The Starting Line(ish): New Year’s Eve Fiscal Cliff Edition

Fiscal cliff talks go to the brink, as lawmakers are optimistic for a deal; yet Republicans lack any incentive to deal; Huntsman: “GOP devoid of a soul.”; Hillary Clinton hospitalized; Turner, Smith, dismissed from Chargers

Congress remained in session over the weekend as Republican and Democratic leaders met throughout in an effort to stave off the looming slip over the edge of the fiscal cliff (or curb or slope). If a deal is not struck by midnight tonight (New Year’s Eve), all of the Bush tax cuts will expire—not just for the top 2% of earners—and hundreds of billions in draconian budget cuts will be automatically enacted.

The current fiscal cliff deal is the result of negotiations a year ago between the White House and the Gang of 12 SuperCongress, a group made of six legislators from each party, and from both chambers of Congress. The sequestration deal (or fiscal cliff/curb/slope) was put into place as a sort of poison pill; an incentive for the SuperCongress to actually come to a deal.

It didn’t work. Republicans never had any intention of negotiating in good faith, and here we are today.   [Read more…]

Ten Reasons that 2012 was an Unprecedented Winning Year for San Diego Region Working Families.

by Lorena Gonzalez

Workers throughout the United States and in San Diego faced unprecedented challenges this year. A full scale attack on middle-class wages and benefits, along with a tough economy, made 2012 seem like a very long year for middle and working class folks. But, when it was all said in done, this year should leave a smile on our faces in San Diego – and these are 10 of the reasons why…   [Read more…]

Ringing the Bell on the Best of San Diego 2012

In some Buddhist traditions people bring in the New Year with contemplation, evaluation, and meditation. One element of this celebration can be a fire ceremony where the karma of the old year is symbolically burned leaving one open to the next moment. Usually, after yet more meditation, at midnight a bell is rung to welcome in the New Year. Or, to put it more accurately, they bring in the happy new instant.

So, before the old moment bleeds into the new one, here are a few things cultural and political to remember and be grateful for about the last calendar year in San Diego as the next one comes into being.   [Read more…]

SDFP Exclusive – Jean Marc Barr: Cruise Control, Soul Grind, and Jack Kerouac

By Micaela Shafer Porte

Jean Marc Barr, international French/American film actor and director, and part-time Pacific Beach, California local, loves Pacific Beach for its mellowness and great skateboarding.  “San Diego is the place where ‘nothing’ is supposed to happen.  It is a nice break from my hectic life, living out of suitcase, travelling around the world. “  He is here for the holidays, in preparation for attending the Sundance  Independent Film Festival 2013, in his latest role as Jack Kerouac  in the film, Big Sur, which is being presented on January 23.

“I started skateboarding late in life, at the age of 42, because I was inspired by my nephew, Oliver, and I needed a physical activity to keep me in shape during my stays with my family in California.  Entering my 40’s, I felt “vulnerable,” so wanted to try a new sport, a dangerous one, as a challenge…”   [Read more…]

San Diego’s Victory Pharmaceuticals Implicated in Fraudulent Kickback Scheme

The Washington Post reported on Dec. 27, 2012, that Victory Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in San Diego, was forced to pay $11.4 million to resolve Federal, civil and criminal liabilities related to kickbacks to doctors in return for prescribing their drugs. Victory is a privately held company, founded in 2003, and is focused on acquiring, developing and marketing products to treat pain and related conditions. As it turns out, part of the marketing strategy was to offer kickbacks to doctors in return for prescribing its products.

The kickbacks included tickets to professional and collegiate sporting events, tickets to concerts and plays, spa outings, golf and ski outings, dinners at expensive restaurants, giving a doctor money to help make a house payment, paying for a doctor’s staff’s outing to a strip club, including “lap dances” for the female staff and offering a doctor and his staff an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas. A former sales representative for Victory, Chad Miller, blew the whistle on them and received $1.7 million for his efforts.   [Read more…]

Holding On to Hope at Casa Contenta

Just a little while ago I boarded a plane in San Diego heading for L.A. to connect with a flight to Zihuatanejo, Mexico to kick back at Casa Contenta, mi querida’s home away from home. Basking in the sun with my hon was all that was on my mind at the time. I, however, had no idea that, at the same time, children were losing their lives at their place of learning in New England.

I wasn’t aware of the carnage until we clicked on the iPad once we had settled in at our destination. The moment before that I was just going “Wow!” in reaction to the loveliness of the home I was in and kind of chuckling to myself over images in my mind of two men who had attracted my attention at LAX.

