The Washington Canard
Where C-SPAN is the local TV news

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Statehood -- and DC's conspicuous lack of it -- is a perennial issue in the District, and last week it came up again when the city encouraged the President-elect to affix those "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION" plates to his presidential limousine. President Clinton used them, President Bush did not, and one expects President Obama will do so as well.

Here is Matt Yglesias's blissfully un-nuanced assessment:
I’d like ... congress to use its power to admit new states to admit the State of Columbia as the fifty-first state. You would, of course, need to carve out a portion of the existing city to continue serving as the “federal district” and capital of the country. But that could easily be made a compact area around the Mall where nobody (except the President and the First Family) lives and thus nobody is denied voting rights. ... It would be totally constitutional.
Of course it would be constitutional. That isn't what's keeping Washington from becoming a state. The bigger issues include the city not much resembling a state in geography nor governance, having a lower population than every state but Wyoming, why DC deserves greater representation than NYC, LA, Chicago etc., and especially the obvious political implications of creating two new Senate seats that would never be seriously contested by the Republicans within the foreseeable future. (Don't worry about the stars on the flag, that one's covered).

So it was a small surprise to see this response from Markos Moulitsas, who is generally considered less of a "thinker" than Yglesias and more of a "strategist":
To me, the more obvious solution is to simply have DC annexed by either Maryland or Virginia. (Preferably Virginia, which would solidify it as a solid Blue state, and most of NOVA is a suburb of DC anyway.) Can someone explain why that option is either ignored or a non-starter?
Now we're getting somewhere. I have always considered retrocession the best option, although Markos fails to note that most of Western Maryland is also a suburb of DC. I'm vaguely aware that Maryland may have its problems with this, though I'd think the newly larger tax base would outweigh having to shoulder the burden of DC's notorious school system. The real reason, though, is because of politics.

In any case, the complaint about lack of representation is a valid one (although I always like to note that nobody is forced to live in the city) and worth doing something about. But it seems to me that city activists who insist upon statehood at the expense of all other options are not being honest about their intentions. If equal represenation was the issue, then retrocession would be on the table.

So come on, Washington. Let's stop electing "shadow senators" and "shadow representatives" who essentially serve to lobby for statehood. This year, my first time voting in the District, I refused to cast a vote. Not only do I think the offices shouldn't exist, I think they're detrimental to the city's interests. But what do I care? I wouldn't be living here if I did.

Image via dbking on Flickr.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One C. Evans, an old friend with no extant blog but a terrific Flickr account points me to the official web page for the second, non cam-wielding Scottie dog in the Bush White House, Miss Beazley:

Official White House Bio for Miss Beazley, President Bush’s Scottie Dog

The bio section, at full size:

Miss Beazley’s White House bio

A few thoughts:

  • I assume Miss Beazley's father really was named Clinton; I can't see White House PR consultants choosing that from thin air.

  • Can Barney has cheezburger, too? Was "cheeseburger" a compromise with the original suggestion "cheezburger"?

  • How did Miss Beazley get into Duck Tales, a television show which has been off the air for a century in dog years?

    More likely: A junior staffer or intern, maybe even the Bush twins themselves, would have been watching the The Disney Afternoon from 1990-92. But I approve. Among weekday afternoon cartoon shows, it was probably the best of its era:

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

I'm a fan of Penn & Teller's Showtime series "Bullshit!" (which I would rather was the nation's preeminent showcase for libertarian ideas, certainly compared to the gold standard-obsessings of Tim's candidate).

One of their best non-ideological shows from the first season -- perhaps based on this venerable Anil Dash post -- focused on the fact that there's no reason to believe bottled water is any better than tap water. As the show demonstrated, most people can't tell the difference. The only problem was they shot their taste test in New York City, which is known for its great water quality, especially among big cities. I, however, live in Washington, DC, where they say the tap water kills houseplants.

