Marin County Sheriff: I love everything about the 2nd Amendment, except the part where it lets people carry guns

Heading into Marin CountyIt turns out that even in Progressive Marin County, law-abiding residents want to carry guns on their persons.  In the weeks since the 9th Circuit (!) held that county’s cannot condition concealed-carry permits on the sheriff’s determination that the applicant has made a credibly showing that he or she is in fear for his (or her) life, the upswing in concealed-carry applications has even reached true blue Marin (emphasis mine):

As Californians in some locations have flooded sheriff’s offices with applications and inquiries for permits to carry concealed guns, in Marin, sheriff’s officials say they have been fielding more calls than usual.

Demand is being driven by a federal appeals court ruling last month that made it easier for some residents to obtain the hard-to-get permits. About 56,000 Californians have a concealed-weapons permit in a state of 38 million residents. [Prior to the ruling] In Marin County, the sheriff’s office has issued only 21 concealed weapons permits.”

Those in Marin afraid of guns, though, need not worry that their perfectly nice neighbor, the one who brings casseroles when they’re sick and helps prop up fences in winter storms, will be packing legal heat any time soon.  Although the 9th Circuit may have spoken, that’s not good enough for Marin’s Sheriff:

Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle said he doesn’t plan to loosen how permits are issued until the issue has been conclusively decided by the courts. He said he’s not sure how may people have applied for permits since the ruling as most of the inquiries in Marin have been phone calls.

“We’ve had more requests than usual since the ruling. We’ve told people they can apply, but we’re going to apply the same standard of demonstrating ‘good cause’ until it’s finally been decided by the court,” Doyle said. “The decision has basically been put on stay for three weeks to give the parties time to respond.”

Color me cynical, but I’m willing to bet that, if Sheriff Doyle had been in charge, Marin would have been issuing same-sex marriage licenses within minutes of the 9th Circuit’s decision striking down California’s Prop. 8, the much-maligned law holding that marriage is between one man and one woman.  A foolish consistency, though, is never the hobgoblin of Leftist minds.

What’s so incredibly funny in all this is Sheriff Doyle’s position on gun rights:

Doyle said he’s a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but believes concealed-weapons permits should be reserved for those who have some sort of verifiable threat in their lives.

“I don’t agree with the adage that the more guns we have, the safer we are,” Doyle said. “We do have business owners that have been robbed and some people that carry large sums of money in the course of their employment carrying concealed guns.”

Properly translated, what Doyle is saying is that “I strongly support the Second Amendment, except for the part where it says that the right to carry arms is inherent in the people, and not dependent on the whim of the government.  But otherwise, if I decide someone deserves to have a gun, I might actually give that person permission.  Maybe.”

I shouldn’t poke too much fun at the sheriff.  He is, after all, a perfect reflection of the county he serves.  Everyone here claims fealty to the Bill of Rights, provided that it’s eviscerated to conform with Leftist norms.

Even if Doyle is, as I suspect, a very nice man, I’d rather have Milwaukee’s Sheriff Clarke in charge of our concealed-carry licensing program:

Police chief get a gun

Marin County residents feeling Obamacare pain

obama-doctor-needleMarin County is enthusiastically Progressive.  In 2008, Barack Obama got 78% of Marin County’s votes.  in 2012, his popularity slipped only slightly, to 74%.  (Funnily enough, up until 1984, Marin was predominantly Republican.  By 1984, the county was split equally, and as of 1988, it’s been reliably Left ever since.)

Part of being enthusiastically Progressive, of course, meant that Marin County went all-in for Obamacare and its state version, Covered California.  Since 2009, with the exception of my small cadre of conservative friends in Marin, everyone else I know has supported it all the way.  And if the bumper stickers I see around are anything to go by, those I don’t know supported it just as enthusiastically.

For those reasons, perhaps you’ll pardon the unseemly schadenfreude I felt when I read this article in the Marin Independent Journal:

Marin residents who have recently signed up for Anthem Blue Cross health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act may have to travel outside the county for medical specialty care.

Kelley Eling of San Rafael said she recently swapped her Blue Shield coverage, which cost her $916 a month with a large deductible, for a gold plan offered by Anthem Blue Cross through California’s new health insurance exchange, Covered California. Eling said she pays just $250 a month for the Blue Cross plan. There is just one problem. Eling said she needs to see a gastroenterologist, and she can’t find one in Marin who is part of Blue Cross’ physician network.

(Read the rest here.)

I have enough decency to feel sorry for each individual suffering from the way in which Obamacare has (quite predictably) destroyed America’s highly functioning healthcare system, even if that individual was dumb enough to support Obamacare.  I also feel deep empathy for those few in Marin who had the wisdom to oppose Obamacare, but were nevertheless screwed by an uninformed, credulous and, it must be said, defrauded population.  Nevertheless, looking at the matter from a distance, without taking into consideration individual dislocation, this serves Marinites right.  Maybe it’s time they start re-thinking that 1988 switch in political party allegiances.

The costs of being a homeowner, and other Friday ruminations

I spent the day making house doesn't look like this one.

I spent the day making sure that my house doesn’t look like this one.

I have had a busy day.  The dishwasher sprang a leak that was, thankfully, easy to repair:  the repairman put in a new seal and the leak was over.  He was here for about 20 minutes and put in one 6-foot-long seal.  Thankfully, we have appliance insurance, because he said that, without the insurance, the repair would have cost $250.00 for parts and service.  Yikes!

The dishwasher wasn’t the only thing leaking.  The upstairs bathtub was leaking into the garage.  We had one plumber out yesterday who diagnosed a tub waste overflow and said it would cost $700 to fix.  We politely sent him away.  I called around and another guy said that he thought it would take an hour to fix, at a cost of $250 per hour for labor, plus $100 for the part — but it might be more, and could come up close to $700.  Better, but not good enough.

I called around one more time, and got a guy who said that he’d do it for a flat fee of $350 based on my say-so.

I asked, surprised, “So you’re going to base the price just on what I said?”

He answered with another question, stated in a friendly voice.  “Are you lying to me?”

“Gosh, no,” I said.  “But I’m just telling you what the other guy said.  I didn’t actually see it myself.”

He thought about that for a minute and then said, “Why don’t I just come by tomorrow [Friday] and check it out?”

That sounded like a plan.  He came by, he checked it out, and he announced that it was a simple fix that he could do right away — for $135.  When he was done, he told me, “I’m going to give you a bill, but don’t pay it now.  Keep an eye on things until Monday.  If it’s still good, put a check in the mail.  If it’s not, I’ll come out again, but I won’t charge any more than $350 if we have to replace the tub waste overflow part.”

So far, despite shower use, there’s been no further leaking.

For those of you who live in Marin County, if you’d like this honest paragon’s name, send me an email and I’ll give you the information.  You can probably find him on Yelp:  He’s the guy with 102 five-star recommendations, all saying the same thing:  incredibly reliable, honest, and good at what he does.  I can’t argue with that.  In fact, I’ll be the 103rd five-star recommendation if all continues to go well.

The plumber had scarcely left when the landscape guys showed up.  Our pool, which was the delight of the neighborhood children, is now a dysfunctional swamp.  Built 45 years ago, despite our best efforts to keep it going, it finally gave up the ghost this summer.  As is always the case, once we decided we needed to redo the pool, we realized we also needed to redo the cement surround . . . and, hey, if we’re doing that, maybe we’d better smarten up the whole place.  We hired a landscape designer who came up with a lovely idea that was more expensive than we wanted.  We’ve worked with him, though, and seem to have come up with a plan in our price range.  The only sticking point now is whether the Marin drought will make the whole process impossible.

Droughts make me very, very unhappy. I was in high school when the big drought hit at the end of the 1970s.  Despite living most of my life in semi-arid climates, I love water and I especially love rain.  Not having rain makes me feel emotionally dried-up inside.  I also hate water rationing.  I don’t know what we’d have to do this time around, but I’m sure I won’t like it.  Back in the 1970s, we bathed in two inches of water, and then saved the water in buckets so as to flush the toilets.  My mom captured the rinse load from the washing machine to use to water her garden, but all the plants died anyway.  Everything looked dead and barren — and the toilets smelled bad.  I bet many of you remember “When it’s yellow let it mellow; when it’s brown, flush it down”?  I really hated that.

I know that drought here is a cyclical thing.  It’s happened before and it will happen again, and it will probably be followed by winters with such heavy rains that everything floods.  The floods make for miserable driving, and periodically destroy vast swathes of homes, but I still prefer a wet winter to a drought.

This is just another reminder, as if we need one, that Nature likes to let us know that we are as nothing before her.  We can try to minimize her impact, but we cannot control her.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t read anything or written anything today.

Thinking about that last statement, it’s not quite accurate.  Oyster Books, which advertises unlimited books (the Netflix of books) is offering a one month free trial.  I thought that sounded interesting, so I signed up, remembered to calendar the date by which I have to cancel if I don’t want to continue with the service, and started reading.  Thanks to this temporary membership, between visits from repairmen, landscape designers, and plumbers, I am reading 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, a delightful social history of New York’s Lower East Side as seen through the food different immigrant groups ate. I love this kind of book (one of my favorites is No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting), and 97 Orchard is well written.

And that’s all.  I’ve a small mountain of bills to pay, so that too will keep me away from my beloved blog.  So it goes.  At least I finished my legal brief, which got filed today.  I think it’s a winner, but one never knows what those judges are going to do….

Bag bans — a microcosm of Obamacare

I went to a Safeway in Mill Valley because it was convenient.  When I got to the check-out, I was reminded why I never shop at that Safeway:  their town council banned plastic bags and you get charged five cents per bag for a paper bag.  Next year, all of the stores in Marin County will be subject to these rules.  I have no words for how much I loathe this liberal police state law.  Let me count the ways:

Let me begin by saying that the problem isn’t that I’m being charged five cents per bag.  I’m cheap, but I’m not that cheap.  I’ve understood since I was a child that stores don’t really give bags away for free.  Instead, the cost of bags is folded into the prices they charge.  I’m paying not only for the groceries, but also for the staff, the facility, the shopping carts, and the bags.  I therefore don’t mind stores such as Goodwill that charge for bags as a way to keep their overhead down.  That’s a business decision, and I’m happy then to make my own decision:  Do I want to pay the ten cents or will I just make do without a bag?  After all, I don’t need to go to Goodwill.  I can do without cheap books or I can find them at other stores (or online).