One wore a sweater with the words “Small Arms Instructor” written on the back underneath two big ass rifles crossing each other that were to “small arms” as a butterfly is to a pit bull. I got a kind of chilly feeling from that little scene.   [Read more…]

The Euclid Tower and the Ghost of Christmas Past

I’m sure that there are a number of us who can still remember the Euclid Tower before it was re-imagined with bright paint and a dazzling design. In 1988, when My Beloved and I moved into our little house on 45th street, the Euclid Tower jutted above the streetscape like a grey missile poised for launch. Its graceful art deco architecture and lovely leaded glass lotus windows couldn’t redeem it from a peeling cold war paint job.

I can also remember not only the grey paint job, but the smiling face of Old Saint Nick providing some inscrutable message of good cheer for a number of years over the neon signage of the Tower Bar. There was nothing quite like the 4th of July and looking up at the peeling Tower with Saint Nick beaming down upon us. This was how I knew I was home in my thoroughly mixed up community of City Heights. And stone cold sober.   [Read more…]

Solving the New Year Resolution Quandary

A few years ago I was on a holiday vacation with my then-girlfriend / future-wife in Argentina. Between meals consisting almost exclusively of bife de lomo (tenderloin steak) and malbec we were doing the usual tourist things: visiting museums and churches, strolling along leaf-strewn parkways, taking overnight bus trips, etc. With the end of the year approaching we got to talking about resolutions, something we had both done to some extent in the past but had never really taken seriously or committed to fulfilling.

Resolutions seemed to be too big of a task – there are so many areas of life that could use some work. It was hard for us to pin down the most important changes we should make. The endless array of choices led our conversation to the same conclusion as our past resolutions had: nowhere. The next day we took a different angle…   [Read more…]

The Dove and the Cockerel: Part III, Chapter 16

“Wake up, Joe! Goddammit! You’re drunk again!” the voice shrieked at him, fingernails digging into his shoulders as he was shaken awake. He slowly opened his eyes to the enraged face of Francine. “You fucking drunk, where’s Joey! I can’t leave you alone for two hours.”

He bolted upright on the leather couch in his living room. Oh no, not again, he thought, his brain unable to make his mouth work. “Outside, hurry! In the back!” he was screaming, but no sound came. He lurched off the couch, crashing through the glass coffee table, slicing his arm, but feeling no pain. His blood spilled on the orange shag carpet which had the consistency and stability of Jello.

“Hurry, hurry, Francine! Not this time, we can save him,” he soundlessly implored her. No voice came from her mouth, her face contorted with jeering hatred. He slogged his way across the floor to the sliding glass patio door. He could not find the handle and began pounding on it. He could see the open gate just beyond which led to the swimming pool, the plastic Hot Wheels tricycle bobbing up and down at the edge. Suddenly he was in the pool, it was miles across. At the far side stood Joey, waving, beckoning him.   [Read more…]

The Ten Most Outrageous Economic Calamities of 2012

By Les Leopold / Alternet

It was another year of Wall Street treachery. Those who took down our economy still have not been held accountable. Instead, Wall Street successfully lured the political establishment into a phony fiscal cliff/austerity debate. So instead of creating programs to put millions of Americans back to work, Washington is debating how much more to take away from the poor and the middleclass. Let’s take a closer look at the most disastrous economic events from 2012.

Here’s our countdown:   [Read more…]

The Starting Line(ish): Got Milk? Got $8 for a Gallon?

Farm bill impasse in Congress could cause prices of dairy products to skyrocket; the do-nothingest Congress in history; San Diego poised to lose state funding for construction projects; Issa’s witch hunts to continue; Obama thriftiest president since Eisenhower

Prices for a gallon of milk stand to rise from a current average of around $3.65 to $6 to $8 per gallon, according to a report in the NY Times. That’s because of an impasse in Congress (of course) that is stalling the passage of a new farm bill. The Senate has already passed its version of the bill last July. The House has yet to bring its own version to the floor.

Without a new farm bill, according to the report, the government would be forced to follow a farm law enacted in 1949 that would require the federal government to purchase milk at prices that would be determined by production costs…..from 1949. Adjusted for inflation and other factors, that would amount to more than double the current price. Keep in mind that production costs 60 years ago were a lot higher because milk production was done almost exclusively by hand.

