Thursday, February 22, 2018

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Impeach Clarence Thomas

Do You Believe Her Now? 

With new evidence that Clarence Thomas lied to get onto the Supreme Court, it’s time to talk seriously about impeachment.

By Jill Abramson

On the same fall night in 2016 that the infamous Access Hollywood tape featuring Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault was made public by the Washington Post and dominated the news, an Alaska attorney, Moira Smith, wrote on Facebook about her own experiences as a victim of sexual misconduct in 1999.

“At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas,” she began her post, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was famously accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, a woman who had worked for him at two federal agencies, including the EEOC, the federal sexual-harassment watchdog.

“I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding,” Smith continued. “He was charming in many ways — giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable. But to my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should ‘sit right next to him.’ When I feebly explained I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again...‘Are you sure?’ I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.” Smith had been silent for 17 years but, infuriated by the “Grab ’em by the pussy” utterings of a presidential candidate, could keep quiet no more.

Tipped to the post by a Maryland legal source who knew Smith, Marcia Coyle, a highly regarded and scrupulously nonideological Supreme Court reporter for The National Law Journal, wrote a detailed story about Smith’s allegation of butt-squeezing, which included corroboration from Smith’s roommates at the time of the dinner and from her former husband. Coyle’s story, which Thomas denied, was published October 27, 2016. If you missed it, that’s because this news was immediately buried by a much bigger story — the James Comey letter reopening the Hillary Clinton email probe.

Smith, who has since resumed her life as a lawyer and isn’t doing any further interviews about Thomas, was on the early edge of #MeToo. Too early, perhaps: In the crescendo of recent sexual-harassment revelations, Thomas’s name has been surprisingly muted...

Rob's comment:
He's not only a liar---and still a sexual harasser!---Thomas also enables the country's gun nuts. See What Clarence Thomas Gets Wrong About the Second Amendment.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Scott Wiener: "The understanding of a child"

Richard Hall noticed recently that Scott Wiener had "the understanding of a child applying over-simplified logic when it comes to planning." 

Wiener has had a childlike approach to other issues, like CEQA (Gee, why should a project I support be delayed?) and high-speed rail (Gee, wouldn't it be great to have a high-speed train in California?), and subways in San Francisco (Gee, wouldn't it be great to have a subway under Geary Blvd?). 

Not always easy to tell whether Wiener is lying or simply doesn't know what he's talking about, but I call him a liar when he routinely makes no effort to inform himself on issues.

And there's also his outright demagoguery...

Later: I should also mention Wiener's attempt to make it harder for city residents to put measures on the ballot.

Bob Silvestri in The Marin Post:

...Scott Wiener was recently quoted in Wired Magazine saying,

“It makes me nuts when I see wealthy Nimby homeowners in Marin and elsewhere suddenly becoming defenders of low-income people of color. These are communities that fought tooth and nail to keep low-income people out.”

Race-baiting allegations such as this, constantly repeated by Wiener and his supporters, imply that public opinion against high density development is racially motivated, rather than being based on what the record shows are the real objections: traffic congestion, environmental damage, lack of water supply, impacts on infrastructure and public services, etc. 

If his allegations were true, why are communities of color in major metropolitan centers against SB 827 and other such pro-gentrification legislation? (Click here to read a letter in opposition by 37 major progressive, grassroots community groups in Los Angeles).

The biggest irony here, of course, is that SB 827 doesn’t even require that low income housing be built for all those low income people that Wiener claims to care so much about. In fact, his legislation reduces (SB 35) or removes (SB 827) local inclusionary zoning as a requirement. Wiener just likes to use low-income families as a useful talking point...

Many people, myself included, have enumerated the fallacies embodied in this developer’s wet dream legislation that Wiener is proposing. But, since being a taxpaying resident who owns a single family home immediately makes one’s comments somehow tainted and dismissible, the current battle of rhetoric quickly devolves into a pointless and tasteless standoff.

In these truly dim times, however, there are voices speaking up that are above reproach.

As a child of the 60s, I never would have imagined that I would be rooting for the FBI to save us from Washington DC politics. More ironically, I never would have imagined myself being grateful to planning staff in San Francisco, for being a voice of reason.

