Hairless Rats and the Invisible People of San Diego

startinglinelogoBy Doug Porter

It was an “aha!” moment triggered by one sentence buried deep in the latest of an ongoing series of “news stories” published in the Daily Fishwrap that triggered a larger realization for me.

The purpose of the story and others like it was to propound upon the sore loser propaganda campaign promulgated by UT-San Diego publisher Papa Doc (that’s what his employees call him) and his like minded minions: With [insert disliked politician’s name] in power we are all doomed.

This latest essay by Craig Gustafson, ran with the headline (caps theirs)


Here’s the lede:

Mayor Bob Filner’s aggressive and quarrelsome nature has brought sweeping change to the culture at City Hall, but several cringe-worthy moments have his own allies questioning whether an unbridled Filner is jeopardizing the good he could do for San Diego.

The rest of the story is essentially a rehash of the various controversies ginned up by the GOP’s Lincoln Log Club (I’ve decided they needed renaming, so as not to shame the great American they claim to be named after) and our city’s conservative media, filtered through the reactions of establishmentarian figureheads deemed to lend credibility to the underlying premise.

After a few dozen paragraphs we get down to the ‘balanced’ part of the story:

He also has a constituency — labor unions and residents south of Interstate 8 — that revel in his stick-it-to-the-establishment rabble.

And… nothing.

By the writer’s own admission a vast and densely populated area of San Diego and organizations with tens of thousands of members might, indeed, approve of the Mayor’s ‘stick-it-to-the-establishment rabble’.

We’ll never know for sure, though. He could only actually find one person to interview on that point (Norma Damashek, who contributes here regularly).


Still, there are rumblings of a recall…

A “Recall Filner” Facebook page put up ten days ago has garnered less than three dozen supporters. This, in an era where a page on hairless rats can have more than 1,300 “likes”.

So if you live South of Interstate 8 or belong to a union, I hope you can figure out where you stand in the eyes of our Daily Fishwrap.

Meanwhile, #ChalkGate Continues…

chalk protesterThe story continues to spread, to the point where even the UT-San Diego has acknowledged the universal outrage in response to the prosecution by the City Attorney’s office of Jeff Olson for the heinous crime of writing protest slogans in chalk outside the Bank of America.

Saturday’s Chalk-U-py demonstration was organized via social media and drew a hundred people or so. (See story & great pics here.)

As I pointed out last Friday, news organizations world wide have run with the story. My favorite, Tony Perry with the Los Angeles Times:

 Chalk up the latest dispute between the mayor and city attorney to, well, chalk.

Mayor Bob Filner on Friday told reporters that the city attorney’s prosecution of a protester for chalking anti-bank slogans on city sidewalks outside Bank of America branches is “a stupid case” and a waste of city money.

“It’s chalk,” Filner said in an exasperated tone. “It’s water-soluble chalk. They were political slogans.”

Chalking Approved for Anti-Abortion Protests?

Apparently it’s OK for people to write political slogans outside Planned Parenthood offices. Okay as in approved by the same police department that recommended prosecution of Jeff Olson for chalking anti-bank slogans.

That’s what The Reader’s latest story on #ChalkGate says.

One such group, pro-life activists Live Action San Diego, organized a “Talk and Chalk” July 2011 protest outside of a local Planned Parenthood…

…But before the event occurred, organizers began to have concerns about the legality of the chalk-a-thon. In a later comment, Live Action San Diego said their questions were answered.

“Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you know that we have contacted the San Diego Police Department and they confirmed it is NOT considered vandalism to chalk up a sidewalk. There have been some questions regarding this and we wanted to settle them. Hope to see you Thursday!”

So, as the headline on the story said, this is more about the ‘mess’-age than the ‘mess’.

The Protests Will Continue

There’s a nationwide call to chalk up opinions outside Bank of America branches on Saturday, July 6th. Here’s the local Facebook link.

UPDATE: Olson has been found Not Guilty. Story here.

More Invisible People Missed in Local News

Gay Pride BradleyThere was other news this weekend, but certainly one of the top local stories had to be Gay Pride rallies held around the nation.  I have no doubt the UT-San Diego’s failure to mention the 1.5 million people marching through the streets of San Francisco was just an oversight, crowded out in part by their decision to axe local news as a Sunday section.