And even if I didn't come from the Pacific Northwest (can I get a shout-out for the Bull Run Watershed?) I would still testify that the water here is absolutely heinous.

This is one area of the country where I wouldn't look down (too much) on someone for buying flats of bottled water at Costco. I have actually seen this, and while I prefer the less-expensive Brita solution, at least I get it. (In my building, some people get office-style water cooler jugs delivered.)

So I am actually inclined to respond positively to an e-mail solicitation to blog about an Environmental Working Group study about high levels of chlorine in the District water supply:
These results illustrate the tremendous difficulties that water utilities face when trying to provide tap water that is free of potentially deadly bacteria and pathogens, yet not contaminated with toxic by-products of the chemicals used to kill these same microbes. This problem is particularly acute when utilities draw water from poorly protected water sources like the Potomac River. As recently reported in the Washington Post, the Potomac may not even be suitable for swimming; turning this water into safe drinking water is a serious public health challenge.
Now that I think about it, there was that GWU student who died after jumping into the Tidal Basin...

Interests of balance, if not careful reading, compel me to include this from the Washington Post's coverage of the EWG report:
Washington Aqueduct General Manager Thomas P. Jacobus said the latest study results are what he would have expected and were probably temporary. He stressed that D.C. water meets EPA safety standards because test results for the concentration of chlorination compounds are averaged over the year.
This may be true, but the water here is still bad. As a former lifeguard, I can tell you that chlorine is pretty heinous stuff (though useful if little children will be taking lessons at your facility) but I have no clue if DC's (allegedly) deadly agua has to do with the chlorination of the water. And though I expect that I would disagree with the policy solutions favored by this EWG, again, the water here is seriously awful.

Blog P.I. that I am, I couldn't help summoning the oracle to see if I could find out a little more about who was doing the solicitation, someone named Amanda Hanley. One of the first Google hits revealed that she donated more than $11,000 during the 2006 campaign cycle.

And for a self-employed writer, wow, she's been handing over a lot of scratch to political committees and candidates. She's listed on the staff page, accompanied by a small but promising photograph, as their web communications director.

Well-off, attractive and into web outreach? I think I might like to meet this girl.

UPDATE: From the comments... the blogger Hanley is not the loaded Amanda Hanley! The political contributions sounded right, but that wasn't exactly proof. Mea culpa.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Via bicycle blog Ride Lugged, I learn that later this month the sequel to the (surprisingly watchable) Nicolas Cage histo-thriller National Treasure will be shooting on location in and around the District.

I also learn that they're looking for these kinds of extras:
- Real Sting Quartet
- Bomb Detection Units w/dogs
- Dog Walkers w/dogs
- Real Bike Messengers
- Real Catering Bartenders, Waiters/Waitresses and Chefs
- George and Martha Washington look-alikes
- Diplomat couples in formal attire (Scottish, African, Japanese, French and Middle Eastern)
- Cigar smokers to play Senators
- Hot Dog Vendor with cart
- Secret Service / FBI / Police / Security Guards
- Military types to include 2 Generals and 1 Major
- Park Rangers
- Lots of GOOD Drivers w/Cars
- Beautiful Model types 25-40 in age for a formal scene
- Men and women with formal wear for a party scene
- the First Lady
- College professors and teachers
- College students
- College aged skateboarders and some hacky sack players
- Lots of Business and Tourist types
- Librarians and Library Patrons
- Treasure Hunters
- Joggers
- Seniors
- 18 and older who look 15-17
- Bicyclists w/ bikes
Hmm... I'm not really sure I fit any of these categories. Probably "library patron" or "college student," if any, although not the type with a skateboard or hacky sack.

And who's to say what a "Treasure Hunter" should look like? Dammit, I think I look like a treasure hunter.

I guess I could be a tourist type. Possibly a jogger, but more like a jogger who isn't sticking with the program. Also, I assume they would want a jogger to jog, and that's kind of a deal-breaker.

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