Their recent comments on SB 827 are a case in point. Those comments, submitted to the SF Planning Commission, show what a clueless planning neophyte Wiener really is, even when it comes to his own city. It helps unveil Wiener’s complete ignorance about what a General Plan is, how and why cities conduct planning and anticipate outcomes, or the variety of planning regulatory challenges and nuances that exist in the most populous state in the Union with the 5th largest economy in the world.

The February 5, 2018 comments by the San Francisco Planning Department are not a public policy response. Clearly, the staff is being respectful of the fact that turning their comments into public policy positions is the purview of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. So, they tread carefully in their language. However, there is no doubt that they believe SB 827 is divorced from the City’s planning realities and would do far more harm than good.

In their initial summary they note:

The bill would have its greatest impact on the State’s core metropolitan regions with more extensive transit service. In San Francisco, this would be virtually the entire city. In the rest of the Bay Area, large swaths of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Jose would be affected, as would all areas right around Caltrain, BART, and SMART stations, various singular corridors along both sides of the Bay… and areas around ferry terminals.

They go on to point out that the bill would also prohibit the enforcement of

Any design standard that restricts the applicant’s ability to construct the maximum number of units consistent with any applicable building code.

It’s important to consider that cities such as San Francisco are supposed to be Wiener’s base: the places you would think would be most supportive of his vision, because they generally share the overriding goals of providing more housing near public transportation in their General Plan and Housing Element, and because they share his belief that aggressive housing development will bring down housing costs. So why aren’t they supportive of SB 827?

Although the General Plan, as the embodiment of the City’s guiding policy document for the evolution of San Francisco, shares these key objectives with SB 827, the General Plan also explicitly emphasizes the importance of planning for land use change in consultation with communities and in consideration of a variety of relevant factors in the context of each area—urban form, open space, historic preservation, and other factors.

And that it’s important to consider

the practicalities of implementing the bill and other key inconsistencies with General Plan policies, particularly the importance of maintaining key urban design standards related to livability, walkability, and context.

It is telling that these observations are essentially identical to the objections voiced by every city council and planning agency in suburban counties, such as Marin.

The SF Planners go on to point out that SB 827 does not address the demolition or removal of existing affordable housing units, potentially opening the door to runaway gentrification, and that the bill would significantly up-zone most of the city (by their calculation 96% of San Francisco would be affected). This would have the impact of over-riding their typical 45 foot height limit and increasing it to 85 feet on almost all major streets in San Francisco...

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tilly Chang's quest for Congestion Pricing

SFCTA

There's something Terminator-like
in Tilly Chang's career-long pursuit of Congestion Pricing in San Francisco. Since the earlier plan to do it on city streets (see map below) was rejected, she now hopes to impose it on local freeways.

From a recent SF Examiner story:

...The notion of charging drivers to use an express lane met heat from supervisors, who earlier this month voted against funding $4 million to study express lanes in the next phase of the study. The supervisors voted 5-4 in favor of funding the study, but with the absence of two supervisors were unable to garner the necessary six-vote majority.

Tilly Chang, executive director of the transportation authority, told the San Francisco Examiner she may seek that funding a third time from the board in February. “We were presenting...what we believe are the more promising options,” Chang said...Chang told the Examiner if the project was enacted, some portions of the highways would see some existing lanes repurposed to be express lanes, as well as new lanes created on the shoulder of the freeway...Studies for the project began in late 2015, according to Chang.

But Captain Ahab also thought it was a "promising option" to pursue Moby Dick. I wouldn't bet against Chang eventually getting the money for the study and eventually filing it on the SFCTA's Mobility, Access and Pricing page.

I still think her best bet will come after the Treasure Island project puts 19,000 residents on the island, which will screw up traffic so badly downtown that the city will dust off her favorite studies.

Which city department will get the "revenue"?

Supervisor Jane Kim asked [Senior Transportation Planner Andrew] Heidel what agency or authority would administer the revenue from the express lanes. “We’re not sure yet,” Heidel answered. “That’s one item still under study.” Fees also have not yet been established. Heidel rebuffed any idea that express lanes were about making a profit for agencies. “We let demand manage the prices”...

I bet the "demand" would be significant, since I-280 carries tens of thousands of vehicles every day. 

