Spin This

Spin This

I was on panel with presidential historian Robert Dallek earlier this month.  He told me about a bumper sticker he’s seen all over Washington: framed in the Republican colors of the John McCain campaign, the sticker states, simply and elegantly, “Cheney/Satan 2008.” Watching the intellectual gymnastics GOP sympathizing political commentators like Bill Kristol have had to go through in putting good spin (dare one say “lipstick?”)  on Sarah Palin’s qualifications to be president,  I imagined the following scenario.  The set up: seeing the “I was a POW in a war that happened before most of today’s voters were out of training pants or even born so why don’t voters relate to me—I at least have a hot running mate who’s shot a moose” campaign of McCain-Palin wear out its electoral welcome in record time, the GOP high elders make a last minute desperate switch:  “Cheney/Satan 2008.”  (Which, given the rising “Dump Palin” sentiment, begins to seem even plausible.)  Brent Hume and the gang at Fox News “Special Report” respond.

Hume:  Today the Republican party stunned the political world by reconvening their national convention and, in a bold move, announced that the party of Lincoln is replacing its national standard bearers of McCain/Palin with Vice President Dick Cheney and his long-time co-counsel and mentor, Satan.  With me are  NPR reporter Mara Laisson, “Weekly Standard” editor  Bill Kristol and crotchety old guy Charles Krauthammer.  We begin with Bill Kristol.  What do you make of this, Bill?

Kristol:  Well, I have to say I was delighted today, Brett.  Absolutely delighted. It’s the kind of bold, decisive action conservatives have wanted to see from their party.  And, after all, it’s the direction the party’s been heading in certainly since 1968 if not even 1964.  To finally acknowledge the powerful and pivotal satanic wing of the GOP and give it voice is long overdue.

Hume:  Mara?

Laisson:  The Republican’s put Satan on their ticket, Brett.  Satan.

Hume:  Meaning?

Laisson:  S-A-T-A-N.  Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness, Angel of the Bottomless Pit…

Krauthammer:  Now that’s just another example of how eastern liberal intellectual elitists media twist everything to advance their old and tired liberal socialist agenda. The democrats have always been the party of blame. Blame all of society’s problems on the rich.  Blame it on conservatives. Blame it on the Devil. But never blame it on their own tired liberal socialist agenda.  The real devil in this campaign is in the details of just how the social programs of Barack Osama Obama are going to bankrupt this country, not in the GOP’s choice of vice president.  And if there is one thing the Republicans need right now it is there own clever trickster to deal with lies, distortions and chicanery of Barack Osama Obama.  Did I mention his middle name is “Osama”?  Satan’s middle name isn’t “Osama.”

Laisson:  Obama’s middle name is Hussein, not Osama. And we’re talking about SATAN here?

Krauthammer: Osama, Hussein, their still the names of enemies.  And no-one can accuse Satan of being a Muslim.

Kristol:  Charles is exactly right.  Whatever the left doesn’t like they demonize.

Laisson:  That’s because he’s a DEMON!  We’re talking about SATAN! LUCIFER! The KING OF BABYLON!

Krauthammer:  Exactly, Bill.  They demonize and call people names.  But  it will nice to see a GOP candidate be able to give as much as he takes from the liberal mainstream media.  Look at the way Satan dealt with Wolf Blitzer at today’s press conference.

Laisson:  He burned Blitzer to a cinder in a hail of hellfire!

Kristol: Exactly.  It’s high time someone reigned the prejudiced media in.  If it wasn’t for the mercilessly slanted liberal press Republicans wouldn’t have had to drop the incredibly talented and successful McCain/Palin ticket in the first place.

Laisson:  The party dropped John McCain because Sarah Palin’s utter underqualifications  was dragging the ticket to electoral oblivion.

Kristol:  At least according to the slanted, liberal-biased polls.

Laisson:  Fox New’s own poll had the Republicans down by forty points!

Kristol:  My point exactly.  If even fair and balanced Fox has been taken in by the liberal media bias, what chance did poor John McCain have.  But with Satan on the ticket, the polls are gonna turnaround.

