Photo illustration by John R. Lamb
Duncan Hunter blows while Mayor Kevin Faulconer stows the “founding fathers” ban
Since a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him. —Charles de Gaulle
A local congressman blows e-cigarette smoke into a colleague’s face during a hearing. Mayor Kevin Faulconer waves the white flag when his administration is called out for banning the term “Founding Fathers” from official city correspondence.
Why are San Diego politicians acting so weird these days? It’s an election year, so sensitivities might be a bit heightened. But could it also be we are already seeing the effects of the new lunar Year of the Yang Red Fire Monkey?
Go ahead and laugh, but consider this, courtesy of the good folks at happywishingwell.com: “It’s best to take nothing for granted. The Monkey is wise but also unpredictable, and given to bouts of jealousy, suspicion or temper tantrums. Trust is difficult this year.”
Yes, that pretty much describes the loopy Republican presidential field to date, but thankfully that circus will eventually fade like a vapor cloud. But here in sunny, smiley San Diego, the Big Tent just keeps flapping in the breeze.
“The nimble Monkey is an opportunist,” the website continues. “Even in difficult circumstances, this canny creature finds ways to overcome and succeed, often with a laugh at the loser’s expense.”
Duncan Hunter, the Republican who rode his father’s name into Congress in 2009 to represent a huge chunk of East and North counties, certainly took an opportunist’s route last week but wound up losing anyway.
As reported by The Hill, Hunter broke out an e-cigarette during a congressional hearing last Thursday in an effort to convince colleagues that vaping should be allowed on airplanes. “There is nothing noxious about this whatsoever,” The Hill reported on Hunter, “as he accidentally blew a white cloud of e-cigarette smoke into another lawmaker’s face.”
The stunt apparently went over so well that the amendment passed. As the sponsor of the amendment noted, “Imagine what it would be like if you were sitting next to him on an airplane.”
Spin Cycle hopes he’d at least get a window seat, perhaps to avoid Hunter deciding to peer down below and shout, “I see terrorists crossing the border!” (You might recall in late 2014, Hunter claimed that “at least” 10 ISIS fighters had been detained while attempting to cross the Mexico border in Texas and “dozens more” had eluded capture. Politifact.com awarded the congressman its top “Pants on Fire!” stamp of disapproval for the “ridiculous claim.”)
“The Monkey is a born performer,” happywishingwell.com notes, “and keeps you enthralled for hours. Monkey can improvise with originality and sizzling style, and also is always ready to put an unexpected new twist on classic ideas.”
But be warned: “The Monkey year can be a crazy ride… One-night stands are common… Rampant Monkey energy releases inhibitions and promotes flirting, teasing, spontaneity, promiscuity and sexual exploration...Of all the signs, the Monkey is one of the most narcissistic.”
Perhaps those “one-night stands” refer to folks who considered, then just as quickly dropped, the idea of challenging Mayor Faulconer’s re-election efforts. But with a campaign coffer busting at the seams, Faulconer may have little to worry about. “It’s best not to worry too much about money this year,” the website continues. “Be sensible but allow some indulgences. The pleasure-seeking Monkey loves to throw money around, favoring lavish entertainment, stylish attire and generous helpings of the finer things in life.”
It’s not all champagne and caviar, though: “Plans can go awry in the Year of the Monkey, but answers and solutions are found if you seek them.”
You would have thought terrorists had breached the bayfront last week when an obscure conservative outfit based in Sacramento threatened to represent any city employee pro bono “who is disciplined or admonished” for using the term “Founding Fathers” in city correspondence. In a letter dated Feb. 8 (conspicuously also the first day of the Year of the Monkey), the Pacific Justice Institute blasted the mayor over his administration’s issuance of new “Visual and Correspondence Style Guidelines” that laid out recommendations for biasfree language.
While the institute seemed put off by banning the use of such a “parade of horribles” like “the common man,” “mankind” and “man up,” it saved its greatest outrage for one phrase.
“Most alarmingly, though, is the guidelines directive…that city employees should refrain from mentioning those to whom we owe our most fundamental freedoms, the Founding Fathers,” the letter fumed. “The manual’s inane attempt to recast the fathers as simply the ‘Founders’ reaches a level of political correctness, censorship and insensitivity toward time-honored American values that is indefensible.”
Conservative media outlets like Fox News quickly picked up the story and pounced. “San Diego Barred from Uttering ‘Biased’ Term ‘Founding Fathers,’ blared one headline. Team Faulconer immediately jumped into Red Alert mode, issuing statements that cried, “We’re shocked, too!” while seeking heads to roll under the bus.
“Suggesting that our Founding Fathers should be referred to as ‘Founders’ is political correctness run amok,” Faulconer said in a statement last Wednesday. “At my direction this was removed yesterday from the city’s correspondence manual. The manual will be reviewed for other misguided examples that defy common sense and changes will be made accordingly.”
At first, the mayor’s office laid the blame at the feet of Amelia Brazell, the recently departed under mysterious circumstances head of Faulconer’s communications department. Then the mayor’s chief operating officer, Scott Chadwick—who’d delivered the new guidelines to city employees—shouldered the blame.
As Faulconer’s chief of staff, Stephen Puetz, noted on Twitter, “Mistakes are going to be made in every organization. Leaders take corrective action when they learn of them.”
“Watch out for trickery, betrayal, mind games and hidden facts,” happywishingwell.com reminds us. “But, if you think about it too much, you’ll think yourself into ever-constricting circles for fear of being fooled, taken advantage of, or hurt.”
Faulconer was born in 1967, the Year of the Fire Sheep, whose shortcomings include being unrealistic in their expectations and disappointed in reality. Could this year get any weirder?