The five cents per bag charge at Mill Valley (and soon, all Marin) stores irks me because it’s not a business decision.  It’s punitive.  The local governments are punishing me for having the temerity to use a paper bag.  Moreover, once it goes Marin-wide, I can’t avoid it, unless I want to drive 50 or 60 miles to a fascism-free county.

As it happens, I adore paper bags.  I’m forced to use a recycling bin and paper bags are an easy way to collect recycling.  They can go right into the bin along with the recycled refuse filling the bag.  Paper bags also make great packing material, covers for textbooks, stable (non-tippy) bags in which to carry food to potlucks or school events, fireplace starters, etc.  I’ve already paid for them by paying a higher price for my groceries than I would in a store (e.g., Goodwill) that says “We keep prices down to help save you money.”  Marin stores, though, are being forced to say, we charge you money to punish you.

There are two alternatives to paying a fine to use a paper bag:  You can bring your own, or you can toss individual items into the car (as you do at Costco).  I’m going to opt for the latter.  I refuse to become a bag lady.  I will not be forced to buy bags, which I then need to remember to carry around with me wherever I go, and which I need to remember to wash regularly so I don’t poison my family.  As to that last point, washing bags means that I’m doing an extra load of laundry every week, which means increased water and electricity use.  Surely that can’t be green.

I go crazy when I see all the liberal drones in Marin dragging around their little bags.  It makes me feel as if I’m living in a third world country.  They look like derelicts.  They’re feeling righteously smug, and I’m looking at them and thinking that they’ve been brainwashed to accept a Zimbabwe lifestyle.  (Let me say here that, while I don’t agree with them, if people want to do this, I applaud them.  Why?  Because they’re freely making a decision and it works for them.  That’s how life in a free country should be.)

Bottom line:  The bag ban forces me to buy a product I don’t want or to pay a penalty.  It is a microcosm of Obamacare.  It is a denial of free will, it perverts the marketplace, and it is an unforgivable form of coercion against a free citizenry.

Life in the suburbs

I may not agree with Marin politically (it’s roughly 70% to the Left of Left, despite the rampant capitalism that supports its infrastructure), but it is a fabulous place to raise children.  Sure, there are problems with drugs and drinking (lots of them), but the fact remains that if you want your children raised in a child-centered community that offers safe streets, old-fashioned neighborhoods, excellent schools, and true community, you can find it in Marin.  My kids play soccer, swim, do martial arts, run around the neighborhood, play parlor games, go to their friends’ basketball/lacross/water polo/football/baseball/etc. activities, and generally live the healthy, physical, safe life that we all dream of for our children.

My kids and their friends don’t hunger for urban life.  When they go into San Francisco, none of them can leave fast enough.  To them, the City is dirty, noisy, crowded, dirty, unsafe, overwhelming — did I mention dirty? — and just not the place they want to be.  Most of the kids they hang with say that they want to attend a college in a smaller rural or suburban area when the time comes.  Put another way, Marin has some of the same downsides as San Francisco — drugs and drinking — and lacks some of the upsides — trendy restaurants and public transportation — but overall, when it comes to raising children, Marin offers much more for parents and children than the City ever could.

Speaking of public transportation, when my children were little and we had left the City for Marin, I thanked God on a daily basis that Safeway was an easy 7 minute drive from my house, and that there was clean, safe parking when I got there, as opposed to my situation in the City.  There, as the crow flew, Lucky’s was 7 minutes from my house, but add in traffic and parking, not to mention the crowded, surly store itself, and shopping for groceries in the city was one long screaming child nightmare that could last an hour or two.  And I had a car.  Had I lived there without a car, a quick trip to the store would have taken up to half a day, with an angry, temperamental child (or two).

Marin is just easy.  It is.

As for the drugs and drink, we’ve tried to instill values in our children.  It’s not the school’s responsibility to instill those values.  It’s mine and my husband’s, and I think we’ve built some pretty strong moral armor around the children.  It helps that the neighborhood shares our values.  Interestingly enough, the kids, when at school, shy away from the fast crowd.  Their friends are as wholesome as they are.

All of which means I totally agree with Mike Lanza, who adds data to my anecdotes and reaches the obvious conclusion:  for all their “it’s for the children” talk, the Democrats’ hostility to suburbs is fundamentally anti-family and anti-child.

Does it matter that Marin may close all polling stations and only do voting by mail?

An increasing number of Marin residents vote by mail (more than 65% in the last election).  I know I’m one because, when the kids were little, there was always the chance that I might forget that it was election (at least for off-season elections) or that a sick child could keep me away from the polls even if I did remember.  I still vote by mail now, simply because I am forgetful and I lose track of time.  I usually fill the ballot out on election day and drop it off at my local polling station.  My mom votes by mail because her mobility is limited.

My mom and I represent the good reasons for voting by mail.  Here’s the really bad thing about absentee voting:  The absenteeballots go out very early.  When those people who are not procrastinators receive them, they vote immediately and pop the completed ballot in the mail.  Very efficient, but it also means that these busy bees deny themselves the opportunity to see how things play out in the weeks and days leading to the election.  They’ve essentially locked themselves into a vote they may deeply regret when there’s an October surprise.  Of course, if they’re die-hard whatevers, it’s unlikely that their vote will change unless something absolutely shocking occurs right before the election.  Unlikely, but still possible….

These aren’t just idle ruminations.  The Marin County grand jury has proposed that, to save the county significant sums of money, everyone must vote by mail:

The grand jury, in a report released last week, suggests that moving to an entirely mail ballot election could save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“The Elections Department estimates that an election in Marin County costs about $1 million. If Marin County were to go to 100 percent vote-by-mail, the Elections Department estimates that the county would save between $100,000 and $200,000 per election,” the report states.

Members of the grand jury think it might lead to a more involved electorate.  I think the opposite will happen:  People who wouldn’t normally vote by absentee ballot will lose their ballots in their in-boxes.  Then, on election day, when their only choice to to drive up to the Civil Center if they want to cast their vote, they’ll just blow it off — at least if they’re in the comfortable Democrat majority.  (Hey, maybe this mail-in-ballot thing is a good idea, after all….)

What I’m worried about is that converting the system to one that’s only by mail-in ballot somehow corrupts voting by moving it so far forward from an actual election day that we create a disengaged voter who just votes along party lines without any regard to late-breaking data (or even the possibility of late-breaking data).  In Marin, it really doesn’t matter, given the 65%+ Democrat majority, but it seems to me that this is important in swing-vote counties, where late-breaking information can change people’s minds.

What do you think?

Gun control advocates crash children’s event in Marin

The Marin YMCA just wanted to host its annual “Healthy Kids” day.  “Organizing for America,” the perpetual Obama campaign, had a different idea, crashing the event by setting a table in an adjacent parking-lot in such a way that it looked like part of the YMCA sponsored event.  To its credit, the YMCA said “Leave!”:

Two Marin organizations interested in slightly different aspects of children’s health bumped heads Saturday in Marinwood.

The Marin YMCA hosted its annual Healthy Kids Day event at its facility at 1500 Los Gamos Drive, and the Marin chapter of Organizing for Action, a grass-roots group formed to support President Obama’s legislative agenda, decided to take advantage of that fact to recruit supporters for gun control legislation.

The Organizing for Action group set up an information table and hoisted picket signs in a private parking lot adjacent to where the fair was taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The gun control advocates, which included Corte Madera Mayor Diane Furst and Larkspur Councilwoman Ann Morrison, were later ordered to move out of the parking lot after the YMCA complained to the property manager in charge of the lot. The YMCA declined to comment on the dustup.

Here’s something for OFA to think about:  children are not healthy in the slums of Chicago, which has extremely strict gun control; they’re not healthy in the slums of South Central LA, which has extremely strict gun control; they’re not healthy in the slums of Oakland, California, which has extremely strict gun control; they’re not healthy in Mexico, which has extremely strict gun control; they’re not happy in Russia, North Korea, Cuba, and a whole bunch of other places that have extremely strict gun control.

Maybe the problem isn’t the gun control; maybe the problem is a Democrat control that does everything it can to destroy respect for individual life, to destroy families, and to leave people — or, in socialist talk, proles or drones — dependent on a state that has no conscience and no respect for individual life, and that, therefore, breeds people who have no conscience either.

This seems like an appropriate video to expose the deep-thinkers that support OFA’s drive for gun control:

Is nice Marin County an outlier or American ordinary? (In the nicest possible way.)

Heading into Marin County

For reasons I’ll explain shortly, I was kvelling to a friend about how wonderful Marin County is.  I then wrapped up by saying the Marin is an outlier, unlike the rest of America.  The moment the words were out of my mouth, it occurred to me that I’m probably wrong.  While Marin is an outlier economically, being one of the richest counties in America, the values I’m about to describe are American and it’s the large urban areas, the ones that fill the headlines, that are American outliers.

To begin at the beginning….

My son had a school project that required him to ask people to fill out a little survey.  Having exhausted the neighborhood without receiving a sufficient number of responses (most people are out of town for ski week, which is a wealthy community’s luxury vacation), he got permission at the local mall to set up a table.

I can only say that people were lovely.  Those that couldn’t, or didn’t want to, participate, were polite.  And those who did participate were delightful.  One parent, having taken the survey, returned home and immediately came back with seven children (her own and friends’ children) to help out.  I knew several of the people who came by, as well as some of the children whom I’d watched grow up over the years.  My overall sense was of a happy, healthy, highly functional little community.

