Thursday, October 27, 2016

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cycling: Also unsafe for your sex life

New York Times

This isn't really news. After all, I tried to warn my many friends in the cycling community---yes, that's a joke----about this problem way back in 2005. Like the radically flawed method the city had of counting cycling accidents, we didn't learn about this issue on Streetsblog or from the Bicycle Coalition. Both ignored it. For that matter, you didn't learn about either issue from the Chronicle, the Examiner, the Bay Guardian, or the SF Weekly:

by Carrie Weisman
If you ever thought the damage caused by riding a bike was limited to a sore behind, there’s some bad news for you. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, spending too much time on a bicycle doesn’t just make your genital area sore, it can actually desensitize the whole zone. 

For years, there’s been talk of the ways in which the sport affects men's reproductive organs. Cycling requires men to place a significant amount of weight on the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus). Experts say that pressure can cause pain or numbness—and in some cases impact the individual’s ability to achieve an erection. "The earliest warning sign is numbness or tingling," Irwin Goldstein, director of San Diego Sexual Medicine, told WebMD.

Athletes aren’t the only ones affected. In 2008, Steven M. Schrader, a scientist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, uncovered the risk facing bike police officers. According to Schrader, the average officer assigned to bike duty spends around 24 hours a week on his bicycle. Officers reported experiencing a level of genital numbness as well as increasing incidents of erectile dysfunction. A 2009 CDC report holds that over 40,000 workers in public safety occupations ride bicycles as part of their job.

In 2006, researchers decided it was time to shift their attention onto women. After comparing a group of female cyclists to a group of female runners, researchers were able to confirm that cycling can cause the same kinds of problems in women as it does in men. “There is an association between bicycling and decreased genital sensation in competitive women bicyclists,” they wrote.

In 2012, researchers decided to take another crack at the subject, but this time they were looking at the bike itself. After inviting a group of 48 female cyclists who each cycled a minimum of 10 miles per week into the lab, researchers realized that part of the problem circled back to where the handlebars were set in relation to the saddle.

The lower the handlebars, the more pressure was placed on the genital area. The more pressure the area was under, the less sensation the women experienced. But while adjusting the bike set-up is one obvious solution, it goes against a standard of competitive racing: positioning the handlebars lower than the saddle for the sake of speed. Other bike-based exercise regimens require people to adopt the same setup

Some experts, like Schrader, suggest cyclists start using a bike saddle without a protruding nose, also known as a “no-nose saddle.” According to WebMD, the seats are designed to redistribute the weight to "the sit bones of the buttocks." In his article "Cutting Off the Nose to Save the Penis," Schrader writes, “Studies have shown that no-nose saddles result in significantly less restriction in penile blood flow compared to traditional saddles.”

There are other ways to protect your privates, like wearing padded shorts, adjusting your posture and changing into loose clothing after spending time on the bike. Some cyclists apply anti-chafing cream to avoid chafing and soreness as well.

Fortunately, the issues that can come out of biking are often temporary and almost always reversible. So long as you acknowledge any issues that may arise and take appropriate measures to correct them, cycling shouldn’t kill your sex life.

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New sod for Alamo Square


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Richard Hall in The Marin Post:

...The author started writing this article thinking that maybe the Union Pearson Express in Toronto has proven that SMART could achieve ridership enabling it to deliver on its stated goals---relieving traffic congestion and fighting climate change. But Toronto offers a poor comparison from a major airport to a major metropolitan area. 

San Diego's Coaster is a closer comparison, but even this comparison is unfair because the Coaster directly serves downtown San Diego, with 20 times the population of San Rafael.

The author would happily concede his opposition to SMART if it can foreseeably achieve reasonable ridership. But SMART doesn't serve the superior transportation draws of Toronto, Toronto Airport or downtown San Diego. If the Coaster cannot achieve reasonable ridership with much lower fares serving a city over 20 times the size, then there is little hope for SMART...

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Examiner and District 5

Dean Preston, left,
and London Breed are running to represent District 5 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
Photo: Jessica Christian for the Examiner

Both the SF Chronicle and the SF Examiner are worse than useless in informing the city's voters about local issues. How the Examiner covers District 5 is an excellent example.

