Category: Politics

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What’s Not Upside Down in California?

While walking along Monroe, approaching Utah, in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, a street sign beckoned my attention. Consider the Featured Image, captured using Leica Q2, as a metaphor for all things unimaginably crackers about the Golden State. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2, ISO 100, 1/5000 sec, 28mm; 2:54 p.m. PST, Feb. 10, 2021.

We could start with the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns that have devastated California’s economy; compelled tens of thousands of businesses to permanently close; put millions of people out of work and unable to pay either rent or mortgage; prevented landlords and lenders from collecting the aforementioned and prohibited them from evicting tenants and homeowners; forced families or individuals into homelessness; kept kids out of school for 11 months and counting; opened the prisons, releasing potentially dangerous individuals into the population (many of these former inmates become homeless); and—hell, that’s long-enough list of misery.

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Surely There is a Better Way to Help the Homeless

I specifically shot the Featured Image, yesterday using Leica Q2, to illustrate this essay. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 11:22 a.m. PST. The carts belonged to one of three homeless men gathered together a few meters away on the Hillcrest side of Washington Street Bridge (University Heights is on the other). For sure, San Diego has a significant indigent population. But I write about San Francisco and something that surprises me—and perhaps will you, too.

According to the SF Chronicle (sorry, subscription required), the city is “currently sheltering more than 2,200 homeless people in about 25 hotels” and the “monthly program costs range from $15 million to $18 million”. By my math, that works out to between $6,818.18 to $8,8181.82 per person each month. If these people were paid, the equivalent annual salary would be between $82,000 and $98,000. Oh, and looks like the United States government will cover costs through the end of September 2021.

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Life Before

A year ago, the Chinese government locked down the city of Wuhan for what would be 76 days in response to a virus later given name SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2); COVID-19 is the disease that results from infection. For some reason, perhaps then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial as distraction, I didn’t see news about China’s action until three days later. I immediately recognized the implications: Supply-chain disruptions being one—and another, as I told my wife: “Fear is the contagion”. That statement is even more true as the Novel Coronavirus crisis enters its second year.

We started stocking supplies—things we anticipated wanting but possibly would be unavailable if SARS-CoV-2 disrupted Chinese manufacturing and shipping, which later occurred. By early February, I religiously watched Prepper videos on YouTube in preparation for a pandemic—either real or result of widespread fear. Annie and I came upon an apartment we wanted to rent, which delayed our buying foodstuffs. On February 28, we chose not to take the place and finally starting stocking up. As such, we beat the long lines and supply shortages resulting from the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic (March 11); Trump proclaiming a National Emergency (Friday the 13th); and Governor Gavin Newsom closing California for business and ordering citizens to stay home (March 16).

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A Bible Story

My wife has started reading the Bible, which helps her cope with these trying times that never seem to end—and they won’t as long as SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—better known as COVID-19lockdowns destroy lives and livelihoods and deep cultural and political fissures foster an American Civil (Cold) War. Anne had been using my 1980-edition, leather-bound Harper Study Bible that I purchased used for $60 in April 2017. This morning, she decided to buy a Good Book for herself.

The question: From where? Before even I could answer, she stated: “Not from Amazon”. Okay. I knew that Rock Church has a Christian bookstore in Point Loma, Calif.; we could go there. “What about La Mesa?” she asked—having no idea if there might be a bookseller there. “Siri, Christian bookstores”, I queried. Sure enough, there turned out to be a shop at 4695 Date. Ave. To the car we walked, then drove East to a rewarding shopping expedition but disheartening look at too many shuttered small businesses.

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Divided We Stand

At Noon EST today, Joseph R. Biden Jr. ascended to the Presidency of the United States, having taken the oath of office about 12 minutes earlier. He later issued 15 executive orders, which is an unprecedented number compared to his predecessors. None to one is typical on the first day. Democrats are unified controlling the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

Biden’s first-day actions and posturing by the House and Senate are indicative of a party with a mandate. But there is none. The 46th President won the 2020 Election by slimmer-than-appears electoral margin and Democrats command a narrow number of seats in Congress. The data, along with recent protesting and rioting by conservative and liberal constituents, reflect a nation deeply divided, rather than united behind the new Commander-in-Chief. The situation portends that his calls for unity will fail, although I hope otherwise.

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When You Can’t Serve People, Squirrels Must Do

The mom of Bruce, Guido, and Little—all of which appeared in my “Cats of University Heights” series—put out a clever, cutesy squirrel feeder. There is a sad sweetness to the gesture. She can’t serve people—no thanks to California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s order prohibiting all restaurant dining—and last I heard her employer might join the increasing list of local eateries and pubs put out of business.

In this County, SanDiegoVille keeps a running list of the permanently shuttered since the pandemic’s start. I count 115 eating or drinking establishments, but more when accounting for businesses with multiple locations.. Uncontrollable spread of COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), demonstrates that forced closures are ineffective subduing the pandemic.

