The local political scene has been awash in self-parody lately—some of it highly amusing, some of it incredibly unsettling.
First, voiceofsandiego.org asked San Diego County supervisors for their reactions to the online news site's investigation into how the county treats its most needy citizens—specifically, in the delivery of food stamps, health insurance and welfare. The overall gist, expectedly, was that the supes are generally hostile to the county spending any money over and above what the state funnels southward for social services. But Dianne Jacob and Bill Horn, our very own Pope of Parodyville, were particularly hostile to the people who need government services.
Jacob said the percentage of needy people who are too proud to accept help might be high, suggesting, without any evidence at all, that San Diego County breeds especially hearty poor people, given that participation rates elsewhere are higher. She also said that some people want the county to hand out welfare to “anybody and everybody.” No, Dianne, just the people who are eligible for aid and struggling.
Horn went much farther over the top, saying that his parents would never take government assistance, so, apparently, no one else should, either. His point is that people who need help feeding themselves and their children are weaklings. It's been suggested that we engage in name-calling a bit too much in our editorials. Well, we're sorry, but there's no other way to say it: Bill Horn is a supreme asshole.
The statements by Horn and Jacob are consistent with the policy of county government to view poor people with distrust and contempt as disproportionate resources are aimed at fraud prevention; folks are seen initially as potential cheats. Disgusting.
Next we have Congressmember Duncan Hunter Jr., in an NPR interview, opposing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell because 1) the red-blooded, corn-fed hicks that, apparently, fill the military's ranks will feel uncomfortable and will therefore be less effective if they're positioned close to gay comrades, and 2) the slippery slope will lead directly to transgenders and hermaphrodites—you know, life's circus freaks—wanting in.
It's sufficient to let the hermaphrodite comment stand on its own nutty pedestal without response, but as for the tired old discomfort argument: Hey, Junior, you watch how quickly a gay soldier is accepted the second he or she acts with valor, bravery and selflessness.
It's fun to observe humans in their natural habitat who don't realize that they're bringing up the rear in social evolution.
Lastly, we have politicians, lawyers and lobbyists lusting for the blood of the city of San Diego's Ethics Commission. As Charlie Walker, the commission's former executive director, told the Union-Tribune this week, this was bound to happen as the commission smacks powerful people with hefty fines for violating the rules.
We don't begrudge anyone taking issue with municipal policy. Sure, let's debate—that's what democracy's all about. But the prime problems with the Ethics Commission seems to be that investigators are mean, nasty people and that lobbyists—who enjoy far greater access to the halls of power than average citizens—have to fill out too much public-disclosure paperwork. Gee, that really must eat into time better spent raising campaign cash for the City Council members from whom these lobbyists are seeking favorable policy change.
The Silver Parody Medal goes to insider-politics attorney Bob Ottilie for saying the Ethics Commission should be reined in because its investigators make their targets cry (toughen up, people; politics is a contact sport). But the Gold goes to insider-politics attorney Jim Sutton for arguing, in a U-T commentary, that the San Diego Ethics Commission is bad and wrong because it dares to set local rules not covered by state regulators and because in some ways it's stronger than other cities' ethics commissions.
We'd like to take this opportunity to caution City Councilmembers Ben Hueso and Marti Emerald: We sense that you are in imminent danger of making fools of yourselves by complaining about the commission simply because you got caught breaking the rules. Ethics chief Stacey Fulhorst is going to mop the floor with you.
Gosh, even in an era of scary change in the world of journalism, this business sure can be fun sometimes. What do you think? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.