The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

January 30, 2013
Who is Pelosi for? Baltimore Ravens or San Francisco 49ers?

Granted, there are more important issues than football facing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, such as immigration, the Amgen giveaway and why the feds are cracking down on Mendocino County for attempting to implement California's medical marijuana law.

But, we can't help but asking: As a native daughter of Baltimore, is she rooting for the Ravens or the 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday?

As it turns out, Carla Maranucci has already confronted Pelosi on this question. The minority leader's answer is here.

What ever happened to Charm City?

January 29, 2013
Rise & Opine: How the Seattle media is covering the Kings saga

Seattle, a diverse and sophisticated city, is reacting with a mix of opinions to news that the the city may revive the Supersonics by stealing the Sacramento Kings:

-- Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes how the Kings, throughout the team's history, have been the most transient team in the NBA. His lead?

"Here We Stay" goes the chant of Kings fans hoping the team remains in Sacramento. "There They Go," though, more accurately describes the history of the franchise that might soon call Seattle home.
.

-- The Editorial Board of the Seattle Times, meanwhile, is remarkably restrained, noting the potential challenges of developing a new arena for an NBA team. (Sound familiar?)

January 28, 2013
Rise & Opine: Does Sacramento have an inferiority complex?

Rise & Opine offers opinions on opinions being offered across California, three days a week.

Opinions
Chris Megerian of the Los Angeles Times offers this declarative statement in a news story about the Kings: "The pending loss of Sacramento's only big-league sports franchise is a blow to a city with a long-standing inferiority complex."

Oh darn. The secret is out. I had really hoped the Times wouldn't reveal that we all feel like losers in Sacramento, every single one of us. If anything, Megerian didn't convey just how morose we really are here. Our persistent sense of inadequacy is palpable. Just walk down the street and ask anyone how they feel. "Inferior" is the answer. And if the Kings leave? That will be it for this city. We might as well just commit collective suicide because, as everyone knows, a pro team is really what defines a city, right?

I searched through Megerian's news story for the factual basis to back up his conclusion. Perhaps there has been an academic study on Sacramento's inferiority complex I had missed? Perhaps a poll or some other data to provide basis for his assertion?

Nadda -- just a blanket statement by a reporter who has been in Sacramento since January of last year.

January 23, 2013
Rise & Opine: If Obama targets weed, will he take our guns?

Rise & Opine offers opinions on the opinions being offered across California, at least three days a week.

Commentary
Deborah J. Saunders pulls a well-worn trick out of the pundit's bag -- the art of false equivalency.

In a blog post and column, the San Francisco Chronicle columnist recounts the story of Matthew Davies, a 34-year-old Stockton medical marijuana dispensary owner who is facing a minimum of seven years in prison for his pot-grow warehouses that supply medical-marijuana clinics. Davies, in interviews with the New York Times and other media, said he got into the business because he trusted the Obama administration on promises it would not prosecute such operations. Saunders takes that "trust" of Davies to question if gun owners should trust the president's claim he won't confiscate the guns of law-abiding citizens.

Saunders offers quotes from Obama in her blog post to back up her argument that the president can't be trusted. But I'd urge you to look at those quotes closely. On several occasionals, Obama has made clear the federal government should not be targeting recreational users. But he also made clear he won't give "carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana."

January 22, 2013
Rise & Opine: Obama's inaugural speech praised, panned

Rise & Opine offers a Swarm of opinion from California and beyond on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

The first speech of Obama's second term
It may have been a holiday for some, but editorial writers were watching President Barack Obama's inaugural speech and offering these takes:

January 21, 2013
Rise and Opine: Obama inauguration, MLK Day, Los Angeles mayor

Martin Luther King Jr. Day quote by MLK:. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Editorials
Lots of California advice for President Barack Obama as enters his second term. The San Bernadino Sun and Long Beach Press Telegram urge him to cut spending and focus on education reform. The Desert Sun urges him to compromise.

My bottom-line advice to Obama: Try to make sure your daughter can use this phrase at the end of your term, as she did Sunday: "Good job, Dad. You didn't mess up."

January 16, 2013
Rise and Opine: High-speed rail, Friedman, Obama

Rise and Opine is your morning source, Monday through Wednesday, for California opinion, push back from readers and news tips collected with a bit of attitude by The Bee's editorial board. Send tips and suggestions to sleavenworth@sacbee.com.

Editorials
Is high-speed rail off track? The Bakersfield Californian doesn't think so, even though a powerful congressman from Kern County thinks it is a "field of dreams." The Californian argues that local governments will only lose by being bystanders to a project that is steaming ahead. It notes that the Bay Area is increasingly concerned about transit options; that negotiations with property owners have started on the alignment and that the state is in a better position, financially, to pursue big projects. "The winds are changing, and Kern County would be wise to adjust its sails," says the editorial.

Opinions
I got a chance to spend some time with New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman backstage last week, when I had the privilege of introducing him for the Sacramento Speakers series. He made it clear he is increasingly disillusioned with President Barack Obama, and that is reflected in his column published today.

Push back
A few readers were upset that our new cartoonist Jack Ohman would make fun of our couch potato GOP House. I would suggest they, like potatoes, should not be so thin skinned. Jack's toon also made fun of Obama as being ineffectual. Take a second look at it, and the rest of his cartoons.

January 15, 2013
Rise and Opine: Jerry Brown, High Speed Rail, Obamacare

Rise and Opine is your morning source, Monday through Wednesday, for California opinion, push back from readers and news tips collected with a bit of attitude by The Bee's editorial board. Send tips and suggestions to sleavenworth@sacbee.com.

