The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Archive for September, 2009

Happy Birthday to Us!

Posted by demkid on September 30, 2009

This month (September 17th, to be exact) marked this blog’s first birthday, and I think it’s been a particularly fun, entertaining, and successful year.  We launched just in time for the run up to the election, and had an enjoyable time discussing all things political as we watched history unfold.  I didn’t do that poorly in my election predictions, but unfortunately overestimated the voters of California when it came to equal rights for all.  By far our most successful post during the past year (and not likely to be topped) was the one back in April that helped break the 2010 U.S. News Law School Rankings.  That post received thousands upon thousands of hits, and still continues to be popular!  It just goes to show how much those rankings matter to people, and how a blog can get massive hits if linked to by highly-visited sites.  We were lucky that the main point of that popular post was the huge jump in the rankings by our esteemed school, the University of San Diego School of Law.  I’m glad that we were able to bring such positive publicity to the school.

Speaking of positive publicity, one of our goals is to serve as a quality reflection on the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of USD Law.  We hope that we’ve done that over the past year through our writing and overall quality of the blog, and further hope that The Bright Coast will continue to be a good representation of the institution, at least in small part.  We’re glad to be prominently linked to on the school’s new site, and we realize that prospective students read our posts on a regular basis.  Of course, one of our other main goals is to serve as a sort of progressive counterweight to the views expressed by four of our distinguished professors over at The Right Coast (also linked to on the new site.)  As is easy to surmise, we thought that there was just too much misguided conservatism emanating from Warren Hall, and that the situation needed to be evened out just a bit.  We will improve our efforts to keep Smith, Rappaport, and Co. in check over the next year, and look forward to at least some give-and-take.  (While we have them prominently displayed on our site, they have yet to really acknowledge our presence in any way.  We’re hoping that changes in the year to come!)  Afterall, I sincerely think that people are interested in something more than “Does Obama hate America?”  That kind of stuff quickly gets old and predictable, and I hope that our presence as the “Bright” alternative to the “Right” will improve the quality of the commentary over there.  (I can only keep my fingers crossed!)

So, thanks to the thousands of you who have checked us out in the past year (82,000 hits and counting!)  We hope that you’ll continue to stop by in the year to come, if only to get your fix of intelligent, progressive, usually humorous commentary on issues that may or may not be important to you!  Furthermore, don’t forget to check out our new Twitter page for daily, less meaningful quips on the stories of the day.

Posted in USD Law | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Quick Tip for Future Office Seekers: Vote!

Posted by demkid on September 29, 2009

One of the easiest things to check into and then use as political ammunition is your opponent’s voting record (or lack thereof).  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that issue come up over the years, but it’s been quite a bit.  It usually is brought up in smaller races, but ever so often a candidate for larger office is caught having not voted in numerous previous contests.  That’s exactly what came out recently about Republican candidate for California governor, Meg Whitman.  Whitman, the former eBay CEO, was discovered to have not voted “over several decades in five states where [she] has lived since 1979.”  Nice.  Of course, this is such a simple thing to use against her throughout the campaign, and one of her opponents didn’t waste much time.  Steve Poizner (who are these people, by the way?) said, “in the history of America, no one has been elected governor of a state with Meg Whitman’s 25 year history of no show voting.”  Ouch.  Yeah, this just re-establishes the fact that Whitman is just a rich woman with no political experience (and no previous political interests, for that matter) trying to buy her way into the governor’s office.  It definitely isn’t a new concept in California!  Here’s part of Whitman’s statement:

“Voting is a precious right that all Americans should exercise. I have repeatedly said that my voting record is inexcusable. I failed to register and vote on numerous occasions throughout my life. That is simply wrong and I have taken responsibility for my mistake.” said Whitman in her statement.

Well, if she’s said it repeatedly, then I’m sure CA voters will forgive her!  I don’t really get what “taking responsibility” means, though.  How does one take responsibility for not voting in the past?  I’ve acknowledged my indiscretions and I reeeallly promise to vote in every single election from now on, no matter how insignificant it may be!  I’ll even vote more than once to make up for the times I didn’t vote!  Who knows.

As a quick sidenote on the current state of the race, Jerry Brown seems to be well-positioned against all three current Republicans in the race, while his primary opponent, Gavin Newsom, isn’t as strong.  You can see a collection of the recent head-to-head polls here.

Posted in California, Election 2010 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

In Germany, Center-Right Rules Again (But For How Long?)

