all that free health care to a huge new entitled class is going to be ridiculously expensive.
Jan. 31 -- Note to the people at the panel discussion at the NPS tomorrow on "Imagining safe communities." There's no need to do that. They exist all over the place. Perhaps a better topic would be, "Lessons for dangerous communities from safe ones."
Jan. 31 -- Why is it considered a mitigating factor that someone who was caught selling drugs also used them?
Jan. 30 -- Tonight on 60 Minutes, Julian Assange came off as a self-righteous, self-aggrandizing weasel. Imagine him lecturing us about what the First Amendment means!
Jan. 30 -- Today's column by the NYT's public editor about journalistic errors ("Gabrielle Giffords died") in the era of 24/7 Internet news deadlines contains several howlers. The first is Arthur Brisbane's blanket statement that the Times is among the news organizations that have "built their reputations on authoritativeness" and is in fact the "top-rated brand for authoritativeness." While it may have been considered trustworthy 30 years ago, lately the NYT's reputation is based more on its role as a left-wing propaganda sheet (and is loved by many and reviled by many for that very reason). Also, executive editor Bill Keller is quoted saying that the NYT doesn't "make many serious mistakes," whereas in recent years in has made lots of really big ones. And finally, Brisbane cites the AP as the paramount example of a news organization capable of quickly (and accurately) covering breaking news, because it has "people" in 300 locations around the world. But many of those are freelancers, stringers or rookies right out of college. I know from personal experience that the AP is highly error-prone.
Jan. 29 -- Buried in this story about efforts in California and other states to curtail spending on Medicaid is a statement that explains why I keep saying Obamacare is going to cost taxpayers a ton of money, despite its backers' insistence that it will do the opposite: "The shrinking of Medicaid programs, if approved by the state legislatures, would come at a tenuous moment for the Obama administration. Starting in 2014, the health care law calls for an enormous expansion of Medicaid eligibility that is expected to add 16 million beneficiaries by 2019." Millions will also be added to Medicare. Both programs are already huge. And expanding them is going to save money??
Jan. 29 -- I love this story! Humans are so fascinating.
Jan. 28 -- Columnist Charles Blow bemoans the fact that Barack Obama barely mentioned the poor in his State of the Union speech. But why should he? As Blow points out (and as everybody knows) the Democrats have a lock on votes from the poor because they're the party to go to if you think the government should send you some of other peoples' money, while the GOP is the one to vote for if you'd just like to keep more of your own.
Jan. 28 -- In case you have a hankering to go to the Super Bowl, StubHub (a site I love) has tickets ranging from $2,050 for an upper end zone seat to $294,008 for a 33-person suite.
Jan. 28 -- A local assemblyman has the dubious distinction of being the LAT's poster child for indulgent spending by state legislators. According to KSBW tonight, Luis Alejo's rationale for buying a brand new SUV to drive back and forth to Sacramento is that it's cheaper than putting in for mileage for the use of his personal vehicle for the same trips. If that's true, then the state is (obviously) paying too much for mileage.
Jan. 28 -- Why is President Obama suddenly calling for government reform in Egypt? It looks bad for him to do so in response to riots in the streets. The Mubarak government may not be perfect, but it has led the way in making peace with Israel. And something much worse could very well replace it. Democracy in the Middle East? Most Arab nations don't even know what the word means.
Jan. 28 -- Tonight on NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell said it was important for President Mubarak to "understand what the protests mean." But does she? Does anyone?
Jan. 28 -- Have you noticed how frequently editorials in the NYT use the word "must"? One of today's editorials uses it four times, telling Lebanon's prime minister and his supporters various things they "must" do. In the last month, according to a web search, more than 30 other NYT editorials have also told lots of people what they "must" do and described various things that "must" happen. Arthur Sulzberger must not be satisfied with being publisher ... he wants to be king!
Jan. 28 -- Did you see this startling photo of protesters and police on a Cairo bridge yesterday? There's video of the confrontation here. One of my first foreign assignments was the aftermath of the assassination of Anwar Sadat in October 1981. Hosni Mubarak, Sadat's successor, has been president ever since. But it looks like he won't be much longer.
Jan. 28 -- USA proved it again with this inane article today about the possible recall of judges in Iowa: The definition of a "special interest" is "someone you don't agree with."
Jan. 28 -- Deforest Soaries for our next black president! His commentary today about what African-American pastors should be doing to help their communities is brilliant.
Jan. 28 -- Today's WSJ has an excellent editorial about the report from the federal commission on the financial meltdown. If Phil Angelides was the chairman, no wonder the report was a partisan joke.
Jan. 27 -- Once this kind of rebellion takes hold among the masses of the Middle East, there's no telling where it will lead. Ahmadinejad in Cairo?
Jan. 27 -- Reading the MoCo Herald this morning and watching the news on KSBW, KCBA and KION tonight, and with all those outlets focussing so much of their attention on crime in the Salinas Valley, one has to wonder: Who's covering the Monterey Peninsula? The answer is, we are.
Jan. 26 -- I'm so glad federal judges have wide leeway to impose sentences in terrorism cases, regardless of the doubts that my pop into the mind of a juror or two. In the case of Ahmad Ghailani, it seems like the judge was swayed even by some of the evidence he excluded from the trial. I believe they're allowed to do that. As one local judge famously observed, "The court is not a potter plant."
Jan. 26 -- Why should anyone care what a death penalty opponent thinks about the particular drugs used to cause death? Furthermore, what possible justification could there be for thinking the constitution requires a painless execution? Somehow, the news media constantly treat the question of minimal pain during execution as a major constitutional issue.
Jan. 26 -- The headline on this story, "Bin Laden's cook sentenced," is meant to belittle the threat of Muslim terrorism. Why do some news outlets always do that?
Jan. 25 -- There was a lot to like about Obama's State of the Union speech tonight. But did he really mean everything he said about freezing spending, cutting business taxes, vetoing pork and opening up colleges to ROTC? I'll have more to say about all of the above in my Pine Cone editorial this week.
Jan. 25 -- By now it should be obvious to everybody that the most effective way to stop terrorism is to capture or kill the terrorists and disrupt their networks before they have a chance to strike. Searching everyone -- including old ladies and babies -- for weapons is pointless because almost nobody has one and because there are so many other ways for terrorists to attack. In other words, all that airport security is a big waste of time. Duh.
Jan. 25 -- I have to agree that it's outrageous to give CEQA exemptions to huge stadium projects ... not because the stadiums shouldn't have an easier time getting approved and built, but because every project in the state should be entitled to the same treatment. CEQA is a hopeless mess of vague and incomprehensible mandates and needs to be rewritten so the environment is protected without severely damaging the economy. But with Democrats firmly in control of the state legislature, there's no way that will happen, of course. Instead, they'll just hand out CEQA exemptions whenever the unions tell them to. (I've written many editorials on CEQA reform, including this one and this one.)
Jan. 25 -- If Obama wants to make the U.S. more globally competitive, which is supposed to be a hot topic in tonight's State of the Union speech, he could start by rewriting our immigration laws to favor people with education and experience, instead of letting in so many people who never even went to grammar school just because they happen to have a relative in the country. (Sen. Edward Kennedy was responsible for the disastrous 1965 change in our immigration laws to favor family relationships over merit.)
Jan. 25 -- A lot more needs to be done to rein-in the renegade 9th Circuit, but yesterday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, telling the 9th Circuit to keep its nose out of California parole board rulings, is a good start. Speaking of which, judge Stephen Reinhardt could be the most-reversed judge in the nation ... and he's on the panel considering Prop. 8!
Jan. 25 -- Something irritates me about all the this talk of collecting sales tax on Internet purchases. Nobody mentions that all those millions of dollars in new taxes will have to come from consumers' pockets. Shouldn't that at least be included in all the happy talk about how wonderful the tax windfall will be?
Jan. 25 -- Taco Bell "beef" is mostly oats??? That's good news, right?
Jan. 24 -- If the NYT insists on calling Burma "Myanmar," just because a lunatic, Communist government wants it to, why doesn't the paper call Greece the "Hellenic Republic"? Aren't the Greeks friends of ours?
Jan. 24 -- Most cable "news" shows irritate me because there's too much shouting and people are always talking over each other, and the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News is certainly no exception. But I watched O'Reilly tonight anyway to see what he said about his arch-nemesis Keith Olbermann's abrupt departure last Friday from MSNBC. Hilariously, O'Reilly and his guest analyst, former CBS News correspondent (and colleague of mine) Bernie Goldberg, analyzed the significance of Olbermann's departure without ever mentioning his name. But the most informative part of the segment was when O'Reilly disclosed that 12 Fox News programs, including several broadcast outside of prime time, consistently drew higher ratings than Olbermann, and that MSNBC is the 28th highest-rated cable network, while Fox News is the 4th. And why does MSNBC draw such paltry ratings compared to Fox? I can explain it: According to the latest research from Pew, the public sees Fox as the only conservative network, while every other news outlet is considered left-wing. Therefore, conservatives flock to their only choice, while liberals' attention is diffused among many.
