Ragged Claws

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

One of the Reasons I Love My Neighborhood...

...is because there are frequent opportunities to say "I saw the peacock again." According to one of the neighbors, a nearby farm went out of business about a year and a half ago and left the peacock free to saunter through suburban streets. The last several times that I've seen it, the peacock has been entranced by a large mirror that one family put in their front yard, and was pecking compulsively at the threatening yet oddly handsome stranger in the glass. Not that I find it easy to pull my eyes away from such a striking creature either - between the brilliantly colored feathers, reptilian legs and thoroughly improbable tail, it seems like the bird found its way here from some less sensible but more interesting world. (Photo by Jessica Merz)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Lest They Be Forgotten

Before it disappears into the recycling bin of history (from which it will be taken to the pulping plant of oblivion, then reborn in glorious effulgence as the paper towels of tomorrow), here are some highlights from the California Primary Election Official Voter Information Guide for June 6, 2006:

"When Tax Laws [sic] change, the first thing I think is: 'How is this going to affect me?'" - Glenn Forsch, Republican candidate for Board of Equalization, District 4, page 37.

Right on, Glenn! Because the public interest is always fully compatible with the interests of a single individual.

"I will seek complete access to medicinal herbs which has [sic] relieved the suffering of thousands. Further, if elected I will promote the use of industrial hemp to help farmers and communities survive in tough economic times. I will seek environmental reforms to authorize new energy sources, especially those derived from the oil of hemp seeds." - Lynnette Shaw, Libertarian candidate for Lieutenant Governor, page 33.

I agree that it would be a good thing to decriminalize marijuana, but Lynnette's insistence that hemp will save California makes it sound as if through some wacky chain of circumstances she secretly inherited her great-uncle's pot farm and now has to run for lieutenant governor in order to sell the harvest legally and preserve the jobs of her new employees, who are eccentric but have hearts of gold. Maybe an orphanage needs to be saved as well, so the fate of some cute kids is also riding on the outcome of the election. Actually, if we're going with the kids then I think a ranch for retired circus animals should also be involved somehow. So okay, Lynnette's running for the sake of the quirky pot farm employees, the orphans, a couple of arthritic giraffes, a toothless lion and a family of performing meerkats. It's a good thing that the election's over, because I think I just totally talked myself into voting for her.

"As the state's financial watchdog, I will support efforts to secure our borders against terrorists, criminals, and illegal immigration. That will save billions of dollars spent on the jailing of illegal immigrants who are rapists, burglars, murderers, and other convicted criminals." - Abel Maldonado, Republican candidate for Controller, page 34.

Clearly, illegal immigration is the new gay marriage, an issue meant to provoke people to froth in anger because a group which lacks various social and political benefits is nevertheless Getting Away With Something. Maldonado can certainly froth with the best of them. The link he's trying to draw between saving money and securing the borders is completely specious, though, unless you share his bizarre belief that California is besieged by terrorists and violent criminals trying to sneak in to the state (damn Oregonians...) Can you imagine what kind of contortions Maldonado would have had to perform had the red meat issue du jour been, say, flag burning? "As the state's financial watchdog, I will protect tax revenue by ensuring that sparks from burning flags never incinerate homes or businesses...or that, um...okay, let's think...flag burning, finances, flag burning, finances...oh, whatever, I give up. Dirty hippies."

"For 13 years I worked with Nobel Peace Prize nominee and anti-gang children's book author Stanley Tookie Williams...To learn more about me, watch the award-winning movie Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story (actress Lynn Whitfield portrays my character)." - Barbara Bechnel, Democratic candidate for Governor, page 39.

Aargh, this drives me nuts. Anyone can "nominate" anyone else for a Nobel Prize. If you're running low on funds this Father's Day, you can nominate your dad for a Nobel Prize in chemistry. Go nuts, and nominate your mom for a human physiology prize as well! Of course, the various prize committees will throw away your letters unread, because they have their own, strictly confidential process for selecting nominees.

And the pièce de résistance...

"I will be an Insurance Commissioner who will make rates affordable, guarantee access to insurance, and bring health insurance under the regulatory authority of that office. But I'm starting my campaign someplace different. With myself. Insurance rates reflect not just the behavior of insurance companies, but the behavior of Californians as well. And some of that behavior is not very good. Some people commit insurance fraud, some drive recklessly or under the influence...But the biggest factor in insurance costs is people not taking care of their health. In my case, it's my weight. A study by the US Department of Health's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that obesity in California costs $7.7 billion a year. I want to become an example to others to lead healthier lives by losing weight myself. Fighting the obesity epidemic will lower insurance costs. I will keep my progress and program on my website. (Unlike other political websites, this will be a site dedicated to noncommercial health and nutrition information.) If you or someone you know would like to start trying to live a healthier life, join me at "StartWithCruz.com." - Cruz Bustamante, Democratic candidate for Insurance Commisioner, page 42.

Thought one: Hey Cruz, if you think that one of the main reasons that insurance rates are so high is because too many people have unhealthy lifestyles, then how about getting health insurance plans to cover gym membership? I'd be going to the gym near work every day if it didn't cost $40 a month with another $100 in enrollment fees.

Thought two: Maybe when you're talking to voters, you might want to indicate that you prioritize their interests above those of the corporations that you'll regulate if elected?

Thought three: Aiming to be a poor man's Mike Huckabee is setting a low, low bar for yourself indeed.