Chang's agency is pretty small. Maybe she could get some of that money to compete with her bloated partner in traffic crime, the SFMTA, which now has 6,345 employees.

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Silicon Valley and the city of the future

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Joel Kotkin in New Geography:

...Silicon Valley remains stubbornly suburban in form, but the oligarchs now believe that “urbanization is a moral imperative,” notes author Greg Ferenstein, who has interviewed them extensively...

Even as the suburban garage remains the Valley’s preferred symbol, suggesting that anyone with a vision can build the next Facebook, in fact today’s giants prefer to buy up emerging innovators and to build dense urban complexes inhabited by workers who will become ever more corporate, consolidated, and controlled.

Even as the oligarchs’ apologists insist dense cities are “home to more innovation and income equality,” research shows quite the opposite, with San Francisco, for example, recently ranked by the Brookings Institution as America’s second most unequal city. Perhaps Facebook should look at what happens to its contract workers sleeping in their cars and working numerous jobs to afford to stay near the mother ship...

In this world, there is little room for home ownership. The oligarchs have endorsed Bay Area regulations that limit single family-home development and have helped create some of the world’s highest housing prices and rents. According to Zillow, rent costs now claim upward of 45 percent of income for young workers in San Francisco, compared to closer to 30 percent of income in metropolitan areas like Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. The average new mortgage for a home in San Francisco takes, on average, close to 40 percent of income compared to 15 percent nationally.

Under this regime, the new generation of Bay Area residents seems destined to live as renters without enjoying equity in property. The 2040 regional plan for the Bay Area calls for 75 percent of new housing development to take place on barely 5 percent of the land mass, all but guaranteeing high prices for those who can (barely) afford to live crammed into small apartments.

One well-used rationale for densification lies with the assumption that building more units on these pricey pieces of land will help solve California’s severe housing affordability crisis. Yet in reality, construction costs for higher density housing are much higher—up to 7.5 times the cost per square foot of building detached housing. Nor will densification do much to address climate issues: Savings cited in a recent Berkeley study suggest that enforced densification would contribute less than 1 percent of the new emissions reductions the state has mandated by 2030.

Yet the CEOs of Lyft, Salesforce.com, Square, Twitter, and Yelp, as well senior executives at Google, all support densification, and have rallied behind a new bill by California state Sen. Scott Wiener to strip local communities of most of their zoning powers to allow significant densification virtually everywhere there is basic transit or rail bus service...

Mark Zuckerberg, even as he fought to expand his own sprawling suburban homestead, envisions his employees living in crowded dormitories close to work, including a planned 1,500-unit apartment development near Facebook’s Menlo Park campus. Zuckerberg, like most oligarchs, prefers workers unengaged with the mundanities of family life.

“Young people just have simpler lives,” he explained to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We may not own a car. We may not have a family. Simplicity in life is what allows you to focus on what’s important.”

The man preaching this diminished view of urban life, of course, has a car, a family and all the benefits that come with a vast fortune. He is not part of the “we” he’s purporting to speak for.

The city that he is envisioning, that “we” are supposed to enjoy, will be organized not by civic loyalty but pools of constantly tracked personal information collected and sold by his company...

The more cities genuflect to firms like Amazon, Facebook, and Google, the more our communities will be shaped not by our own preferences but by the controlling vision of oligarchs who know more than it’s pleasant to imagine about each of our habits, inclinations, and desires.

To maintain the freedom of the city requires that citizens, not the oligarchy, drive its development. Anything else undermines the very idea of democracy. When a city manager suggests that changes are dictated by data collected by the smart city operators, rather than popular sentiment, democracy itself has been unplugged.

This is the time to reclaim cities suited to human aspiration. We need to do this before control is ceded to a small tech elite that profits by shaping our future, stealing our privacy and nudging us toward a new era of mass serfdom.

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Mitt Romney in 2016: Trump 'A con man, a fake'




President Trump on Monday night threw his full support behind Mitt Romney’s bid to be the next U.S. senator from Utah, writing on Twitter that he would be a “worthy successor” to retiring Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

The endorsement is significant because Trump had previously encouraged Hatch to seek another term, and Romney had been among the most vocal Republican critics of Trump’s presidential aspirations, once calling him “a phony” and “a fraud.”