Jan. 24 -- According to an editorial in this morning's WSJ, there are so many feel-good mandates in Obama's order to eliminate unnecessary government regulations that its effect will be quite the opposite. And that's no surprise. As I have pointed out before, the left loves vague laws because they can be enforced in subjective ways that suit their agenda of the moment.
Jan. 24 -- Interesting parallel jokes on Letterman and Leno last Friday. Letterman: "According to a new study, taxicabs are harder to find during rush hour ... and listen to this ... bar stools are harder to find during Happy Hour. The study was conducted by the American Council of Stuff You Already Know." Leno: "Scientists at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have discovered the official cure for a hangover ... a cup of coffee and an aspirin. These findings will be published in 'Stuff We Already Knew' magazine."
Jan. 23 -- Here's a good question: Why is the U.S. still sending foreign aid to China?
Jan. 23 -- This story should have been headlined, "Liberals want to be able to tell everybody what to do."
Jan. 23 -- There's a rather startling admission about hypocrisy in the news business in today's Public Editor column in the NYT. The editor, Arthur Brisbane, responds to a letter from a reader complaining of the NYT's placement of coverage of the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake next to an ad for a resort in the Bahamas. The reader's letter, Brisbane admits, "exposes an awkward reality underlying the basic premise of a newspaper: that it aspires to truth-telling in its news coverage while selling advertising that aspires to put the best possible face on a service or product. To put it bluntly, the basic business proposition is a stark conflict of purposes." How true! But much more relevant than the accidental placement of photos of people suffering from cholera to pictures of models in bikinis is the NYT's constant moaning about the failures of capitalism and the evil of anticompetitiveness, even as it works as hard as it can to maximize profits and drive its competitors out of business. While endlessly glorifying unions (including the one representing millionaire football players), the NYT has laid off employees and played hardball with its own unions whenever it suited its purposes. And while constantly lamenting the objectification of women, the NYT is proud to make boatloads of money printing features, photos and ads (the examples are limitless, but you can start here or here) featuring skinny models. And the NYT certainly isn't unique. At most news outlets, a critical part of the profit-making strategy is to pretend to be above such a venal pursuit. And it works.
Jan. 23 -- Let's all meet at the House of Shields!
Jan. 23 -- At least the MoCo Herald's front page story today (print edition only, for some reason) promoting the idea of a public takeover of Cal Am admits that the very same idea was rejected by voters just five years ago. But, of course, since the Herald has evidently decided to take sides on the issue, the story leaves out the vote totals, because they were so overwhelmingly against the idea of a public takeover (63 to 37 percent). Why is this issue being brought up again, when we still don't have a new water supply? And, with all the recent revelations about government agencies grossly overpaying their employees, who in his right mind still thinks the government can do anything more cheaply?
Jan. 22 -- It's interesting that even before anyone has come close to being tried in the alleged gang-rape of a 16-year-old at Richmond High in 2009, the victim is about to be paid $2.5 million by taxpayers, with another $1.9 million to come later.
Jan. 22 -- Oakland makes it easier to to drive without a license or insurance. Why?
Jan. 21 -- Hallelujah! Tonight MSNBC parted ways with Keith Olbermann, whose nightly ultra-left-wing diatribes have been destructive and obnoxious and an acute embarrassment, not only for my former network, but for the entire country. Comcast insists it had nothing to do with the long overdue defenestration. But, with their company's purchase of a controlling interest in NBC Universal about to close, it seems likely Comcast chairman Brian Roberts and/or CEO Steve Burke had to consent to it. And since GE put Olbermann on the air in the first place, and he had one of their highest-rated programs, it's hard to believe the firing was GE's idea. Olbermann's unhinged enough that maybe he actually wanted to quit. In any event, he's gone, and apparently has a one-year non-compete clause in his settlement agreement, which means we won't have to hear from him for at least that long. Here's hoping we never do.
Jan. 21 -- I'm still wondering why the WSJ let Daniel Pearl, a Jew whose parents were Israelis, go off by himself in Pakistan to try to interview Islamic terrorists. In my CBS and NBC days, we would never have let anyone with ties to Israel attempt such a thing. Believe me, I know, because I ran the foreign desk. UPDATE: New evidence is in conclusively establishing that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad personally murdered Pearl (read the complete report here). Does Obama still think he should get a civilian trial?
Jan. 20 -- From the department of stating the obvious.
Jan. 19 -- The premiere of American Idol tonight was da bomb. The producers of that show are geniuses. I already forgot about Simon Cowell.
Jan. 19 -- The naivete reflected in the headline of this story left me speechless. Imagine someone who's in a responsible position in the media thinking it's newsworthy that higher taxes aren't the answer to every deficit ....
Jan. 19 -- Even though I read the NYT every day, and am highly cognizant of its ubiquitous and intentional political bias, I didn't realize how skewed its coverage of the Tucson shootings was until I read this article by P.J. O'Rourke. BTW, if you're not familiar with O'Rourke's books, such as "Parliament of Whores," you should be.
Jan. 18 -- I'm sure the reporter didn't intend it that way, but the lengthy story in today's NYT about the defense strategy in the near-acquittal of Ahmed Ghailani amounts to the best argument yet why terrorists shouldn't be tried in civilian courts. In this case, a semi-illiterate juror was apparently the lone holdout for "not guilty" and almost let Ghailani get away with helping murder 224 people by blowing up the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. As detailed in the story, the rights afforded the defendant were dangerous and obviously unprecedented in wartime. The gloating of his vast defense team was revolting. And the reporter left out a very important fact: How many millions Ghailani's defense cost taxpayers.
Jan. 18 -- Why are the news media so determined to paint illegal immigrants as victims of an unjust, unfeeling and cruel America? According to an AP story printed in today's Herald and many other newspapers, the fact that illegals can't get California drivers licenses is crimping their social lives by making it impossible for them to bar-hop or board airplanes for vacations in Alaska. Say it ain't so! I'll have a lot more to say about this story in my editorial this week.
Jan. 17 -- On this evening's KSBW news, at least seven packages (examples here and here) were about MLK's birthday, most of them dealing with commemorative, noncontroversial subjects. But one noted that, among 900 streets named for the great civil rights leader around the country, quite a few are in neighborhoods with high rates of violent crime, and another reported that the high school dropout rate among African-American teenagers is 45 percent. My father knew MLK and marched with him in Alabama in 1965, and I can't help thinking that, if MLK had lived, these problems would be much less.
Jan. 17 -- When California banned texting while driving, I wondered if the ban was based on empirical car crash data, or just on legislative emotion and supposition. It turns out it was the latter.
Jan. 16 -- A slapdash column by political reporter Matt Bai in today's NYT assessing the role of "anger" in the Tucson shootings is full of so much phony history it would be difficult even to mention half of it. But I found it hilarious that he cited the 1910 union bombing of the LAT building as an example of how a violent act can spur the nation to reconciliation. In response to the bombing, Bai reports, the government gave the unions much of what they wanted. So if Jared Loughner had been motivated by right-wing politics, and the nation responded by repealing Obamacare, that would be a good thing? Also, isn't it about time the big city media updated their history of the McCarthy era? Thanks to the opening in the 1990s of secret files on both sides of the Cold War, we now know that our government was, in fact, full of spies, and (among many other things) that these spies delivered the atomic bomb to the USSR, and that Stalin therefore started the Korean War, resulting in more than two million dead, including 36,000 Americans ... a fact that's a tiny bit more significant than blacklisting in Hollywood, don't you think?
Jan. 16 -- In the immediate aftermath of the Tucson shootings, the NYT's website reported for a brief time that Rep. Giffords was dead. It's an error that's certainly worth some examination, which the paper's public editor provides today. But much more concerning was its rush to declare that right-wing "hate speech" was partly responsible for the shootings. Unfortunately, the public editor totally glosses over the real reason the NYT and many other media outlets jumped on that bandwagon: They detest, and constantly seek to discredit, people who believe in free markets and low taxes and prefer individual liberty to government-managed equality.
Jan. 16 -- Noticeably missing from this story in today's NYT about how wonderful it is for American architects to work for clients in China is perhaps the most important factor that makes it difficult to design projects in this country: suffocating government and environmental regulation.
Jan. 16 -- From the department of misguided government giveaways: This morning's MoCo Herald reports that a 2009 law grants domestic violence victims the right to a free, taxpayer-funded lawyer. Unfortunately, many of the victims have started using the lawyers to avoid testifying against their attackers. D'oh!