Posted by demkid on September 29, 2009

It was a result most saw coming from a long way out: Chancellor Angela Merkel (or Bush’s massage buddy) won a second term in Germany after her CDU garnered the highest percentage of the vote in Sunday’s federal election.  What was a little bit up in the air (especially after late polls showed things closing) was whether Chancellor Merkel would be able to establish a center-right government with the CDU’s traditional coalition partner, the Free Democrats (or FDP).  When the dust settled, the coalition got their majority, and this means that the CDU is able to break the bonds of the “Grand Coalition” it had with the Social Democrats over the past 4 years, after the previous election ended in a stalemate. 

While Chancellor Merkel is obviously a winner here, her party didn’t really do all that well in the larger scheme of things.  The combined CDU/CSU (the CSU is a sister party) popular vote percentage actually went down (just above the worst postwar performance ever), and they only managed to pick up about 13 extra seats from 4 years ago.  The Chancellor had to rely on her coalition partner to carry the day, as the FDP turned out to be the big winner in the election.  The FDP picked up 32 seats and will now be back in the government after an 11-year absence.  The party’s leader, Guido Westerwelle, is poised to become Germany’s new foreign minister.  (Who doesn’t like a guy named Guido?)  Other clear winners in the election were the other two “opposition parties,” the Greens and the Left, with their best results ever.  Both came in with over 10% of the popular vote, and picked up more seats than the CDU/CSU did.  Five parties with over 10% of the vote is an interesting dynamic, and one which is completely foreign to our own presidential, two-party system.  The other related aspect here is the distinct decline in attractiveness of the two major German political parties, as more and more people look for other options.  The Social Democrats suffered their worst result since World War II, dropping an astonishing 76 seats and garnering only 23% of the popular vote.  The SPD is back into opposition, a role they know extremely well, having been there in the Helmut Kohl days from 1982-1998.  The big question is: Will it be another 16 years (or more) out of power for the center-left, or will they be able to stop the bleeding primarily suffered from the rise of the lesser parties?  If Chancellor Merkel’s new government does well over the next several years, the SPD could itself be in danger of becoming a lesser party.

The map below (from Wikipedia) shows the parliamentary districts won by each party.  The CSU only operates in Bavaria and is the CDU’s sister party.  Notice that the Left won numerous districts in the former East Germany and the Greens won a district or two in the middle of Berlin.  The Free Democrats won no districts outright, but their overall percentages were good enough to get them 93 seats in the new Bundestag.

A Black (CDU) and Blue (CSU) Germany

A Black (CDU) and Blue (CSU) Germany

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Clinton/Gore: Yesterday’s Gone, Yesterday’s Gone

Posted by demkid on September 29, 2009

Or, perhaps the two are simply remembering the good parts of “yesterday” (there were a lot, afterall!), setting the old feuds aside, and focusing on developing a lasting goodwill toward each other.  Bill Nichols wrote a fascinating piece for Politico (Clinton and Gore: Still the odd couple) about Bill and Al’s unique relationship over the years.  The Clinton/Gore campaign was really my first foray into politics and I’ve admired both men (one for his centrism; the other for his environmentalism) ever since they came onto the scene in 1992.  However, their stormy relationship is well-documented, and things were particularly tense after Gore’s 2000 presidential “defeat.”  (Nichols brings up the fact that the feud may not have been as bad as the media made it out to be, but who really knows?)  In any case, it’s definitely comforting that the relationship between the two Democratic heavyweights has become noticeably warmer as of late:

Bringin it in for the real thing!

Bringin it in for the real thing!

A few good cuts from the Politico story:

Clinton always wanted Gore’s friendship, in the same fashion that he prefers to be friends with almost everyone he meets. Gore’s feelings, people close to him say, have always been more complicated. But he seems to have mellowed on Clinton as he has gained his own celebrity and international stature and his former partner’s gigantic shadow over him has lessened. The sting of Gore’s 2000 disputed Electoral College loss to Bush is also receding.

They were, and are, deeply different personalities. With his once-in-a-generation political skills and effortless gift of gab, Clinton never quite got Gore’s brainy awkwardness and seeming inability to totally master the basic stagecraft of running for office. For his part, Gore, by numerous accounts, was horrified by Clinton’s lack of discipline, an irritation that grew to near-revulsion when the details of his affair with Lewinsky finally became public.

Yet the pride both men clearly feel in what they accomplished in office seems — now, nearly 10 years on — to have begun to override all that. As does the sense often felt by their less celebrated fellow citizens that the longer you live, the harder it can be to remember why you are so mad at someone.