Parades and marches marking the birth of the Gay Rights movement via the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969 were also held in New York, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis and cities around the world, including Caracas, Bogota, Toronto and Istanbul.

Lots of the coverage of these events focused celebrations trigged by the Supreme Court’s rulings on same sex marriages last week. San Francisco kept City Hall open all weekend, so couples who wanted to marry could obtain their licenses.

Here in San Diego, despite a court order being lifted in Friday allowing weddings to proceed, the County offices charged with issuing licenses were caught flat footed.  Word is that they’re accepting appointments today and will have an all day walk in event on Wednesday.

Not mentioned in much of the mainstream media coverage were the contingents marching in parades in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and other cities in support of jailed activist Bradley Manning, who is facing life in prison or the death penalty. Charged with “Aiding the enemy through indirect means” by making information public via Wikileaks, Manning’s participation in past Pride marches and campaigning against the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” restrictions on gay military personnel has not been forgotten by some in the Gay community.

An attempt to name Bradley Manning as honorary Grand Marshall of the San Francisco parade was retracted after pressure from corporate sponsors was brought to bear on march organizers.

The GOP’s War on…Just About Everybody

old hillaryAfter successfully alienating young, Latino and women voters though extreme policy positions, Republicans are now going after another key voting bloc: Seniors.

Now they’re cranking up their propaganda machine to build voter fear over Hillary Clinton’s age.  This, from a party dominated by old farts, is just astounding. From the New York Times:

At a conservative conference earlier in the year, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, ridiculed the 2016 Democratic field as “a rerun of ‘The Golden Girls,’ ” referring to Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 70.

And Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, seizing on the Fleetwood Mac song that became a Clinton family anthem, quipped to an audience in Washington, “If you want to keep thinking about tomorrow, maybe it’s time to put somebody new in.”

The 2016 election may be far off, but one theme is becoming clear: Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton’s age. The former secretary of state will be 69 by the next presidential election, a generation removed from most of the possible Republican candidates.

Punishing the Unemployed

This is just sick stuff. No comment needed. From Paul Krugman via the New York Times:

Is life too easy for the unemployed? You may not think so, and I certainly don’t think so. But that, remarkably, is what many and perhaps most Republicans believe. And they’re acting on that belief: there’s a nationwide movement under way to punish the unemployed, based on the proposition that we can cure unemployment by making the jobless even more miserable.

Consider, for example, the case of North Carolina. The state was hit hard by the Great Recession, and itsunemployment rate, at 8.8 percent, is among the highest in the nation, higher than in long-suffering California or Michigan. As is the case everywhere, many of the jobless have been out of work for six months or more, thanks to a national environment in which there are three times as many people seeking work as there are job openings.

Nonetheless, the state’s government has just sharply cut aid to the unemployed. In fact, the Republicans controlling that government were so eager to cut off aid that they didn’t just reduce the duration of benefits; they also reduced the average weekly benefit, making the state ineligible for about $700 million in federal aid to the long-term unemployed.

A Reporters’ Nightmare

let it snowI’ve totally done this: messed up the lede or (even worse) the headline on a breaking story, because the fingers move faster than the brain sometimes.

Here’s the lede from an early online version of Matt Hall’s The Conversation column today (emphasis mine):

San Diego police say U-T San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews was not arrested Sunday night, but fans reacted quickly and negatively after initial reports began circulating Monday morning that he had been arrested at Sidebar, a club in the Gaslamp Quarter.

No, Manchester hasn’t bought the team. Yet.

I felt his pain as I Tweeted the bad news to the reporter…

Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar

Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrain, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line:

On This Day: 1946 – The U.S. exploded a 20-kiloton atomic bomb near Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. 1956 – Elvis Presley appeared on “The Steve Allen Show.” He was told not to dance and Allen had him sing “Hound Dog” to a real basset hound wearing tails.  1966 – Medicare went into effect.

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I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.


Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatarBrent Beltran says

    I’m organizing a chalk-in at the Barrio Logan branch of BofA in conjunction with the national call. My family will be there from noon until 2pm. I’ll bring some chalk to share. Come join us.

  2. avatarJohn Anderson says

    The new team name would explain the U-T push for a new taxpayer paid for stadium. Although it might look better in the shadow of a Mission Valley skyscraper than on the bay.