The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

February 26, 2013
Rise & Opine: Rubio, Rubio, wherefore art thou, Michael Rubio?

romeo_juliet-xgt4hj.jpgRise & Opine offers opinions on opinions, with varying levels of caffeine, three days a week.

Blast off
CEQA reform supporters and Democrats must be feeling a bit like Juliet in a Shakespeare tragedy, ever since Sen. Michael Rubio announced he was leaving the Senate to become a lobbyist at Chevron.

The move leaves Senate Democrats without a supermajority and leaves CEQA reformers without a moderate Democrat capable of bridging both extremes in the debate over modifying (or "updating" or "modernizing" or "gutting") the California Environmental Quality Act.

You can imagine his suitors alone on the balcony, speaking into the night:

O Rubio, Rubio, wherefore art thou, Rubio?
Deny thy father Chevron and refuse thy name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, etc., etc.

Too late. Rubio has made his decision, as mysterious as it may be. Yet the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle can't quite figure out what to make of it in a Monday editorial.

A legislator leaving office certainly has a right to earn a living, though there is something unseemly about a politician instantly joining a company that was so closely affected by his public work.

Unseemly, yes, especially if Chevron uses Rubio to elect a Republican in his old seat. That would make it harder for Democrats to retain the supermajority in the Senate in 2014, depending on what happens in other races. That would give the company a boost in its agenda, which includes changes to the low carbon fuel standard, delay in AB 32 implementation, loose fracking rules, etc.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to pine for Rubio:

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;
So Rubio would, were he not Rubio call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Rubio, doff thy name,
and for thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Yep. We could sell tickets to this little drama.

This post was updated from the original to clarify that Rubio's departure is unlikely to have a permanent impact on the Democrats' supermajority until 2014.

February 25, 2013
Rise & Opine: Did Michelle Obama flub at the Oscars?

Rise & Opine offers opinions on opinions, with varying levels of caffeine, three times a week.

Blast off

Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post questions why Michelle Obama chose to introduce the Best Picture category at last night's Academy Awards, with a certain omission to the military service personnel standing behind her.

Alas, none of the films nor her aides reminded her to mention the military, not those personnel behind her nor those serving overseas, an odd omission for the White House that nevertheless was pleased to have them arrayed behind her like, well, set decoration.

Yes, an omission, but probably not worthy of a court martial.

February 12, 2013
Rise & Opine: Pope resigns, Flash Report, Dr. Oz, poop, etc.

In the New York Times, Rev. James Martin says that "Benedict XVI's resignation might be the most unexpected papal decision since the convening of the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s." He seems excited. Others less so.

John Patrick Shanley says good riddance. Of Benedict XVI, he says: "He was utterly bereft of charm, tone-deaf and a protector of priests who abused children. He'd been a member of the Hitler Youth. In addition to this woeful résumé, he had no use for women."


February 11, 2013
Rise & Opine: Rogue cop, bag ban scares, Texas poker, etc.

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

Rogue Cop
The fugative hunt for Christopher Dorner is far from over, as I write this. But pundits are getting impatient. Here is what some are saying:

-- Timothy Rutten, writing in the L.A. Daily News, argues for an assault weapons ban, quoting from one of Dorner's online rants: "All the firearms utilized in my activities are registered to me and were legally purchased at gun stores and private party transfers..."

-- George Skelton, writing in the L.A. Times, also questions why someone like Dorner could so easily arm himself. Writes Skelton: "Some law-abiders do become violent criminals. And their kill rate too often increases with their firepower."

-- Hector Villagra, meanwhile, addresses what I see as the more immediate and pressing question -- why L.A. police mistakenly shot Margie Carranza and Emma Hernandez in Torrance. "The public has yet to be told, more fundamentally, how officers could open fire on a vehicle that didn't match the make, color or license plate of the vehicle driven by Christopher Dorner," he writes.

February 6, 2013
Rise & Opine: Investors BD says Cali should frak, frak, frak!

Rise & Opine offers opinions on opinions about California at least three days a week.

Investors Business Daily, one of many publications who championed the shady mortgage practices that led to the bursting of the real estate bubble in California, now is chastizing us for not embracing fracking!

Says IBD,

Extracting oil from the Monterey Shale will require companies to engage in more intensive fracking and deeper, horizontal drilling, which has caused groups in environmentally sensitive California to warn of poisoned groundwater and the latest fantasy, the spawning of earthquakes.

Yes, the extreme earthquake threat that California faces is unlikely to be significantly increased by fracking, but the groundwater threat is real, and IBD just brushes it off. That is just what you would expect from a media outift headed by William O'Neil, an Oklahoma City native raised in Texas.

The San Jose Mercury News all but endorses a challenger to Mike Honda for Congress, although that editorial board says lots of nice stuff about Honda.

The San Francisco Chronicle reaffirms its endorsement of the Klamath Pact, even though some enviros and at least one tribe says it doesn't go far enough in restoring salmon runs and ensurig quick dam removal.

February 4, 2013
Rise & Opine: Lance Armstrong lied - should readers sue?

Rise & Opine offers opinions on opinions about California three times a week.

Sacramento political consultant Rob Stutzman has received lots of attention for his class-action lawsuit against Lance Armstrong, alleging the disgraced cyclist and his publishers knew or should have known his inspiration books "were works of fiction."

Stutzman has received a healthy amount of ribbing from his cohorts in town, with one Democratic consultant tweeting that he plans to file suit against Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman (former clients of Stutzman) because their books were less than truthful. More recently, with the blackout at the Super Bowl last night, some are asking on Twitter if Stutzman plans to file a class action lawsuit against the Superdome.

Yet beyond the jokes are serious questions about how far readers should go in attempting to hold authors accountable for mistruths, especially when lots of money was made from alleged lies.

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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