Saturday, November 17, 2012

Putting District 5 in perspective

 
From the December issue of Harper's Magazine, Our Place in the Universe, by Alan Lightman:
 
The prize for exploring the greatest distance in space goes to a man named Garth Illingworth, who works in a ten-by-fifteen-foot office at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Illingworth studies galaxies so distant that their light has traveled through space for more than 13 billion years to get here...The most distant galaxy Illingworth has seen so far goes by the name UDFj-39546284 and was documented in early 2011. This galaxy is about 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles away from Earth, give or take.

I like the "give or take."

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"More females in office" and District 5


Steve Jones in a recent Bay Guardian piece:

My old friend and ex-girlfriend Alix Rosenthal and other political women I know have long tried to impress upon me the value of having more females in office, regardless of their ideology, as long as they aren't actual conservatives. I have always bristled at that idea, believing ideology and political values to be more important than identity politics, which has been used as a wedge to divide the progressive movement.

Alas, Jones doesn't follow up with any analysis of this statement of the problem.

"As long as they aren't actual conservatives"? This is the flaw in the "more females in office" idea---as in all identity politics claims, whether for women, blacks, gays, etc. Women per se have no special political essence to bring to the party. Like everyone else, women are individuals who have different backgrounds, interests, and ideas.

Take the recent District 5 campaign---please. There were four women in the race, and two of them---Supervisor Olague and London Breed---got the most votes. Did those two bring anything special as women to their campaigns? No. Of course Olague and Breed raised more money than the other candidates. Olague, as the incumbent, had plenty of name recognition and money; Breed's name recognition was high because of the money she raised, including money from those who were determined to defeat Olague because of her vote on Mirkarimi [Later: Ron Conway gave $100,000 to the Breed campaign to defeat Olague]. Neither Olague nor Breed waged a campaign of ideas or issues, since their political perspectives are pretty much the same, regardless of the claims by city "progressives" that Breed is---the horror!---a "moderate." 

Was the participation of women in this campaign some kind of victory for the Sisterhood? Maybe you can argue that the very mediocrity of the women in the campaign---topped only by that of the men---is a kind of progress: women can now be just as mediocre as men! A level playing field at last!

The Chronicle's Lois Kazakoff ("More women emerge to change politics") must be pleased.

Steve Jones, like the folks at Fog City and Beyond Chron, writes about something he refers to as the "progressive movement." We're still waiting for them to define exactly what that means. City voters have often rejected "progressive" values, like public power, legalizing prostitution, sit-lie, and dumping JROTC from city schools. Progressives botched the homeless issue so badly back in 2002 and 2003 that it allowed the "moderate" Gavin Newsom to be elected mayor twice. Some progressives think graffiti/tagging vandalism is an art form. Progressives support City Hall's pro-development, gentrification policies---but they call it "smart growth"---with an occasional feeble gesture in the direction of "affordable" housing in San Francisco. Most progressives support the Central Subway boondoggle, and, 12 years after the advent of district elections, they've still failed to provide our Muni system with enough money. And of course there's the great, planet-saving bicycle movement, which will make traffic worse for everyone who uses city streets on behalf of cyclists---3.5% of those who use city streets---the most obnoxious, unpopular special interest group in the city. 

It's a question I've asked before: What exactly is the "progressive movement" and why should anyone but members of that cult care?

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