From the Examiner's article yesterday on the campaign for District 5 Supervisor:

The race could influence whether the Board of Supervisors is dominated by the progressive bloc, as is the case now, or the moderates.

Challenger Dean Preston, who is from New York and has lived in the district for two decades, said he decided to run because Breed wasn’t serving many of the district’s needs, especially in relation to the housing crisis. For Breed’s part, she said her track record extends beyond housing, and that appears to be where Preston’s stops.

Preston has tried to center his election bid on righting The City’s housing crisis, while Breed is touting her local roots and track record of addressing neighborhood issues, including underserved groups. Preston, a longtime housing rights lawyer and founder of Tenants Together, a state tenants rights group, said Breed has too often voted on the side of Mayor Ed Lee’s moderate bloc in City Hall.

Born and raised in public housing in the Western Addition, Breed, who was first elected as supervisor in 2012 and is now board president, disputed Preston’s characterization of her track record, claiming she is neither moderate nor progressive but an advocate for many who have been left behind.

This tells us nothing about the candidates, except that Preston's campaign is about housing, adding correctly "that appears to be where Preston's stops." As I pointed months ago, he's running a one-issue campaign. Preston provides nothing about those other district "needs," as I also pointed out back in July.

Speaking of issues, what about the Masonic Avenue bike project, which will make traffic and finding parking worse in the middle of District 5? Whenever the Examiner writes about it, we get City Hall's line on that destructive project. Preston probably figures taking a position on Masonic is a losing proposition, since doing so will surely annoy a lot of voters. Breed has always supported the project.

Preston's website has nothing about issues; it's all about raising money for his campaign. There's more information on his Facebook page, but it's still all about housing. Preston lists his endorsers---all San Francisco progressives, which butters no parsnips for me, a mere liberal Democrat. He's been endorsed by Matt Gonzalez, which also doesn't help him with me. 

But the endorsements send a message to the city's "progressive" tribe: Preston is one of us and he supposedly flanks Breed on the left.

Breed has a "track record" we can examine, which I've been doing since she was elected after an issue-free campaign that was particularly lame, even by San Francisco standards (see also this). That record is awful: see this and this.

The Chronicle endorses Breed with this bullshit: "Breed has grown on the job in the past four years, as both a leader and a student of public policy. She deserves re-election."

I won't vote for either of them.

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Yes on Proposition 53

From the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail: "YES" On Proposition 53!

Many of you may be voting by mail. Others will go to the polls in two weeks, on Tuesday, November 8th. 

CC-HSR wants to draw your attention to one of the ballot propositions that can have a big impact on the future of the state's proposed High-Speed Rail project.

Proposition 53 would require that the voters approve any "revenue bonds" issued for a state project if the amount proposed for the bonds is greater than two billion dollars. 

Our laws require that General Obligation bonds must be approved by the voters, but current law provides that the state can issue revenue bonds in any amount with no need to get voter approval. Proposition 53 is an initiative measure that would change that rule. The voters would have to sign off on revenue bond funding for huge state projects.

Make no mistake, Governor Brown would like to issue bonds for High-Speed Rail and for his big water project to take northern California water south.

If Proposition 53 passes, funding for these huge state projects and for others like them would need voter approval.

We hope you agree with CC-HSR that the voters should have the right to decide whether or not revenue bond funding should be provided for huge new state projects (like High-Speed Rail, specifically). The state's current HSR project is costly, ill-conceived, and badly managed. The voters should have the right to say "yes" or "no" to any new bonding for this and similar projects. 

Governor Brown is spending his own campaign funds for television advertisements that say that Proposition 53 would hurt first responders and undermine "local control." These claims are just not true. 

CC-HSR Advises Your "Yes" Vote On Proposition 53.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Police shootings: The body count

Deja (center) and Cassandra Grant (right) lead protesters demanding justice for Mario Woods, the Bayview man shot and killed by police nearly two months ago, on a march down Market Street to the site of Super Bowl City in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
Photo: Paul Chinn, the Chronicle

From today's SF Chronicle:

...From 2006 to 2015, California’s count of officer-involved shootings left out at least 439 fatalities, meaning there were at least 1,480 in total, according to the new data.

