Sunday, August 17, 2014

Screwing My Neighborhood for SB 375

I live in the Bay Park area of San Diego as many of you know.  During the Council District 2 race, I became aware of a controversy regarding a change to height limits to buildings along Morena Blvd, which runs north-south in parallel with I-5 on the west side of Mission Bay.  Since both main candidates opposed the changes, I figured this was a dead on arrival proposal and didn't think much more about it.  However, I continue to see homemade signs and professional yard signs in my neighborhood, which piqued my interest.  Here is the issue in a nutshell: In order to meet SB 375 targets to reduce per capita emissions from vehicles, the city planners are proposing to build high density, six story condominiums near the future trolley stations along Morena Blvd.  Screw that, to coin a phrase. As a current resident of the area, I am going to suffer massive traffic congestion to meet ephemeral emissions targets as no provision will be made for the influx of traffic.  No way will a majority of new residents be using the trolley to get to work downtown.  Hence the inevitable traffic mess.  Because the plan is intended to "reduce emissions," there won't be any more lanes on Morena Blvd, Clairemont Drive or Sea World Drive to handle all the extra traffic. (Have you tried to get on I-5 north from Sea World Drive during rush hour, even now?)


Annotated plan delivered to my doorstep by RaiseTheBalloon.com.  Click for larger image.

All the rezoning going on this city is designed for social engineering to get the subjects in line with the goals set by the state's political elite.  If you want to reduce emissions, the better path is through a carbon tax that increases incentives to use fuel efficient vehicles without severely disrupting the economy or the value of our homes.  Of course, the left has never supported a carbon tax as a means to tackle pollution or climate change proving that their real goals are social engineering and socialism.

According to the CA Air Resource Board, San Diego region is required by SB 375, to cut per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 7% by 2020.  Somehow, building high rise condominiums close to new trolley lines is supposed to achieve that goal.  No mention of whether the fossil fuels consumed to build the trolley lines and the condos will count against the emissions cap.  Here is the Orwellian double-speak from the 2010 press release announcing the targets:
"These targets are ambitious, achievable and very good news for California communities.  Improved planning means cleaner air in our cities, less time stuck in your car, and healthier, more sustainable communities," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "Cities that choose to develop Sustainable Communities Plans that meet these targets have an advantage when it comes to attracting the kinds of vibrant, healthy development that people want."
"Less time stuck in your car" translates we want to prevent you from driving by making driving living hell for you.  Thanks.  The folks at RaiseTheBalloon are a lot more polite in their criticism:
The pressure being exerted on our neighborhood to carry the 3 trolleys and the proposed development could lead to unsustainable urban compacting, displacement of our elderly and poorer residents, and put an unreasonable strain on our infrastructure while clogging our routes into and out of (ingress and egress) Bay Park, Bay Ho, and the Mission Bay areas.  We are encouraging the entire Clairemont Community to get involved and understand the issues.  Please see understandtheplan.info for more information.
If you troll through the planning document (Morena Blvd Station Area Planning Study), you will find that despite the planned increase to urban density, no changes to accommodate more traffic are contemplated (p. 121):

  • Motor vehicle traffic lane configurations and capacity on each of the major and  collector streets within the study area would remain essentially unchanged under the adopted community plan. 
  • Morena Boulevard (north and south of the two splits with West Morena) and West Morena would remain designated as major streets. Since major streets are to be designed to 45 mile per hour (mph) design speeds, existing travel lane widths and intersection designs are expected to remain. 
  • Traffic capacity enhancements would be limited to the planned extension of Knoxville Street as a 2-lane collector to West Morena Boulevard to provide a direct connection with the planned Tecolote station, while also allowing some motorists to avoid delays at the Morena/Tecolote intersection by providing an alternate route with a direct connection to West Morena. 
However, since there is considerable rush hour traffic out of Point Loma into this area, and no connection from Sea World Drive to West Morena, this does little to alleviate the foreseeable problems at the Morena/Tecolote intersection.  (Tecolote is an extension of Sea World Drive).

Please visit www.RaiseTheBalloon.com for more information on how to end this social engineering.