Jan. 16 -- Are they hiring lightweights to write editorials at the LAT? This editorial, reprinted in today's MoCo Herald, decrying efforts to curtail birthright citizenship, doesn't contain a scintilla of substance. The only argument it makes is that birthright citizenship should remain legal because it is legal now. But most Americans want illegal immigration stopped because of all sorts of negative consequences it has for the country: driving down wages, increasing crime, adding unemployment, and costing billions to house, educate and provide medical care for the illegals. It's a waste of perfectly good paper to write about citizenship for their children without addressing any of that. And, excuse me for asking, but is there something wrong with people calling for a change in a law they believe isn't working? That's not an "assault on legal principle" ... it's just democracy in action.
Jan. 16 -- Reading between the lines, this morning's story in the MoCo Herald about "gender rating" in the health insurance market contains a lot of interesting news that was ignored by the reporter (a journalism student, presumably, from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, whose story was then somehow sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting, which means the Herald got it for free). If a young woman suddenly decides to sign up for health coverage right before she gets pregnant, that isn't "insurance" ... it's a gift from whoever then supplies the money for her care. In the case of Wendy Askew, who took a job with a county supervisor Jane Parker just to get health benefits, the gift is from county taxpayers. Obama recognized the basic unworkability of letting people do what Askew did -- wait until she is about to incur big medical bills to start paying small healthcare premiums -- and that's why Obamacare requires everybody to participate ... except it actually doesn't, which is why it's bound to become just another huge federal money pit.
Jan. 16 -- The Associated Press is reporting that total federal debt is about to surpass $14 trillion. And then reporter Tom Raum took out his calculator and figured out that comes to "$45,300 for each and everyone in the country." Except that most people pay little or no federal income tax, so they won't be responsible for any of the debt. This country is divided into two groups: one that sends checks to the government, and one that receives them. For the first group, the huge debt is something they'll have to repay. For the second group, it's just an accounting of some of the money they've already received. If Mr. Raum really needs a cliche to help people conceptualize the debt, he should use this one: "If you spent $1 million a day, it would take 38,000 years to spend $14 trillion." One thing seems obvious: The government spending frenzy of the past 50 years is about to collapse from its own weight.
Jan. 15 -- If the MoCo Herald is going to devote half its front page, including a huge photograph, to a one-man protest over a slight delay in state disability payments, shouldn't the paper also spend a little time investigating whether the picketer is actually disabled? If he can protest, why can't he work?
Jan. 15 -- It's outrageous that the Obama administration is planning to sue states to overturn laws protecting workers' rights to cast secret ballots in union elections. The "card check" system of voting is about intimidation, plain and simple. The only reason Congress passed the law in the first place was that unions give so much money to Democratic candidates. In my network news days, I belonged to two unions, the Writers Guild and AFTRA. All they did was collect dues ... but, hey, those campaign contributions have to come from someplace!
Jan. 15 -- I have more bad news for people who are upset about possible changes to the Zodiac: When newspapers and websites publish daily horoscopes, they sometimes switch the days around, just for yucks. But some people really believe that the stars determine their destiny. When a local woman recently proposed that I run her horoscope column in The Pine Cone, I told her I might consider doing so as a joke. But she said, "astrology isn't humor, it's math!"
Jan. 14 -- In the middle of the emerging national consensus that politics needs to be more civil, the MoCo Herald printed a column today by Peter Funt that was full of condescending vitriol toward people he disagrees with, including this gem: "Conservative broadcasters serve an audience that is often angry and easily stirred, that wants to be reinforced more than challenged, and that doesn't always feel compelled to slavishly adhere to the facts." Maybe he was trying to be humorous? I've emailed him to ask for clarification, and we'll see what he says.
Jan. 14 -- Will the big-city media ever stop pretending it's news that, when the government reduces spending, the people who otherwise would have gotten the money are disappointed? It's ridiculously obvious ... and the constant trumpeting of these stories just does more harm than good. UPDATE: The SF Chronicle printed another installment Jan. 15, this time a sob story over cuts to government free health care programs. Did you know that, if programs such as Medical are cut, the people who receive Medical benefits will get fewer of them?
Jan. 14 -- As I have often pointed out, vague laws, such as the ADA and CEQA, create a major burden for law-abiding citizens who have no way to be sure what the laws require them to do. But the vagueness is intentional, in my opinion, because the chaos it causes makes subjective enforcement possible and enriches trial lawyers who handle the thousands of suits vague laws generate. According to this morning's WSJ, a move is afoot in Congress to make laws more specific and easier to comply with. It probably won't go anywhere.
Jan. 14 -- Another note on today's Mucky Duck story: The judge was wrong to order the media not to photograph the accused, Alejandro Gonzalez. Criminal defendants in California already have more than enough rights. Hiding their identity (including what they look like) from the public just puts everybody at risk. Judge Roberts should remember that he is there, first and foremost, to serve the people. (You can see the photo, which the rightly Herald printed despite the judge's order, by clicking here.)
Jan. 14 -- According to this morning's MoCo Herald, the gang member who opened fire at the Mucky Duck on New Year's Day turned himself in because he was afraid somebody might get killed if police arrested him on their own terms. Gee, and you thought criminals were the dangerous ones ....
Jan. 13 -- If anybody in the UC system deserves a huge pension for his intellectual brilliance and administrative genius, it's this guy.
Jan. 12 -- Apparently the Monterey County Public Defender is getting ready to file a change of venue motion for the next Pollacci rape trial. One of the PD's investigators asked The Pine Cone for copies of all the stories we've printed about Pollacci, which we provided. The argument is going to be that Pollacci is so well known as a rapist, getting an impartial jury in this county will be impossible. But it would cost a lot of money to try him elsewhere. Some of our stories during his April 2010 trial, which ended with him being sentenced to eight years in prison, can be read here, here and here.
Jan. 12 -- The Christian Science Monitor is a bit slow on the uptake, but at least the paper did a good job of summarizing what's seemed obvious for several days: That Loughner is mentally ill, not politically vengeful.
Jan. 12 -- Joe Livernois' column in today's MoCo Herald about the Tucson shootings is one of the best I've seen. But yesterday's editorial on the same subject and in the same newspaper was practically unintelligible.
Jan. 10 -- This morning on the Today Show, Matt Lauer inanely concluded that the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was about "mental illness and politics," but today's SF Chronicle reaches the opposite conclusion. Jared Loughner was obviously crazy, not politically aggrieved. Meanwhile, Paul Krugman is still trying to explain the shooting by blaming the Tea Party or Sarah Palin for creating a "climate of hate" in the country ... which drew this rather lengthy response from Michelle Malkin. UPDATE: On Jan. 14, Michelle also added this fascinating history of liberals immediately blaming conservatives when somebody gets shot.
Jan. 10 -- Nevermind all this talk about tax increases ... what I want to know is why the states that already have the highest taxes are the ones with the biggest deficits.
Jan. 8 -- Today's tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson reminds me of the Nov. 1978 murder of Congressman Leon Ryan in Guyana on orders of San Francisco cult leader Jim Jones. Killed with Ryan were NBC News correspondent Don Harris and cameraman Bob Brown. Their soundman, Steve Sung, barely survived the attack and, seven years later, was a colleague of mine in the NBC News Burbank bureau; his arm was horribly scarred where a bullet passed through. Ryan is the only assassinated Congressman in U.S. history.
Jan. 8 -- LandWatch must be doing a really good job! According to the latest census data, only three percent of land in the U.S. is "urban," with only another 2.6 percent classified as "rural developed," for a grand total of developed land of just 5.6 percent, which means that no less than 94 percent of the U.S. is undeveloped. This must be quite a surprise to anyone who believes the alarms about "overdevelopment" constantly being sounded by environmentalists, but wouldn't be surprising at all to anybody who's bothered to look out the window of an airplane on a cross-country flight. (Those familiar satellite images of the light-drenched country at night are mere demonstrations of what happens when you leave a shutter open a long time, not of how much development there is.)The NYT has lots of other interesting tibdits from the latest Abstract of the United States.
Jan. 5 -- The first sentence of this story about the recent sentencing of a long-ago airplane hijacker left me totally mystified. "The takeover of the plane evoked a touch of nostalgia, tracing to an era when political activism and crime sometimes went hand in hand." What on earth is that supposed to mean?
Jan. 4 -- And you thought California's public employee unions were selfish!
Jan. 4 -- I've always been a big American Idol fan, and tonight's premiere of Paula Abdul's "Live to Dance" on CBS captured some of the same drama and energy. But, as a former producer of hundreds of hours of live TV, what really irritated me was how they kept cutting from the dancers to pointless reaction shots of the judges and the audience. Cutting away while someone's singing doesn't detract from their performance because you can still hear them. But reaction shots during a dance routine mean you can't see what the dancers are doing. Also, at one point, KION put a crawl across the bottom of the screen with a bulletin of winning lottery numbers ... which blocked the view of some very talented dancers' feet. Stupid. UPDATE: In the Jan. 12 show, the annoying reaction cutaways were practically nonexistent. Are the producers of "Live to Dance" reading my plinks?