In the 10-year span, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department didn’t report at least 34 fatal shootings, Fresno police didn’t report at least 24, and Los Angeles police didn’t report at least 21, the study found.

“Nobody has any idea how many police shootings there are,” said Robert Weisberg, a Stanford Law School professor and co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. “Any scrutiny is good, and if this causes more scrutiny, that’s good, and if it causes any embarrassment, that’s fine.”

The Texas State study said San Francisco police did not report any of their six fatal shootings to the state last year, including the December killing of Mario Woods, which sparked a federal review of the city’s force.

The researchers found two additional cases, in 2008 and 2010, in which a San Francisco police killing did not end up being recorded by the state. There was no indication, they said, that the discrepancies were purposeful...The study reveals the degree to which California is part of an undercounting problem so widespread that two news organizations — the Washington Post and Guardian US — opted to perform their own counts of police killings last year, after figures released by the FBI were discredited as incomplete.

The results marked the first time the American public was given a reasonably full — though still imperfect — picture of officer-involved killings. The Post counted 991 fatal police shootings in the U.S. in 2015 and 189 in California, a number similar to the one calculated by Texas State University.

Scrutiny of such statistics was part of the aftermath of the Aug. 9, 2014, death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Since then, a number of video-recorded police killings — including that of [Mario]Woods in San Francisco — have ignited calls for reforms to reduce the bloodshed...

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Nasty women oppose Trump

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Sunday, October 23, 2016


ATTN: #SFMuni arrival predictions may be out of order. Working to resolve.

Keep working on it, boys.

SF Citizen photo


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The Donald at Gettysburg


From Daily Kos:

Fourscore and seven weeks ago I brought forth upon this continent a tremendous campaign, conceived as the most lucrative deal ever and dedicated to the self-evident proposition that nobody is my equal.

Now I am engaged in a rigged election, testing whether that nasty bitch is going to steal what is rightfully mine, or whether my campaign can lock her up where she belongs while I divert millions in donations into profit for my companies. 

I come here to dig up this sacred ground and lay the foundation for the greatest Trump Hotel ever, a luxurious resting place for scores of gorgeous models, whom I will date as soon as they turn 14. This I may with all my properties do.

But, in the making America great sense, after I inaugurate, I cannot allow anyone ever again to regulate or litigate against me or my enterprises. The corrupt media and party traitors who struggled to bar me from my goal I will subjugate. 

The world will deeply note, and forever remember, what I say here because I will order it engraved and covered in gold leaf on every building for 100 miles in every direction and memorized by every school child in the nation.

It is for me, the soon-to-be greatest president who ever was or will be, to obligate the nation to undertake the great task remaining ahead—that, from this day forward all shall be unwaveringly devoted to that cause for which I have dedicated myself, culminating in the birth of a government of me, by me, for me, to cherish forevermore.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Gavin Newsom's flip-flop on high-speed rail

Karl Mondon, Bay Area News Group

Actually, when you read the story (Newsom, seeking governor’s office, now backs high-speed rail), it's a conditional flip-flop. He's "backing" the dumb project now, and after he becomes governor he will look for "a solid public funding source" to build it. Since there is no such source available, after he's elected he can just say he failed to find it and dump the project.

As it is, Newsom is taking the political risk of looking like a flip-flopper and a flab-gabber on this important issue.

The notion that private investors will step in to help build the project is fanciful. Without guarantees of a return on their investment, why would they? How would the state pay for that?

Most people have no idea how much this project will cost the state---even to pay for the original $9.95 billion in bonds authorized in Proposition 1A in 2008. The interest payments on those bonds alone will be $647 million a year! 

To complete even the first segment, the project is relying heavily on money from the cap and trade program, which is both an unreliable source and under legal challenge.