Rob's comment:
Trump is only endorsing Romney because he knows he will win and he might as well get on the winning bandwagon now.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Mike Luckovich

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Scott Wiener: Public menace

2670 geary west from geary
Geary and Masonic project


California left-wingers who want to densify cities to make them affordable are getting some push-back from other left-wingers who think density will push low-income people out of neighborhoods. A proposed bill to eliminate zoning in transit-rich areas in order to allow developers to build high-density housing would, say opponents, displace low-income families from neighborhoods with high rental rates in favor of high-income whites who can afford to pay for high-rise housing.

The opponents aren’t wrong. On one hand, increasing housing supply would seem to make housing more affordable. But affordable for whom? With housing prices in some California cities averaging more than $1,000 per square foot, building high-density housing that costs $400 to $500 a square foot would allow people who can afford that to find a place to live. But hardly anyone can afford that.

The problem is that high-density housing–--that is, mid-rise and high-rise housing–--costs 50 to 68 percent more per square foot to build than low-density housing. If California really wants to build housing that is affordable to low-income people, it needs to build more low-density housing. To build that, it needs to open up land that has been off-limits to development because it is outside of urban-growth boundaries...(Will Density Make Housing Affordable?)

Rob's comment:
Maybe a lot of people seem left-wing to the libertarian O'Toole, but the label doesn't fit Scott Wiener, the author of state legislation to force cities and counties in California to build more housing. 

I've been following Wiener's career since he was a supervisor from a conservative district here in Progressive Land (See Good news: Scott Wiener is leaving town). I've blogged more than 80 times about Wiener as a public menace, beginning with his attempt to undermine initiative rights in San Francisco in 2011.

San Francisco's "urban growth boundary" is fixed by geography---by the ocean and the bay. Hence, the rationale for building residential highrises in the city. Way back in 2004 Michael Bernick tried to warn us about the danger of clumsily applying his misunderstood "transit corridors" idea to fragile city neighborhoods.

One issue seldom mentioned: the city relies on income provided by development. From a 2005 story on the Rincon Hill projects:

An analysis presented by the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development showed Rincon Hill development will generate $11.5 million a year in net revenue for The City's general fund and $117 million in one-time revenues. A city analysis found developers could pay a maximum of $20 in impact fees. "There is a fiscal gold mine if we can get this plan adopted today," said Michael Cohen, director of the Mayor's Development Office.

Richard Hall writes about Wiener's ultimate legislation:

While Senate Bill 827 is getting all the attention it deserves, sitting in its' shadow is another equally onerous Senate Bill proposed by Scott Wiener and likely authored again his partner in crime Brian Hanlon---See Senate Bill 828 with the innocuous title "Land Use: Housing Element."

SB 828 is about "housing quotas." Housing advocates such as the YIMBYs are hoping that with all attention on 827, Senate Bill 828 will slip under the radar. Like Senate Bill 827, Senate Bill 828 demonstrates all the understanding of a child applying over-simplified logic when it comes to planning...(Wiener's Even More Onerous Senate Bill 828)

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The hazard of working for Apple




A comment to the story: "Likely texting while walking into the glass."

Apple Park by Jonathan Ive

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Transbay Terminal: "A glorified bus terminal"


From the NY Times:

We will probably always call it Silicon Valley. But the steady move of technology companies into downtown San Francisco is shifting the center of gravity of what is arguably America’s most innovative industry from the rambling, suburban streets of the Valley to the tightly concentrated and increasingly vertical neighborhood behind San Francisco’s Embarcadero.

Facebook’s decision last year to lease more than 400,000 square feet in a skyscraper across from the newly opened Salesforce Tower will put offices of the biggest names in tech — Google and LinkedIn among them — within walking distance of each other.

In the middle of all this is the Transbay Transit Center, which opens in June and is advertised as the Grand Central of the West.

“The building is starting to come to life,” said Dennis Turchon, senior construction manager for the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the public organization charged with building the structure.

To critics it is a glorified bus terminal, and an expensive one at that — the cost hovers around $6 billion, according to the authority.

Yet the transit center has ambitions to be much more. A 5.4-acre park on the roof has a half-mile walking loop, an outdoor theater and gardens populated by dozens of mature trees. It’s an elevated park that has been compared to the High Line in New York. The tech offices that surround the center connect directly with the park, as does a gondola that will whisk visitors to the park for the sidewalk below.