Jan. 4 -- Good for the SF Chron for getting today's 9th Circuit Appeals court opinion right. The court asked the California Supreme Court to decide whether proponents of Prop. 8 have standing to defend it in court when the governor and attorney general won't. While the justices on the appeals court posed the question, they also made it crystal clear what they think the answer should be, and that's how the Chronicle reported it. To read the opinion, click here.
Jan. 4 -- Its hilarious that Democrats in the Senate see the need to curtail filibusters because (according to the NYT) things moved too slowly during the last two years. But didn't the Dems have a 60-seat majority? Equally hilarious: The NYT screamed bloody murder when Senate Republicans briefly tried the same thing in 2005 while they were in the majority.
Jan. 2 -- We're starting to get an idea what Jerry Brown's administration will be like.
Jan. 2 -- In his inaugural address yesterday, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo said the economy was causing pain to the state's residents that "cannot be underestimated." Of course, he meant "overestimated." The error is no big deal and doesn't really say anything about the competence of the governor or his staff. But when the NYT chose that part of his speech for its print-edition headline on a summary ofinaugural highlights, did they mean to make Cuomo sound stupid? In the news biz, an obvious error isn't usually highlighted for any other reason.
Jan. 2 -- A caption in today's SF Chronicle described the city's New Year's party as being a celebration of the "start of a new decade." I love it that some people are still insisting there was no year zero. Our calendar wasn't even invented until the 6th century.
Jan. 1 -- The explanation for how corrupt city officials in Bell got away with stealing for so long sounds a lot like the rationale offered by Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District board members for grossly over paying their general manager ("nobody from the public objected"). But another story in today's LAT shows that some state employees have such difficult jobs they might actually be considered underpaid.
Jan. 1 -- The background to the Dec. 30 fire in Oakland that killed three is truly horrifying. I wish every reporter on a story like this would include details of the illegal immigrant's life in their home country. What made it so bad that, for the woman in this story, leaving her young child behind for six years was better than staying in El Salvador?
Jan. 1 -- Did you catch Steve Kroft's excellent story on 60 Minutes about the looming financial crisis in the states? It's also worth watching his interview about the subject on what they're calling "60 Minutes Overtime." Chris Christie for President!
Dec. 31 -- The first time I saw the iPad, I said, "This is going to kill all the bookstores." But I didn't expect the damage to happen so quickly. NB: While it's death for the bookstores, the iPad is a boon for authors and books.
Dec. 30 -- Unrelated events will invariably occur in clusters. It's a basic principle of probability. (If you randomly flip a coin, you cannot get heads-tails-heads-tails, etc.) Yet this inescapable fact is never even mentioned in stories about disease clusters. The naive reporters invariably assume that if a town has a higher-than-average incidence of cancer, there must be an environmental cause.
Dec. 29 -- The power was off at my house last night for several hours as a big storm moved through, and I discovered that the iPad makes a very convenient emergency lantern. There's even a free app ... but you don't need it. Just set your screen to something light-colored and which won't go to sleep (such as a page of an iBook). It's much safer than a candle! Ofc, cell phones make good emergency flashlights, too.
Dec. 28 -- Missing from this otherwise-excellent story about purported rates of cancer among ancient peoples is the fact that many people (including some scientists) can't be objective about the issue because they have an emotional need to believe that humans were healthier in prehistoric times. It's an irrational, ridiculous belief, but is nevertheless widespread among wealthy and educated Americans and Europeans. See my June 18 editorial.
Dec. 27 -- Have you heard about the proposed Repeal Amendment? It would allow any federal law to be rescinded by two-thirds of the state legislatures. The NYT hates the idea, and happily dismisses it as having an "exceedingly low" chance of being adopted. In one sense, the paper's concerns are understandable, since the smallest 34 states have just 32 percent of the nation's population. But the problem of the Washington, LA and NY elites telling the rest of the country what to do is an equally important concern, and the amendment would go a long way toward returning power to the people ... at least, ones who don't live in Beverly Hills or on the Upper West Side.
Dec. 27 -- Is the retired Santa Clara County fire chief a relative of Joe Donofrio? Or is it just a coincidence they're pulling off the same taxpayer scam at the same time?
Dec. 27 -- Once in awhile, the NYT lets slip the truth about Obamacare. Today's story about Medicaid bonuses contains this gem about the the nation's large number of people without health coverage: "The stubbornness of the problem is one reason the government expects millions of people to remain uninsured even after 2014, when the new health care law requires most Americans to have coverage and vastly expands government programs to make it affordable." In other words, they'll remain "uninsured" even though a giant government giveaway program requires them to "have coverage" which they won't have to pay for. Lewis Carroll couldn't have described it better.
Dec. 27 -- Here's another story about illegal immigration that is biased from the first word to the last. Can't the big city media ever get this story right?
Dec. 27 -- Never mind "Spiderman." Let's all go to London and see Andrew Lloyd Weber's "The Wizard of Oz."
Dec. 27 -- Can this website's numbers for the federal debt possibly be right? If so, our children and grandchildren better start planning on a pretty austere lifestyle.
Dec. 26 -- Did you know that, as a result of the 2010 census, New York State will have just 27 seats in the House of Representatives? The last time it had so few was 1820, when the chamber comprised just 181 members.
Dec. 26 -- I heartily agree with the President. Everyone should do end-of-life-planning, and it's very important not to wait until you're too feeble to make your own decisions or express yourself.
Dec. 25 -- One of this week's big stories was the YouTube video posted by a pilot who doesn't like the fact that he has to go through security before taking charge of an aircraft, while masses of airport ground staff don't go through security at all. We reported the exact same problem back in Nov. 2003; I also wrote an editorial.
Dec. 24 -- I was in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve four years in a row (1981-1984). It was quite a scene, but nothing like American Presbyterians and Methodists picture it. Tonight's story from the AP captures the reality pretty well ...
Dec. 24 -- The WSJ's Kimberly Strassel is one of the best reporters in Washington and this article, brilliantly dissecting the gruesome Obamacare bill, shows why.
Dec. 24 -- The headline was changed from the print edition ("Disability lawsuits stifling merchants") to make it less controversial, I suppose. But this SFChronicle story's biggest flaw is its shallowness ... almost like the reporter just discovered ADA lawsuit abuse. (It's been a national controversy for a decade and I've done at least 20 stories myself.) The real scandal is that Congress still does nothing to make it easier to figure out what the ADA requires, even as the California Legislature leaves in place colossal penalties ($4,000 per day per violation) for failing to guess correctly what it means.
Dec. 24 -- This delicious story -- about an amazing musical event in San Francisco 100 years ago -- saves its best morsel for last: How a well known Thanksgiving leftovers dish got its name.
Dec. 24 -- An intellectual New York magazine looks at the application of military strategy to stopping gang violence in Salinas.
Dec. 23 -- Gosh ... it's weird how quickly it's been agreed (once again) that cutting taxes stimulates the economy. Even the NYT admits it.
Dec. 23 -- Another starry-eyed story about the supposed superiority of Native Americans' "natural" medicines. And what was their average life expectancy, exactly?
Dec. 22 -- How is it possible that so many kids graduate from high school without sufficient general knowledge to qualify for enlistment in the Army? It boggles the mind.
Dec. 22 -- Hooray for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team. But did you know women's basketball (college and pro) uses the same size basket as men's but a much smaller ball?
Dec. 19 -- Since the Supreme Court has five Republicans, it's true there's a chance the High Court will uphold Obamacare. Recent history shows that Republican judges on the Supreme Court often split on critical issues. But if the court had 5 Democrats, there'd be little doubt about the outcome, since Democrats on the court usually vote the party line. (According to a NYT analysis, in the 2009-2010 term, Democrats on the court voted together on every major ruling, while Republicans did so only twice; in the 2008-2009 term, Democrats voted as a block on every big case except one, while Republicans agreed only twice; in 2007-2008, Democrats voted together on every case except two; while Republicans were never unanimous.)
Dec. 19 -- Why is it that liberals don't see any difference between letting somebody keep some of his own money and giving him someone else's? Only if those two acts are legally, economically, psychologically and morally identical does this analysis of "tax subsidies" make any sense. Also, I would like to offer the heresy that if someone's marginal tax rate is 45 percent, the true cost of something not tax deductible is 145 percent of its direct cost, since you have to earn that much to be able to pay for it. On the other hand, the cost of something tax deductible is simply its direct cost.
Dec. 19 -- There's not even an iota of objectivity in the MoCo Herald's story this morning about the defeat of the Dream Act. The majority ofthe American people don't support citizenship for illegal immigrants; that's why the act wasn't passed.
