The Blob

Saturday, August 16, 2003

It's the fabulous motel of the future!!!

I've got a hot tip for your next vacation: The fabulous Gobbler Motel and Supper Club. A friend turned me on to this place as part of the hilariously funny Web site of Minneapolis Tribune columnist James Lileks.

Set in the wilds of Wisconsin, the Gobbler is an out of control architectural tour de farce, a museum to really bad 1960s kitsch architecture and interior design. If you pine for the swingin' 60s Midwest-style, The Gobbler is your kinda place. From batteries-not-included interiors to 8-track stereos, it's the perfect place for that romantic fling on the side with your secretary. Just don't forget to bring your leisure suit and toupee.

Check it out. This place is a kitsch gem.

You can run, but you can't win

Gray Davis will do just about anything to distort the democratic process. Poll after poll shows that the people of California clearly want him to go. But with any dysfunctional person, denial is usually stronger than truth. A perfect case in point is the latest legal move in attempts by Davis supporters to block the state gubernatorial recall election:

Federal judge says he may delay California's Oct. 7 recall

(San Jose-AP) -- A federal judge in San Jose says he may decide to postpone California's October recall vote.

US District Judge Jeremy Fogel heard from civil rights groups earlier today. They argued that the quick election is forcing changes in the voting process that require federal approval.

Under the federal Voting Rights Act, any changes in the voting process must be pre-cleared by the Justice Department in places like Monterey County that have a history of low voter turnout.

Fogel set a hearing for August 29th. He suggested he may delay the election at that hearing if federal approval hasn't happened by then.

Also today, Fogel ordered Monterey County not to mail out its overseas ballots until the issues are resolved.

So much for allowing the people the right to choose and vote.

Gray Davis is a crafty politician. But he's an incompetent governor. Delaying an election through legal technicalities is an attack on the democratic process, and in the long run will only deepen the resentment and harden the resolve of the voting public. Before this nightmare is over, we will see more unethical attempts to deny the people of California their rights.

Take his conflicts of interest with labor unions, for example.

In turn for ironclad support of Davis and his Democratic party apparatchuks by labor union leaders throughout the state, the Governor quietly instituted mandates to increase union control of the state employees, and thus lock workers under Democratic control. Until recently, state employees were free to choose whether they wished to join a union or not. Two years ago, Davis introduced a "fair share" deduction for unions, which mandated that all employees of the state would automatically have $29 deducted from their paychecks to go to union dues, regardless of whether or not they belonged to a union. Other actions have been put in place to force non-union employees out of the state workforce.

Or take the state auto registration fee. Governor Davis proposed tripling the annual fee on all registered vehicles. The reaction was swift and loud, and plunged the Governor's already low approval ratings through the floor. Quickly backtracking, Davis and the Democrats opted instead for a more subtle and highly illegal approach: proposing to hike taxes on liquor, cigarettes and wealthy taxpayers. There's nothing illegal about that, except that levying new taxes in California requires a 2/3rds majority of the state legislature. Davis proposed doing this by decree, basing that this was a trade-out for the rescinding of the vehicle tax increase that itself had not been approved.

Mr. Davis, you can run, but you can't win. The sooner you accept that, the better California will be.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Yessir, Gray, we're listening

If you live in California like I do, the next few weeks will be entertaining. The soundbites will be omnipresent, as will the canned photo-ops. But somewhere amid the media hysteria an election will break out. First, we have to get past the self-important media and their non-stop drivel that this election is a carnival.

The real clown is Gray Davis. Had he an ounce of competence or shame, we would not be where we are right now.

The Washington Post reported today that Gov. Gray Davis said in an interview broadcast Monday that the effort to recall him was an insult to those who voted last year. And what about the rest of us? I would say that Governor Davis' tenure has been an insult to Californians who have had to put up with mismanaged energy, going from a budget surplus to a $35 billion deficit in only two years, a governor who thinks that our tax dollars are an ATM machine to grease his friends in big labor, and that's just the beginning.

Or this snippet from a canned appearance on the Today Show: "I have gotten the message," Davis told NBC's Today Show. "I understand a lot of people signed the recall. We are trying very hard every day to solve people's problems."

We expect a leader to lead. We expect a leader to anticipate challenges and to respond promptly. All I have heard from Davis year after year, when confronted with another problem is, "We've got to do something about that." The quote from Governor Davis on the Today Show is exactly why Californians demanded a recall election: he doesn't get it. He never has, and never will.

Meanwhile, at what I surmise is its own leanings and tremendous pressure from the Democratic National Party and big labor, some of the networks are falling over themselves to fawn all over the beleaguered governor. CNN is a perfect example. Report after report on CNN slings mud at his chief rival, Arnold Schwartzenegger in a desperate attempt at Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). From accusations of womanizing to attacks on his late father's Nazi past, CNN is almost shrill in their contempt of anyone but Davis and his sidekick, Cruz Bustamante.

Yes, it's a carnival alright. A carnival not of the Angelynes, Larry Flynts or Father Guido Sarduccis of this world. The real laughing stock is the Governor and the media who choose to defend the status quo. If there is any insult to the voters, it's them.

We've been asked by Governor Davis to listen to him. We're listening, and we're making up our minds. "I am the Governor," he asserts. Yes, you are. When you going to behave like one? "I have the experience that my opponent does not." You ran on your experience and look where it got us. And if the polls hold up, you won't govern California much longer. Too soon won't be soon enough.

Bill Versus the Volcano

Whether you have a PC or not, you probably have um, issues, with Microsoft, that little company from Redmond, Washington. It's the company that everybody loves to hate while they keep on buying their products. Now, don't get me wrong: I buy their products too. And to their credit, they do a lot of things right. But what gets me about them is their Borg-like drive to want to control, own and dominate everything on Earth. But hey? Why stop there?

I think I found something that just might: Mt. Rainier.

Yes, boys and girls, stately Mt. Rainier, the beautiful, white-capped volcanic mountain that breathtakingly dominates the vista from downtown Seattle. Did I mention it was a volcano? In fact, it is considered an active volcano. In my last visit to Seattle, I stopped to admire its grandeur. Its steep slopes and massive height make for a compelling sight. But if you're a geologist or volcanologist, that's the sign of an explosive volcano just waiting to happen.

Think Pompeii.

Anyway, I was reading this rather unsettling article on the MSNBC Web site and it got me thinking. What if the big one happened, and buried the interplanetary headquarters of Microsoft under (use your Dr. Evil voice here) millions of tons of hot magma. That would delay the rollout of Longhorn, the promised next version of Microsoft Windows even more than it already is.

In fact, I could see a movie version of this starring Bill Gates: there he stands, checkbook boldly outstretched before him in the face of a violent, onrushing, superheated, ever-widening pyroclastic flow. As the good people of Seattle cower in fear behind him, the rush of superheated magma, rock, mud and steam suddenly screeches to a grinding halt. Yet again, Bill emerges triumphant.

Sound too fantastic to believe? Maybe not. Just ask the Department of Justice.

(Author's note: my hope is that the people of Washington never face such a calamity. It is an incredibly beautiful area. And damnit, I love, no make that need their coffee.)