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Citizens are the True Symbols of Our Democracy

I wonder on this 92nd Martin Luther King Jr. birthday what the great civil rights leader would think about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. during 2021. Following last week’s U.S. Capitol breach during a massive rally of Donald Trump supporters, the District is essentially locked down ahead of the January 20 inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris. A seven-foot high, non-scalable fence surrounds the symbol of American democracy, which may never be freely open to the public again.

“Roughly four times the number of American troops currently deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined”—that’s 21,000—are protecting the U.S. Capitol and D.C. for the inauguration, Karina Zaiets, Javier Zarracina, and Kim Hjelmgaard write for USA Today. Alex Ward, first-hand reporting for Vox: “The seat of American democracy looks like a city under occupation”.

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Flowers, Anyone?

The Featured Image is an attempt to soothe the soul, following an insane few days that promise to be absolutely crazier. I captured the flowers on April 2, 2018, using Leica M (Typ 262) and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens. Vitals: f/4.8, ISO 200, 1/250 sec, 50mm; 10:24 a.m. PDT. Photo is composed as shot; no edits.

As for the bizarre goings on, to start: During a massive rally of up to 1 million people (my guess, 250,000-plus) in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021, protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol during certification of the electoral vote that confirms the 2020 Presidential Election winner. Violence ensued, and lawmakers were evacuated, including Vice President Michael Pence. A woman (Ashli Babbit) from here in San Diego was shot and killed by police. Later, an officer (Brian Sicknick) died of injuries sustained during the melee. Politicians quickly called the assault an “insurrection” and failed “coup”, blaming President Donald Trump for instigating the incident.

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You Can Ride During the Pandemic, Why Not Eat?

I am a big fan of public transportation, particularly subway and trolley transits. No argument from me: During the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—better known as COVID-19pandemic, public transportation is a necessary service that gets people without cars to the grocery store, pharmacy, or, if essential workers, to their jobs.

Something bothers me: If San Diegans are safe enough riding in an enclosed bus for, say, 20 to 40 minutes, why does California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom consider open-air dining to be risker and, therefore, is prohibited? I surely would worry much more about being inside a bus for any length of time, where riders feeling asphyxiated—particularly older folks who are more likely to be on board and are high-risk to catch COVID-19—pull down masks below their noses and even their mouths. Can you say super-spreader event? Because I surely can.

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California’s Christmas Coal Stocking Stuffer

For a state top-heavy with liberal-leaning Climate Change crazies cruising electric cars and demanding the end of carbon emissions, California sure loves coal—as in stuffed by the truckloads into Christmas stockings. Governor Gavin “Grinch” Newsom assures plenty of blackened lumps this holiday, following his most recent order that effectively shuts down most of California and demands that citizens stay home and embark on nothing more than “essential travel”; how odd that trips for alcohol and cannabis are allowed, although I’d like to think that Santa regards them as naughty and worthy of a sack of curbside coal—seeing as how the lockdown order permits deliveries but forbids visits from the likes of Old Saint Nick.

Today marks the first full day of shutdown misery, which will last until at least Dec. 27, 2020. Driving through Ocean Beach this morning, I was struck by how many eateries and pubs had set up outdoor dining areas—some costing tens of thousands of dollars to construct. Now they’re useless monuments to COVID-19, colossal wastes of capital, and resounding lessons that trying to do the right thing for public health is the wrong approach when Governor Newssolini keeps changing the rules by which businesses operate during the pandemic.

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California Cancels Christmas

Reading the list from my previous post, Cali life might seem so fab that you’re ready to move to the Golden State. Cool your jets and read on first. Earlier today, Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom extinguished the light at the end of the holidays, by announcing even more SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19restrictions that assure Santa won’t shimmy down any California chimneys this Christmas Eve, even if wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. St. Nick Corp. isn’t an “essential business”, meaning one exempt from the onerous obstructions to living—or even breathing—under the benevolence of Governor Newssolini’s  auspicious authority.

Bigger than the new lockdown protocols is their nebulous nature. Newsom has organized the state into five regions, placing San Diego County with Los Angeles County, which has the greatest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (e.g. infections) in the United States. He expects that ICU capacity will fall to 15 percent within the next day or two, which will be the event that steals Christmas from Southern California, if not statewide. But he was downright dubious about when this would happen, although he could confidently say that once the trigger pulls, the new shutdown order would be in place for at least three weeks. Do the math. Santa ain’t coming this year!

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The Benefits of Living the COVID California Crackdown

Thanks to Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s dictates demanding that citizens stay home, California is now a fine freeloading paradise where taking responsibility for anything is a crime. But that’s okay, because his do-nothing principle is assured to protect us—locked inside our own living-in-paradise prisons—from SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), also known as COVID-19.

I have heard some commenters refer to the Gov as Newssolini, but anyone with more than two functioning neurons should see such insinuation insults the dictator. (Say, Mr. Mussolini, how’s the temperature in Hell these days?)