Based upon my perception that I live in a very good community, I later remarked to my friend that we are lucky to live in Marin.  I added that it would have been impossible to complete this project in “other communities.”  My examples of “other communities” were Oakland and San Francisco — both highly urbanized areas.  My friend, however, who lives in one of Oregon’s bigger cities, remarked that, as long as you didn’t wander into one of the yuckier neighborhoods in her city, you could have done the same project in there too.

It was her remark that got me thinking about a little-mentioned American ethos — friendliness.  Or perhaps you could call it generosity of spirit.

As you all have gathered, I’ve traveled fairly extensively throughout Western Europe, parts of Central Europe, the Mediterranean, and some parts of Latin America.  I’ve sampled the Far East (my Japan trip) and spent meaningful amounts of time in Israel.  In every place in which I’ve traveled, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting nice people.  (Okay, not in Tunisia, but that was a few months into the Arab Spring, and the Tunisians were clearly a people on edge.)

Despite invariably having met pleasant individuals, I’ve never been a county, other than my own, that offers friendliness as a national hallmark.  In my travels abroad, I’m pleasantly surprised when I meet nice, friendly people.  At home, I’m equally surprised when I’m met with unfriendliness.

Part of this, of course, is the urban versus suburban or rural divide.  As a tourist, one tends to go to the capital cities (London, Rome, New York, Prague, etc.) and the nature of cities is that they are less friendly than smaller communities.  That is, unless you go to cities such as Dallas, Houston, or other Southern cities that still take pride in their manners.

Even cities that suck up a lot of headline space with violence horror stories tend to confine that icky behavior to specific neighborhoods.  I know that Chicago is right up there amongst America’s murder capitals, but when I was in downtown Chicago on a business trip a few years ago, people couldn’t have been nicer.  The same holds true for other major American cities, provided that one is able to overlook regional eccentricities.  For example, people in Boston were rigid, but friendly; people in New York, rude but friendly; and people in L.A. peculiar, but friendly.

We Americans are fully aware of how nice we are.  Or, rather, we’re aware that, barring certain urban environments (which are usually subsets of a larger, nicer urban area), we are nice, helpful, friendly people.  That’s why mass murders in suburbs upset us so much.  It’s not, as the race-mongers would have us believe, that we only care when white kids die.  It’s that we’re terribly aware that urban toxins are polluting our communities.  These toxins may not be factory smoke or ground-water pollution, but they are every bit as vile and dangerous.

So is Marin County an outlier because it’s nice?  No.  It’s an outlier because it’s affluent, but it’s niceness is quintessentially American.  That’s something worth remembering when we see headlines about shootings in Vegas or Chicago or Detroit.  Although those cities are strongly identified with America, they are behavioral outliers.  We’re nice more often than not.  (And no, I haven’t found a study to prove this.  I’m just basing it on having traveled extensively at home and abroad.)

Oh, one more thing.  You know those recently listed, incredibly miserable American cities?  Here’s a little chart identify something they all have in common:

Unhappy Democrat run cities

You don’t need to be a statistical genius to realize that there’s a strong correlation between Democrat politics (and many of these cities have been Democrat strongholds for decades) and unhappiness. I’m not going to make the effort now, but I’m willing to bet that one could find an equally strong correlation between crime-ridden, or unfriendly, cities and Democrat politics.

Honestly, you’d think that Republicans would figure out a campaign along the lines of “You’ve been miserable Democrats for decades. Try being a happy Republican.”

Climate change Chicken Littles look at ordinary phenomenon and extrapolate their way to Armageddon

Approximately every ten years, Marin County floods.  Thinking back, the last big flood year in our neighborhood was around 2002 or 2003.  I remember taking the kids down from the hill on which we live to the marshy flat-lands nearby.  We waded through water that came up past our knees.  This high water was a combination of heavy rain and unusually high tides.

This year, those unusually high tides are back (as they invariably are).  Fortunately, they’re not coinciding with a wet storm, so we won’t have any serious coastal flooding:

San Anselmo flood 2005

This week, California will experience the highest tides of the year, peaking on Thursday morning in a condition known as “king tides.” At 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, 10:34 a.m. Thursday and 11:24 a.m. Friday some of the year’s highest tides — 7 feet and above, about a foot higher than normal — will hit Marin’s shorelines.

Water will lap high in Corte Madera, along Richardson Bay and at Gallinas Creek just north of China Camp, among other spots in the county.


King tides occur several times a year, although this week’s are the biggest of 2012.

Luckily for coastal residents, this week’s tides aren’t expected to cause significant flooding because they are happening during relatively calm weather.

“Flooding would be a concern if we had a storm system coming through,” said Matt Mehle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The fact that this is an ordinary event hasn’t stopped the resident Chicken Littles from screaming about the global warming sky falling:


The gravitational tug of the moon and sun, not climate change, is responsible for the extreme tides. But volunteers with cameras across the state are using the event to document what California could look like in the coming decades as the warming Earth continues to raise sea levels.

This overwrought reaction is a reminder that you really can’t change a monomaniac’s mind.  It’s no use telling your average obsessed Climate Changer that, throughout the earth’s lifespan, the water has risen and the water has fallen again.  Glaciers have advanced and retreated. Deserts have become forests and forests have become deserts. The earth is a dynamic system.

Humans can definitely affect their immediate surrounding, whether it’s early man hunting the Mammoth to extinction or modern factories destroying all of the surrounding ecology.  As the Earth’s caretakers, it’s foolish and short-sighted of us willfully to destroy our own environment.  The more responsible we are, the better for us and for our children.

Global water levels, though, are bigger than we are, and they are timeless. Indeed, this seems like a very good moment to bring to your attention an article positing that it was glacial retreat that caused the flood that led Noah to build his Ark:

Noah's Ark

A flood of Biblical proportions just like in the story of Noah’s Ark may have actually happened, according to the oceanographer who found the Titanic.

Acclaimed underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard claims his team of researchers have uncovered evidence that suggests The Great Flood described in the Bible was actually based on real events.

Mr Ballard told how he investigated a controversial theory proposed by two scientists from Columbia University that there was a massive flood in the Black Sea region.

In an interview with ABC News, he said around 12,000 years ago much of the world was covered in ice and the Black Sea had been a freshwater lake surrounded by farmland.

But when the glaciers began to melt during a warming period in the cycle of the Earth’s temperature around 5600BC water rushed toward the world’s oceans, Mr Ballard said.

This, he claimed, caused floods all around the world and water cascaded through Turkey’s Straits of Bosporus towards the Black Sea.

If the seas do continue to rise, it will affect the way we live.  But trying to de-industrialize America will not stop the seas from rising.  These AGW Chicken Littles show megalomaniacal arrogance insofar as they believe that we puny humans can change weather cycles that happened with relentless regularity for billions of years.

Marin County demonstrates the one-party totalitarianism that flows from open primaries

Yesterday, I posted about the result of California’s open primary in Marin:  two Democrats running against each other for the California Assembly.  My post was about the problem that this creates for those people whose party has been shut out of the election.  The net effect of open primaries is that, rather than allowing parties to choose their own candidates, the primary just becomes a “pre-election election,” with the November election serving as a run-off.

It turns out that the open primaries are also a problem for the candidates facing off against each other in November, because it’s hard for voters to distinguish between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.  In the article I quoted yesterday,the Marin IJ tried to help, by painting Marc Levine as more “pro-business,” which can be translated as “Mitt Romney surrogate.”

The IJ needn’t have made the effort, though.  I didn’t realize it when I wrote yesterday’s post, but I had waiting in my mail box a flyer from the California Democratic Party making the difference between the two candidates as clear as a bright summer day (click on thumbnails to enlarge):

On the flyer’s front, you can see the Republican elephant superimposed in the middle of what is clearly a group of people standing in line.  The text reads:

Marc Levine Doesn’t Want You to Know About the Elephant in the Room . . .

Because the elephant in the room is MARC LEVINE

Turn the flyer over and the message gets more specific:


[Quoting a female attendee] “We’re a bunch of red folks . . . and we find comfort with our own.”

Marin County Republican Chair Kevin Krick dismissed Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments as “a speed bump on the way to the White House.”

And the applauding Elephant in the Room was Marc Levine!  [With a big red finger arrow pointing to a picture of Levine attending the kick-off, with the Levine picture cropped in the shape of an elephant.]

What’s next — campaign contributions from Republican Special Interests?  Is this the kind of “Democrat” we want representing us in the State Assembly?

One can guess what happened.  Marc Levine, in an effort to distinguish himself from a Democrat opponent who is pure Progressive, sought to make himself known to a broader coalition of Marin County voters.  Since Marin has no subway or train stations outside of which the candidate can stand to introduce himself to voters, he goes from one political event to another.  This one was a Republican event.  He probably thought it was a smart move, because Republicans, having been denied a candidate by the open primary system are, theoretically, an up-for-grabs constituency.  They’ve got to vote for someone, so why not Levine?

Poor Levine.  His tactical outreach effort backfired, but it had the salutary effect of exposing the anti-democratic effect of open primaries:  Because of the open primary, which denied Marin County Republicans the right to choose their own candidate, the Democrat Party in California filled the vacuum by anointing a “Republican” candidate.

This whole thing has become a travesty.  What we’re seeing isn’t democracy in action.  Instead, it’s one-party rule, complete with infighting, without even the pretense of open elections.

The Hobson’s choice in Marin County elections; or, choosing between Left and Lefter

The theory behind Open Primaries is that it will encourage moderation in districts that are extremely Democrat or extremely Republican.  Without Open Primaries, minority opposition votes are symbolic throwaway votes.  Whoever is the majority candidate wins, regardless of the details of that candidate’s platform.  With Open Primaries, which inevitably result in two majority candidates going head to head, the minority opposition must either refrain from voting entirely or vote for the least bad of the other party’s candidates.  The hope is that, if minority party voters do the latter, they’ll vote for the opposition candidate who is least extreme.  I suspect that’s what’s going to happen in the upcoming Marin County election for 10th District in the California Assembly:

Due to California’s new open primary law, two Democrats will compete for the 10th District Assembly seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

Because the 10th District is overwhelmingly Democratic, in past years the general election has been little more than a formality; for all practical purposes, the eventual winner had already been decided in the Democratic primary election.