Dec. 18 -- It's utterly shameful when a story about waterboarding, such as this one in yesterday's MoCo Herald, doesn't mention what sort of information it produced. The waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah led directly to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which most people would think justified it.
Dec. 18 -- After this rant on the House floor the other night, a lot of people have to be wondering whether ultra-left-wing Sam Farr is really the man we want representing the Monterey Peninsula in Washington.
Dec. 17 -- When it comes to being broke, the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District can't be far behind.
Dec. 17 -- Europe is really suffering from global warming these days.
Dec. 17 -- The federal government is the all-time champ of giveaway programs, of course. But San Francisco is coming pretty close!
Dec. 15 -- A Washington Post reporter gets uppity with his betters at the NYT.
Dec. 15 -- The future of the nation's getting clearer ... according to this morning's LAT, citing statistics in the latest census. "Between 2000 and 2008, 51.2% of the entire population increase in the United States has come from Latinos. Most of that growth was not from immigration, but from what demographers call 'natural increase': between 2000 and 2008, there were 8.2 million Latino births in the U.S. and only 900,000 Latino deaths."
Dec. 14 -- OMG ... an honest article in the LAT about Communist Party influence in Hollywood in the 1940s.
Dec. 14 -- Well, now we know why Julian Assange started Wikileaks: To impress girls.
Dec. 13 -- Here's the decision out of U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., today striking down the must-buy-health-insurance provision of Obamacare. Two observations: The commerce-clause dispute vis-a-vis the health care bill is a red herring, since the bill won't actually compel more than a handful of people to buy health insurance; most of the uninsured will just have free health care handed to them via vast expansions of Medicare and Medicaid or have their private insurance premiums paid with government subsidies. But the must-buy provision, if upheld by the courts, would represent an enormous expansion of federal power in other areas. If a decision not to buy medical insurance triggers the commerce clause, then the feds could start compelling all sorts of private behaviors. Even FDR would never have gone that far.
Dec. 13 -- Someone emailed me this very instructive story about how our tax system works.
Dec. 12 -- If you're going to be in New York for Christmas, be sure not to miss the NYC Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. Wendy Whelan is just tremendous as the Sugar Plum Fairy; the entire second act is surely one of the most compelling theatrical experiences on Broadway. (Vanessa Zahorian is also wonderful as the SPF in the SF Ballet's Nutcracker, which is being broadcast on PBS.)
Dec. 10 -- Today's editorial in the NYT about Prop 8, while vehemently against the anti-gay-marriage ballot measure, comes to exactly the same conclusion about standing that I did in my editorial the day before: That it would be "absurd," as the Times put it, for the courts to give the governor or attorney general veto power over ballot measures.
Dec. 10 -- I just finished William McGowan's "Gray Lady Down," about the decline of the NYT during the era of publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. The book is seriously worth reading, if only for its excellent recap of how the national news media covered the big stories of the last decade.
Dec. 9 -- This column explains what happened to old-fashioned private pensions, and why the same thing needs to happen to government ones.
Dec. 8 -- Leon Panetta was sued by the family of a terrorist, and every American should read the judge's decision. A lot of it is in the terrorist's, and the ACLU's, favor.
Dec. 8 -- This LAT columnist's supposed insights are old news. To many Americans, the poor can never contribute to their poverty, the obese have no choice but to overeat, and criminals are the real victims.
Dec. 8 -- The headline says, "Monterey County dropout rate soars," but then the story says it didn't.
Dec. 7 -- What makes the SFChronicle so sure that restricting illegal immigration doesn't have "broad appeal" in California? Reporter Marisa Lagos doesn't say how she knows this "fact"; perhaps she's a mind reader?
Dec. 6 -- All the coverage of the debate over increasing taxes on "the rich" has the same bias: Republicans are presented as selfishly (or corruptly) wanting high wage earners to have more toys instead of contributing their "fair" share to the common weal. But that's not it at all. The actual reason for making tax rates -- even on the rich -- as low as possible isn't venal. Time and time again, history has proved that the more people are rewarded for hard work and ingenuity, the more they strive to be successful, thereby benefitting the entire economy.
Dec. 6 -- Not one of the stories I saw about the Wal-Mart case mentioned the most important fact about class action suits: In almost all such cases, the only winners are the lawyers. How is that justice?
Dec. 5 -- Memo to the NYT: It isn't informative in the slightest that government employees don't feel they're overpaid.
Dec. 5 -- Most media reports refer to the WikiLeaks release of confidential diplomatic cables as nothing more than an "embarrassment" for the U.S. But it's far more than that. Julian Assange has done real damage to this country and its allies -- especially Saudi Arabia. This column in today's NYT explains how.
Dec. 5 -- I have three comments about this story: It's crazy. It's insane. It's nuts.
Dec. 5 -- The National Geographic Channel is showing a fascinating documentary, "Inside Saddam Hussein's Reign of Terror" (also available on DVD). Considering the wars he started, the atrocities he committed, the chemical weapons he employed, and the torture he inflicted on his real and imagined political opponents, it's amazing that some Americans (including our own Congressman, Sam Far) didn't see Saddam's overthrow in 2003 as a good thing.
Dec. 4 -- Before the MoCo Herald printed this bizarrely optimistic story about Nader Agha's proposed desal plant in Moss Landing, did they check their own archives? We, and they, fell for pretty much the same PR back in 2004. You can read my story from those days here; all I can do is apologize for it now.
Dec. 1 -- An NPS professor states the obvious — that most Americans will be hurt, not helped, by Obamacare — and opines that mobilizing them is the key to undoing the bill.
Nov. 30 -- As with all fights over historic preservation, this one is not about whether the building should be preserved, but whether the government should require it be preserved at the owner's expense. Eminent domain is always a readily available solution in situations where the public, and not just a few activists, actually cares. Of course, the news media never mention that.
Nov. 30 -- Federal government workers make double their private-sector counterparts? Jeez. Well, at least it's crystal-clear now why home prices in Washington haven't declined much, and why the federal government isn't really interested in serious steps to stimulate the economy.
Nov. 30 -- So much of what the public believes about healthy living is just witchcraft. And here's yet another example of something that's been preached for years, only to be debunked.
Nov. 29 -- So the Swiss are racists now, too?
Nov. 29 -- The SFChronicle gets it totally wrong again. Obviously, California would benefit even more than Arizona if the flood of illegal immigration were slowed to a trickle. Also, it's a lie to call Arizona's AB 1070 "anti-immigrant." Nobody has called for an end to, or even a reduction of, legal immigration. Not even from Mexico. Americans love immigrants, but they want them to follow the law.
Nov. 28 -- Are blacks and Hispanics never to be given credit for making their own decisions? This story about their underrepresentation on Alameda County juries assumes they can't be trusted to understand or follow a simple jury summons.
Nov. 28 -- Is this the most idiotic editorial ever printed in the NYT? You can tell even the paper's editors know their argument that long-term unemployment benefits don't discourage people from looking for work is baloney ... because nowhere in the piece do they mention how long the benefits currently last: up to 99 weeks.
Nov. 27 -- All this fawning publicity about John Paul Stevens (an embarrassingly sycophantic profile by Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes Sunday, and numerous print pieces since) ignores the most important fact about his career: that he betrayed the values that got him appointed. One of the primary reasons this country elected a string of Republican presidents from 1968 to 1992 was public dissatisfaction with the conduct of the liberal Supreme Court in the 1950s and 1960s. Stevens (and, later, David Souter) were supposed to help return the court to the center. Instead, they betrayed the presidents who appointed them and the voters who elected those presidents by serving as extreme left-wing justices. Waiting to retire until there was a Democrat in the White House was their final act of betrayal; still, the nation is far better off without them on the court.
Nov. 27 -- The AP apparently decided the boys from Tokelau, rescued after 50 days adrift at sea, deserved to be treated like heroes. That's why this story doesn't mention that they went to sea in a tiny boat without oars ... something only imbeciles, or drunks, would do. Later details bring the story back down to earth.
Nov. 26 -- Democrats don't care if the country is more prosperous. They just want everybody to be more equal. That's why they insist on taxing "the rich" regardless of Hauser's Law. (President Obama admitted as much during his presidential campaign.)
Nov. 26 -- You have to read this story very carefully to learn that Norfolk's problems have nothing to do with climate change or rising sea levels. But why stick to the facts when there's a crisis to hype?
Nov. 26 -- Obviously, this report is not true. A real news story would have delved into politics behind the "study" that concluded the Salinas River is more polluted than the Los Angeles River.
Nov. 25 -- Sometimes movie critics can be so funny!
Nov. 25 -- Low corporate taxes? Horrors!
Nov. 23 -- Memo to the editors of the NYT: It isn't newsworthy in the slightest that people who receive government money think their pet projects are worthy and want the $$$ to continue. (The reporter of this pointless story is son of the publisher and likely future publisher himself.)
