Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Sept. 9
The Orange County Republican Party announces its entrance into local, usually nonpartisan races by demanding that incumbent Republican candidates pay a $200 fee if they want to land the party's “early endorsement.” (This replaces the old method, which required incumbents to leave small offerings outside the electrified fence around Donald Bren's home. Avert your eyes!) Republican officeholders say they began receiving letters and calls in May from party officials asking for the money, ostensibly for membership in the recently formed Local Elected Officials Association (LEO). “Once we receive your LEO Assn. application along with current dues and the written request for endorsement, we the Republican Party Central Committee will process your request for an early endorsement,” the letter stated. Turns out the LEO is also open to non-incumbents, but they aren't eligible for the early endorsement; in effect, their money's no good here. GOP chair Scott Baugh denies that demanding money from incumbents is asking for a payoff even if it does allow them access to an endorsement for which non-incumbents aren't eligible even if the non-incumbent is the better candidate. “If somebody is paying money just for the purpose of getting an early endorsement, they're missing out on 100 percent of the benefits the club brings,” says Baugh, pointing out that those benefits include 10 percent off all misleading campaign literature along with a complimentary photoshopped picture of your opponent embracing either Kim Jong-il or George W. Bush. Baugh's explanation seems to satisfy most, such as central committee member Tim Whitacre, who says the fee “comes across as more of a shakedown.” Alexandria Coronado, president of the county board of education, gushes that the whole thing “looks like extortion,” adding, “You have to pay, and you're not even guaranteed the endorsement. I find it reprehensible.” Does she find it reprehensible that they charge for the endorsement or that the endorsement isn't guaranteed?

Thursday, Sept. 7
Paris Hilton
is arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, though officials say she could be charged with the far more serious crime of driving under the influence of being Paris Hilton. Now, nobody cares about this because, after the Sept. 11 attacks of five years ago, we are a much more serious nation, which is why only about 27,000 TV and print journalists show up to report the story. Lou Dobbs blames the Mexicans. For our purposes, the most stunning thing to come out of all of this is that Hilton was driving to get a burger at—wait for it—In-N-Out! Now, that someone would want an In-N-Out burger isn't surprising, but Hilton, you may recall, dry (and wet) humped a car for Orange County-based fast food/soft porn outfit Carl's Jr. Who knows how Hilton's admission will affect local burger sales? Me? I feel the need to shower.

Friday, Sept. 8
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger apologizes for calling a member of the California legislature “hot,” and, no, he was not talking about Jackie Goldberg. His comments were directed at Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City), the only Republican Latina in the state legislature. Schwarzenegger's comments were recorded in a meeting he had with several staff members. The governor sometimes tapes conversations because “I have a certain way of speaking” and the tapes allow his speechwriters to get the “texture” of his cadence and accent, although they could get the same effect by watching a Hogan's Heroes blooper reel. On the tape, Schwarzenegger says of Garcia, who is Puerto Rican: “She maybe is Puerto Rican or the same thing as Cuban. I mean, they are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it.” Schwarzenegger's comments are outrageous. First off, Puerto Ricans and Cubans are nothing alike. For one, the Puerto Rican flag has a star set in a blue triangle next to red stripes, while the Cuban flag has a star set in a red triangle next to blue stripes. More important, “Ask a Mexican” columnist Gustavo Arellano says that lumping the two nationalities together doesn't take into account their rich and unique heritage, or, as Gustavo puts it: “Cubans are arrogant, Puerto Ricans are just loud.” (I love Mexicans: so bitchy.) Schwarzenegger apologizes, flanked by Garcia, who says she was not offended by the comments and doesn't believe the governor needs to apologize for anything. She points out that she enjoys referring to herself as a hot-blooded Latina, and, as everyone knows, racial stereotypes are perfectly okay when propagated by people of that race, most especially when they comfort the powerful. Hey, Bonnie, here's why it's not okay. Just because you're willing to trade on your heritage using cartoonish phrases and images that make you palatable to white folks, that doesn't mean other Latinos desire that. Or deserve it. What's more, the governor of the state of California, the most diverse state in the union, should not be indulging in wholesale, and stupid, race generalizations. You do that, and all of a sudden people are saying that all Austrians speak funny and indulge in racial stereotypes. I mean, that would be crazy. And dangerous. When you ignorantly start putting entire peoples in little boxes, bad things can happen. That's the kind of stuff a father should educate a son about. Wonder if Arnold and his dad ever had that talk?

Saturday, Sept. 9
The Orange County Register's Letters page runs five responses to a piece written the previous week by Sheriff Mike Carona. Carona's opinion piece—headlined “Why rush to judge in police shooting?”—is about the reaction to Huntington Beach police killing 19-year-old Ashley MacDonald. Carona never refers to MacDonald by name, preferring the far more intimate “19-year-old woman.” America's Sheriff further shows a soft side by writing that “incidents like these are traumatic and have a long-lasting effect on the family.” Do tell. Carona opposes creating a citizen oversight committee to look into such matters, arguing that such committees can become politicized, and the last thing Carona would want is for police work to be politicized. So much so that the day after defeating Sheriff's Lieutenant Bill Hunt in the spring elections, Carona put Hunt on administrative leave. And anyway, who wants a bunch of civilians sticking their noses into police work? Toward the end of the piece, Carona shows his disdain for the public as he lapses into the all-too-familiar “nobody likes us, think I'll go shoot some worms” copspeak: “[Officers] are criticized, chastised and persecuted by the public and the media, yet they still show up to work each day.” You'd think the guy would be grateful to the public, since they re-elected him despite his own massive lapses in judgment—partying with mafia associates, handing out sheriff's badges to martial arts instructors who then go Gunsmoke on a golf course. Come to think of it, maybe he has good reason not to trust the public. Anyway, Carona's screed ran on Sept. 3 in the Register, probably because he thought he'd get a sympathetic ear. But of the five letters run, three readers bash him, including George E. Butsch, who says that Carona's “conclusion that he and other law enforcement personnel are serving a bunch of thankless jerks is eye-opening,” and Bill Fox, who says that Carona's piece “should be buried next to your dog's favorite bone.” But enough about Paris Hilton.

Sunday, Sept. 10
The NFL season begins. Why did it ever end?

Monday, Sept. 11
At the gym this morning, several TVs are tuned to 9/11 memorial services, including the reading of names of the dead at Ground Zero. Two women happen by, glance up, and one says to the other, “Why are they doing that?” “Oh, 9/11.” “Oh, right. When is that?” As dumb as that may sound, it still makes more sense than the president's speech tonight. A nation turns its lonely eyes to the calendar and asks: How long?

Tuesday, Sept. 12
Everybody say, “Microfiber!”


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