The incumbent in this race is Michael Allen, who was elected to the Assembly in 2010 to represent the 7th District. Allen, 65, moved from Sonoma County to an apartment in downtown San Rafael after the 7th District was splintered by redistricting in 2011. Currently the assistant majority leader in the Assembly, Allen is a labor lawyer who has served as executive director of the Service Employees International Union Local 707 as well as president of the North Bay Labor Council and district director for state Sen. Patricia Wiggins. [Bookworm: In other words, way Left.]

His challenger is Marc Levine, 38, who has served on the San Rafael City Council since 2009. McCuan said Levine is known as a more business-friendly Democrat, and Levine’s endorsements and campaign donors indicate that. Levine angered some more liberal Marin Democrats in 2011 when he supported the opening of a Target store in San Rafael.

“Levine’s supporters are Joe Nation Democrats,” McCuan said, referring to the former assemblyman from Marin who once tried and failed to upend U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey in a Democratic primary election. [Bookworm: In other words, slightly less Left, thereby marginally avoiding fiscal insanity.]

I’m going to vote for Levine, because he’s better than Allen. Anything is better than Allen. But I truly resent having my voice muffled in this way. My candidate has been thrown out of the election entirely. Republicans are denied a voice and that is, I think, a complete failure of representation. It’s one thing always to lose; it’s another thing to be unable even to cry out as you do.

Something interesting in Marin

I do not expect Marin to vote for Romney.  Indeed, if I had to predict the race, I would say that Romney has a snowball’s chance in Hell of taking Marin.  Nevertheless, something interesting is happening in Marin:  No new bumper stickers.

Marin-ites do have Obama/Biden bumper stickers, but they’re almost all leftovers from the 2008 campaign.  I think I’ve only seen about ten or twenty stickers for the 2012 election.

I’m not prepared to say whether Marin’s naked bumpers bespeak apathy or over-confidence.  I just believe that either condition might depress voter turn out.  I also hope in my heart of hearts that, if we are indeed l0oking at apathy, we’re seeing voters who, while they would never dream of voting for Romney, have already made piece with a decision not to vote for Obama.

Marin County: What it’s like to live in one of the most affluent and liberal outposts in America

Marin County — blessed by nature and haven to the rich.  It’s where I live.  My house is blessed by nature and my neighborhood is a haven to the Marin middle class (a middle class that works ridiculously hard and pays obscene sums of money for the pleasure of living in a beautiful place, with a temperate climate and excellent public schools).

Marin County is also one of the most liberal and, therefore, reactionary counties in America.  Norman Rogers captures it perfectly:

The population of Marin is overwhelmingly white, Democrat, and financially well-off. In 2008, nearly 80% of the vote went to Obama. The main minority consists of Spanish-speaking immigrants who prosper by providing services such as gardening, house-cleaning, and child care. The going rate for babysitting is close to $20 an hour. Although official statistics say that the Hispanics have low incomes, those statistics are based on the assumption that landscapers and babysitters, often in the country illegally, carefully report their earnings to the government.


In Marin there are shared values, and it is expected that the residents will toe the line. One of those shared values is a kind of make-believe tolerance. The reality is that the inhabitants of Marin are just as conformist and narrow-minded as are the inhabitants of flyover small towns ridiculed by Hollywood or Ivy-League sociology professors. Deviations from expectations will usually generate silent disapproval rather than verbal correction. However, if you depart too far from expectations, you may experience vigorous disapproval.


Marin political ideology is nominally progressive or liberal. But for local issues, virulently reactionary politics is the norm. It seems that the typical resident of Marin wants everything to remain exactly the same as it was on the day he moved to Marin. A hilarious example of this was the 1977 water crisis. A two-year drought caused the reservoirs to run nearly dry. The situation was saved only by building an emergency pipeline that was run on the surface of the 6-mile-long Richmond San Rafael Bridge to bring in water from water agencies that had better planning or weren’t suffering from political opposition to everything new. Thirty-five years later, the problem still exists, and the water district is still proposing solutions that are shot down by anti-development Marin people.


Smart people lacking a solid education are susceptible to crackpot ideas, be they global warming, the evil of plastic bags, radio waves making people sick, or Steve Jobs’ theory of healing cancer with nutrition.

You can read the rest here.

From reading the last paragraph Rogers wrote, you might think that Marin County is a bizarre combination of NIMBY-ism, hard Left politics, and reactionary fervor because the people are uneducated.  In fact, the contrary is true:  they’re over-educated, and their politics are a perfect reflection of people who drank the Kool-Aid in the Ivy League colleges, and ultra-liberal State Universities, or at even more ultra-liberal “liberal” arts colleges.  These are all people who Left their expensive universities for well-paying jobs, and are now making sure that the rest of America goes broke.  I know these people well, and I can assure you that most don’t have a mean or manipulative bone in their body.  In other words, Marin does not boast an army of mini-George Soros clones.  They actually believe that their ultra-liberal politics will indeed create the rising tide that lifts all boats.  Thus, Marin is populated by an army of those mindlessly indoctrinated by Soros’ ideas.

That’s Marin.  And these are three stories ripped from today’s headlines in the Marin Independent Journal.

First, we learn that Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, one of the major arteries in Marin, is finally going to undergo an upgrade.  This is a road that varies between four lines and two lines as it wends its way from Larkspur, which is on the Bay, to Olema, which is kissing cousins with the Pacific.  It travels through pretty suburban communities (including ultra-rich Ross), verdant Pacific forests, and ends up in a little hippy-dippy town.  During the morning and evening commute, it’s a nightmare, with traffic going at paces that would bore a snail.  It’s an old road that has completely decomposed in the more westerly segments, and it does not serve the modern community’s needs very well.  A little improvement would be useful, even if it was only timing the traffic lights better.  Which gets us back to the upgrade.  This is what it takes to improve a road in Marin:

It took three years of study, more than a dozen community meetings and county hearings and countless hours by public works staffers who hurdled a gauntlet of challenges outlined in a $1 million environmental analysis. But shovels finally will hit the ground this summer on repair of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard through Samuel P. Taylor Park.

First, however, permits will be needed from agencies including the state Regional Water Quality Control Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The county public works crew has taken no chances, reviewing every aspect of the 5.2-mile stretch of roadway with regional officials who are expected to flash the green light for the project, estimated to cost $5.5 million.

“We’ve been talking with them for years about this, walking every foot, looking at each of the 72 drainage culverts” planned, said Public Works Director Bob Beaumont. “We’re looking forward to getting the project moving.”

Or, as put by Ernest Klock, the county principal civil engineer overseeing the project, “We’re ecstatic!”


Because spotted owls nest in the area, construction is limited to weekdays from August to November, Beaumont said, noting that the birds, sediment affecting creek and fish habitat, redwood trees and other matters were among numerous constraints faced by project planners.

I’m all for preserving Marin’s beauty and character — after all, that beauty and character explains why we pay the big bucks to live here.  But a $1 million environmental analysis and a $5.5 million cost bill strike me as somewhat excessive for a repair that essentially boils down to less than five miles of road.  (The distance is my best guesstimate from reading the project’s description.)  That’s more than a million dollars a mile.

Not only are Marinites willing to spend vast sums of money to placate the Sierra Club gods, they’re also willing to whistle away even greater sums of money in homage to those same gods.  I’ve posted here before about a Marin community’s fierce resistance to a George Lucas project that would have created a gorgeous, pastoral office park that would have employed hundreds of people and brought in millions of dollars.  George Lucas eventually said “forget about it.”  He was in such a snitch that, not only did he ignore the county’s panicked blandishments offering to back down from some of its more extreme positions, he promised to sell the land to a low-income, high-density developer.  Other communities, less stridently liberal than Marin, are leaping on the opportunity to host Lucas’ project:

Local leaders hope Luke Skywalker will pack up his lightsaber and come to a galaxy not so far away.

The city is trying to lure George Lucas’ company Lucasfilm Ltd. — the force behind the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises — to Walnut Creek and entice the filmmaking giant to build a big movie production studio in the Shadelands Business Park.

This comes after Lucasfilm development arm Skywalker Properties yanked plans to build a film studio on Grady Ranch in rural Marin County last month. The surprising move came after decades of homeowner opposition and difficulty obtaining necessary development permits in Marin.

A pitch from the Walnut Creek city manager sent to Lucasfilm boasts of the city’s 97 percent business occupancy rate downtown, its health care facilities, open space, business partnerships and top-performing schools — not to mention two nearby BART stations, Mount Diablo and various housing options.

Hey, George!  That sounds like a good deal to me.

And finally, a look at one of the Congressional candidates in Marin.  The seat is open now, because Lynn Woolsey is retiring.  The current front-runner, Jared Huffman, is the candidate who passes for a “centrist” in Marin politics.  He’s not.  As I wrote in an earlier post, every one of his positions is consistent with the hard Progressive political menu.  Norman Solomon’s candidacy, however, proves why Huffman sounds normal:

Solomon, who has dedicated his life to political activism — opposing war, nuclear proliferation, nuclear power plants and environmental degradation — is one of a dozen candidates competing in the June 5 primary for the new 2nd District congressional seat.


Solomon attended Reed College in Portland, Ore. in 1970 but only for about a month.

“The Vietnam War was raging,” Solomon said. “I found political activity much more compelling than sitting in the classroom. I went to just a lot of anti-war demonstrations in the late ’60s and early ’70s.”


In 1972 when he and other protesters tried to blockade the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Solomon was Maced and sent to jail for four days.

“I studied nonviolence and practiced it,” Solomon said. “We were inspired by the civil rights movement and brought that to the anti-war and anti-nuclear movement.”

In the late 1970s, Solomon was sent to jail again, this time for 40 days, for repeatedly protesting for the closure of the Trojan Nuclear Plant, near Rainier, Ore., and mounting a nonviolent blockade of a train carrying nuclear warheads to Bangor, Wash.