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What If Sasha and Malia Were Goth?

Posted by demkid on September 28, 2009

That’s a silly question of course, since everyone knows only rich, spoiled white kids end up following that subculture.  For instance, take Laura and Alba Zapatero, daughters of the Spanish prime minister.  Apparently, they had never had pictures published of them previously, either in print or online, due to a Spanish law prohibiting the media from doing so.  Of course, this all changed once the Zapatero Family recently posed at the White House with the President and First Lady, and the picture was posted on the State Department’s Flickr page:

Nice Boots!

Nice Boots!

The Spanish government got the State Department to remove the photo and made sure that the state-owned news agency wouldn’t distribute it.  Of course, this all probably wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t for the Spanish media ban.  Here in the United States, the press has generally respected the wishes of the various First Ladies when it’s come to their children.  I think the current White House occupants generally are taking the right approach:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently said that the administration would permit press access to the Obama children when they are part of “official events with the president and first lady,” but added that “there should be a wide berth of privacy extended to the family” when they’re alone or doing something as a family. He added that the White House’s Flickr photos of the children exist to control the paparazzi market for pictures of the Obama children, the youngest to occupy the White House since John and Caroline Kennedy, who were also fiercely guarded.

Then again, Sasha and Malia haven’t quite reached the age of wild teenage expression.  Assuming President Obama is re-elected, we’ll get to see the majority of the girls’ teenage years.  I seriously doubt that there will be any major news stories resulting from their choice of fashion, but I could be wrong.  Goth just might be their thing!

For a quick synopsis of the goth subculture, Wikipedia is always a solid choice.

Posted in International | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Halloween

Posted by brightcoast on September 28, 2009

Legally BlondeI have found my costume.

Now if I were only graduating from Harvard Law…

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Yes

Posted by brightcoast on September 22, 2009

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New Job Strategy

Posted by brightcoast on September 22, 2009

Forget wedding planning, farming, or selling makeup at the mall. In order to get a job in the legal market, I’m going to be like this guy. Hey, career services is hosting an event called “Guerilla Tactics” to get your dream job, so why not print up a sandwich board and hit the streets? Since the deadline for the EJW grant has passed, I am assuming that this is my 6th rejection cycle from the ACLU, I’m persistent if nothing else. A girl’s got to do what she’s got to do.

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OMG

Posted by brightcoast on September 21, 2009

Tom DeLay on Dancing With The Stars. What is our country coming to?

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New FDA Marketing Regs?

Posted by brightcoast on September 16, 2009

So I began to notice with the “Yasmin” follow up commercial–you know the one that is like 2 minutes long and is merely a girl discussing side effects–that it seems like there must be some sort of slapping on the wrist by the FDA going on with big drug companies.

Then yesterday I saw two commercials, one for Restasis (the eye drops), and one for the new prescription mascara that grows your eyelashes (by prescription only–I guess akin to prescription only Botox) which may change the pigment of your irises, that both of the spokespeople were compensated users of the products. Allegedly in the Restasis commercial, the dr. is actually a real doctor, and also a patient. Which reminds me of the Hair Club for Men commercials, but that is another story.

I’ve never seen the compensated spokespeople caption in a pharma commercial before, only in those pyramid scheme or wonderproduct infomercials, so I am wondering whether there has been some massive new legislation passed or implemented with more stringent requirements. Off to wiki…

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Kanye “Scandal”

Posted by brightcoast on September 16, 2009

Apparently I am the only person who could care less about this entire situation. I mean, he interrupted an acceptance speech for a superfluous award, “Oh no!,” gasp, how will we ever move on.

I do think it is pretty low class 1) that Leno asked him what his mother would have thought of this. It seems like that is something you ask a 5 year old when you want them to change behavior. And 2) That they released the audio recording of Obama. Talk about further discouraging candid responses and presidential interviews in general. Lame.

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Another Use For Twitter: Inflating Protest Attendance!

Posted by demkid on September 15, 2009

Twitter has definitely become the latest internet phenomenon over the past year or so.  While I don’t personally know that many people who use it, it’s extremely useful for following the latest celebrity gossip, if you’re into that sort of thing (see various celebrity reactions to Kanye’s recent screw-up, for example).  While Twitter became popular with celebrities, it seems as if lately it’s most significant growth has been in the news and political arenas, whether it be cable news anchors tweeting during their shows, or members of Congress tweeting during the president’s speech.  It’s gotten so out of control, that now we’re learning about President Obama’s off-the-record comments posted by a dumbass journalist who happened to overhear them!

