smashing shopping carts and hugging corgis: just another day in states in contact with the Pacific Ocean

every so often, i like to return from my week-or-so hiatus to randomly comment on some things, and it’s PROBABLY time that we did another one of those “find some outrageous things in the news and get all worked up about them, or, okay, maybe just make some jokes about them, because that is the kind of thing i enjoy doing from time to time. so, alright, here we go:

Hawaii state lawmaker Tom Brower
i’m going to be honest: i think the REAL motivation between this man’s bizarre question to destroy homeless people’s shopping carts is to be seen posing with the sledgehammer

lawmaker takes sledgehammer to Hawaii homeless’ carts

going to be honest here: when i heard about this, i presumed it was some really weird PR-stunt where a lawmaker helped get a bunch of homeless people housed and then dramatically smashed their carts because “they wouldn’t need them anymore” or something like that. you know, a weird maneuver that celebrates something of fleeting value but shows how people Did Something. but then again, apparently Hawaii is fucking crazy. note: i have never lived in Hawaii.

“Hawaii state lawmaker Tom Brower was fed up with the state’s homeless problem. His solution, however, left him branded a vigilante. Brower took a sledgehammer to abandoned shopping carts. “I get a lot of complaints about stolen and abandoned shopping carts in Waikiki, and I was thinking as a public servant, ‘What can I do that would be practical and I can literally do overnight,'” Brower told CNN affiliate KITV.”

okay, let me go ahead and start a list for Brower:

01. work to house these homeless people
02. prosecute them for stealing the shopping carts
03. literally anything aside from smashing the goddamn carts with a hammer

there, that was easy!

“”I’m not doing anything different than doing a community cleanup, or what the city’s administration has tried to do with the issue of people illegally camping on the streets,” he insisted. “I’m just doing it quicker.” He began in late October and estimated that he destroyed about 30 of the carts, which are often used by homeless people.”

please, god, let him have smashed some carts that were totally NOT being used by homeless people. also, i am pretty sure that neither “community cleanup” or whatever the hell the city’s been trying to do with homeless people involve smashing homeless people’s carts. actually, let’s go further: i have NEVER heard of anything addressing the homeless that involves smashing their carts. even in situations where people could not give a fuck less about the actual homeless themselves!

“It’s not advisable (and) not smart,” the state’s homeless coordinator Colin Kippen told KITV. “It’s mean-spirited and is vigilante justice.” Callers to Brower’s office slammed the lawmaker. “What if I smash his car up with a sledgehammer ’cause I don’t like what I see,” one caller said, according to CNN affiliate KGMB. Brower decided to stop. “I guess I shouldn’t use the sledgehammer because it’s a really loaded image,” he told KGMB.”

again, i submit that he just wanted to be seen posing with the sledgehammer. but yes, it’s absolutely mean-spiriting, Brower, AKA GUY WHO RUNS FOR PUBLIC OFFICE AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, I MEAN, I DON’T LIVE IN HAWAII SO MAYBE THERE’S A NUANCE I AM MISSING. also, i don’t want to encourage anyone to smash up Brower’s car, because all that would happen is someone with something to lose would actually get prosecuted while Brower got to preen victoriously on television, but it would be seriously hilarious.

“The controversy marks the latest chapter in Hawaii’s struggle with homelessness. Hawaii has the highest rate of homeless per capita of any state — about 45 people out of every 10,000, according to the Homelessness Research Institute. The only area with a higher rate is Washington, D.C., at about 113 per 10,000. Beautiful weather and generous public assistance programs have helped attract people to Hawaii; very high housing costs have added to the homelessness levels.”

wait, the top two for homeless are beautiful Hawaii and shitty DC? that’s kind of weird. not sure it has anything to do with a flaming need to smash their carts with hammers, but it’s still weird.

“In August, the state legislature approved a pilot program to offer plane tickets off the islands for some homeless people. “We’re going to send them back to their family, a strong support network system where they can get back on their feet,” Rep. John Mizuno said at the time, adding that the plan would “save our taxpayers a substantial amount of money. New York and San Francisco have paid to relocate thousands of homeless people in recent years.”

well, i guess the hammer thing is only marginally more fucked up than “just fly ’em somewhere else.” but honestly, here’s the weird part for me: Hawaii, New York, San Francisco… aren’t these liberal bastions that should be promoting a safety net for their disadvantaged citizens? don’t get me wrong, i understand you don’t want to be taken advantage of, but really? plus, Tom Brower is a Democratic House member of the Hawaii State Capitol? you know… for some reason that wasn’t mentioned in the article, which left me with the impression he was some kind of default “fuck the homeless” Republican.