During the 1970s, Solomon also began doing freelance reporting for the Pacific News Service and became an associate of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley. Articles Solomon wrote for The Progressive and The Nation, chronicling the exposure of members of the U.S. military to radiation during bomb tests, led to the writing of the first of his 12 books. In partnership with Harvey Wasserman, Solomon wrote “Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.”

After Ronald Reagan’s election as president in the 1980s, Solomon and Anthony Guarisco, founder of the International Alliance of Atomic Veterans, traveled to Moscow where they organized a sit-in at the U.S. Embassy calling for the U.S. to join the Soviet Union in a halt to tests of nuclear bombs.

And on and on and on, with Solomon at the forefront of every single radical Left activity American politics could offer.  You won’t be surprised at his approach to the Iraq War:

Solomon published “Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You,” prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and made three trips to Iraq, one accompanied by actor Sean Penn, in an effort to head off the war. Solomon said that as the drum beat for war in Iraq grew louder, many liberal Democrats failed to speak out, just as they did initially during the Vietnam War.

Solomon said, “I understand the truth of the AIDS activist slogan that was adopted in the late 1980s: silence equals death.”

Interestingly, though, once you get past his past, Solomon’s laundry list of political ideas is virtually identical to every other Democrat candidate:

If elected to Congress, Solomon said his first priority would be to boost public investment in green jobs, education, housing, infrastructure, health care, public transportation, environmental protection and retirement security while cutting military spending, imposing a transaction tax on Wall Street, plugging tax loopholes for corporations and ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

I urge you to go to the newspaper article, scroll down to the bottom, and read Solomon’s specific political ideas, in his own words.  He is a perfect snapshot of the Progressive candidate, unleashed.  By the way, although I’ve never met him, I’d willingly bet that he’s charming at school cocktail parties and a nice guy to say “hello” to in the grocery store aisles (if you can even see him behind the cloth grocery bags stacked high in his shopping cart).  Marin liberals are very pleasant human beings, despite being animated by ideas that, if taken to the logical conclusion, would drag us through British politics, then Greek politics, then Cuban politics.

And now let me introduce you to Dan Roberts, a candidate who doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning.  In rational world, of course, if Marin-ites voted in their true self-interest (one that keeps Marin rich and beautiful, while preserving America’s overall strength and wealth), a moderate Republican candidate should sweep the board:

Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Dan Roberts was leading his troops back from a patrol through Vietnam’s Elephant Valley near Da Nang in 1966 when a mine exploded, killing one soldier and piercing Roberts’ left leg with shrapnel.

“I guess there was an element of shock and disbelief. I had these fragments of shrapnel going through my left calf,” Roberts said. After his radio operator had staunched the blood coming from his leg and bandaged the wound, Roberts said he “organized a defensive perimeter and helped the choppers come in to evacuate the wounded.” Eventually, he was airlifted out himself and sent to a military field hospital for treatment.


Roberts grew up in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. His mother’s great great grandfather came to California in 1849 to mine for gold.  Roberts’ father worked as a Teamster warehouseman in San Francisco, and his mother was a full-time homemaker. Roberts attended Lowell High School [Ed.:  My alma mater too], even though it required more than an hour’s bus ride to get there.

Roberts said his family members were all “hard-core Democrats.” But Roberts’ politics took a different turn while he was earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration at San Francisco State University from 1960 to 1965. He paid for his education by working nights as a janitor and as a golf caddy on weekends.

“I saw the beginning of the takeover by the liberal elements of that wonderful institution,” he said, “and I objected to that.”  [He was right to object.  SF State, which boasts Angela Davis as a faculty member, is one of the most hard core Leftist schools in America, and a haven for antisemites.]


Roberts enlisted in the Marines in 1964. He had heard stories about military service from his uncles who served in the Navy and from other family members. He was motivated by patriotism, a yearning for adventure and a desire for excellence, which he associated with the Marine Corps.

After making it through Officer Candidate School, Roberts was sent to Vietnam in 1966 as a second lieutenant. He served as an artillery forward observer, slipping behind enemy lines to direct the fire of U.S. howitzers. After being wounded, Roberts had to relearn how to walk; his left leg remains partially paralyzed to this day. He served out the remainder of his tour of duty with a mortar battery.


After leaving the Marines, Roberts earned his master’s in business administration at Loyola University Chicago by attending night classes while working as a salesman for the Monsanto Co. Then he returned to San Francisco, where from 1972 to 1987 he sold stocks and bonds for Dean Witter & Co., rising to the position of manager.

In 1987, Roberts left Dean Witter and founded his own investment firm, Roberts & Ryan Investment Inc. in San Francisco, which he continues to operate. There is no Ryan. Roberts tried to register the business simply as Roberts Investment but “every iteration of Roberts was taken.”


Roberts’ wife died in 1985; his sons were 9, 15 and 17 at the time.

“So to some extent I had to play both roles,” he said.


So far, Roberts has invested $160,000 of his own money in his congressional campaign. If he wins and goes to Washington D.C., Roberts said he will focus on cutting federal spending and reducing corporate and individual taxes.

“The government can never create a job,” Roberts said. “It just takes money from people who pay taxes and gives it to a third party. It’s a transfer payment at best.”

This is a man of substance, decency, and common sense.  As I said, he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning here in Marin.  I deeply admire his willingness to join the battle though.  (Not surprising, I guess, given the fact that he’s a Marine.)

Please check out the newspaper article, scroll down to the end, and compare Roberts’ political positions with those that Solomon advances.  Roberts own website is here, if you’d like to make a contribution to his bravely quixotic effort.

Marin County — land of the rich and crazy.


The Progressive wish list as spelled out in local campaign literature

‘Tis the season for local campaign literature.  I usually toss these things in the circular file, unread.  As a minority conservative in a massively Democrat/Progressive county, my votes are invariably wasted anyway.  With Open Primaries, though, I’m starting to pay attention to this unsolicited reading material.  So far, I’ve heard from Michael Allen, Jared Huffman, and Stacy Lawson.  The first two live in a Progressive fairy-tale; the third is struggling to make contact with reality.

Herewith, some quotations from their campaign literature, as they slug it out to become the Democrat nominee for U.S. Congress (taking over Woolsey’s seat) or for California Assembly.

First, a statement from Jared Huffman, who has spent a great deal of time in the California Assembly (emphasis in original), and who now wants to go to Washington:

I’ve spent my whole career working for the public interest.  I won major anti-discrimination cases for women and have a 100% career voting record with Planned Parenthood.  I fought for our environment as a Senior Attorney for the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC).

As your Assembly member, I’ve overcome gridlock in Sacramento to pass over 60 pieces of legislation — including laws that are creating jobs, expanding renewable energy, keeping our state parks open, and forcing big oil companies to pay for oil spill prevention.

In Congress, I’ll continue standing up for what I believe in.  Bringing our troops home.  Prioritizing education above military spending.  Equality and women’s rights.  Creating California jobs, and ending tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs overseas.  And fighting big health insurance companies who put profits above our health needs.

I think we can summarize the above easily:  If elected, Huffman will (1) pass legislation that funds chimerical green enterprises; (2) support Obama in his fight against the Catholic Church; (3) raise taxes on corporations at home while preventing them from continuing their businesses abroad (bankrupting or downsizing many, I’m sure); (4) de-fund the military while giving more money to teacher’s unions; and (5) help support “The Return of ObamaCare — it’s back, bigger and badder than ever.”

Unsurprisingly, Huffman has gotten the nod from a slew of environmental and union organizations:  the California Federation of Teachers, the Sierra Club, the Marin County School Superintendent, the California Labor Federation, the National Association of Letter Carriers, California School Employee Assoc., California Hospital Association, North Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Amalgamated Transit Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Union of Operating Engineers, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Laborers’ International Union of North America, and on and on.

I wonder how many of those union members whose bosses are giving Huffman the nod will still have jobs in three years, after Huffman’s policies (if enacted) have driven away or destroyed private industry, and made the cost of energy prohibitively high.

This being Marin, Huffman isn’t an outlier.  California Assemblyman Michael Allen, who is seeking re-election, rings the same bells.  His whole platform (in wealthy Marin) can be summed up easily:  tax, tax, tax, and spend.  I’m not kidding.  For every problem, he has a very expensive solution.  Here’s his statement from one piece of campaign literature that harps upon the fading California dream:


That’s why, as your Assemblyman, I’m co-sponsoring a new college scholarship program for middle class families and closing corporate tax loopholes to fund education.  And it’s why I’m working with the Governor to place a “millionaires” tax on the November ballot to save public schools.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Allen that the State of California and the schools of California were thriving when the government, for the most part, left Californians alone.  California’s economic and academic decline coincided so closely with the ascendance of Leftist government in California that the two events cannot be a coincidence.

In another piece of campaign literature, Allen explains that he can help solve the budget crisis (which is very real) because he has “a head for numbers.”  First, he explains that as a Former Labor Leader, he’s able to “resolve disputes, kickstart stalled projects and create new jobs.”  I wonder how management feels about his boasts.  They’re probably too busy packing for Nevada or Texas to talk about their feelings.

Allen is proud of his stance on education.  Despite decades of proof that more money has not solved, and will not solve, California’s education woes, he’s all about getting more money to the unions:

Michael Allen stood with teachers and education advocates to stop millions of dollars in cuts to local public schools.  He authored legislation to help make college tuition and fees more affordable for middle-income families.

I just spoke with someone today(he knows who he is) who explained that government rules, especially ADA compliance requirements, impose thousands of dollars per classroom on new school construction.  How about fixing our schools by putting pressure on the Feds and on Sacramento to stop micromanaging schools?  That ought to save some money.

Nor has the Solyndra debacle stopped Allen from pushing the Green government button:

Michael Allen worked with local environmentalists and business to create Solar Sonoma, a group that promotes local access to renewable energy.  He started his career as an attorney with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Team on the Warm Springs Dam initiative.  He introduced incentives that will help our agricultural community transition to organic farming methods.

If these things (solar energy and organic farming) are so good, shouldn’t the market be moving consumers in that direction without Allen’s help?