Hume: Will that be because the American people will embrace a Cheney/Satan ticket.

Kristol:  No.  It’s because Satan will send any pollster who reports him being behind in the polls straight to the fires of perdition.  Talk about your extraordinary rendition.

Hume:  Given Satan’s obvious name recognition, why not go with him at the top of the ticket?  Dick Cheney has his own gravitas but, after all, isn’t he sort of Satan-lite?

Kristol:  I think the Republican strategy is absolutely brilliant.  Given his heart, stone and all, Dick Cheney will be a one term president, if that.  By 2012 Satan will be at the top of the ticket and in the driver’s seat.  And I think nothing will terrify democrats more than having to face the big guy himself next time around.

Laisson:  The thought of Satan as president should terrify EVERYBODY.

Kristol:  See?

Hume:  But does Satan have what it takes to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency? What about foreign policy experience.

Krauthammer: Well Satan’s experience is certainly more extensive than Barrack Hussein Obama’s.  Hussein Obama has met with a handful of world leaders.  Satan has met thousands of world leaders including those who sold him their souls in exchange for power and, of course, the large majority of political leaders from the past who have died and gone to hell.  I mean, what he’s learned about foreign policy from Johnson and Nixon alone must fill volumes.

Kristol:  Look, we’re in a war here.  A war with our enemies. Who knows more about war and the other horsemen of the apocalypse than the Devil.  The only way to fight fire is  with hellfire.

Krauthammer:  And I think putting Satan on the ticket sends a strong message to all the muslims extremists, like Osama Barrack Bin Laddin.  They call the US the Great Satan?  Well, America’s enemies, the Great Satan himself is going to be in charge and he’s coming for you.

Laisson:  It tells the world America is going to Hell, Charles.  That’s what it tells the world.

Kristol:  You see,  that’s the liberals’ biggest problem.  You care more about being loved by the ‘world’ than loving your own country.  ‘Oh, boo-hoo-hoo.  The world doesn’t like us because we made Satan our vice president.’  Tough brimstone, I say.

Krauthammer: The world didn’t love us when Cheney had the number two spot.  What does he—or we—care about how they feel if he’s number one?  Especially backstopped by the devil himself?

Laisson:  Bush and Cheney have bogged the country down in two costly wars, made America the most unpopular we’ve been globally since Vietnam.  And driven us to the brink of a depression!  Making a principle architect of these policies President will help, how?  And, by the way, we’re talking about freakin’ SATAN here!

Kristol:  Being able to deal with the financial meltdown is precisely what Satan brings to the table. He’s got IOU’s on the souls of every investment banker and hedge fund trader in the world in his hip pocket.  They’ll tow the line and get things on track.  Or they’ll discover what a ‘meltdown’ really is!

Krauthammer:  Which is a lot more than you can say about Barack Adolf Atilla Pontius Pilate Hussein Jung Il Obama, I can tell you.

Hume: But how will a Cheney/Satan ticket play in the Heartland?

Krauthammer: I think the ticket will sweep the Heartland.  Good, real Americans are God- fearing Americans and who should God-Fearing America’s fear more than Satan himself?

Kristol:  Besides, the Heartland went for Nixon and Agnew in 1968 and 1972 and Bush and Cheney in both 2000 and 2004.  They were voting Satan by proxy then. They can vote for the real thing now!

Laisson:  [Stunned silence.]

Hume:  Well we’re out of time.  Final thoughts?

Kristol:  I do have to say that I was surprised, seeing Satan at today’s press conference, just how much he looks like Dick Nixon….

Hume: That’s all we have time for now.  Stay tuned to Fox for tonight’s Hannity and Colmes.  Sean Hannity will have an exclusive interview with the new Republican Vice Presidential nominee.

[Cut to Clip of Hannity]

Hannity:  How does it make you feel when liberals in the media say all those hateful, hurtful things about you, sir?