NOT SAYING THERE’S A REASON FOR THAT OR ANYTHING

(also, there apparently ARE Republicans in Hawaii’s state legislature. i checked.)

“Brower wants to see Hawaii take other steps, as well. “I believe we should have some type of homeless campground because a lot of people on the streets, either they don’t have the discipline to go to the shelter, or they don’t want to,” he told KITV.”

well, he and i agree on one thing: we hope Hawaii takes steps to address the homeless BEYOND “letting some kind of crazy person smash up all their carts FUCK YEAH!” because i just don’t see that being the BEST solution, you know?

alright, let’s get a little saltier…

Jennifer Fearing & Sutter Brown
not going to lie: i would totally hug Jerry Brown’s awesome-looking corgi

critics howl over lobbyist walking governor’s dog

so i had to search up a variant piece because i didn’t want to cite an NRA-ILA article (not because i think there’s anything wrong with it, but honestly, i know people see them as too biased to report fairly), so this might be missing some of the outrage:

“Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s “first dog,” cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown? That’s the question being raised about Jennifer Fearing, the senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, who critics suggest has turned her role as regular walker of the governor’s dog into a cannily effective way to lobby the state’s chief executive on animal rights issues. Fearing scored a perfect 6-for-6 record this legislative season in getting bills signed by Brown, placing her in the ranks of Sacramento’s most effective lobbyists.

Among the coups for the Humane Society was legislation banning lead ammunition that Fearing said endangered as many as 130 species in California. It was one of 11 bills signed by Brown out of the 18 that the Legislature passed to restrict guns or ammunition. “The question needs to be asked,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Free California, a gun-rights group that opposed the lead ammunition ban. “Is there a conflict of interest with such a close relationship between a lobbyist and a governor” – and his popular pet?”

okay, let’s get this right out in the open: if the situation was reversed, liberals would be screaming for blood over this. SCREAMING. because even if everything is totally on the level, this looks dirty as hell. is Fearing a registered lobbyist? apparently she is. is she arguing for legislation? yup. that should be enough right there for anyone unbiased to say “it looks like there’s a little bit of a problem”: it’s not really about what the legislation is for, other than the fact that those against it will call her out and those in favor will see no problem here. it’s about how this shit LOOKS.

“The Humane Society director, who has strolled the Capitol grounds with Sutter since Brown took office in 2011, said that notion is ridiculous. “If people think I am resting on the furry laurels of Sutter Brown,” she said, they should know that “I work awfully hard to pass these bills, for someone who’s just a dog walker.
“I genuinely like that dog,” Fearing said. “I really enjoy the relationship I have with him” and with his owners, the governor and his wife, Anne Gust Brown. “It’s not contrived or political,” she said. “They let me share him with others … and it’s created a whole aura in the Capitol.””

oh, i don’t doubt she likes the dog and/or that Brown has no issue with letting friends walk him. but that’s not the question, and one should note she basically dodges it with the “i work awfully hard to pass these bills” thing: the contention is not that she does not “work hard,” the contention is that her dog-walking is a conflict of interest (and something she should be reporting). but i will give the SF Gate credit for citing some theoretically unbiased third parties:

“Ethics experts suggest that although the Humane Society head may be a dedicated animal lover, her closeness to the key canine merits a closer look. Fearing is “a powerful person who wants something from the government,” said Jessica Levinson, an expert on law and governance issues and associate professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. With her role in the dog’s life, “she has access to Gov. Brown,” Levinson said. “There are a variety of ways to exercise influence.” California taxpayers, for instance, would have a right to know if “Brown had a kid, and his tutor was head of the California Teachers Association,” Levinson said.”

exactly; it’s about the influence, not about the fact that she likes his dog. i’m sure his dog is awesome! corgis are awesome! i would hang out with famous and/or important peoples’ corgis all day if i could. but i’m also not the head of an organization lobbying for legislation. and if i WAS, i wouldn’t be flip and dismissive if someone questioned my activities. well, okay, i probably WOULD be flip and dismissive because i am kind of an asshole and all that, but i wouldn’t claim there was no issue with a straight face.

this week we enjoy the sweet taste of Bloomberg’s tears: surprisingly similar to Mountain Dew!

personally, i like to savor the sadness of some of the unpleasant people that i regularly make a little fun of around here, and while it might take me a little time to get around to publishing an update these days, i don’t think that can really detract from such enjoyment, can it?