You won’t be surprised by Allen’s supporters:  California Democratic Party, California Federation of Teachers, California league of Conservation Voters, California Teachers Association, Sierra Club.

Incidentally, both Huffman and Allen have gotten the nod from various law enforcement organizations (police, fire fighters, sheriffs, etc.).  I assume this is because these organizations are union organizations and, by default, back the Democrat candidate and, because of past favors, back those who currently hold political office.  Otherwise, the endorsements make no sense.  I certainly don’t see anything in the candidates’ actual platforms that would improve the quality of life for these organizations’ members.

Stacy Lawson, who is running against Huffman (and others) for Congress, hasn’t yet sent me any literature, but you can see her stand on the issues from her website.  Her proud boast is that she’s less extreme than the others running, and that is true.  However, in Marin County, less extreme is still a relative term.

On energy, Lawson talks about the economic and national security imperative of becoming self-sufficient, but her ideas are the same failed ones the Democrats regularly tout:  namely, conserving and going green.  Until something comes along that’s better than fossil fuel, conserving and going green will never offset our legitimate energy needs, unless we are willing to lower our living and production standards to, say, 1950s  levels.

On job creation, Lawson rightly focuses on small businesses.  She wants to make it easier for them to borrow (potentially replicating the housing crisis, which started when the government forced banks to make bad loans).  She also thinks that the federal government should get involved, not by lowering taxes and decreasing the hundreds of thousands of regulations dotting the private sector landscape, but by entering into more contracts with small businesses.  I don’t know where she gets that idea.  Large companies have huge, expensive departments that are solely dedicated to dealing with the federal paperwork necessary to get and hold a federal job.  Small businesses can’t afford to do business with the federal government.

Lawson also advocates a new WPA:  Rebuild the infrastructure by having the government build a new one and having the taxpayers pay for it.  Considering that America’s Depression had worsened dramatically by 1937, drowned under the weight of Roosevelt’s infrastructure projects, it’s doubtful that this will help the economy.

But will it help the infrastructure?  Again, that’s doubtful.  In the 1930s, infrastructure was basic:  roads and dams.  Also, there were few regulations, so that back then an entire dam could be built in the time it takes the Sierra Club to mount its first protest.

Most importantly, in the 1930s, technology was fairly stagnant.  That’s not the case today.   Just ask yourself this:  whatever happened to all the pager companies that dotted the landscape back in the 1990s?  With a few small, industry-specific exceptions, they’re gone.  Cell phones killed them in less than twenty years.  That’s change government can’t handle.  Remember, while businesses are facing the problems and opportunities that arise today, government is busy imposing yesterday’s solutions.

I’ll stop here.  I like Stacy, who is a nice person.  More importantly, and rather sadly, by Marin standards she is indeed the moderate alternative.  I may even vote for her in the primaries because the thought of seeing a mini-me Woolsey (that would be Huffman) jet off to Washington in January is simply unbearable.

And that’s the stuff that came in today’s mail (augmented by some internet information).  It’s not calculated to uplift a conservative’s spirit, that’s for sure.

Marin-ites who opposed a Lucasfilm project discover that the perfect is the enemy of the good

George Lucas lives in Marin.  Since he clearly hates to commute, he wanted to create a very beautiful movie studio on abandoned ranch land north of San Rafael.  Both Marin NIMBYs and Marin regulators were up in arms.  How dare George try to sully the pastoral beauty of that area.  George Lucas is apparently one p****d off guy because, not only has he abandoned a project that would have created a beautiful structure and brought some real money into Marin, he’s done it with a giant slap in the face to the NIMBYs:

Lucasfilm pulled the plug on its bid to develop the old Grady Ranch Tuesday, citing bitter opposition from neighbors and regulatory delays, and said it intends to sell the land for a low-income subdivision development.

Saying it was withdrawing the project “with great sadness,” Lucasfilm added it will build the production studio facilities it needs elsewhere.

The stunning move cheered project foes who called the ranch site near their homes the wrong place for a film production studio with a footprint the size of two football fields. But county officials and business interests were devastated, noting the project promised to energize the Marin economy, providing millions in revenue and hundreds of jobs.

Yeah, I’ll trade a gorgeous campus and millions of dollars for suburban sprawl any day.  NOT.

Andrew Breitbart inspires another conservative to leave the political closet

I am very, very proud of an old friend of mine.  Like me, he’s a conservative in Marin.  Unlike me, he’s burst out of the political closet.  Tim Amyx will now be blogging on a weekly basis at the Mill Valley Patch, a local Marin online publication that comes out of one of Marin’s most liberal cities.  (That’s not as redundant as it sounds.  Novato and Belvedere, for example, are vaguely purplish compared to Marin’s pretty uniform blue.  Mill Valley . . . well, not so much.)

Tim’s premier post hones in on Mill Valley’s over-the-top allegiance to the Democrat party.  Jokingly calling himself the other 1% (although he concedes that he’s probably part of the 10 or 20%), Tim discusses life for a conservative in Liberal-ville:

I’m 53 years old now, and for about the past 10 years I have found myself in the huge minority in our community. Normally it’s not an issue being a conservative in a bastion of liberals. But it takes its toll, and one can remain silent and take body blows only so long. (“Bush is an idiot,  Republican’s are the party of no, the tea party is racist, conservatives only care about their pocket books, yadda, yadda…”)

This past week, Andrew Breitbart, my hero and a hero to the modern day right, passed away. It was a tragic loss for America and in particular to the young rebirth of conservatism. He was the right guy at the right time, who took on the media and institutions that have been so very successful in demonizing conservatives. Breitbart was an inspiration to many on the right who needed a voice to speak up and stand up to the bullies on the left.

With his inspiration, I bring to you the 1 percent (or really the 10-20 percent or more if more came out of the closet of conservatives in Mill Valley and throughout Marin) conservative point of view. I plan to chime in weekly with a perspective you will not likely read elsewhere in Marin, save for a token letter to the editor. These will be thoughts you won’t likely hear at the Community Center, Depot Plaza or Peet’s. I’ll focus on local, state, and national issues.

Read the rest here.  It’s all good.

Please make Tim a regular part of your weekly reading.  I know that he’s a great person, and you can see that he’s an equally great writer and thinker.  He’s also a brave man, who has outed himself in a very intolerant part of the world.  He should be supported, because the more he writes, the more people will learn — and in Marin, perhaps they’ll learn that conservatives aren’t evil stupid people but are, instead, the kind, accomplished, intelligent community members you’ve grown to like and respect over the years.

Only in Marin will a community representative hasten to assure people that his community is lousy

Ross, a town in Marin County, is a great place.  The houses are gorgeous (I’ve been to a billionaire’s house there once and it was magnificent), the schools are superb, and the people take good care of themselves:  exercise, healthy diets, good medical care.  In a pre-Obama era, these are boast-worthy things.  Not see in Obama’s America, where prosperity is a dangerous attribute that might paint a target on your back:

R. Scot Hunter, a Ross town councilman and former mayor, cringed when his hometown came out on top of the human development index in the controversial “A Portrait of Marin” report commissioned by the Marin Community Foundation.

Essentially, the report said that people in Ross have more money, better educations and live longer than most of the rest of Marin, especially low-income neighborhoods such as the Canal in San Rafael or Hamilton in Novato.

“Ross sometimes, through no fault of its own, gets typecast,” he said, which makes it harder, he believes, for Ross residents to be taken seriously as agents for change in Marin.

Hunter, a real estate investor and developer, has lived in Ross for 30 years, raising three children with his wife, Mary Lee Rybar.

“You almost have to deny your heritage,” he said. “But we have all the problems everybody else has, only they’re hidden. I think 2008 hit a lot of people. There is divorce here. There are difficult things in everybody’s lives. We are not of the very wealthy of Ross. We’re just regular people.”

Hunter, incidentally, is not a crackpot.  The report is a political document, intended to phase out many of those attributes that make Marin a prosperous community:

Since “A Portrait of Marin” was released in January, the Independent Journal’s editorial page and letters to the editor have bristled with criticism of it. Columnist Dick Spotswood accused the report of “cherry-picking statistics” to justify the foundation’s “preordained position that Marin County housing is based on racially segregated communities.” He called it “a work of political advocacy rather than professional scholarship,” contending that it’s “a tool toward remaking the very nature of Marin.”

Responding to claims that the foundation is playing “social engineer,” Thomas Peters,
Ross councilman and former mayor Scot Hunter stands outside the post office in Ross, Calif. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) Alan Dep
the foundation’s president and CEO, wrote in a Marin Voice column: “For us, this ‘values’ issue couldn’t be clearer: Our vision for Marin is that it be known as much for its equity as for its prosperity, and as much for its efforts to help people succeed as for its reputation as an enclave for the highly successful.”

One of the most alarming parts of the study for many critics is the section that recommends “setting aside the county’s commitment to preserving open space, agriculture and low-density neighborhoods in order to provide more affordable housing to its workers.”

Hunter could have challenged the report.  Instead, he’s trying to assure people that Ross is just as pathetic as anywhere else.

West Marin secularists very disturbed that Catholic organization wants to pray

One of the things that profoundly changed my thinking about religion and about liberalism was contrasting the belligerent anti-religious atmosphere in Berkeley with the tolerant Christian environment I encountered in Texas.  This is not to say that all non-religious places are belligerently anti-religious, or that all Christian environments are tolerant.  However, it did teach me a very useful lesson, which is that secularists can be every bit as rigid, dogmatic, and prejudiced as anyone else.

What’s interesting about secular prejudice is that it’s nihilistic.  Christians want to bring you to something; secularists want to back you away from everything.

The almost random hostility that is aggressive secularism reared its head in West Marin recently.  The Catholic Youth Organization (emphasis mine) sponsors all sorts of sports here in Marin.  Sign-up is open to everyone, not just Catholics, but the CYO doesn’t pretend not to be a Catholic organization.  It crossed a Marin line, however, when it announced that, before basketball games start, it wants to have a prayer.  A very non-denominational, practically Unitarian, prayer:

CYO Athletics provides an atmosphere of sportsmanship for youth that fosters their physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual strength.