Availability of Future Cap–and–Trade Revenue to Complete IOS[initial operating segment] Could Potentially Require Certain Legislative Actions. As discussed above, about half of the funding identified in the [2016]draft business plan for the proposed IOS is from cap–and–trade auction revenues after 2020. While the administration indicates it plans to continue the cap–and–trade program beyond 2020, current law does not appear to authorize the program’s continuation beyond 2020. This means that without legislative action, the cap–and–trade funds HSRA plans to use to build the IOS would likely not be available. At a minimum, these funds are subject to considerable legal uncertainty.

The danger to California's financial future has been clear since the project's 2009 fantasy assumption about where the money to build the system would come from:

Federal Grants $17-19 billion
State Grants (Prop 1A) $9.95 billion
Local Grants $4-5 billion
Private Funding $10-12 billion
(The Financial Risks of California’s Proposed High-Speed Rail Project, page 18)

From page 37 of the same 2010 document:

This is a dangerous time for the CHSR project since its assumed financing sources have not materialized. The Federal grant funds and AB3034-initiated GO[general obligation] bonds, if buyers for those bonds can be found, bring the project’s available capital to about 11% of what it needs for Phase 1. But there are no known local government and no private sector monies in the project at present. New federal grants will be a fraction of the Obama Administration’s FY 2010 bold plans. The CHSRA could be desperate for funds to keep their project alive and the temptation to promise more than the law allows high. Without the money, and with diminishing confidence in the CHSRA’s plans, this becomes a dangerous time to risk the State of California’s financial future (emphasis added).

The analysis of the project in this document is still valid.

The danger is that the state will continue for years to dribble away billions to keep this project alive, even though there's no clear source of money to build it without selling ruinously expensive bonds or raising taxes radically.

More likely, the state will be forced to abandon the project before it's completed, having wasted billions in the process.

Even in the unlikely event the project is built, like every other high-speed rail system in the world, it will require government subsidies to operate, but that is clearly prohibited by the project's enabling legislation (see page 8 and 9). 

That's how the project was sold to the state's voters: it would be paid for by its users, not subsidized by the state's taxpayers.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Jane Kim, Scott Wiener, and Ross Mirkarimi

From a mailed hit piece on Jane Kim paid for by a group supporting Scott Wiener:

2012: Jane Kim votes to allow sheriff convicted of domestic violence, Ross Mirkarimi, to keep his job. Just one day later: Jane Kim says she supports recalling the same abusive sheriff from office, but fails to take action.

The charges against Mirkarimi were grossly inflated from the beginning, and the campaign to destroy him and his family quickly turned into a political lynch mob.

Kim's vote allowing Mirkarimi to remain sheriff was actually reasonable (at 7:15 in the video above)---that anyone elected by the voters should only be removed by the voters. After the vote she was quoted as supporting a recall election. I disagree with that, but the anti-Kim mailer is typical political dishonesty.

Millionaire Ron Conway is pouring $200,000 into the anti-Kim campaign because of her Mirkarimi vote. 

Recall that Conway's meddling in the 2011 campaign for sheriff resulted in electing Mirkarimi in the first place!

Ron Conway by Cody Pickens

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Hillary roasts The Donald

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Thursday, October 20, 2016



Bias against Hillary

Free online version of this book

Now that it's clear that Hillary
will be our next president, we should start dealing with the media bias against her. I hear it said over and over on TV---even on PBS---that Hillary still hasn't provided voters with a compelling reason to support her---or a "vision" of what she would do as president.

Good to see this commentary today after last night's debate:

Clinton articulated her position on SCOTUS nominees, defended the 2nd amendment and common sense gun safety, defended Roe v Wade, offered a clear plan for how to grow our economy, reiterated her commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, discussed the importance of retaking Mosul from ISIS and then move on to retake Raqqa in Syria, defended her support for a no-fly zone in Syria, articulated the importance of working to stop home-grown terrorism, reiterated that her investments in economic growth will be paid for by having the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, alluded to her plan to raise revenue for the Social Security Trust Fund and committed to no reduction in Social Security or Medicare benefits. Whether you agree or disagree with her, she gave us pertinent information about her proposals.