Bloomberg & Friends
the only thing in this picture worse for your health than all those OMG GIANT SODAS is Bloomberg’s smug expression

Bloomberg’s Tears Taste Like Mountain Dew

…which is pretty much the best title this article can have, because it sort of reminds me of that episode of South Park where Cartman is gleefully tasting Scott Tenorman’s tears. granted, it’s a flaw in any analogy if it finds you taking the place of Cartman in it, but hey, here we are. anyway, i think we were actually making fun of Bloomberg or something like that?

“Yesterday New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the state’s highest court has agreed to hear an appeal of the decision that overturned his big beverage ban on separation-of-powers grounds. … The idea that his powers might be limited by law, even when he was using them in the service of what he considered a vitally important cause, left Bloomberg fuming.”

and let’s be clear: Bloomberg is not even mad that he lost a decision on this front. he’s furious that they AGREED TO HEAR THE APPEAL. technically, he could actually win this appeal… but never mind that, the notion that someone dares to disagree with him on this point –and we’re talking about his ridiculous large soda ban here, so it’s not the most cut-and-dry point to make– is the real problem. because Bloomberg knows best or something like that. then again, we’re talking about a man who ran with the argument that changing the law to give him a third mayoral term was cool for him, but not anyone else, so it should be clear what kind of person we’re talking about.

“We have a responsibility as human beings to do something, to save each other, to save the lives of ourselves, our families, our friends, and all of the rest of the people that live on God’s planet,” he said in response to Tingling’s ruling. “And so while other people will wring their hands over the problem of sugary drinks, in New York City, we’re doing something about it.”

i’m not really sure this level of melodrama actually makes his argument more compelling. but i am going to be a little flip and ask why, if he’s in the business of doing SOMETHING to save all these people, doesn’t he use his vast fortune to directly help more people? feeding the hungry or funding hospitals or something like that? granted, that’s expensive, but why is it that all these rich politicians only want to save others by either infringing on my rights or doing something to make me pay for their solution? and i say this not from a position that says the government can’t accomplish anything or that taxation is always wrong.

“Bloomberg wanted reporters to know that Tingling’s decision “was not a setback for me.” Rather, “this is a setback for the people who are dying.” He added, lest there be any misunderstanding about his paternalistic motives, “In case you hadn’t noticed, I watch my diet. This is not for me.””

there’s also a flaw in Bloomberg’s reasoning here that will never occur to someone with his paternalistic attitude: he’s declaring this law won’t affect him because he manages to watch his diet, presumably to include not guzzling giant sodas, WITHOUT the law being in place. and yet no one else can do this? or, to go further, is there no way the average New Yorker can watch their diet without a law forcing them to do so? maybe Bloomberg thinks there isn’t, but frankly, that’s the goddamn problem with Bloomberg: not agreeing with him is a flaw in your thinking, and obviously, a law or twi should be installing to correct this outrage.

“Yesterday he was slightly more restrained: Obesity is the only major public health issue we face that is getting worse, and sugary drinks are a major driver of the crisis. The related epidemics of obesity and diabetes are killing at least 5,000 New Yorkers a year and striking hardest in black and Latino communities and low-income neighborhoods. New York City’s portion cap rule would help save lives, and we are confident the Appeals Court will uphold the Board of Health’s rule.”

it’s touching of him to express all this concern about black and Latino communities when you consider the fact that he wants nothing to do with the black and Latino communities’ concerns about things like Bloomberg’s precious stop-and-frisk. or, you know, anything else that Bloomberg disagrees with. but as a side note, i thought that Bloomberg’s anti-gun noise was based on it being a “major public health issue” as well? granted, he could want to see THAT solved with draconian bans (and by “solved,” i clearly mean “not fucking solved”) whether or not it’s getting worse, mainly because he wants to argue that guns are terrible BUT that his police are perfect and stop all crime without any inappropriate behavior on their behalf. but it still seems… contradictory.