Although it is not mandatory, we invite athletes, coaches, parents, and officials to take a moment to remember that God is present in each of us as we come together not just as competitors but as brothers and sisters. Please stand as we pray:

God, we pray that our hearts be open to see your presence in and through sports.

We pray for athletes who, through sports, develop character and values.

We pray for coaches who place players before winning and value sportsmanship.

We pray for parents who love their children for who they are, not for how they perform.

We pray for officials who inspire fair play.

We pray in God’s name. Amen.

It takes a special kind of mentality to be offended by a polite and voluntary request to a higher being asking for character development, sportsmanship, parental love and fair play. Fortunately for blogging fodder, here in Marin we have those special mentalities.  While some understand that a private organization sponsored by the Catholic church is within its rights to ask people to join it in a prayer, others are up in arms.  Some merely express discomfort — a la “religion has no place in sports” — but some are much more aggressive in their hostility to the idea:

A decision by Catholic Youth Organization leaders to ask young athletes to pray before basketball games has touched a nerve among residents of the San Geronimo Valley.

“I understand that if we rent to one religious group, we have to rent to them all. But I still don’t like it,” said Richard Sloan, a trustee of the Lagunitas School District, which co-owns the San Geronimo Valley Gym. “I’m going to put up a sign in front of the gym: ‘If you don’t pray in my school, I won’t think in your church.’”  (Emphasis mine.)

At least Sloan is honest about his incredible prejudice.  Others are trying different tactics, including the claim that many parents had no idea the Catholic Youth Organization was actually Catholic; that no one needs to ask God for help with pushy parents because there are only a few of them out there in West Marin; and that West Marin’s varying faiths are so delicately balanced against each other that no end of chaos could result because of this bland little prayer for good sportsmanship.

In a funny way (or maybe it’s not so funny at all), this secularist hostility and its aggressive efforts to shut down all forms of privately expressed faith in the public square reminds me of a problem I’ve always had with Islam:  namely the Islamists’ incredible fear that their religion can’t compete, so that the only way to preserve the faith is to kill (really kill, with sword, stone, hangman’s rope and bomb) the competition.

I like having a marketplace of religion.  This marketplace is not one in which practitioners of one religion coerce, kill, harass, humiliate, stone or demean members of other faiths.  Instead, it’s a marketplace in which various religions generously and often lovingly make their activities and rituals available to others, secure in the belief that there’s a viable product, one that builds, rather than destroys.  I’d be a lot happier if the secularists would have the same approach, rather than aping the Islamists, by trying to shut everyone else down.

Little towns, big, big government

I own (or, rather, the bank and I own) a nice lot here in Marin County.  I’ve got a pretty back yard with views of hills and water.  When the trees at the back of my property get too tall, I hire a reputable tree trimming company to cut them down.  That sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it?

It turns out, though, that in Marin, even cutting a tree on ones own property can be fraught with hazards and pitfalls, depending upon which town, or which “not town,” you call home.  As you read the following, keep in mind that I’m not talking about a situation in which you’re demanding that a neighbor cut one of his trees that interferes with your view, or that a neighbor insists that one of your trees should go for the same reason.  I’m talking about a situation in which one of your own trees is bugging you:

In San Rafael, there is no regulation governing removal of trees on private property, while in Tiburon, Sausalito and Belvedere, homeowners may cut trees that block views.

But in the San Geronimo Valley and other unincorporated areas across Marin, regulators want homeowners to spare that ax — unless they’ve got official permission and lots of cash to pay for the privilege.

Although the average tree-cutting permit charged by Marin cities is about $98, county officials now bill unincorporated area residents $1,490 for a “minor” tree removal permit — and twice that for a “major” permit involving a heritage tree.

The high woodsman fee and a plan to reduce from five to two the number of trees that can be cut each year before fees are imposed has residents up in arms in the San Geronimo Valley, where proposals to outlaw tree-cutting near streams to protect salmon habitat have prompted controversy for three years.

Read the rest here.

Silly though it sounds, I’m not ready to get my knickers in a twist.  Trees are the Marin equivalent of zoning.  Marin, after all, offers four things that make it so that people are willing to pay a fortune to live here:  (1) proximity to San Francisco without the inconvenience of San Francisco; (2) a temperate climate; (3) gorgeous trees; and (4) gorgeous views.  These last two, of course, have a nasty habit of conflicting with each other, which is why you can make a lot of money here as a lawyer specializing in view disputes.  (And no, I’m not one of those view lawyers.)  In other words, in Marin, tree/view laws are as important as zoning regulations are in other towns that regulate businesses and red light districts.

My purpose in raising this issue here is twofold.  First, I find it amusingly Marin-ish, and pass it on for that reason alone.  Second, it’s a reminder why local government is a good thing.  This is precisely the type of issue that should be fought out at the local level.  Can you imagine what would happen — God forbid! — if one of Obama’s federal agencies got involved?

I want David Axelrod’s job

No, my post title to the contrary, I don’t actually want to be a Democratic political operative.  Want I want to be is a speaker who can be pleasant, charming, and say nothing at all — and still get paid (at a guess) $30,000 per 90 minute speech.  I can do that.  I’m quite charming, I can be extremely clever, and I’m just a master at saying lots of nothing.

I mention all this here because I unexpectedly got the opportunity to hear David Axelrod speak at the Marin County Civic Center yesterday.  I took detailed notes but, once I reviewed the notes, I discovered there was nothing there, not to mention the fact that I don’t want to run afoul of Axelrod’s intellectual property rights in his own speech.  Still, I think I can keep my nose clean, and avoid intellectual property theft charges with this bullet point list of my impressions:

  1. Axelrod got a full house, which means around 3,000 Marin-ites gathered to hear him speak.
  2. The average age in the audience was OLD.  I was one of the young’uns there, and I’m no spring chicken. (More of a late summer, early autumn chicken.)
  3. Axelrod was charming. He has a very pleasant baritone voice, and a relaxed, easy speaking style.
  4. Axelrod was also dull. The Italians call his kind of speech “fried air,” meaning that there were lots of words, but there wasn’t much content.  (I’d be really good at that kind of speech, plus being charming.)  He described how he met Obama, how wonderful the young Obama was, how wonderful the mature Obama is, etc. He made a few half-hearted attacks against Republicans (especially Perry, which was interesting), but mostly he just wandered on with his canned speech. At periodic intervals, he spouted obligatory conclusions about the wonderfulness of his liberal ideology and the foulness of the Republican world view, but he never made the case for either of these points — which is unsurprising, I guess, since the audience was already on board with his position.
  5. The whole thing was lifeless and lackluster. Axelrod seemed tired and, while the audience was very friendly, it lacked energy.

My main complaint about Axelrod’s speech was that he didn’t talk about his work.  I wanted to hear the nitty-gritty about how a major campaign operative plots a national campaign.  I wanted to learn how he looks at the demographics, how he targets speeches to different audiences, how he sizes up and plots challenges to opponents, and how he responds to attacks from opponents.  I didn’t need dirt, but I wanted detail.

Instead, Axelrod gave a Hallmark card overview of Obama being gifted at reaching out to people and Obama writing his own speeches and Obama this and Obama that.  Axelrod implies, graciously perhaps, that Obama ran his own campaign (and didn’t break a sweat doing so), but by vanishing so far into the woodwork, he sounded bored and the audience never got interested.

Why higher taxes are not the answer

Victor Davis Hanson hits it out of the park with his post explaining why higher taxes are not the answer.  Some of his twelve reasons are better than others, but all are worthy of your consideration.  This is my favorite of the twelve, but I think you’ll like them all:

2) Inequality?

Liberals reply that income inequality is worse than ever. (Note here in their own lives they have no problem with other “merit”-based inequality: e.g., Why can’t Johnny Depp turn down a couple of roles so other less fortunate actors could star? Why doesn’t Cornel West at last break up his endowed mega-salaried professorship into three or four lectureships for the struggling part-timers? Why doesn’t Maureen Dowd go down to one column every other week to allow less compensated New York Times op-ed writers a chance to catch up? In other words, why not back off from the trough and let others have a go?) But back to income inequality: some of those figures are not just attributable to the proliferation of $200,000 orthodontists, but to factoring in the mega-fortunes of a Johnny Depp ($50 million last year in income alone) or a Warren Buffett. The onset of a globalized market allowed a new top bracket to make tens of millions of dollars, a world away from the lesser professional. There is no aggregate homogenous group of “the wealthy.” My big-farming near neighbor (500 acres in vineyard plus), who probably nets $300,000 on a rare good raisin year like this one, is a world away from the late Steve Jobs or the thousands of million-dollar-plus incomes in Silicon Valley. This incongruence is not a rhetorical point or special pleading, but evident through the president’s own rhetoric: “Millionaires and billionaires” is a deliberate attempt to weld two disparate groups together — one making 1000 times the other (if the president is talking of annual income), or one worth 1000 times more than the other (if the president is talking about net worth). But is the Menlo Park bungalow owner who teaches at Foothill College and might be “worth” $1 million (given housing inflation) really comparable to Meg Whitman? Mr. Obama knows that there is not enough of the 1% of the 1% to come up with enough revenue to cover his new $4 trillion in debt, but does he think that by going after the top 5% or 10%, well, there just may be?

I’m actually sensitive to this comparison issue, because Marin skews things. In most other parts of America (other than the other rich liberal enclaves scattered about America), we’d be rich. In Marin, we’re squarely in the middle. Because prices here are so ridiculously high, we live in a middle house, drive middle cars, shop at middle stores, and send our kids to public schools. If we had the same income in Kansas or Texas, we’d be much more comfortably situated — and in Texas, we wouldn’t be turning more than 50% of our money over to the government (state, federal and local).

Of course, we could move, but I like it here:  our house is near my aged mother who is too old to be relocated; the temperate climate suits me, because I’m a wuss; and our neighborhood is unique by any standards, providing a truly perfect backdrop to raising decent, honest, nice children.

