Draft-dodger rag

Anybody feel a draft? The tizzy began a few weeks ago, before the end of the legislative session, when bills began to rocket their way from house to house en route to either the governor’s desk or the circular file.

One of them, by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, seemed fairly benign. Assembly Bill 823 aimed to bring the state’s five-decades-old military court-martial rules up to date. It would have made California law mirror federal law regarding the military justice system, known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This is a bill that passed unanimously out of two Assembly committees and then later on a vote of 77-0 on the Assembly floor.

But it was when the thing reached the Senate floor that someone appeared to have actually read its text. In a rundown prepared by the Office of Senate Floor Analyses appeared this note: “Members should be aware that this bill extends the power of summary court-martial to the unorganized militia.”

The unorganized who-what-huh?!

Democratic Senate staffers rushed to their California Code books and found sections of the state’s Military and Veterans Code that define an unorganized militia broadly, as pretty much any able-bodied male in the state, age 18 to 45. The governor can call together the militia in cases of “war, rebellion, insurrection, invasion, tumult, riot, breach of the peace, public calamity or catastrophe, other emergency, or imminent danger thereof.”

Um, which way to Canada?

Runner’s aides assured Bites that the unorganized militia has never been called up in the state and never would be unless extraterrestrials were shooting lasers from the sky, in which case the threat of court-martial would be the last of any of our concerns.

In the end, Runner’s bill was gutted and amended—and now outlines rules by which California may send its emergency responders to help in natural disasters in other states. But the governor’s power to muster the unorganized militia remains in place, as it has since 1949, just in case.

Luckily, Bites figures that being a juvenile, androgynous set of disembodied teeth constitutes immunity from any military service, organized or otherwise.

The first rule of Googlefight: These days, Bites’ sense of self-worth is determined not by fame or productivity or how many party invitations come in the mail. It’s determined by Google.com. You know, how many times does your name pop up on a Google search?

So, all hail the gods of the Internets, for the Googlefight is on! Type in any two things, and Googlefight (at http://googlefight.com) will determine which, in the eyes of the ubiquitous search engine, is more worthy.

First thing we typed in: “Sacramento Bee” vs. “Sacramento News & Review.” And lo! This rag returned 3.4 million results vs. the Bee’s measly 1.99 million. Take that, Scoopy!

Of course, this is a site that shows Arnold Schwarzenegger as superior to Phil Angelides by a ratio of 59-to-1. So, we remain perplexed about our own worldly value.

But Bites was able to solve some of the greater mysteries of the world: Jesus beats Buddha (though trees beat Jesus), Coke beats Pepsi, chicken outscores beef, and it’s apparently better to “taste great” than to be “less filling.”

Lost in translation: Bites owes an apology to Armand Legare, the congressional candidate and idea man introduced in last week’s column (see “Do the math,” SN&R Bites, September 8). Bites unintentionally misled readers, saying Legare would ask his constituents in the 5th District to vote by e-mail on every bill that comes before the house.

“That would be not only difficult—if indeed even possible—but counterproductive,” Legare wrote back politely, adding that he plans to send summaries of only five or six issues “of particular interest to the people of Sacramento” at the beginning of every month. Legare would then use the results of the district-wide voting on these issues to inform his own decisions. (Go to www.legare4congress.org to see the whole plan.) Legare’s second mention in this column should in no way be considered an early endorsement of the man over his likely Democratic rival, Doris Matsui. After all, this campaign won’t get interesting until Legare beats Matsui in a Googlefight.