also, i just have to quote Sullum on this point:

“Notably absent from Bloomberg’s comments about the setbacks suffered by his pint-sized pop prescription: any explanation of why he has the authority to do what he wants to do. As with the NYPD stop-and-frisk program, he seems to think calling a policy effective or important is tantamount to showing it is legal.”

bingo.

anyway, de Blasio is making it seem like the city’s not going to be pushing hard for this under his tenure as mayor, which probably infuriates Bloomberg all the more, so while i doubt i’ll be a big fan of de Blasio, i’ll give him credit for this maneuver. and speaking of policemen operating under Bloomberg:

Raymond Kelly
not pictured: Raymond Kelly’s request for a six-man detail to protect him from these post-9/11 photographers!

Ray Kelly Wants 6 Detective Detail When He Leaves Office

Outgoing Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly wants to take half a dozen detectives to protect him and his family after he leaves the NYPD, DNAinfo New York has learned. Citing the fact that he will remain a “high profile target” after he leaves office, Kelly informed insiders at Police Headquarters that he will request the contingent of detectives — each will remain on the city payroll making about $120,000 a year — to shepherd him around town and protect him and his family during their travels, sources told “On the Inside.”

i know it’s the default pro-gun guy thing to point out how guys who can rely on government-approved, armed security are often mysteriously unable to understand why an average citizen would want to keep a gun for self-defense (and why they wouldn’t want that gun to be restricted by laws that attack magazine capacity or “assault weapons” or whatever), but come on, i think we can all see what’s going on here. and i’m pretty sure that in New York, Kelly’s immune to many of those laws that affect the average man –you know, the ones that clearly don’t hurt anyone’s self-defense, right?– so he should be even better off than the average guy. and yet he needs this level of protection?

“Meanwhile, over at City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to take virtually his entire contingent of officers with him — about 17. But that crew — a lieutenant and the rest detectives — will all file for immediate retirement, collect their pensions and head off to work for the billionaire ex-mayor, who will be paying each of them $150,000 a year.”

now while i think it smacks of double-dipping to retire and grab a pension while working a $150000-a-year job, that’s at least something allowed by the current situation, and the $150000-a-year cost is being paid by Bloomberg. but since Kelly’s not a billionaire, he’d like to afford the perks of being one on the state’s ticket because… uh…

“He maintains he needs the taxpayer-funded, round-the-clock protection because he has served for 12 years in a post-9/11 New York and made himself the face of fighting crime and terrorism in the Big Apple.”

so he served in the highest-ranking, highest-paid police position in NYC in “post-9/11 New York” (and i really don’t understand how that makes a difference) and presumably lives in a nice, safe neighborhood with plenty of non-detailed police protection and can’t list any specific threats or plots or even vague notions of them. look, i’m sure that the man DOES have enemies and all, but i’m also sure that every police officer who’s help prosecute criminals does, and they don’t all get six-man detective details. also:

“In 1994, after Kelly served as police commissioner for 18 months under Mayor David Dinkins and was in charge during the 1993 World Trade Center terrorist bombing, he kept one detective to chauffeur and escort him around town. After four months, the detective was restored to regular police duties.”

so to be clear, in PRE-9/11 NEW YORK, he also requesting continuing protection, got one detective, and the city found that was unnecessary after four months. so what exactly has changed. the article also notes the last other commissioner to take taxpayer-funded police protection:

“In August 2000, Howard Safir, who was commissioner for four years, took a 12-member contingent to protect him around the clock. He said the security was necessary because of vague threats against him. After seven months, the detail was pared down to a sergeant and seven detectives. At the time, the size of his detail was sharply criticized by NYPD observers and good government groups. “Any ex-commissioner who can afford his own security or can have someone else pay for it should not foster the cost on the public,” one former commissioner said.”

pretty much, former commissioner, pretty much. frankly, i would think that if Kelly needed a six-man detail, he’d be able to clearly state a) why he wasn’t able to afford his own security (or, i suppose, admit what level he COULD afford) and b) why the fuck he needs this level of security, or any security at all. but hey, what do i know, i’m just a lowly prole and all that.

okay, i realize this is going to be VERY New York-themed (a city/state i don’t live in, no less), but one final one:

Anthony Weiner & Friends
this picture is awkward enough that i don’t think i really need to make jokes about it, but come on, Anthony, raise the tray up!