During a week in which the Trump administration has sought to put infrastructure on the agenda, the transit center, which was built with close to $600 million in federal money from the stimulus package during the Great Recession, is a rubber-meets-the-road test for America’s infrastructure plans. 

The center was built on top of a giant underground concrete box designed to be the San Francisco terminus for both CalTrain, the railway that runs through Silicon Valley to San Jose, and high-speed rail, which is meant to connect San Francisco with Los Angeles.

Building the 1.3-mile tunnel that will bring the tracks into the station will take years and hundreds of millions of dollars. San Franciscans are waiting to see whether there is both the political will and the financing to get the job done.


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Mormon women get bad advice from their leaders

Sarahbeth Caplin on Patheos:

Rob Porter, White House staff secretary, is a Mormon. He’s also been accused of domestic violence against his two ex-wives. The combination of those things triggered a panic attack for Jodi, a young Mormon woman who was encouraged to stay in her abusive marriage or suffer eternal consequences.

A recent Buzzfeed story chronicles how Jodi, and other Mormon women like her, have started speaking out about the abuse they suffered, and the threats from their pastors that kept them from leaving:

In the days since the Porter story broke, articles mentioning the alleged abuse have been shared widely among some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in private online groups, via email and text message, and publicly on Facebook. In some instances, the posts have elicited a long string of responses from Mormon women alleging similar things have happened to them.

BuzzFeed News spoke with more than 20 current and former female members of the LDS church from seven states for this story, all of whom said that they had experienced domestic abuse and then gone to their clergy for help. 

In most cases, those leaders were bishops, roughly the LDS equivalent of pastors who serve on a volunteer basis. Bishops are drawn from the church’s lay priesthood, are all men, and serve for several years while maintaining jobs, families, and any other personal commitments.

In response to their requests for guidance, the women said, they were told by their bishops to stay in abusive relationships, that their eternal salvation could be jeopardized by leaving violent partners, and that they were to blame for their marital problems. 

Though some reported positive experiences with church leaders, every woman who spoke with BuzzFeed News for this story said there are widespread inadequacies in the way local Mormon leaders handle reports of abuse and domestic violence.

Sadly, this is not a uniquely Mormon issue. Minimizing the effects of abuse happens all over Christianity, which is odd, considering that men are the ones who are trusted to lead their families spiritually. Yet somehow, the women are held responsible for keeping their tempers in check. Talk about double standards.

Gaslighting is a common tool of abusers to keep their victims in line. It’s even more powerful when victims are told that God will punish them for doing what’s necessary to save their lives.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

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Donald Trump Jr. has five children.

Contrary to Todd's claim, there is doubt about what the Second Amendment actually says, but our right-wing Supreme Court has burdened the country with a false interpretation.

Timothy Egan in today's NY Times (The Bad Parent Caucus):

“You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you,” said Trump, in addressing the children of America. That is a flat-out lie, which is chewing gum to Trump. 

If the adults were really willing to take any measure to protect them, Trump wouldn’t have signed a bill last year making it easier for mentally ill people to get guns.

If the “people who care about you” really wanted to ensure your safety, they wouldn’t have led a filibuster in the Senate, as Mitch McConnell did in 2013, to prevent an expansion of simple background checks for purchasers of firearms.

If those “who love you” wanted to show that love, they would say something more than the platitudinous mush that came out of the mouth of the do-nothing House speaker, Paul Ryan, whose response to the latest mass killing was, “I think we need to pray.”

See also To Keep and Bear Arms by Garry Wills.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

The New Yorker


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Golden State Warriors: Crybabies

Scott Ostler nails it in this morning's Chronicle:

Crybabies. You would think that the defending league champions, hitting midseason with the league’s second-best record (a half-game behind Houston), would not be the poster team for bitching at refs. You would be so, so wrong.

The Warriors are struggling, relatively speaking, leaking a little oil, including even a ghastly recent two-game losing streak. Still, why all the whining? The Warriors lead the league in technical fouls with 41. Green is the league’s most-T’d player, 14. Durant is tied for second with 11, and leads in ejections with four.