Apparently, Twitter can be used for a number of purposes, and the latest one of note (that doesn’t really surprise me) is the Right’s massive inflation of crowd estimates at the weekend tea party in DC.  As eloquently reported by Nate Silver:

ABC News, citing the DC fire department, reported that between 60,000 and 70,000 people had attended the tea party rally at the Capitol. By the time this figure reached Michelle Malkin, however, it had been blown up to 2,000,000. There is a big difference, obviously, between 70,000 and 2,000,000. That’s not a twofold or threefold exaggeration — it’s roughly a thirtyfold exaggeration.

The way this false estimate came into being is relatively simple: Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, lied, claiming that ABC News had reported numbers of between 1.0 and 1.5 million when they never did anything of the sort. A few tweets later, the numbers had been exaggerated still further to 2 million. Kibbe wasn’t “in error”, as Malkin gently puts it. He lied. He did the equivalent of telling people that his penis is 53 inches long.

This all doesn’t surprise me, because it’s not a new strategy for the Right.  If you remember, I posted on the inflation of crowd estimates for the initial tea party rallies back in April.  I can’t say that pretending a movement is much larger than it is in reality is bad strategy, because these things get picked up by certain media outlets and are used to fuel misinformation and vitriol.  At least the Right has to keep this crap to 140 characters or less…at a time, of course.

PS: How could I forget mentioning the best use for Twitter: Following the latest musings from the Bright Coast!!

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Facebook says I should sell Lehman.

Posted by etechx on September 14, 2009

Well it has been about a year since Lehman declared bankruptcy, and now many “financial engineers” are admitting their predictive models were off considerably from the real world. In fact, many of them are currently trying to adapt human behavioral models to their financial models to better predict real world market scenarios. The move seems so obvious that it makes me question why this model wasn’t researched and put into place well before the crisis. It would seem that the monetary advantage of having a more realistic model would have been enormous and something even Lex Luthor would envy. Unfortunately, this article might have answered one question, but like a Lost episode it just generated a hundred new ones.

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Soaring European Support for US Foreign Policy

Posted by demkid on September 10, 2009

Some stunning figures in a new poll released yesterday by the German Marshall Fund of the United States:

To Europeans, President Obama is certainly no George W. Bush. Support of the current American president jumped 80 percentage points in Germany, 77 points in France, 70 in Portugal, and 64 in Italy. No other single annual indicator changed this much in the eight years of Transatlantic Trends. Even in Turkey, where only half the respondents (50%) support Obama, that backing represents a 42 percentage-point increase over approval of President Bush (8%) in 2008.

I won’t go into much analysis concerning these figures, and there’s much more raw data on foreign policy and other issues on the website (topline data here, key findings here), but I’ll just say that I’m definitely thrilled that there apparently has been such a dramatic shift in opinion by Europeans towards the United States and its president.  As both a US and EU citizen, it’s refreshing that Europeans now consider the United States to be more of a partner, rather than an arrogant adversary.  I hope these numbers continue to improve throughout the Obama Administration and beyond, but of course a lot of this has to do with how hard US administrations work to combat an isolationist perception.  A large focus has to be out now on further mending fences with Eastern Europe, and countries like Turkey (where still only 22% of the public has a favorable view of the United States!)

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Levi Johnston Allegations

Posted by progressivethink on September 2, 2009

levi-johnston-0910

It looks like Levi Johnston, former boyfriend of Bristol Palin has written a tell-all for Vanity Fair, due out on newsstands next month. Here’s a snippet of him observing Sarah after she lost the election:

“Sarah was sad for a while. She walked around the house pouting. I had assumed she was going to go back to her job as governor, but a week or two after she got back she started talking about how nice it would be to quit and write a book or do a show and make “triple the money.” It was, to her, “not as hard.” She would blatantly say, “I want to just take this money and quit being governor.” She started to say it frequently, but she didn’t know how to do it. When she came home from work, it seemed like she was more and more stressed out.”

And a preview.

As much as I loathe Ms. Palin, I can’t help but dislike this guy for dragging her through the mud in a feeble attempt to be famous.  Although I guess there aren’t a lot of job opportunities in Alaska. Being an actor and model must look pretty appealing when your only skill is being able to impregnate a former VP candidate’s daughter.

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