What You Should Be Reading

  • The CA Air Resources Board (CARB) is set to implement a cap-and-trade system for transportation fuel (gasoline) that will increase costs at the pump starting on January 1, 2015.  Bet voters didn't know they approved a gas tax with AB 32.  Tank the Tax has the FAQs
  • Dalrock is great reading for a Christian interested in the intersection of our faith with modern feminism.  He nails it again, pointing out the troubles from delaying marriage.
  • KTCat has some advise for San Diegans diving the Point Loma kelp beds

Friday, August 15, 2014

Minimum Wage Referendum Expected and Desired - UPDATE

San Diego's 10News is reporting that a campaign to repeal an expected rise in the minimum wage is being organized by the San Diego Small Business Coalition. (I urge you to "like" their Facebook page.)
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the measure, but the San Diego City Council is expected to override it. If that happens, Jason Roe, spokesman for the San Diego Small Business Coalition, says he has already begun to fundraise and has "substantial commitments from small businesses." 
Roe says the group is ready to launch a ballot drive to repeal the hike. Some 34,000 signatures must be gathered in a month to get it on the ballot in June 2016.
Meanwhile Council President Todd Gloria is already asking people not to sign the expected petition.  Pretty clear that the referendum fight is game on.  The petition is a great idea that I will support by getting signatures and making donations.

If the minimum wage hike stands, it is going to be a nightmare to have a different wage in San Diego than in neighboring communities.  Enforcement will be tough.  How will the City Attorney collect records from out of town businesses?  Further, such a measure erodes the competitive edge of San Diego businesses at the margins.  The minimum wage hike will only hurt the working poor and punish businesses.  All the energy expended on an issue that only helps a very small 2% of the workforce is all the proof I need that something foul is afoot.  Minimum wage hikes are a back door way for unions to get wage concessions without bothering to bargain or strike.  When some thug tries to stop me from gathering signatures on my petition, I guarantee that they will have been paid by a union.

UPDATE - From the U-T:
The San Diego City Council voted Monday to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of gradual increases in the local minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017, starting the clock on a referendum campaign that business leaders have said they’ll pursue.
If opponents can collect the 34,000 valid signatures required for a referendum by Sept. 17, the wage increases will be held in abeyance pending an election in June 2016.

What You Should Be Reading
  • The supposed death of the Tea Party has been greatly exaggerated.  
  • Meanwhile the left is pinning their hopes of defeating Carl DeMaio's challenge to Scott Peters by tying Carl to the Tea Party.  (I guess its not good enough to actually be LGBT to get support from that community, you have to be the right kind of LGBT.)  
  • The VOSD fact checks claims and counter-claims in the Peters-DeMaio race regarding Peters' role in the pension scandal.  While they take DeMaio's claims to task, they also note that Peters' did not in fact solve the problem.  His involvement in the pension mess is surely a liability that no amount of left-leaning fact checking will wash away.  To be fair, I like a lot of the VOSD reporting, despite their clear bias.
  •  Having a tough time blogging, research getting tough?  Consider hiring a virtual assistant (VA) for $5 per hour.  Wait, will the city attorney come looking for me if my VA is in India, but I benefit from the work?  (Seriously, I have considered this, as the research and editing is slowing down my writing.)
Wouldn't you rather be doing internet research for me?



Public domain image of 1903 Chicago "sweatshop" workers.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rule of Law and Medical Marijuana

The U-T reported this morning on San Diego city government's failure to shut down illegal medical marijuana shops.  To be clear, there are currently no legal medical marijuana shops in the city.  
 The case is instructive on the results of the failure of the rule of law, including the failure to pass implementing laws that unwelcome, but legal activity to proceed.  Councilmember Ed Harris wants a process that shines the light of transparency on the efforts to close the illegal shops.
The proposal comes as the abundance of illegal dispensaries has begun adding turbulence to the already complex approval process facing applicants trying to open the city’s first legal pot shops. 
Part of that process, which began in April, is getting the blessing of neighborhood leaders who serve on community planning groups. But multiple planning groups have said frustration about illegal dispensaries in their area makes them less likely to embrace the legal dispensaries being proposed 
In both Pacific Beach, whereas many as 25 illegal dispensaries operate, and Mira Mesa, where there are roughly half a dozen, community leaders say the illegal pot shops are tainting the process of approving legal ones.
It has been almost 18 years since California passed Prop 215 which legalized medical marijuana sales and somehow we can't figure this out.  The interference of the federal government in shutting down pot dispensaries hasn't helped, after the unfortunate Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v Raich, which expanded the interstate commerce clause unnecessarily.  However, San Diego never really came to grips with how it was going to allow this unwelcome but lawful (under California law) activity.  But then, Mayor Filner made it worse, of course, by announcing that he would not enforce the zoning laws regarding the dispensaries, and wouldn't wait for the legislative process to work this out.  The result has been predictable; with the growth of illegal dispensaries to 100.  (This seems to be playing out on the southern border as the President's repeated insistence that he would grant various forms of amnesty unilaterally has provoked a humanitarian crisis.)