Nov. 23 -- You mean it's possible for San Francisco to get even worse than it already is?
Nov. 23 -- An editorial in today's NYT explains why illegal immigration isn't stopped, despite overwhelming public sentiment that it should be.
Nov. 23 -- Most informative online health quiz ever!
Nov. 22 -- This whole global warming thing is outta control.
Nov. 22 -- I predict Wednesday's threatened slowdown by disgruntled passengers at airport security lines will be a complete bust. To get a good protest going, you need a lot of people who have nothing better to do — which is certainly not the case with people waiting to get on airplanes! UPDATE: Told you so.
Nov. 22 -- Isn't it about time we eliminated the need for a unanimous jury in criminal trials? What's wrong with 11-1?
Nov. 22 -- An important story for all the people who whine (including a lot of reporters) about the supposed inconvenience of air travel nowadays. Truth is, we live in a miraculous age of easy, quick and cheap transportation.
Nov. 22 -- Niall Ferguson's brilliant book, "The War of the World," is the only book about the history of the 20th century you really need to read. Will his assessment of the ascendancy of China be the first chapter of the history of the 21st century?
Nov. 21 -- There goes Rupert Murdoch again, recognizing a vast, unserved niche among American media, to wit, a national "print" outlet for general news which isn't blatantly left-wing.
Nov. 21 -- George Will's column about airport security, printed today in the MoCo Herald and many other newspapers, makes the same point I did in my Nov. 17 post. All that theater -- pretending anybody could be a terrorist -- is just to make feel safe when you fly, not actually to make you safe.
Nov. 21 -- If Tiburcio Vasquez were alive today, he'd be a media hero and probably elected governor.
Nov. 21 -- There's only one word for a society like this: primitive.
Nov. 21 -- It's bizarre that anyone could pretend to analyze the relative advantages of tax cuts vs. government spending and ignore the role of individual choice and liberty in a thriving economy. In a nanny state, the government pays you to kill snipe. In a free nation, you get to decide on your own if you want to hunt them. The latter scenario creates a more prosperous society.
Nov. 20 -- This is actually a very fair story about contamination in small food companies. But the only reason it's fair is that the bad guys in the report ("artisan" cheese operations) constitute a group the NYT favors.
Nov. 20 -- You mean kumbaya isn't even a word in Ebonics?
Nov. 20 -- How can anyone talk about the "fairness" of social security recipients not getting a raise this year without mentioning that senior citizens are demonstrably by far the richest group in the country?
Nov. 18 -- Next time we're in New York, let's all go bowling!
Nov. 18 -- The California Coastal Commission: Most power-hungry government agency ever?
Nov. 18 -- In all my years in journalism and news management, I've never made a big deal out of a medical "discovery" which might not work on humans or wouldn't be available for a long time. Today's MoCo Herald made exactly this kind of fairy tale its lede. I think the media should wait until a medical discovery has some actual relevance before treating it as important.
Nov. 18 -- So cheating on your income taxes is nothing out of the ordinary for chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee? Wow.
Nov. 17 -- All this controversy about patdowns and full body scanners at airports misses the point. The purpose of airport security isn't to make air travel safe. It's to make the traveling public believe it is safe.
Nov. 16 -- Charles Rangel keeps insisting that he did nothing to "enrich himself." Is there another reason to hide income from the IRS??
Nov. 16 -- Comedian Lewis Black got it right: In San Francisco, they hand out clean needles to heroin addicts, but they won't let a child have a Buzz Lightyear toy with his Happy Meal because it sends the wrong message?
Nov. 16 -- How dumb are the editors of the NYT? They printed a front-page analysis today (above the fold, no less) that revealed that cultivating "economic growth" might be an effective way to increase tax revenues and reduce the deficit. Gee ... and I thought higher taxes were the answer to everything!
Nov. 15 -- Yes, it's outrageous that illegal aliens get in-state tuition at state universities. Even more outrageous is that every year thousands of life-long residents are turned away so the illegals can have their spaces at campuses such as Berkeley and UCLA.
Nov. 15 -- After reading several favorable reviews (plus, I'm a train nut), I went to see the new Denzel Washington movie, "Unstoppable," yesterday. But I got annoyed in the first five minutes and couldn't enjoy anything that followed. At the beginning of the film, a train loaded with dangerous chemicals becomes a runaway after the engineer forgets to connect the air brakes, leaving the hoses dangling. But in that case, the brakes are automatically applied, not released ... it's one of the oldest and most important railway safety inventions. In fantasy movies, I don't mind if pigs can talk and humans can fly, but a movie which is supposed to present a plausible scenario cannot be based on a boneheaded premise. Or is it just me?
Nov. 15 -- As soon as I get through reading "Parting the Desert" by Zachary Karabell (what a story!), I'm going to dive into "Unbroken" by Lauren Hillenbrand, even if the NYT thinks she uses too many adjectives.
Nov. 14 -- Until al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations are defeated, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed can rot in Guantanamo without ever seeing a judge, as far as I'm concerned.
Nov. 14 -- It wouldn't surprise me a bit if this drunk driver's cruel suit against his victim's family succeeded. After all, our civil courts are mostly about income redistribution, not justice.
Nov. 14 -- Ted Koppel's commentary in today's Washington Post about the decline of objectivity in television news fails to inform because he ignores the fact that his own former network, ABC, along with CBS and NBC, even in their heydays, were highly left-leaning news organizations. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes created Fox News to fill an enormous, unserved niche in a world of uniformly partisan, left-wing networks. That's why Fox found a huge audience. MSNBC is just the most liberal outfit in a crowded field, which is why it languishes. (See Pew's latest research into how the public perceives various news organizations.)
Nov. 13 -- Why is Manny Pacquiao so respected? Not only because he's a one-of-a-kind fighter. After making a bloody mess out of a much bigger man, Antonio Margarito, tonight in Dallas, Pacquiao complimented his opponent: "I can't believe I beat someone this big and strong." But Margarito was arrogant and foolish. Asked why he didn't quit once he was bleeding all over his face, could barely see out of his right eye and had no hope of winning, Margarito said, "I'm a Mexican. We fight until the end."
Nov. 13 -- In the battle over illegal immigration, one side is definitely winning.
Nov. 12 -- Now that the scientists have figured out how cats drink, I think they can pretty much all go home. (Be sure to click on the "multimedia" page.)
Nov. 12 -- With the coastal commission foolishly bound and determined once again to force a Pebble Beach couple to rip out the mini golf course in their front yard, it's worth re-reading my April 2007 editorial on the subject. BTW, the owners of the house, Bob and Maureen Feduniak, have quite a background. He's a stock trader and professional poker player; she's a pro at poker, too.
Nov. 11 -- Oh, no! Not climbing stairs! And why do the media keep calling it a "nightmare" cruise? Wouldn't "inconvenient" or "disappointing" be more accurate? A nightmare cruise would be one hijacked by terrorists who murdered half the passengers, or where the boat sank, wouldn't it?
Nov. 10 -- We all know that Republican presidential candidates carry the white vote. A columnist in WSJ the argues that, with the U.S. becoming a non-white country, the Republican Party must adapt or die. But isn't the point that Republican voters are the people who pay taxes, while Democratic Party voters are the people who receive government payments? As minority voters become the "wealthy" taxpayers Democrats love to target, won't they become Republicans, too?
Nov. 10 -- First the Internet was going to kill all the newspapers, then the books and now the TV stations. Does anybody believe this?
Nov. 9 -- Quick! Somebody call NOAA and have them arrest the NYT reporter who confessed today to fishing for steelhead trout.
Nov. 7 -- We all know that Democrats do best among voters who are on the receiving end of income redistribution and government subsidies, which also explains why Democratic Party candidates dominate among voters who do not have a high school education. But why do they do well among voters with postgraduate degrees? The exit polls yield so much fascinating information, even if some of it is hard to fathom.
Nov. 6 -- The WSJ likes the Monterey Peninsula and has some interesting recommendations for a long weekend in our neck of the woods. But the writer's advice is to skip Carmel-by-the-Sea, because it's too "kitschy." What a dope.
Nov. 5 -- Another big embarrassment for NBC News, which suspended Keith Olbermann for making political contributions. But the embarrassment isn't that he made the contributions. It's that NBC management suspended Olbermann for doing in his private life the exact same thing they pay him to do on TV: promote left-wing candidates and political causes. (Even more embarrassing for NBC is that they put Olbermann on television in the first place.)
Nov. 4 -- Tuesday's election results, when you combine national and state races, were the worst setback in decades for any political party. And President Obama thinks it was because of a failure to communicate? No, it's because of the awful Obamacare bill and the shameful way it was passed.
Nov. 4 -- If only our local Sierra Club were as intelligent as the one in Berkeley. Infill development is the only responsible way to accommodate a growing population. But, around here, too many environmentalists are against everything.