People can't complain that she hasn't given them a reason to vote for her if they can't even look at her website---she gave the audience the address in the first two debates---which lays out in some detail her dramatically liberal agenda.

Even the non-Breitbart right has some grudging praise for her debate performances:

National Review editor Rich Lowry just tweeted that Clinton “never made a major mistake” in the three debates. I think this is correct — she managed not to have any moments along the lines of “you didn’t build that” or “basket of deplorables.” She’s not noted as a particularly brilliant or moving communicator, but it seems like people on both sides agree that she’s been competent and clear. This is a change after the charisma of her husband, the soaring rhetoric of candidate Obama, and the folksy charm of George W. Bush. Whether that matters, I guess, remains to be seen.

Historically, this is like Harry Truman, who was widely derided in the media as an unworthy successor to FDR. Over time Truman's reputation grew, especially after his stunning 1948 election victory. Politically Hillary will be Harry Truman in drag

A prediction: Once she's been president for a while, her favorability ratings will go up significantly. Recall that only two years ago she was the most admired woman in the country.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Subway fantasies

San Francisco Subway Vision Heat Map

Actually, "fantasy" is not the best way to describe the subway exercise, though it is entirely fanciful. First, it's a political ploy by Scott Wiener in his campaign for the state senate: he's a man of vision! And it's a PR stunt by City Hall deployed by some of the MTA's many employees.

From the MTA's blog:

To ensure our city remains vibrant and livable, under the direction of Mayor Ed Lee, the SFMTA, the Planning Department and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority have been working hard to make sure our transportation system keeps pace. The Subway Vision is just one piece of a new effort to create a broad, long-range plan for all aspects of transportation called Connect SF, which is meant to lay the foundation for an effective, equitable and sustainable transportation network for the city’s future.

Though fantasizing about trains isn't as cool as the bike fantasy, Streetsblog likes this campaign because trains aren't cars, which is why it supports another fantasy: the high-speed rail project.

Curbed likes the campaign but injects vulgar reality into the discussion:

Of course, the awkward subject of precisely how we’d pay for all of this inevitably came to rain on the collective parade eventually. The final proposal will probably be much less ambitious than everything talked about now, but why not let the people dream?

Yes, there will apparently be a final subway "proposal" by the city later this year, which will presumably have some numbers about what it will cost: $1 billion a mile to dig a subway anywhere in the city.

The hed on SocketSite's story: Here’s Where San Franciscans Most Want New Subway Lines. In fact only 2,600 people participated in the subway PR stunt---in a city of 866,583 people.

Your tax dollars at work:

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Lincoln Atheists


On the ballot: Dumb rail projects

Image result for train crash pictures
Montparnasse derailment

From the Antiplanner:

If you think the presidential election is stupid, just get a look at all of the cities that are voting on stupid rail transit projects. Los Angeles wants $120 billion; Seattle $54 billion; San Diego, $7.5 billion; San Francisco, $3.5 billion; San Jose, $3 billion; Atlanta, $2.5 billion, Kansas City, $2 billion; Virginia Beach, $310 million; and Tigard, Oregon, which has the chance to kill a $2 billion project in Portland. 

That’s nearly $200 billion worth of stupidity that has rail contractors salivating.

Voters from these cities should look at the experiences other cities have had with rail. Portland opened a new light-rail project a year ago that was supposed to carry 17,000 people a day in its first year. Actual ridership is more like 11,000

Rail apologist Jarrett Walker says he isn’t surprised as rail lines “are designed to encourage denser and more sustainable development in addition to serving people who are there now,” so initial ridership is “almost always disappointing.” 

C’mon, Jarrett: planners took this into account when they made their projections (or if they didn’t they should have). By the way, the article also says the project came in “under budget,” but it doesn’t say that the budget was almost twice as much as the original projected cost, just one more way transit agencies lie about rail transit...

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Repugs invented myth of rigged elections

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Cratering in the polls, besieged by sexual assault allegations and drowning in his own disgusting rhetoric, Donald Trump has been reduced to hollering that November’s election is “rigged” against him. His proof? It looks like he’s going to lose.