Satan:  You know Sean,  it really hurts.  You try to let your record speak for itself but there are always those that lie, distort.  I just try and rise above it and trust to the common sense of average Americans to prevail. That, and look forward to slow roasting my detractors over pits of fire when I eventually get my claws on their souls….

[Back to Hume]

Hume: Tomorrow on Special Report, Democrats respond to the Cheney/Satan switch by dumping Obama and Biden in favor of their own revised ticket: Jimmy Carter and Charlie Brown.  Will it work?  Good night.

What Obama Should Say II

Okay, he said John McCain’s recycling George W. Bush’s economic policies is like “putting lipstick on a pig.” And then all sexist-card claiming hades broke out.  My question is, where has the Democrat’s fast response team been?  (Oh, I forgot. The Daily Show and Colbert Report are off this week…).  Republicans had an ad out attacking Obama nano-seconds after his remarks.  An ad portraying Barack Obama as a wolf?  Any racist subtext to that one, intentional or otherwise, that could be revisted back upon the Republicans?  Of course there is.  But Democrats are too high minded to get down in the GOP muck and fight back.  Hey Dems, how’s that been going for you?  (Let’s see, 3 & 6 in the last forty years.  That’s decent .333 ball, ain’t it?)

Dems, pool your quarters—and grad students with google and lexus-nexus—and find one instance of John McCain and/or Sarah Palin using either the phrases “Night and day” or “Black and white.”  The ad you should have run immediately this week shows them saying those line, then says “Black and white? Night and day?  Are John McCain and Sarah Palin playing quietly being  racists while blasting Barack Obama?” Long pause with dramatic music. “Of course not.  And Barack Obama wasn’t being sexist.  And John McCain and Sarah Palin know it.  They just don’t want YOU to think about meaningless drivel like who’s got lipstick on what. And they DON’T want YOU to think about what’s really  important for America—and YOU. Like will you have a house, job or healthcare next year.  Election 2008—it’s too important to waste spending time on cr*p like this!”
And then Barack Obama, hugging a pig, can say he endorses the ad…..

I read with some pleasure that the Obama campaign is finally saying it’ll get a bit more down and dirty.  I’ll ultimately believe it when I see it.  You can lead a horse to water after all…but, then, one dares not use animal metaphors in this political climate.

City Hall — The Discussion Goes On

I’m having a friendly agree-to-disagree with my CityBeat Editor, Dave Rolland, over the idea of building a new downtown City Hall.  You can follow the thread of the discussion here.

Fighting City Hall

I’ve had several interesting responses to my commentary in last week’s edition of CityBeat in which I argued  against building a huge, expensive new downtown city hall and, instead, redistributing Council offices out to their districts.  You can read the piece  here.

One letter to me, from an urban planner, took me to task for my viewpoint:


You have put forth a decentralized City Hall idea.

If you remember, San Diego has moved its City Hall before. The first one use to be in Old Town, but someone burned it and built a spiffy new one in New Town San Diego… effectively raising property values throughout the recently platted New Town. Here we go again?

Moving City Hall to his district would be an interesting way for Carl DeMaio to take care of his constituents.  Probably not though, as most would rightfully complain about traffic. It seems to me to be very odd rational, geographical-center, to move our largest civic institution from downtown to our most suburban area.

While I know City Beat bangs the hedonistic – anything I say is ok – drum loudly, moving a downtown function to 2nd tier Suburb is the dumbest idea I’ve read in quite some time. I say ‘dumb’ because the hedonistic freedom of the internet hasn’t given Kearny Mesa the waterfront port, airport, Highway’s 5, 163, 94 and Pacific, plus the Trolley, Amtrak and Coaster Rail Service (connectivity to the entire population of San Diego). Despite it’s renown beauty, Kearny Mesa wasn’t built to become another Downtown area as it is built with suburban infrastructure and characteristics (wide 65-mph streets, small format retail, single-family detached homes and one Sunroad tower).  City Hall is also just ONE centralized function of a downtown.  We have courthouses, libraries, colleges, and county facilities. Please don’t suggest putting each of these in their geographic center as well!? That simple criteria is arbitrary planning, at best.