If Congress fails to act (which is likely…..more on that later), then dairy companies would be forced to look for alternative sources for their milk, such as importing it from New Zealand.   [Read more…]

No White Flag of Immigration Surrender

by Carlos Batara

Soon after the 2012 elections ended, a wave of predictable knee-jerk reactions followed. Political pundits, news reporters, and immigrant advocates credited the New America for President Obama’s re-election. The Republicans jumped out first. They quickly acknowledged the need for immigration reform. They began floating flawed proposals, like the ACHIEVE Act, and discussed the shift from their campaign postures.

Meanwhile the Democrats decided to take time off to celebrate their victory. For all the talk by Obama supporters about the urgency of immigration reform during the campaign, they did not feel the need to start work on relieving at least some of the stress imposed by current policies on immigrant families until after the Christmas break.

When it comes to fixing our immigration system, immigrant families cannot afford such partisanship.

  [Read more…]

Upon Reflection: What I Believe

by John Lawrence

Well the New Year is upon us, and it’s time to take stock and see if I can make any sense out of the goings on of the last year and the interaction of reality with my own mind. This is my crack at it.

1. I believe that gun ownership should be a privilege and not a right. The 2nd Amendment was constucted to be similar to the Swiss model in which citizens formed a militia for national defense. There was no standing army. That was the original intent of the framers of the Constitution for exactly the same reason: there was no standing army. Today that rationale is not relevant. Even Switzerland has moved the guns from homes to depots to prevent what little gun violence takes place there.   [Read more…]

12/30: Live Music and Art at The Casbah Features an Eclectic Mixture of Styles, Genres and Perspectives

by Brigitte Taylor/

Local artists Martin Nasim, True Delorenzo and Nick Bahula will be displaying art and painting live as part of the December 30, 2012 Casbah show with the following bands: The Amalgamated, Karlos Paez of B*Side Players, The Soulfires and Steve Harris of The Styletones. Tickets are on sale at Doors open at 8:30 p.m.

The show will begin with Steve Harris of The Styletones performing his original soul music followed by instrumental funk band The Soulfires (formerly The Fireeaters) and continuing with the local ska act, The Amalgamated. Karlos Paez, lead singer of the B*Side Players will perform with special guests. We rarely see a configuration of musicians and artists of such varying styles and genres. The following local area artists will accompany the bands’ performances, displaying and selling their artwork:   [Read more…]

The Starting Line(ish): Filner Rips Congress … All of Them

Mayor Bob Filner calls out dysfunctional Congress; Starbuck’s embarks on a “Come Together” campaign; Wingnuts decry Sandy Hook as a government conspiracy; Balboa Park Golf Course getting a makover

In an interview yesterday with KPCC, the Los Angeles area public radio station, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner pulled no punches in criticizing Congress and the Congressional leaders he left behind after 20 years to run for Mayor.

The bottom line, the reason he chose to run for mayor instead of returning to Congress for what would have been his 11th term, was the same thing Filner said to SDFP colleague Annie Lane and I when we sat down with the then mayoral candidate back in April for the OB Rag: Congress is a complete, dysfunctional mess.

The mantra of shrinking government down to a size “where you can drown it in a bathtub,” as Grover Norquist likes to say, became the overriding principle in the House in 1994 when Newt Gingrich first became Speaker. Since then—and especially since 2010—it’s only gotten worse.

“I couldn’t believe the kind of people who had come and taken power,” Filner said of the Tea Party wave that took control of the House. “Many of them had never had any government experience. They had no respect as it were for government per se. I mean, I don’t know why you run for government office with the intent to close up government.”   [Read more…]

The Children’s Pool in La Jolla – Visit the Harbor Seals

San Diego For Free: Children’s Pool in La Jolla

A weekly column dedicated to sharing the best sights and activities in San Diego at the best price – free! We have a great city and you don’t need to break the bank to experience it.

Location: La Jolla, map here

Best For: Wave watchers, seal gazers, sandy feet aficionados, soul searchers

Near downtown La Jolla is the Children’s Pool, a small beach protected from ocean waves by a sea wall. The wall was built in 1931 to create a calm area of water for swimming. Today the Children’s Pool is the center of a battle between those wishing to see it refurbished and preserved as a swimming area and those that advocate for protection of the harbor seals that have established a home at the Children’s Pool in the past two decades.
  [Read more…]

The Fright Wing: Why So-Called Conservatives Get So Wild and Crazy.

By Bob Dorn

Until recently, I’ve been mystified by the emotional fits and righteousness that seems to dominate the politics of people who identify themselves as conservatives. From sneering condescension right up to murderous invective, the rhetoric of those who consider themselves more holy than the rest of us has blown past the bounds of realism and into a sort of hallucinatory inferno of loose hatred and speculation.