Senior Republican leaders are scrambling to distance themselves from this dangerous claim. But Trump’s argument didn’t spring from nowhere. It’s just one more symptom of a long-running effort by Republicans to delegitimize Democratic voters, appointees and leaders. For years this disease has infected our politics. It cannot be cured until Republican leaders rethink their approach to modern politics.

Anyone with children knows that whining about imaginary cheating is the last refuge of the sore loser. But GOP leaders have served up such a steady diet of stories about imaginary cheating that an Economist-YouGov poll shows that 45 percent of Republican voters believe voter fraud is a “very serious problem,” and 46 percent have little or no confidence that ballots will be counted accurately. 

They hold these views even though there is literally no evidence — none, zero, zip — that widespread voter fraud is a factor in modern American elections. A recent study looked at around a billion ballots cast in the United States from 2000 through 2014 and found only 31 instances of impersonation fraud at the polls.

Republican leaders — and even Trump’s running mate — have tried to tiptoe out of the room when Trump makes ever-wilder claims of a rigged election. But as much as these Republicans would like everyone to believe that this is a Trump-only problem, it’s not.

For years, Republican leaders have pushed the lie that voter fraud is a huge issue. In such states as Kansas and North Carolina, and across the airwaves of right-wing talk radio and Fox News, Republican voters have been fed exaggerated and imagined stories about fraud. Interestingly, all that fraud seems to plague only urban neighborhoods, minority communities, college campuses and other places where large numbers of people might vote for Democrats. The purpose of this manufactured hysteria is obvious: to delegitimize Democratic voters and justify Republican efforts to suppress their votes.

The voting-fraud lie has been used to justify the passage of dozens of voter ID laws, typically rammed through state legislatures by Republican partisans. A study by political scientists at the University of California at San Diego recently concluded that strict photo-identification requirements disproportionately suppress turnout by Democratic voters — especially blacks and Latinos. 

Meanwhile, after a key provision in the Voting Rights Act protecting minority voters from discrimination was unceremoniously declared defective by a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court in 2013, those same Republican leaders who seem so concerned about threats to the integrity of our elections have largely remained on the sidelines.

Trump also didn’t invent ominous appeals for partisans to patrol “certain areas” and “go and watch these polling places” where citizens often vote for Democrats. More than three decades ago, the Republican National Committee was caught orchestrating expansive efforts to intimidate individuals at polling places in minority neighborhoods. Federal courts have barred the RNC from engaging in poll-watching activities relating to “ballot integrity, ballot security or other efforts to prevent or remedy vote fraud” in minority areas ever since.

It’s not just voters, either. Trump’s effort to delegitimize federal officials and political opponents also shares a long-standing Republican pedigree.

After Trump was sued for fraud over Trump University, he attacked the legitimacy of the federal judge with Mexican heritage presiding over the case, claiming that Trump’s own bigotry undermined the judge’s neutrality. Paul Ryan tsk-tsked, but Trump was simply joining a long line of Republicans in Congress who have spent years assaulting the federal courts. 

For years, the Republicans have blocked scores of nonpolitical lower-court nominees who haven’t pledged their allegiance to the financial interests of the rich and powerful. These attacks culminated in a national campaign of slime against the president’s highly respected choice to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat. It’s no surprise Trump would conclude that federal judges are fair game.

Similarly, some Republicans pretended to be shocked when Trump asserted that he would follow two-bit tyrants such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and imprison his political rival after the election. 

But for years, congressional Republicans have focused most of their resources on finding some way to brand Hillary Clinton a criminal. A party that wastes millions of taxpayer dollars on eight separate Benghazi investigations — and shouts itself hoarse attacking an FBI director who served as a senior political appointee in a Republican administration when he concludes that no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against Clinton over her emails — shouldn’t feign astonishment when its presidential nominee echoes their efforts to criminalize American politics.