We have been building cities for thousands of years.  Before the advent of the internet, space shuttle, television, telephone, automobile, and printing press, all of which were believed would dramatically change our built environment. But, we are still confined by our height, speed and range, therefore neighborhoods and cities that are connected, compact and complete are still important.  Cities are built by a declination of place: from the most urban (downtown) to the most rural (Julian) to natural (Cuyamaca Mountains). There are many scales of urbanism between.  From Downtown – North Park – Rancho Santa Fe- Ramona – Julian. Each of these have an associated infrastructure to support them (or lack of, thereby causing problems).

Connection by automobile-only would cause traffic problems in Kearny Mesa because there is no trolley system now, you and Carl are only giving people the option to drive.  In contrast to Kearny Mesa’s scale, the region’s downtown has over the past 100 years built the infrastructure to handle the amount of people, utilities and parking spaces in response to the amount of business City Halls get’s done.

Here is a radical, but thoroughly un-modern / kookie idea: Put our City Hall on the Waterfront! Make it as Grand as our County Administration Building.  Be bold with our City Hall rather than trying to hiding it in Kearny Mesa.

The Navy is leaving the Broadway Complex area and our lease with them was to give it back when they don’t need it for military purposes anymore (rather than making a deal with Manchester).  And remember, the current City Hall is located where it is now because C. Arnholt Smith wanted to raise the property values of his adjacent hotel/office towers and he convinced San Diegans to move it from the waterfront in the middle 60’s.

Same as it ever was?
Sincerely,  John Doe, III, FIUD, CNU
Principal, Urban Designer

My Response:

Dear Mr. Doe:

Thank you for taking the time to write you response to my commentary.  I appreciate your insight and thoughts on the matter though, of course, I fully disagree with your core conclusions.

Moving Council functions to their districts would cause minimal disruption of traffic patterns in those areas—certainly, one must imaging, substantially less than the creation of any single big box store would.  As to the suitability of Kearny Mesa for hosting non-council functions, there is substantial infrastructure in terms of road and bus service to the area. I agree, however, that a transportation study would need be done to determine how many citizens doing business at the current 202 C street locale actually use mass transport to reach it and how their needs could be accommodated should Mayoral and service functions be moved to Kearny Mesa.

You go on to mention that “City Hall is also just ONE centralized function of a downtown.  We have courthouses, libraries, colleges, and county facilities. Please don’t suggest putting each of these in their geographic center as well!? That simple criteria is arbitrary planning, at best. “  Forgive me for my surprise at this statement from a self-identified urban planner but it is categorically incorrect.  There are County Court facilities in both north, east and south county.  People in Fallbrook don’t have to go to downtown San Diego for legal matters. There are community branch libraries across both the city and county that, collectively, have far more patrons than the downtown “central” facility does.  The regions colleges and universities are distributed across the county allowing easy access by students and providing for synergies with local interests—such as the high tech UCSD-Sorento Valley nexus.  My institution, Mesa College is able to serve as an educational and job training hub for the bulk of the city because it is located  in the geographic, not urban, center of the city.  Fire stations, police stations, park services—all are successfully—and necessarily—distributed into the communities they serve.

I will not comment on your somewhat ad hominem labeling of CityBeat and, by association, my commentary  as “hedonistic except to say the following.  I have no financial ox to be gored in this public issue, no professional dog in the fight.  As you are a self-described urban designer I would suggest the same is not true for you and that, the old adage, “if you have a hammer it all looks like nails” applies, Where else would an urban planner want to plan a new City Hall but in the downtown urban core?

You hit the nail squarely on the head when you point out that “C. Arnholt Smith wanted to raise the property values of his adjacent hotel/office towers and he convinced San Diegans to move [City Hall] from the waterfront in the middle 60’s.”  Building municipal facilities downtown has never been about simply serving a public good or satisfying civic pride.  From Alonzo Horton to the present, downtown development has been about making big bucks for big developers,  the public good being an ancillary, not primary, focus.  As you conclude,  “Same as it ever was.”

Carl Luna

And the debate goes on.