Category: Politics

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We Voted Today

My wife and I dropped off our ballots at Garfield Elementary, which is located in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. Crossing the parking lot, we saw three people, presumably all poll workers, sitting in folding chairs under an awning outside the school entrance. We had forgotten about masks, which the trio suddenly pulled out and put on before walking inside. Then a brave one came out to meet Annie and I, holding in outstretched arms a yellow canvas sack that blocked the woman from the two pariahs—meaning us. We dropped in our mail-in ballots, and she rushed away. Gosh, I sure hope that wasn’t the trash liner.

Californians are being asked whether or not they want to remove the governor. Unfortunately, opponents and proponents have framed the recall election in terms of Gavin Newsom vs front-runner Larry Elder, which distracts from the reason for everyone going to the polls. The special election is absolutely about Newsom vs Newsom, whether or not he should stay in office or be replaced. Nothing more matters. The answer is Yes or No.

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Yeah, Let’s Lower Old Glory to Honor Them

Since the disastrous defeat in Afghanistanself-imposed, but denied, by the current Administration in Washington, D.C.—I have observed a number of American flags flying half-mast in my neighborhood of University Heights. The question: Why aren’t they all?

San Diego is still very much a military town, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is located in the Northern section of the county. Nine Marines and a Sailor stationed there were killed in the Kabul Airport bombing about 10 days ago. The White House ordered half-staff flags for the fallen heroes—yeah, let’s lower Old Glory to honor them. So why are only a few of my neighbors doing so—again, remembering the area’s military heritage, the Navy, especially.

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Some Common-Sense Perspective

Two coincidental reports published today put fresh perspective on the demonstration that breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The Featured Image pairs the headlines and illustrating photos side-by-side: Reuters on the left and Wall Street Journal right. Heretofore I have cautiously opined about the incident because of political polarization that taints any reasonable discussion. My missives (in order published—all January 2021): “Flowers, Anyone?“; “Citizens are the True Symbols of Our Democracy“; “Divided We Stand“.

This week’s collapse of the Afghan government and violent ruling return of the Taliban stands in stark contrast to the unarmed dweebs dumb enough to breach the Capitol building some seven months ago. I don’t mean to diminish the clash that occurred between some zealous Trump supporters and law enforcement, but wonder: How can anyone call that an insurrection after the actual overthrow of the government in Afghanistan? Let’s briefly discuss the two stories, for some common-sense perspective.

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Decisions, Decisions

On June 15, 2021, California will largely reopen—fifteen months after Governor Gavin Newsom shut down most businesses and institutions, also instructing citizens to stay at home, in an attempt to slow spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. This sidewalk sentiment seems oh-so appropriate for near-normalcy returning. Granted, inflation rises, the housing market is insanely competitive, supply shortages increase cost for goods like lumber, and many reopening businesses struggle to hire enough employees—among other oddities. So normal isn’t nearly enough.

Newsom will free Californians four days before the traditionally celebrated Freedom Day/Emancipation Day—also known as Juneteenth. How ironic—or arrogantly preemptive—is that? But he is not relinquishing the emergency powers used to close down the state. How will that decision affect his chances during the special recall election that could, in a few months, remove him as governor? Surely some people will respect his maintaining authority, while others will say that he oversteps his gubernatorial powers. We’ll see soon enough.

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The Twilight Zone of Pandemic Politics

Some things go so oddly together that you must stop and regard them and wonder. Today, while walking along Shirley Ann Place in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, a “Recall Newsom” sign surprised me; it’s the first one seen anywhere here. My wife fixated on the Easter eggs hanging from a tree in the same yard. She missed the one thing, and I the other. Mmmm, what does that say about selective vision and being drawn to what interests you while having a blindspot for what doesn’t?

As strangely as the cheerful eggs and hopeful sign are juxtaposed, something else made the scene feel even more Twilight Zone-like: The house beyond with the American flag flew something different before the Presidential election: Old Glory with spray-painted BLM. Well, I couldn’t leave without photos, which were captured using Leica Q2. The Featured Image (warning: 27MB file), which is composed as shot, shows the street. The cropped companion brings together the three elements. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 12:25 p.m. PST. The other is f/2.8 and 1/640 sec.

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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 Vermont 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.