Nov. 4 -- Hahaha! The NYT thinks it's newsworthy that the SFChronicle slanted its coverage in favor of a ballot measure to prohibit sitting and lying on sidewalks. Of course, the Chronicle constantly and blatantly slants its coverage in favor of all sorts of causes. What made this particular slanting newsworthy was that it wasn't to promote a liberal cause.
Nov. 1 -- Kudos to Fox Sports for its outstanding World Series coverage. I have a lot of experience with live sports, so I know how chaotic those broadcasts can be. When the Giants won tonight in Texas, Fox somehow managed to have a camera on each Giants player to show their reaction to the final out. Outstanding! And the post-game interviews demonstrated how much a championship can mean even to highly paid athletes.
Nov. 1 -- A report in today's NYT about how the toner cartridge bombs were intercepted calls the incidents a "sobering reminder to officials around the world that quick response to timely intelligence rules the day." But hasn't the NYT — with its reports about international tracking of terrorists' financing, warrantless interception of international phone calls and other classified intelligence programs — been at the forefront of thwarting such quick action?
Nov. 1 -- Everybody's upset because some foreclosure paperwork was signed without being read. But a much worse example, and with much more far-reaching consequences, is the massive and costly Obamacare bill. Both houses of Congress voted on it without members having any idea what was in it, and the public was kept completely in the dark — which amounts to legislation by fiat, as Thomas Sowell explains.
Oct. 30 -- I happened to be in DC so I attended the Jon Stewart "Rally for Sanity" on the Mall in Washington today. Too bad the crowd was so small! I got there a little late, and I was amazed to be able to take this great closeup of Stewart on the stage. (I Photoshopped it a bit to highlight his obvious disappointment at the small turnout.) Also, while wandering among the crowd, I asked these protesters how high tax rates should be, and they said, "Nobody should make more than $100,000 a year." Of course, many of the signs carried by the various protesters were about how stupid Republicans are. But polls consistently show that they're better educated than Democrats.
Oct. 30 -- Why is it so important to so many in the news media to minimize the intentions and/or capability of Islamic terrorists? And this time, the minimizer-in-chief is President Obama himself, who called the discovery of package bombs on their way to the U.S. a "credible terrorist threat." Excuse me, sir, but sending bombs isn't a threat. It's an attack.
Oct. 28 -- Latest revelation about our civil court system and its income-redistribution purpose: Even a four-year-old can be sued, if her family has money.
Oct. 27 -- Tony Bennett's rendition of God Bless America during the first game of the World Series was one of the most touching I've ever seen. He's 84 years old!
Oct. 27 -- The NYT loves anything that purports to show cops are racist. Why oh why are they so much more concerned about that allegation than the fact of violent crime? Indisputably, minorities are usually the victims and, therefore, are also the people the police mainly strive to protect. See my entry of May 14.
Oct. 27 -- Are you telling me not everything the media try to scare us about is actually dangerous???
Oct. 25 -- You know French labor unions are in big trouble when even the NYT starts reporting about them honestly.
Oct. 25 -- Yes, too much money is spent on election campaigns. But amid all the handwringing by the big media companies (example A, example B, example C), they somehow never mention that they are the very companies that profit enormously from all that campaign advertising. If they object to it so much, why don't they quit accepting the money?
Oct. 25 -- Tonight's NOVA documentary about the rescue of the Chilean miners showed more than ever how critical a role was played by Americans. Why is the heroism of Brandon Fisher and his company, Center Rock, of Berlin, Pa., to cite one example, played down so much?
Oct. 23 -- Kathleen Pender at the SFChronicle is the greatest There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch reporter in this country. Her column last Sunday on Social Security COLA is just one example. Guess what? If Social Security recipients get a raise, somebody has to pay for it!
Oct. 22 -- It's fascinating that companies such as the NYT have developed a business model that requires them to pretend they're non-partisan. That's what the charade is all about: making money. But Fox and MSNBC show that you can make even more by being honest about your political bias.
Oct. 21 -- Word is that Clint Eastwood's latest, "Hereafter," is a great date movie. It opens tomorrow.
Oct. 21 -- Let it never be said that NPR doesn't believe in free speech.
Oct. 21 -- More about the real causes of the real estate crash.
Oct. 19 -- Wow. It turns out Joseph McCarthy actually grossly underestimated the number of spies Stalin had in the U.S. government in the early 1950s. Anyone interested in the truth about that era in American history simply has to read the amazing, "Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage Espionage in America." And if you can stand even more verisimilitude, tackle "Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America."
Oct. 18 -- Did anybody else notice that Jerry Brown's campaign commercials suddenly switched from promising "no new taxes without voter approval" to "no taxes without voter approval"? Both statements are strange coming from a Democrat. But the second one is positively hilarious, especially considering Brown's longstanding antipathy to Prop 13. On his website, only the old version of the commercial seems to be available.
Oct. 18 -- Have you seen "Pawn Stars" on the History Channel? It's on every Monday night, and it's one of the most educational shows on television.
Oct. 17 -- Did you know there's a species of woodpecker environmentalists say is endangered because California doesn't have enough forest fires? Of course, the Sacramento Bee's story about the Sierra Club's campaign to have the black-backed woodpecker officially designated as a "candidate" endangered species -- which would bring logging of dead trees inburned areas to a halt -- makes no mention of the fact that the species is quite common in other parts of North America, and especially in Canada.
Oct. 17 -- Tomorrow's 60 Minutes will include an interesting segment about a film shot in San Francisco just before the 1906 earthquake.
Oct. 17 -- Today's NYT also has two stories that add a lot to my Oct. 1 editorial, "America's decline." The first describes how Japan went from economic powerhouse to the demoralized place it is today. And the second analyzes the relationship of a country's demographics to its economic success. According to this view, the U.S. has a brighter future than many Western nations because it attracts a lot of young immigrants. But, while we're still a magnet, we should change our immigration laws to attract people who are more educated and skillful than the ones we get today. Of course, Congress will do nothing.
Oct. 17 -- Today's NYT massive profile of Angelo Mozilo tells everything you need to know about how the mortgage crisis happened: Because of the fees they earned upfront, banks and companies like Countrywide lent money to people they knew very well could probably never pay it back, and the government supported the whole charade because the loans were going to minorities and people with low incomes. The scheme was based on the presumption that home values would always go up; instead, it caused them to collapse. Local employees of mortgage brokers must have some fascinating stories to tell about loans granted in Seaside, Salinas and other local communities during 2004-2007.
Oct. 17 -- The news media are always proudly reporting that Democrats get huge majorities from the black vote. But they hardly ever mention that the last Democratic presidential candidate to get a majority of the white vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Oct. 17 -- Looking for a good corn maze to make Halloween more fun? Here's a guide. I have really enjoyed the one near Half Moon Bay.
Oct. 16 -- Gavin Newsom will carry no more than two or three counties against Abel Maldonado for Lieutenant Governor Nov. 2. But will Newsom's margin of victory in San Francisco and Los Angeles be so great as to swamp the vote in the rest of the state? That is the question.
Oct. 16 -- The SFChronicle has to be the only newspaper that figured out a way to put an optimistic headline on today's AP story about the federal deficit. It's simply incredible that the U.S. government is borrowing 37 percent of everything it spends.
Oct. 16 -- Can anybody explain why the New York Times is so anti-Israel? The statement about what the "world" thinks in the third paragraph of this story is so simpleminded and so ignorant of history that you simply have to question the motives of the reporter and his editors.
Oct. 15 -- With so many working people seeing their incomes decline, and with the cost of living steady or going down, why is it considered shocking for Social Security recipients not to get a raise?And aren't senior citizens the richest group in the country?
Oct. 15 -- Another story about the rescue of the Chilean miners that's gone unmentioned on the evening news.
Oct. 14 -- If someone knows they'll need $250,000 worth of medical care in the coming year, and a private company is required to provide it to them at the last minute in exchange for a fee of $3,000 or $4,000, why is that called "insurance"? Not one dictionary I could find, online or in print, has embraced the new definition of the word, i.e., "something for nothing."
Oct. 13 -- Did anyone else notice that, during all the coverage of the Chile mine rescue, it was hardly mentioned that the rescue well was drilled by an altruistic American company?
Oct. 11 -- If you're wondering how close the proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhattan is to Ground Zero, this FEMA diagram shows it as well as anything. The red X at 45 Park Place, where one of the landing gear from United 175 crashed through the roof of a building, is where the mosque is to be located.The entire FEMA report on the collapse of the WTC buildings can be found here.
Oct. 9 -- Gee, and I just got through being convinced by the national media that Arizona is full of bigots.
Oct. 9 -- Does Bill Ayers still consider Sirhan Sirhan a political prisoner? If so, he shouldn't get his pension, much less any honorifics. It's pathetic how all the news reports on this controversy blatantly take Ayers' side.