Green, in some ways the ultimate team player, can’t manage to put his team ahead of his need to whine about the same horrible calls experienced by every player in the league.

Curry got tossed for flinging his pacifier (actually his mouth-guard) in the direction of a ref. The poet-like Shaun Livingston literally bumped heads with a ref.

The perpetual disconnect between NBA refs and players has risen to a crisis level this season, in no small part because the best team can’t shut its yap and play ball.

Rob's comment:
As a Warriors fan, I find it embarrassing. Draymond Green is the worst offender. He seems to have some mental health/anger issues that he and the team should address.

Speaking of embarrassment and the Warriors: Those mystifying Town jerseys are supposedly a tribute to Oakland, a "town" they are planning to dump as soon as their new traffic-snarling stadium is finished here in SF. What crap! And an insult to Oakland, as the billionaire owners of the Warriors evidently think that the brand requires a classier address than Oakland/Nowheresville:

Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who has been with the franchise since 2009, said he quickly learned about “The Town” and the history behind it. The former Oakland resident is excited to wear “The Town” jerseys at Oracle Arena. “It’s amazing for the organization to recognize ‘The Town’ and the city that supported them through the dog days and some tough times and bright spots, obviously,” Curry said. “Knowing we are soon moving to San Francisco, it’s a silent effort to show the loyalty to the city and the history as well. There have been a lot of great days here. Hopefully, the fans from the East Bay and Oakland can rally around that.”

Some "loyalty"! And some "amazing" bullshit from a great basketball player who should just shut up and play ball.

See also The Warriors' Empty Gesture.

And kissing the boss's ass was a terrible look for Curry and set a bad example for the kids who idolize him:


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Thursday, February 15, 2018

One of these is not like the others

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San Francisco Citizen

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The Repugs love guns

From Daily Kos:
Gee, what a surprise: They're all Republicans.


NRA-Congress.jpg

Sen. John McCain (R-AR) $7,740,521

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) $6,986,620 

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) $4,551,146

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) $4,418,012

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) $3,879,064

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FLA) $3,303,355

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) $3,124,273

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) $3,061,941

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) $2,896,732

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) $2,861,047

Rep. French Hill (R-AR) $1,089,477

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) $800,544

Rep. David Young (R-IA) $707,662

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) $385,731

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) $344,630

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) $245,720

Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) $221,736

Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) $201,398

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) $158,111

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) $137,232

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018


PARKLAND, FL—In the hours following a violent rampage in Florida in which a lone attacker killed 17 individuals and seriously injured over a dozen others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Wednesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. 

“This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Indiana resident Harold Turner, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. 

“It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” 

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

See also This is who we are and "A well-regulated militia" defined, which discusses the the conservative Big Lie about the Second Amendment. 

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Jim Morin

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The YIMBY Alliance: Scott Wiener, unions, developers, and the Democratic Party



YIMBYs are not a grassroots movement in the traditional sense. They're more like a Silicon Valley version of grassroots: meaning it’s not that YIMBYs by and large lack opportunities to achieve their goals, it’s just that they don’t have enough money to get what they want, right now.

Senator Scott Wiener, like Senator Daryl Steinberg before him (who brought us SB-375 and Plan Bay Area), is strongly supported by construction unions, who stand to benefit from more development and particularly from the stipulation that new development require workers to be paid federally mandated, prevailing wages. All of Wiener’s proposed legislation includes provisions that new development pays union wages, which means smaller, local contractors will be shut out of the construction jobs created in each community.

11 out of Wiener’s top 14 donors are real estate and construction related groups. These include (in order of amounts donated), The State Building & Construction Trades Council, California Association of Realtors, Northern California Regional Council of Carpenters, Operating Engineers Local 3, and others.

Wiener and SB-827 are also strongly supported by a cabal of planning professionals and academics grounded in the dictates of “New Urbanism,” and by the Bay Area Council and major tech companies in need of housing for their employees (over 120 tech executives have endorsed SB-827).

None of this is surprising or nefarious, but it’s worth being aware of.

YIMBY organizations are also well-funded and by and large those identifying themselves as YIMBYs are educated, entitled young urban professionals (“Yuppies”). They are not poor, victims of racism or redlining by lenders, disenfranchised or otherwise precluded from job opportunities or the ability to live anywhere they can afford.