I can only hope that we can speed the process of allowing the legal permitting of dispensaries, so that neighborhoods feel that they are protected by law and have a voice in where the dispensaries are located.  My concern is that the slow wheels of bureaucracy will have the same effect as the illegal tactics of Filner, only illegal dispensaries operating.  Lack of clarity in the law, failure to allow a path ahead for what should be legal activity and a failure to enforce the law have led to this mess.

Making matters worse, the California state legislature has again failed to pass a bill that would impose statewide uniformity on medical marijuana and further normalize the business.

Photo credit: "Medical-marijuana-sign" uncropped image from Laurie Avocado. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

What You Should Be Reading

  • Lots of military members angry at Ferguson law enforcement over tactics and paraphernalia heavier than what they used in Afghanistan.  See all the tweets
  • Professor Perry has a host of great links on the Ferguson MO issue.  My favorite is from Nick Gillespie: Let’s Make Cops Wear Cameras – “Everyone behaves better when they’re on video.”  The situation Ferguson also has to do with the rule of law.
  • KTCat continues to skewer the administration over its failure to deal with ISIS.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Inevitable Fall of Iraq

Lately, I have been turning on CNN for coverage of the Middle East, and found them to be well, fair and balanced.  Anderson Cooper asks tough questions of guests and has a variety of them.  I was surprised at how well one guest summarized the roots of the conflict.  Essentially, the Shia majority under Maliki was abusive of its power towards the Sunnis.  (Of course, the Sunnis were favored by Saddam who brutalized the Shiites, but whatever.)  This has given rise to ethnic hatreds that fueled support for ISIS. ISIS claims to represent a swath of Arabic speaking peoples in the western Mesopotamia, parts of Iraq and Syria.  These people feel more loyalty to tribe than to the imagined country named Iraq.  Of course, I am not the first one to notice this. Writing in the CSM in 2007, O'Brien Browne laid out the case for separate nations to be carved out of Iraq.
Mesopotamia, as the region that includes Iraq was called until recently, had never been a "country" or "nation" in the modern senses of these words. The wise and largely benign rulers of the Ottoman Empire, who reigned over this land for centuries, realized that no outside force could ever rule this area by foisting preconceived notions of nationhood upon the population, whose loyalties lay with family, tribe, linguistic grouping, and religious orientation.
Unfortunately, when historic mistakes must be corrected, but the only means of correction is armed conflict, the most violent and ruthless group will come to the fore to lead the charge.  This is how the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, to cite one well-known example. ISIS is nothing if not ruthless and bloodthirsty, but that will be their undoing as the administration of the apparatus of statehood requires skills other pure ideology.  Further, they have made too many enemies.  The governments of Syria, Iraq and Turkey are all going to work against them, as well as the Kurdish regional government.

Meanwhile, Browne saw the break up of Yugoslavia as instructive for what might need to happen in Iraq.
Unfortunately, this meant that wars had to be fought. Though vicious, cruel, and bloody, this process was vital. Its beneficial results can be seen on a modern map of the region: New countries such as Croatia have the telltale odd shape and wiggly lines of older, established, stable countries. Gone are those artificial border lines, the unreal trappings of a federation that should never have existed. Gone, for the most part, too, is the explosive anger that exists when ethnic groups are unwillingly thrown together. Instead, although Serbs, Croats, and the other groups do not love one another, they can now live alongside one another in relative harmony. Where this is not the case, as in Kosovo, ethnic tensions continue to bubble.
I think that ISIS has made too many enemies to survive, but the idea that the Sunnis of western Mesopotamia should have their own state will outlast these vile genocidal madmen.  There is no constitution capable of imposing trust between peoples riven by religious and ethnic conflict.

Some maps to help sort it out:  Iraq by ethnicity/religion source: Royal Burglee's Flatworld Knowledge web site:





Here is the situation today, according to a map on Wikipedia titled "Syria and Iraq 2014-onward War map" by Haghal Jagul - Own workTemplate:Syrian civil war detailed mapTemplate:Iraq war detailed map. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.