Oct. 8 -- Even the SFChronicle admits that the housing crisis happened because the government and the banks started giving mortgages to people who couldn't pay them back (and often with no down payment).
Oct. 8 -- So factcheck.org says it's false that, thanks to Obamacare, beginning in 2013 you'll have to pay a 3.8 percent Medicare tax on the profits from the sale of your home. But then it goes on to say that, actually, you very well might have to pay that tax, especially if you live around here. Nice fact checking!
Oct. 8 -- I don't get the concept of "tax expenditures." If every dollar the government doesn't take out of your pocket is the same as a dollar paid to you via a government benefit program, then isn't the whole economy a tax expenditure? I guess that's the way the world looks if you believe all the money starts off belonging to the government. A lot more resources on this subject are available here.
Oct. 7 -- Did Pew's latest survey on media objectivity include readers of The Carmel Pine Cone?
Oct. 5 -- It breaks my heart to see my old network, NBC, turned into such a blatantly partisan "news" source. And now they've made it official.
Oct. 5 -- Was anybody else annoyed by the constant repetition of the Sam Farr ad during Monday Night Football? They must have played the thing 20 times. Surely Sam didn't want it that way. Of course, even though he has one of the safest seats in Congress, this year it's very important for him to tell everyone he's not a Democrat and pretend he never voted for Obamacare and all that stimulus spending, meanwhile claiming that all he cares about it jobs. But surely not over and over again! (The ad that played endlessly during MNF doesn't seem to be available anywhere online. As soon as it is, I'll post a link. In the meantime another Farr campaign ad is available on YouTube, and it also doesn't mention which party Farr belongs to.) UPDATE: Sam Farr's "Jobs" advertisement is available here.
Oct. 3 -- And speaking of Meg Whitman, I have to agree with Willie Brown that she could have handled the whole nanny thing a lot better. Brown's column in the SFChronicle is always good.
Oct. 3 -- Speaking of illegal immigrants: It's hilarious to see Jerry Brown invoke the name of Cesar Chavez in criticizing Meg Whitman's position on immigration. As I pointed out in an editorial more than a year ago, Chavez was adamantly opposed to illegal immigration because it drove down wages for blue collar workers. He even led a protest at the border. And can somebody explain why Mexico is so poor?
Oct. 3 -- Suggested head: I wondered why the golf ball was getting bigger ... and then it hit me.
Oct. 2 -- This real estate speculator's strategy is remarkably similar to the one I exposed in my series about Bixby Ranch (part 1, part 2, part 3) back in February 2001. The property rights he relies on in developing isolated parcels were explained in my Sept. 17 editorial.
Oct. 2 -- Maybe I love Mark Twain's nonfiction works so much because they're rooted in his early career as a newspaper reporter. Nevertheless, "The Innocents Abroad" is the greatest travel book ever written. Everyone should read it ... an easy thing to do, because lots of versions are available in print or as free ebooks.
Oct. 1 -- I had no idea Phil Gramm was this brilliant. Definitely worth reading for its clear explication of the relationship of taxes to economic growth, and even more so because it cites Winston Churchill (my hero).
Sept. 29 -- And Meg Whitman did what wrong exactly? The nanny's the one who seriously broke the law. BTW, we keep hearing that it's a civil offense, not a crime, to be in the U.S. without a visa. Even Janet Napolitano said so. But federal law clearly states that it's a crime to "enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers," which many millions of Mexican nationals have done.
Sept. 24 -- How lucky we are that Bing Crosby was superstitious. I can't wait for the rebroadcast.
Sept. 24 -- John Steinbeck's Long Island pad has fascinating local roots.
Sept. 25 -- I worked with the head of NBC Universal at the 1988 Olympics, where I was a producer and he was just a researcher ... but his career turned out to be a little more successful than mine. At least, so far!
Sept. 12 -- Some people get mighty irritated every time we point out that the steelhead trout in the Carmel River are just the local population, however diminished, of a very common fish species. But all you need to do is take a quick look at the NOAA website to see how right we are.
Sept. 8 -- And Narsi David made the exact same point a few days later.
Sept. 1 -- I spent more than four years as NBC bureau chief in Israel, but Shelby Steele, from his office at Stanford, understands the country better than I do.
Aug. 12 -- Obama's right-hand man was my best friend in college at the University of Chicago in the early 1970s. I'm pretty sure I was smarter than him ....
May 14 -- Best article ever on police and racial profiling.
June 15 -- Time
June 8 -- Making
a living off lawsuits
May 18 -- We don't endorse, but ...
May 11 -- A qualified apology
April 27 -- The lottery scam
April 20 -- Growing and getting better
April 13 -- Think globally, predict doom locally
April 6 -- The obligation to be an informed voter
Mar. 30 -- What wasn't said at the Supreme Court
Mar. 23 -- The last spectacle?
Mar. 16 -- Help!
Mar. 9 -- Paying for other people's sins
Mar. 2 -- Overruling the people -- part II
Feb. 24 -- Voters have their work cut out
Feb. 17 -- Stuff and nonsense
Feb. 10 -- The nastiness begins; Overruling the people
Feb. 3 -- We have met the enemy
Jan. 27 -- Locavore, schmocavore
Jan. 20 -- An interesting election; A complete dud
Jan. 13 -- Too much can be too much
Jan. 6 -- A very bitter pill
Dec. 30 -- Stealing newspapers is pointless
Dec. 23 -- FUBAR
Dec. 9 -- Eliminate the corporate income tax
Dec. 2 -- Here we go again
Nov. 25 -- The greatest gift of all
Nov. 18 -- What the Collins debacle really means
Nov. 4 -- Workers' rights
Oct. 28 -- Farewell, and thanks
Oct. 21-- Please let the Flanders nightmare end
Oct. 14 -- Merging fire and police
Oct. 7 -- Governor Brown should sign SB 202
Sept. 30 -- Has the government lost its mind?
Sept. 23 -- Stop it
Sept. 16 -- Our last chance?
Sept. 9 -- Changing times
Sept. 2 -- They don't call him Jobs for nothing
Aug. 26 -- Are car shows revolting?
Aug. 19 -- Obamacare explained
Aug. 12 -- 'Fair' has nothing to do with it
Aug. 5 -- Deciding who pays
July 29 -- How to stop the intransigence
July 22 -- What would they gain?
July 15 -- Getting unemployment insurance to work
July 8 -- Borderline sanity
July 1 -- Phony conflicts
June 10 -- You've read this editorial before
June 3 -- You're not so dumb
May 27 -- Encouraging people to break the law
May 20 -- Nothing to see here, folks ....
April 29 -- Temporocentrism
April 22 -- The thing that wouldn't die
April 15 -- The benefits of suing yourself
April 8 -- Painfully obvious
April 1 -- Foolish humans
Mar. 18 -- First the good news ....
Mar. 11 -- No-growthing yourself out of existence
Mar. 4 -- Protesters don't need facts
Feb. 25 -- Why employees shouldn't pick their own boss
Feb. 18 -- Privacy laws cause big public problems
Feb. 11 -- Money for nothing
Feb. 4 -- A shameful commentary
Jan. 28 -- For real?
Jan. 21 -- Was it a joke?
Jan. 14 -- Correlation is not causation ....
Jan. 7 -- The upside of a crisis
Dec. 24 -- Hooray for fewer lawsuits!
Dec. 3 -- An end to 12-0
Nov. 26 -- Certainly not the chief's fault
Nov. 19 -- Water mischief
Nov. 12 -- We told you so
Oct. 29 -- How to reform government
Oct. 22 -- More than just a shipwreck
Oct. 15 -- How to weigh opinions about ICE
Oct. 8 -- The truth about the trout
Oct. 1 -- America's decline
Sept. 24 -- More ADA nonsense
Sept. 17 -- Rural subdivisions are not the answer
Sept. 10 -- Where you should shop
Sept. 3 -- Laugh, then cry
Aug. 27 -- Just cook them
Aug. 20 -- Whose values?
Aug. 13 -- Obama vs. Kennedy
Aug. 6 -- Guillen should resign
July 30 -- Lawsuits are not the answer
July 9 -- Sooner and bigger
July 2 -- At last!
June 25 -- Why we have the death penalty
June 18 -- A fantastic oil spill?
June 11 -- Hooray for the voters
June 4 -- Basic lessons
May 28 -- Government in reverse
May 21 -- The brilliance of Prop 14
May 14 -- What our readers want
April 30 -- Judge's ruling not as bad as it seems
April 23 -- Revisiting the strange traditions of golf
April 16 -- Heroes named Jane Doe
April 9 -- Lost in the wilderness
April 2 -- There must be new water
March 26 -- Deferring to the people
March 12 -- Still mad about 2002?