Brian Hanlon, the executive director of California YIMBY, who claims to have drafted SB-827 with Wiener, has been quite vocal about his financial backing from top Silicon Valley tech executives. In mid-2017, Hanlon received $500,000 from tech bigwigs like Microsoft executive Nat Friedman and Pantheon CEO Zack Rosen. His stated goal is now to get the backing of big development interests...

Rob's comment:
Though I'm a Democrat, I have to point out that Wiener also supports the dumb high-speed rail project, which of course is also supported by the construction unions that support Wiener. After all, even stupid, wasteful projects create jobs for the unions, which is all they really care about. It's a formidable alliance with a liberal patina: unions, the Democratic Party, and developers.

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Monday, February 12, 2018




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Milos Teodosic


Forget about football and soccer. The concussion issue makes those sports indefensible. Besides, for sheer athleticism, basketball is superior to both.

Watch Milos Teodosic make the game look almost as easy as Stephen Curry does in the world's best basketball league. 

In today's NY Times:

It’s a true shame that N.B.A. assistant coaches overlooked Teodosic in the voting for the annual Rising Stars game featuring first- and second-year players that gets All-Star Weekend underway in earnest next Friday night. The All-Star festivities are in Los Angeles this season and Teodosic belongs in that game not only as a showman supreme who sports the bonus of local ties but because of his impact for the better-than-expected Clippers, who are 17-8 when he’s in uniform and 11-18 when he’s out. Heading into Monday night’s game in Brooklyn, L.A. is also a meaty plus-5.8 points per 100 possessions better this season when he is on the floor compared to when he sits.

See also Hits to the Head May Cause Immediate Brain Damage and Soccer Ball Heading May Cause Concussion Symptoms.

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Public opinion poll: Bike lanes not popular in SF


Click for large view

Not surprising to me that "removing traffic lanes in various locations around the city to install bike only lanes" didn't do very well in the latest Chamber of Commerce poll: 47% support and 46% oppose

That's why the Bicycle Coalition and its enablers in City Hall have never tried to put the Bicycle Plan---or any of its component projects, like the Masonic Avenue bike project or the Polk Street bike project---on the ballot for the city's voters to decide. Way too risky, since rejection would imperil the whole goofy anti-car policy that removes traffic lanes and parking on busy city streets to make bike lanes and a government that preys on everyone who drives in the city.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

President Trump: Hypocrite



From the Friendly Atheist:

...Donald Trump spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, the same event at which he once promised a repeal of the Johnson Amendment (which never happened) and trashed Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He didn’t make any promises this time, and he stuck to the prepared remarks, but that didn’t mean his speech was without glaring problems.

Just take a look at the transcript and you’ll see why this speech wasn’t just some generic support for people of faith. It was specific support for Christians at the expense of everybody else. And it perpetuated the myth of the “Christian nation” at every turn:

America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer. This morning, our hearts are full of gratitude as we come together for the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast.

That’s a lie. We are a nation of believers and non-believers, and the latter group is growing at an incredibly fast rate. Americans United for Separation of Church and State noted that even President Obama made sure to be inclusive of people who didn’t believe in the majority religion.

...It’s not hard for politicians to be personally religious yet still acknowledge that some Americans aren’t interested in being people of faith. President Barack Obama is a Christian yet when he spoke about faith, he often included non-believers when discussing the incredible range of religious and philosophical thought in the country.

Trump also suggested our nation was Christian at its core because of the ways God is referenced in our history:

Each year, this event reminds us that faith is central to American life and to liberty. Our founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence. Our currency declares, “In God We Trust.” (Applause.) And we place our hands on our hearts as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and proclaim we are “One Nation Under God.” (Applause.)

Notice that he refers to the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution, which has no reference to a Creator. (As the saying goes, the word “religion” appears twice in the Constitution, both times preceded by the word “no.”)

“In God We Trust” is on our currency for the same reason “One Nation Under God” is in the Pledge. They were shoved in there in the 1950s as a conservative response to the scourge of Communism, not because there’s some inherent truth to those statements. They were political moves. And Trump used them as evidence of some mythical historical Christianity our nation is founded upon...

See also Amazing Disgrace.

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