Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Short Story Corner – Redefining Cockamamie

One night on my way home from the meditation center, I walked toward a man working on the front stairs of an old Victorian. Just as I passed by, the man struck a blow with a hammer atop a short concrete wall. Metal suddenly whizzed dangerously through the semi-darkness, landing haphazardly upon a pile of debris under an opening in two boards covering a small, recessed yard. The man sheepishly turned to me and explained in an Irish brogue, “I'm redefining cockamamie.”

And that’s how I’ll always remember President Obama’s decision to send more troops into Afghanistan: redefining cockamamie.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On Governor Candidates and Chris Daly, Ground Zero

Me and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom when he was lighter and I was heavier.

To be or not to be is no longer the question.

Not here in San Francisco, at least. Seems ‘twas nobler for Mayor Gavin Newsom to gracefully bow out early from the race for the next governor of California.

Alas! Poor Gavin. Newsom had to have been told by his higher political powers to get out. Step aside. After all, he’s not known for running his own political career.

Gav now finds himself the weakest link in an incestuous chain of political appointments. Newsom, whose aunt married Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law, was appointed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1997 by then Mayor Willie Brown. Pelosi’s father was a U.S. Congressman for Maryland and former Mayor of Baltimore.

Newsom’s appointment to the Board replaced Kevin Shelley after Shelley was elected to the California State Assembly. Shelley was a former staff member to both the late Congressman Phillip Burton and Burton’s late wife Sala, who took her husband’s seat upon his death in 1983. Phillip Burton also once replaced Shelley’s father in the U.S. House of Representatives when Shelley’s father resigned to serve as Mayor of San Francisco in 1964.

Side note. You might also remember Kevin Shelley as the Secretary of State who resigned in 2005 amid allegations he received laundered campaign funds. His resignation led to the certification of paperless DRE voting machines under Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. But that’s a whole other story.

Congresswoman Sala Galante Burton
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Congress Biographical Directory)

Congresswoman Sala Burton died of cancer in 1987. On her death bed, she anointed Nancy Pelosi as her successor in Congress. Pelosi won the seat in a special election.

Got all that? We’ve come full circle. Basically, Brown appoints Newsom, Pelosi’s nephew by marriage, to a seat vacated by Shelley, a former staff member of Sala Burton, who crowned Pelosi her successor in Congress and whose husband once succeeded in the California Assembly the former staff member Newsom replaced so that former staff member could serve as Mayor of San Francisco.

Suffice it to say, neither a borrower nor a lender be. Newsom is indebted to powerful political figures and when they say jump, he jumps. They trotted out Bill Clinton to save Newsom’s ass during his first run for Mayor and again last month in an attempt to bolster interest in Newsom’s campaign for governor. So, they’ve done all they can but just can’t save Gavin from Jerry Brown.

By the way, lest you think the incest stops at Pelosi, think again. Phillip Burton’s brother John succeeded him in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1975. Now John Burton is the Chairman of the California Democratic Party. Fiona Ma, current California State Assembly Majority Whip, is a former John Burton staff member.

Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
(Photo courtesy of the Senator's official web site)

Newsom’s departure from the Governor’s race makes way for Senator Dianne Feinstein to potentially run. Willie Brown has been threatening Newsom with this for months. And it makes sense. Newsom would only stop fundraising this early in the game to allow a candidate with the same base, i.e. Feinstein, to begin fundraising.

And, no, Newsom is not in a position to bargain for Feinstein’s senate seat this time around. There are others in line bearing gifts of incense and myrrh. You don’t think State Senator Mark Leno gave away state park land at Candlestick Point to Newsom’s former treasurer and Speaker Pelosi’s “real” blood nephew Laurence Pelosi’s former employer Lennar for nothing, do you?

Attorney General and leading "uncandidate" for Governor Jerry Brown
with DCCC Member Jane Morrison in San Francisco last month

Don’t worry, Jerry Brown. Some believe Feinstein would easily take the Democratic nomination over Brown should either declare they’re actually candidates for Governor. Feinstein is not unbeatable. Be certain to remind voters of her lack of leadership on the undeclared “wars” going on in Iraq and Afghanistan and the enormous deficit our country is stuck with as a result. I know I will.

Plus, why vote for a Democrat that even Willie Brown believes has the self-serving capacity to send a Republican to the senate. Brown floated the idea Feinstein should run and be elected Lieutenant Governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger could then resign as governor so Feinstein could succeed him then reward Arnold by appointing him to her vacated senate seat. Don’t think it couldn’t happen. Feinstein has endorsed Republicans before. Even Republicans should be upset at the idea. Arnold didn’t have to pass Republican muster for a primary race for governor and would avoid Republican voter scrutiny again if appointed to the senate.

Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom:
Find common ground or slap fight like march hares?

Hey, stay tuned. Locally, this may get interesting. Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom are definitely not BFFs. Newsom doesn’t seem to have been inclusive enough for the constantly meddling Brown. No BFD, Gavin, Willie Brown thinks he’s the center of all politics, even complaining Obama didn’t call him about Van Jones.

With Mayor Newsom out of the race for governor and gone rogue on Willie Brown who appointed him to the Board of Supes, these two need to find common ground to kiss and make up. San Francisco is a small town.

What more fitting common ground than seeking revenge on a common whistleblower?

San Francisco District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly and City Attorney Dennis Herrera

You guessed it. Three things in San Francisco are certain: death, taxes, and any sliver of common ground for Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom culminates at District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly, ground zero. Brown’s never going to forgive Daly’s SF PUC appointments in 2003 and the Newsom/Daly rivalry is too bulky to share only one link. Just google it.

Will the last chance games begin as Daly’s final term nears an end? Is the play the thing wherein we glimpse the conscience of the king?

Keep ‘em honest, Chris, as long as you can.