The poor ye always have with you

A big issue in Marin is low income housing.  Marin liberals feel guilty that they don’t have poor people living near them.  Rather than hauling themselves into a nice slum, what they do is use legislative fiat to put poor people into the middle income neighborhoods of Marin.  (Interesting, none of these low income houses end up in Marin’s really rich neighborhoods.)  Marin has done this low income housing experiment before, most recently in the town of Corte Madera, which was forced by court order (love those activist judges) to build housing for poor people.  (And the hell with the marketplace, community norms, or people’s investment in a safe, economically stable community.)  A month ago, one of the residents in this court ordered housing was arrested for running a meth clearing house in one of the units.  She wasn’t making the stuff, thank God, but she was acting as a middle man.

A similar fight is now shaping up in Novato, the northernmost town in Marin, and the most conservative.  Hundreds of people spent their life savings to buy properties in what they anticipated would be a middle class neighborhood, with a “medium dense” population.  Novato politicians are now planning to re-zone the entire district for densely packed, low-income housing.  People who have already bought in the community are, unsurprisingly, devastated and quite angry.  This is a government taking, and they fully understand that.

What few people know, but I’ve been hearing through the Marin political grapevine, is that this is part of a whole plan to turn the Highway 101 corridor into a densely populated, low income community that will vote Democratic in perpetuity.  The rezoning goes along with the push to create a light rail (which will work only if there’s a huge volume of poor commuters) and a desalination plant, which is necessary only if the powers that be are contemplating vast increases in Marin’s water demands.  These vast increases are tied to a projected growth in population which, in turn, is tied to high density, low-income housing.

If you’re a Marin resident, and you’re contemplating a choice between Democratic incumbent Jared Huffman and Republican opponent Bob Stephens for the California Assembly, and if you like Marin as a safe, affluent, aesthetically appealing community, you might want to think long and hard about making the knee-jerk decision to vote for the Democrat in this election.

Bob Stephens for California Assembly

[To keep things clear, unless I explicitly preface a statement by saying "Bob said" or "Bob pointed out," or something similar, the opinions expressed in this post are mine, and reflect my understanding of Bob Stephen's approach to governance, as well as my view about California's myriad problems.]

I went to a party last night held to introduce Bob Stephens, the Republican candidate to represent Marin in the California assembly.  Bob is a courageous man.  How courageous?  Marin is so overwhelmingly liberal, he’s the only person willing to try to run as a Republican against Jared Huffman, the Democratic incumbent.  Even the good news that registered Marin Republicans have swelled from approximately 26,000 to approximately 31,000 since Obama was elected means that, in a county with about 100,000 liberals, he’ll have a hard time finding a winning majority.

Still, if anyone can penetrate Marin’s liberal hegemony, Bob might be the one to do it.  He’s got a straightforward political platform, which is really predicated on a single issue:  California is broke and going broker.  Politicians like Huffman who tinker with green this and green that, are essentially putting make-up on a soon-to-be corpse.  Bob explained that, unless the climate is made more business friendly, unless the bureaucracy is cut, unless pensions are controlled, and unless out-of-control spending is stopped, there will be no California left at all.  As it is now, Bob pointed out that Moody’s bond ratings place California, once the wealthiest state in the union, at number 50 out of 50.  (Hurricane ravaged Louisiana ranks higher than we do.)  Bob also reminded the party’s attendees that, in education, California, which was once the top-rated state in the union, is now 48 out of 50.

California’s government infrastructure is so bloated it has to be seen to be believed.  To make this point, Bob unfurled seven pages of paper, taped together (meaning they are taller than I am) listing, in single space, without hard returns, and without paragraph breaks, California’s many agencies — more than 500, in fact.  Bob acknowledged that many are necessary for a functioning state, such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Education (although I’d seriously clip the latter’s wings).  Others, however, are duplicative or of dubious necessity (or both).  Bob brought our attention to a perfect example of overkill in the consumer protection realm:

Surely those can be consolidated? As it is, each of those agencies, which serves the same constituency (people who buy things in California) has its own staff and budget.

It’s clear that, whether or not he is associated with the Tea Party movement, Bob is a tea partier insofar as he is a fiscal conservative who believes that taxpayers should not and cannot be forced to pay for a bloated, ineffective government that sucks up money without generating conditions within which wealth can be created.

My major concern about Bob after hearing him speak is that he is manifestly a really nice guy.  As the RINOs in Congress show (nice guys all, I’m sure), nice people can easily be intimidated by Democrats who have no compunction about smearing people as racists, if they oppose illegal immigration or out-of-control welfare spending; or as murderers, if they point out the necessity of cutting back on programs that benefit children and the elderly.  Bob told me that he can handle this heat.  He explained that he is not a career politician.  At 75, he’s entering politics to try to salvage California for his children and grandchildren, not as a means of starting a glorious political career.  With a focus on the bottom line, he says that he refuses to get sidetracked by name calling.  In his mind, the answer to every gratuitous swipe is an obvious demand for one vital piece of information:  “Show me the money.”

And with that last statement, Bob made me see why it’s possible that, in today’s bizarre political climate, a Republican might be able to win in Marin.  You see, unless the Assembly has mastered Rumpelstiltskin’s trick of turning straw into gold, all the Leftist name-calling in the world won’t trump California’s new reality, which is that we’re broke.  If Bob, who is a good communicator, can help Marin voters understand the reality of that bottom line, he stands a better chance with worried people than does Huffman, a man who seems committed to spending taxpayer money so that green, wealthy Marin, can be green long after the wealth is gone.

(By the way, on the point of green, one of the guests at the party told me that Huffman is less green than he appears.  Three of his pet projects — SMART rail, a desalination plant, and a consolidated energy plan — will inevitably result in significant low-income, Democratic-voting population growth along the new train corridor in Marin.  This will bring about 500,000 extra people in Marin, turning Marin from a wealthy, green oasis into yet another California community of, bland, back-to-back, ticky-tacky houses crawling across cement covered hills.  I’ll blog more about this, with greater coherency, if this guest sends me the information he promised on the subject.  Otherwise, this may be all I have to say on the subject, so I throw it out here for what it’s worth.)

A community beset by violent crime turns its energies to . . . stopping smoking

I live in Marin County, one of the most affluent counties in America.  It is an extremely well-managed community (although budget cuts might have their effect here too).  Crime is low, streets are clean and well-maintained, and lovely flower beds and hanging pots brighten public walkways.  Our libraries are well-stocked and well-staffed, our town offices pleasant to work with.  It is a prime place to live, that’s for sure.

Across the Bay from me is the City of Richmond, California.  Richmond has some major industry, since Chevron has a ginormous refinery there (ugly during the day, a bizarre fairyland, because of the lights, at night).  It also boasts a vast regional Social Security office, a Kaiser hospital, a cool model train museum in the charming historic Pt. Richmond district, some shopping centers, a BART station, and other stuff of ordinary life.  Sadly, Richmond also has one of the worst crime rates in California. It’s no surprise that, in Marin, crime stories in the news routinely report that the perpetrator wasn’t local, but came over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge for the easy pickings here.

Beset by troubles, the Richmond government is taking seriously its responsibility to . . . stamp out cigarette smoking.  Yes, one of the most violent cities is apparently directing significant energy and resources to ensuring that its citizens do not get one last cigarette before their gang banger executions:

Richmond, not usually associated with stellar air quality, won praise Tuesday for protecting its residents’ lungs by enacting some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the country.

“We have lots of challenges in this city, but we can also be at the forefront of change,” said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. “We managed to pass some groundbreaking legislation and we’re very proud of this recognition.”

The American Lung Association lauded Richmond for turning the organization’s annual tobacco-control grade from an F to an A in just one year, due largely to a first-in-the-nation law the City Council passed in July that bans smoking in apartment buildings.

The city also barred pharmacies from selling cigarettes and banned smoking in parks and other public spaces.


“What this says about Richmond and its leadership is extraordinary,” said Jane Warner, head of the American Lung Association’s California branch. “They took a bold move, expecting to get political backlash, but in reality they didn’t. It’s phenomenal.”

Richmond, home to one of the largest oil refineries in the country and numerous factories, has some of the worst air quality in the region, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Richmond has the region’s second-highest rate of sulfur dioxide, which is linked to lung cancer and respiratory problems. Only Crockett has a higher rate.

McLaughlin said the city’s authority over industrial emissions is limited, but tobacco legislation is relatively easy to enact. The smoking ban in apartments met almost no opposition.

I loathe cigarettes with unrivaled fervor, but I find it very disturbing that a citizenry that is beset by the worst types of violent crimes should be denied the right to smoke in their own homes.  I also find disturbing the fact that the City is manifestly directing a great deal of energy towards dealing with a problem that is, as much as anything, a personal choice, rather than a public crime.  I know I’ll hear about the children who are saved from a life smothered by Daddy’s and Mommy’s cigarette smoke, but I still think that it’s better if Mommy and Daddy aren’t gunned down.

Interestingly, practically-perfect-in-every-way Marin has failed the cigarette smoking test:

Measures taken by Marin’s cities and county government to curtail cigarette smoke have improved slightly but continue to fall short, according to a new report card from the American Lung Association.

The annual study gave five Marin cities failing grades, while four got D’s, two received C’s and Novato, which passed sweeping tobacco control legislation in 2008, garnered a B, one of only 11 jurisdictions statewide to do so. The marks were a slim improvement over the association’s 2008 report, in which seven of Marin’s cities received failing grades.

The report card based its grades on three categories: laws to encourage smoke-free air outside places like restaurants, movie theaters, and ATMs; regulations on smoking in multi-unit housing; and reduction in sales of tobacco products, particularly to minors, through the creation of local licensing of tobacco sales.

Perhaps our local Marin governments are just paying lip service to this whole ALA thing, since the fact is that there is little smoking in Marin.  I can go weeks without smelling cigarette smoke.   You see, in Marin, we have the strongest possible disincentive to smoke:  it’s socially unacceptable — and that is a very good reminder that societies can police themselves simply by setting acceptable standards of behavior without the need for government intervention.