Anthony Weiner Blames Profile Writer For Not Asking About His Sexting

i know the standing narrative, at least from the right, is that conservatives are for personal responsibility and liberals are not, but whether or not that’s REALLY true, it definitely seems to be what Weiner’s operating under at this point:

“Anthony Weiner has found another person to blame for the implosion of his mayoral campaign: the profile writer who never explicitly asked him whether he had kept sexting internet strangers after resigning from Congress. Weiner launched the trial balloon for his mayoral bid with an 8000 word profile in the New York Times Magazine – a largely flattering look at his relationship with wife Huma Abedin and his redemption after being forced to resign over his online sexual behavior. Left unmentioned was that Weiner had carried on at least three raunchy online relationships after his resignation, including one with Indiana woman Sydney Leathers – whose revelations ultimately tanked his campaign.

Now, Weiner claims the flattering profile wasn’t what he wanted after all.”

now, i think it’s pretty clear in light of all past events that the reason Weiner sat for that profile WAS to prepare for the failed mayoral bid he just staggered through. granted, he PROBABLY didn’t think he’d get flayed for those “at least three raunchy online relationships” because that’s the kind of self-delusional prick that he is at the time… but since that’s what absolutely torpedoed his campaign, he’s decided to retroactively claim that’s what he wanted all along:

“The problem was that the story was completely different from what we thought would be written,” he told GQ magazine. “I thought there’d be thousands of questions about the sexting. But there wasn’t a lot of conversation about that. We had a guy who wasn’t tough enough. We needed someone to just tear away at me. And not someone who would do something sympathetic. He wrote an aftermath story, about two interesting people. Later, I thought, ‘We didn’t get this done. Of the hundred things we wanted to do, the one thing we wanted to accomplish was to get that out there!'” he said.”

now, there’s a couple of issues here:
01. if he wanted the sexting discussed… why wouldn’t he have just brought it up himself? either during the interview, or post-interview, when he had this “we didn’t get this done” moment? is a reporter NOT going to write about Anthony Weiner’s sexting if Anthony Weiner calls him up before publication and says, “wait, we should have chatted about my sexting?” but we’ll come back to this.
02. furthermore, if the issue was the UNKNOWN, post-congressional sexting, how would the author have covered it if Weiner himself hadn’t brought it up? no one really know about it at the time. and frankly, the fact that it was unknown AND that Weiner brought his family to this piece really implies that he wasn’t prepared to talk about it if it HAD been sprung on him. so this is all highly disingenuous.
03. look, if you have “one thing you want to accomplish,” you don’t really have a “hundred things you want to do.” you have one thing to do.

“Asked why he didn’t offer up the information in the many hours of interviews for the piece, Weiner said, “I should have!…That’s on the list of the hundred mistakes you make in a campaign.”

note that Weiner says this EVEN THOUGH he claimed a) he went into the interview wanting to talk about the sexting (“the one thing we wanted to accomplish was to get that out there”) and b) realized after the interview he didn’t talk about it even thought he TOTALLY wanted to! look, the new revelations torpedoed his campaign. i don’t care if it should or shouldn’t have (okay, it should have), but the fact is, this is NOT something he wanted to talk about, or he would have. but it IS something that he wants to claim after the fact to make himself look like less of a flagrant dumbass who took this level of secrets into an election.

“The profile writer, Jonathan Van Meter, bristled at Weiner’s comments, speaking publicly about Weiner for the first time. “Somehow Anthony is blaming me and my 8,000-word story for the fact that everything turned to s— for him. I wish I knew if there was a word for all this. There’s probably a German word for it,” Van Meter told GQ, saying he was told by sources close to Weiner and Abedin that the former Congressman deliberately decided to hide his sexting relapse.”

oh, there’s a German word for EVERYTHING. but in the end, this is telling about guys like Weiner: it’s not about whether or not their personal failings make them unfit for office, it’s about them feeling they DESERVE the office so badly that they don’t let their personal failings come into the equation. and if they fuck it all up somehow, it’s not actually their fault for that development somehow. and people wonder why i have a low opinion of politicians…

alright, that’ll do it for this time!