Map of Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi insurgency
   Controlled by Syrian rebels 
   Controlled by Syrian government 
   Controlled by Iraqi government 
   Controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) 
   Controlled by Syrian Kurds 
   Controlled by Iraqi Kurds 
   Controlled by the Qaraqosh Protection Committee

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ebola Ethics

The Washington Post blog post about "white" Americans getting an Ebola serum reminds me of an old joke about the Post.  The Almighty gave the editors of the Post a call to let them know that the world was ending the next day.  True to form the WaPo headline read: "World to End - Women and Minorities Impacted Most."  Distribution of the serum to Americans has jack to do with the fact that they are white and everything to do with the fact that they are Americans.  The serum is being developed by an American company, Mapp Biopharmaceutical, based right here in San Diego, I am proud to say.
Before this outbreak, ZMapp had only been tested on monkeys. Mapp, the tiny, San Diego based pharmaceutical company that makes the drug stated two years ago: “When administered one hour after infection [with Ebola], all animals survived…Two-thirds of the animals were protected even when the treatment, known as Zmapp, was administered 48 hours after infection.”
Here are the ethics.  American technology and compassion are fighting Eblola and when the disease is brought under control, it will be because of America.  So Americans get first call on the vaccine.  To be fair, Arthur Caplan touches on some of this in the article.  He also asks why there is no process to allow more experimental use of drugs when a new disease is getting started.  Great question.  Our medical bureaucracy doesn't care if it kills a thousand people by withholding a treatment, if one life is saved that might have ended from a new treatment.

Unfortunately, Caplan concludes:
An ethical case can surely be made for an organization that puts health-care workers in harm’s way to acquire access to experimental drugs and bring staff home to get the best possible care. But that is neither a fair nor just policy for deciding what to do when an emergency arises and rationing is the only option.
Have to disagree, protecting the people doing good is always the right answer.

What You Should Be Reading


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Yes, You Should Be Punished

KPBS has a story about how the purported affect of a San Diego minimum wage hike on a restaurant owner and burger flipping Mom with four kids.  They try to make it sound as if their is no some kind of moral symmetry in the situations, there isn't.
Kristin Aguirre is a married mother of four daughters, all under age 8. She's 25 years old and earns minimum wage working at the Burger King in City Heights.
. . .
"I could have waited to have kids and gone on with school, but I didn't," she said. "Just because of that, we shouldn't be punished and make a low wage to raise our kids."
News flash for you Kristin, you should be punished for having not one, but four kids, with both you and your husband lacking the skills to support them. (Her husband makes $200/week, they both get assistance.)  Both of you decided to be leaches on society through your lifestyle choices and take advantage of society's compassion.  You are punishing your children as well, cramming all four of them into a single bedroom.  What's wrong with you?

Meanwhile, restaurant owner Matt Gordon is going to be hit with over half a million dollars per year in additional direct costs and untold indirect cost increases.  If his business fails, 54 employees will lose work.  Meanwhile, the immediate impact of the minimum wage rise is for Kristin's pay to go from $500 to $540 per month. Not exactly life changing.

The contrast between who we are rewarding and punishing with the left's push for a minimum wage hike couldn't be more revealing of the damage they wish to inflict on society.  Matt Gordon is clearly a successful, creative, ambitious man and pretty decent looking to boot.


The contrast with Kristin Aguirre couldn't be more striking.  Check the pictures in the article and ask yourself "Do we want more Matts or Kristins in our society?"

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hamas' War Crimes

Hamas is committing multiple war crimes.  In a more just world, Hamas leadership would suffer the same fate as convicted Nazi war criminals, to be hung by the neck until dead.  First, they are launching indiscriminate attacks aimed at civilian populations.  The rocket attacks on Israel violate International law as set forth in multiple treaties.  From the Red Cross' web site on international humanitarian law:
Rule 1. The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians.
The principle of distinction between civilians and combatants was first set forth in the St. Petersburg Declaration, which states that “the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy”.[1]  The Hague Regulations do not as such specify that a distinction must be made between civilians and combatants, but Article 25, which prohibits “the attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended”, is based on this principle.[2]  The principle of distinction is now codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of Additional Protocol I, to which no reservations have been made.[3]  According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” means “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence”.[4] 
See the web site for the footnotes.

Second, Hamas delivers their rocket attacks while hiding in and amongst the civilian population.


Again, from the Red Cross (different page):
Rule 97. The use of human shields is prohibited.
In the context of international armed conflicts, this rule is set forth in the Third Geneva Convention (with respect to prisoners of war), the Fourth Geneva Convention (with respect to protected civilians) and Additional Protocol I (with respect to civilians in general).[1]  Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.[2] 
It's the law of the land, well the whole planet, for that matter.  But it seems unlikely that justice will be done or the law enforced with respect to Hamas.