Editorials
Yesterday
, I noted all the positive editorials about Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal. As if on cue, UT San Diego (which used to be known as the San Diego Union-Tribune) rips into the governor's plan to fund education. The paper notes that $1.3 billion of the $6 billion dedicated to schools will actually go to "sate employees." Sate employees? I think the UT meant "state employees," but whatever. The point is a reasonable one: How much of the Prop. 30 money will actually go to classrooms, as opposed to members of the teachers unions that helped pass the measure?

Opinion
David Lazeras of the Los Angeles Times writes about the cat bite that turned into a $55,000 hospital bill. He argues that Obamacare might take a bite, or a least a nibble, from these kinds of charges.

Deadline
Friday is the deadine for engineering teams to submit design and build plans to build the first stretch of high-speed rail through the Fresno area. The high-speed rail authority is pushing ahead with the project, even though valley Republicans Kevin McCarthy and Jeff Denham say the project is a "field of dreams."

Push back
Richard B., a reader who often frequents the messages left on my voice mail, disagrees there are few transit options to and from the Sacramento International Airport, the point of our editorial Monday.

Richard says he has been pleased with the service provided by Super Shuttle. So I have I -- except, that is, when I am returning from the airport. Super Shuttle almost always picks us up on time. But on the return? My wife and I have had to wait an hour or longer for a shuttle to take us home, even when we have made reservations. We are a big enough city to have more competitive options than this.

And no, I don't want to prevail on friends for airport shuttles, no matter how generous they might be.

Did you miss it?
Sen. Michael Rubio and environmental attorney Tom Adams debate whether the state should make major modifications to its landmark 1970 statute, the California Environmental Quality Act. This will be a hot topic in this year's Legislature -- an ongoing focus of our Sunday California Forum section.

January 14, 2013
Rise and Opine: Michelle Rhee, Tom McClintock, Silicon Valley

Newsmaker
Michelle Rhee, former DC schools chief and Sacramento-based head of Students First, is the focus of a lengthy article in Sunday's Washington Post. Her star power so annoys the American Federation of Teachers that the AFT maintains a "Where is Rhee?" map on this web site with an image of Rhee wearing a crown.
Our own Ginger Rutland last week offered her own take on Rhee, whose tenure in DC the focus of a recent "Frontline" show.

Push back
U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock is apparently no longer answering questions from Bee senior editor and columnist Dan Morain. Morain recently asked McClintock's communications aide, Jennifer Cressy, if he could interview McClintock about the congressman's views on disputes between California and Nevada on Lake Tahoe.

Cressy's response: "Civility makes it possible to discuss even the sharpest differences of opinion. When you question the loyalty and motives of an individual, as you did on Sunday, you abandon the civility that is the foundation of public discourse."

Cressy was referring to Morain's Jan. 6 column, in which he opined that, McClintock's "political machine of one" is the trend as California's GOP delegation in Congress becomes smaller and more conservative. "That doesn't bode well for California as it tries to get back some of the money it sends to Washington, and certainly not for the Sierra district McClintock represents."

Editorials
There was an armada of editorials over the last week on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget, mostly positive, in the nautical sense. The San Bernardino Sun said the plan "points the way to fiscal sustainability" but could be messed by Democrats in the Legislature, tempted to go on "a drunken sailor spending binge."

On Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle opined on Gov. Jerry Brown's prison plan, partly agreeing with the governor that the state had made much progress on overcrowding, but also offering some guarded reservations, saying: "There is the great danger that California will retreat from pursuing more reforms and better treatment once the judges withdraw." By contrast, The Bee said clearly that the mission wasn't accomplished, whereas the Stockton Record said, "Enough."

Columns
The New York Times' Thomas Friedman, who was in Sacramento last week, reflects on Silicon Valley's cutthroat competition and yet its ability to collaborate. By contrast, if Congress were a start-up, he writes, "the early stage investors would have long ago been wiped out and the firm shuttered."

Toonland
In case you missed it: Our own Jack Ohman offered another large-format cartoon on Jerry Brown, this one focusing on the governor's love of charts.

January 1, 2013
GOP House painted itself into corner on fiscal cliff

It now appears that the U.S House, controlled by Republicans, will approve a Senate bill to avert the fiscal cliff that includes a tax hike that House leaders said they would never endorse, even with corresponding spending cuts.

How did this happen?

They were completely out-maneuvered.

Remember, it was just 12 days ago when House Speaker John Boehner proposed his "Plan B" proposal, which would have included a tax hike, but only on the super rich -- those making more than $1 million yearly. But Boehner did not bring that tax plan up for a vote because, he said, "it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass."

Had House GOP members gone along with their leader, they would have sent the Democrat-controlled Senate a bill that Harry Reid would have hated, and that the Senate might well have rejected. If that had happened, then Republicans would now be in the position of blaming Democrats for potentially sending the nation over the fiscal cliff. Instead, it is Republicans worrying about saddling the blame, which is why they are about to blink in a dangerous, reckless, stupid game of fiscal chicken.

True, as I write this, the House has not yet voted. The whole thing could still blow up. But in all likelihood, the GOP-led House will vote to support a tax hike on families making more than $450,000 yearly, instead of a $1 million threshold, as Boehner had proposed. And they will do so close to midnight, or else risk the wrath of Asian stock markets, which will render a verdict as the clock approaches 12 pm EST.

Those on the left are angry at the Senate and Obama for agreeing to this deal. According to White House figures, Obama only gets to extract about $600 billion from the wealthy, instead of $1.6 trillion he originally sought. That means more hard decisions ahead to reduce the deficit -- quite likely, spending cuts that liberals oppose.

But in the world of Realpolitik, , Obama and his V.P., Joe Biden, totally kicked ass. They live to fight another day, whereas the GOP House, from its perspective, is forced to chose between really bad and assuredly worse.

This blog item was modified from the original to correct cost figures on what the Obama administration originally sought in a fiscal cliff deal.



About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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