And it hasn’t taken much to set it off.

Mention the U.N. or World Court, or the possibility of expanding voting hours, or improving our infrastructure and you’re likely to unleash an avalanche of accusations and epithets– one worlder, voter fraud, socialist idiot, moron, traitor.

Infrastructure? Voting? Are those bad?   [Read more…]

Who’s Winning the ‘War on Christmas’?

Wishing Everyone a Happy/Merry……?

By Beau Grosscup

The grocery cashier handed me my change and receipt. With a cherry voice and sparkle in her eye, she said: “Merry Christmas.”

“Happy Hanukah to you” I sweetly replied. A frown crept across her brow.

“I’m not Jewish,’ she said.

“I’m not Christian,” I responded. I walked away leaving a slightly confused Christian cashier pondering what had just happened.

I had no doubt what had occurred.

For over a decade of Decembers, the Christian Right, led by Bill O’Reilly of Fox News cable, has charged a War on Christmas (and thus Christianity) is under way.   [Read more…]

Sex in San Diego: The Psychology of Pick-Up Lines

By Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. / Alternet

Every relationship begins with that first step. Some people never get past that first step. First impressions matter, and our opening few lines can either energize the interaction or cause the other person to look around for the nearest exit. Gratefully, psychologists have spent years of celibacy trying to understand the psychology behind pick-up lines for your own benefit.

In the ’80s Chris Kleinke and colleagues analyzed the effectiveness of 100 pick-up lines across a number of different settings, including bars, supermarkets, restaurants, laundromats, and beaches. They found three main categories of openers:   [Read more…]

The Starting Line(ish): Armed Coup at FreedomWorks

FreedomWorks nearly falls apart during armed mutiny; NRA leverages massacres to ramp up gun sales; Changes could be coming to San Diego billboard ordinances; #17 Aztecs fall to #3 Wildcats

You just can’t make this stuff up. As you may or may not know, the TEA Party Astroturf group FreedomWorks has been going through a bit of turmoil lately. Most of the group’s troubles only came to light after the Nov. 6 election. Still, even though this is fringe right wing politics—we’re talking the nuttiest of the nutty—no one expected Dick Armey to come marching into FreedomWorks HQ with an armed escort to conduct a hostile takeover. Even in TEA Party politics that seemed like a bit much.

  [Read more…]

Same Sex Parenting Becoming ‘Normal’ in an Evolving Society

As same sex marriage becomes more accepted by mainstream America, so too does the idea of same sex couples raising families of their own.

by Kit-Bacon Gressitt/Excuse Me I’m Writing

On Family Day in 2009, President Obama proclaimed that, “Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things [emphasis added].”

The proclamation represented a culmination, of sorts, the definitive result of nearly four decades of advocacy for same-sex parenting, endorsed for the first time by a U.S. president. Today, same-sex parenting as a social institution has come of age in popular media and across the country.   [Read more…]

The Holidays are the Hardest

Being a widow is difficult if the relationship between the two spouses was a good one. There are times that being a widow is harder than other times. Like now. The Holidays. Being a widow and having 12 grandchildren becomes quite expensive and for the first time in many years I am unable to gift my children as well as their children. Fortunately they understand that I can no longer give boxes of band aids with funny pictures on them to my youngest grandchildren. I don’t know when it happened but they have outgrown the “bandage years.” Now they want more expensive items – they won’t be getting those either – but it doesn’t stop the “wanting.” So not being able to give what I would like to give is a downer but livable.
  [Read more…]

Wishing You Peace and Joy!

You’ve probably noticed that the SanDiegoFreePress has been a little “quieter” the past few days. Some of us are out of town visiting family. The rest of us are in town enjoying the company of family and friends. You are no doubt doing the same. But that doesn’t mean that we have gone silent. We will continue to post original content throughout the week, so please keep checking back to see what is new and join in the conversation.

  [Read more…]

The Starting Line(ish): Gun Porn Edition

NRA’s Wayne LaPierre proves that yes, he is crazy; SDG&E efforts to pass 2007 wildfire costs to customers thwarted (for now); UCSD Med Students pledge funds for free clinics; #18/15 Aztecs roll to finals of Diamond Head Classic

As if last Friday’s press conference—in which he fielded no questions—wasn’t bad/damaging enough, National Gun Fetish Association (otherwise known as the NRA) chief Wayne LaPierre took to the airwaves again on Sunday morning to plead his and his organization’s case…..or to further prove how absolutely batshit crazy he is. It’s hard to tell exactly which.

  [Read more…]