Democrats and Republicans disagree about a lot of issues. We both fight hard to win elections. But winning isn’t everything. Al Gore understood that when he stood down after the 2000 election. Now Republican leaders seem increasingly concerned that when Trump loses, he won’t follow that example. But Trump’s words and deeds are merely the latest — and loudest — examples in a long line of Republican tactics that are poisoning our political system.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

C.W. Nevius: Rooting for the home team

C.W. Nevius swears that he's leaving.  Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
Paul Chinn, SF Chronicle

Too bad that C.W. Nevius is retiring. It's not that he was so good at what he was doing but that he was the only one doing it. He was wrong on almost everything, except for his early columns on homelessness (like this) that so annoyed city progressives.

I can't think of a single important City Hall program or initiative that Nevius wrote critically about. That his column began when he came over from the sports page may explain his approach. He always rooted for the home team, which in his mind was apparently City Hall.

He never seemed to read anything. Instead, he often relied on conversations with people who essentially agreed with him.

I.F. Stone's approach in I.F. Stone's Weekly:

Go into the bowels of government where the really good sources are. They are good public servants, very often breaking their hearts with frustration.They're the best kind of source...I made no claims to inside stuff. I tried to give information which could be documented, so the reader could check it for himself.

Documenting your sources is easier than ever online; people can check it for themselves when you provide links.

But one can sympathize with the problem columnists like Nevius have in making policy writing interesting. 

Policy reporting is just a tough nut to crack. It's inherently fairly boring. It requires both time and real expertise to dive into it properly. It produces lousy visuals. And it doesn't change, so after you've reported it once, there are very few hooks to justify reporting it again.

And there's not necessarily any payoff for policy reporting, particularly if your reporting goes against conventional wisdom. I was tagged as a bore and a fool when I insisted on writing about that UC study that revealed the city's flawed method of counting cycling accidents. There's even a laborious, witless Rob Anderson parody that mocked my writing on the subject as somehow comical and obsessive (Click on "UC Study" below).

Even though I linked the online abstract of the study and, since it was behind a paywall, transcribed it for my readers, the bike community in SF tried to turn the reality that the city failed to count more than 1,300 serious cycling accidents into a joke. 

But none of my critics ever wrote about the subject. And the SF Chronicle, the SF Examiner, SF Streetblog, and the now-defunct Bay Guardian have never even mentioned the study, though the NY Times found traffic safety in our city newsworthy.

Streetsblog and the Chronicle---including of course C.W. Nevius---also didn't do a story earlier this year on the last bicycle count report, since it showed an actual decline in the number of cyclists counted. 

Readers beware: only the news that supports the city's pro-bike, anti-car ideology will be reported.

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Donald Trump's campaign: A dumpster fire


The first reference I saw to the dumpster fire meme: Today in ‘Donald Trump’s Campaign Is a Garbage Fire’

Thanks to Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Water rationing: How low can SF go?

Image result for hetch hetchy pictures
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

From an op-ed in the Chronicle:

Do you think you could reduce your water use by 40 percent? What if we asked for even more than that? This is the type of rationing we can expect during a severe drought if a new proposal from the State Water Resources Control Board is implemented.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is the retail water provider for San Francisco and the water provider for 26 wholesale customers in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Today, 85 percent of the water we deliver to our customers comes from the Tuolumne River. The state water board’s newly released draft update to the Bay-Delta Plan to balance California water uses — drinking, irrigation and fisheries — has potentially serious effects for the 2.6 million people who rely on our water system. It recommends diverting less water to increase the flow on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers in the range of 30 to 50 percent of unimpaired flow from February to June...

Customers throughout the commission’s service area are already some of the most efficient water users in California (see below). Despite outperforming nearly every other place, this proposal means we would have to fundamentally rethink where we get our water in drought years and how we consume that water. We can’t conserve our way out of this. Water is our lifeblood. The consequences of these cutbacks potentially could cripple our Bay Area economy...

Comparing water use in S.F. and California

Average residential use (weighted to take into account population):

41 gallons per day, San Francisco water users

54 gallons per day, SFPUC service area water users (includes customers in Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara counties)

82 gallons per day, statewide average

Source: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, State Water Resources Control Board

Wasting water in the Central Valley

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