Powered by Blogger

Who links to me?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

While I'm busy preparing for my finals next week, here' s a post from the archives that explains why membership in Democratic Party is the only way to help fight corporate evil.


I am a proud Democrat, yet I also believe that corporate power is out of control and must be corralled. How do I reconcile these views?

The Democratic Party takes millions in donations from corporations every year. Most of the party's money came from corporate donors. Further, Democrats sign on to corporate welfare legislation year in and year out. As an entity standing alone, the Democrats appear at first glance to be Corporatists.

However, one cannot examine the Democratic party without considering the nature of our political system as well as the nature of the opposing party -- the Republicans.

First of all, Democrats support corporate interests but they do not support corporate interests above all other interests. The key area that reveals the wide differences between the parties is the issue of the environment. The Democratic Party acknowledges and accepts global warming as a scientific fact. Although they don't do nearly as much as one would like to do on this issue, the Democrats are against drilling for oil in Alaska and other environmentally dangerous measures that only benefit rich corporations. The environment is an issue of paramount importance; indeed it involves issues of life and death. The Corporatist Republicans are content to allow Earth to die before they will curb pollution. Indeed they denial the existence of global warming despite overwhelming scientific consensus.

When George Bush took office, he began weakening nearly every environmental regulation. The Orwellian-named "Clear Skies" program allowed corporations to dump more toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. Bush quickly overturned President Clinton's ban on arsenic in drinking water. And while Democrats pushed for tax-breaks and subsidies to promote the use of Hybrid cars, which would lessen our dependence on foreign oil and decrease smog, George Bush preferred to push for hydrogen fuel cell cars. Why? Because hydrogen fuel cell cars are a scientific myth, not a reality like Hybrids, and supporting a myth means that we get to keep burning oil like it will never end while simultaneously sounding like someone who cares about the environment.

Secondly, you need to look at the types of corporations supporting Democrats and Republicans. Republican corporate donors are mostly corporate "extraction" executives -- people in the fields of oil drilling, mining and factory farming. These are the absolute worst corporations in terms of the environment because they are unsustainable and environmentally destructive. Democrats, on the other hand, get most of their donations from telecommunications corporations and law firms. While taking money from telecommunications corporations is bad -- the media becomes more corporatized every day -- it's demonstrably better than taking money from oil companies. As for taking money from law firms, I don't have much of a problem with that. True, many of these law firms help support the corporate infrastructure, but at the same time these firms are really just providing additional costs to corporations that drag them down. The fact that so many corporate law firms donate to the Democrats while their clients donate to the Republicans just shows that Democrats are the party more friendly to lawyers. Corporations hate lawyers -- either they are getting sued by them or paying millions in bills to them. Further, lawyers are the reason for every single safety regulation we have today that protect consumers at the costs of pennies on the dollar. Corporations are deeply resentful of the check on their power that lawyers represent. For these reasons, the Democrats should not be ashamed for taking money from law firms.

The Republicans take money from some of the worst corporate offenders. Oil companies overwhelmingly favor the GOP. Shell Oil gave 84% of their donations to Republicans; ExxonMobil 95%; BP gave 62%. Walmart gives 72% of their donations to the Republicans. Giant chemical corporations favor the GOP. Proctor and Gamble gives 77% of their donations to the GOP. The large banking corporations give mostly to the GOP, and they were rewarded this year with a huge gift of corporate welfare known as the "bankruptcy bill". The big car companies all give to Republicans, probably because Republicans guarantee them that cheap, combustion engine cars aren't going anywhere. Ford gave 72% of their political donations to the GOP; GM gave 74%. Media giants like Clear Channel, who are turning our news into commercials for corporations, give overwhelmingly to the Republicans. Clear Channel gave 70% of their donations to the GOP. Meanwhile, many corporations giving to Democrats have a common thread -- upstart, "new" money corporations who don't have much of a stake in the laws that our government makes. Companies like Starbucks and Apple Computer donate entirely to the Democrats. Companies that are routinely praised by workers, like the excellent Costco, favor the Democrats by wide margins. In fact, Costco is a great example of an outstanding corporation who, while making nice profits, also treat their workers with dignity by allowing them great benefits and working wages. All of these statistics are available on BuyBlue.org, a great site to check who's giving what to who.

Third, you only need to look at the things that both parties have supported to see where there true loyalties lie. Despite the support of President Clinton, the Democratic Party was opposed to NAFTA. Republicans wanted to use the government surplus on tax cuts for the rich; Democrats wanted to solidify Social Security. Republicans want to privitize social security which would drastically reduce benefits while Democrats just want to keep Social Security as is. Republicans have prevented an increase in the minimum wage for 7 years; Democrats keep introducing bills to raise it every year and are shut down by the Republican majority.

Fourth, the nature of the American political system is such that only 2 parties exist. In fact, our system will never feature 3 parties at a time -- just like trying to fit 5 people in the back of your VW Bug, it just wasn't made for it. The reasons for this are complex, but I'll try and briefly sum it up. We have a "winner take all" electoral system. Even if 15% of the people vote for the Green party in every single election, they will never win a seat and have no representation. The only way to get any kind of say in government is to be able to win elections outright. Once 2 parties become entrenched, it becomes impossible for a third party to compete. They have no infrastructure or organization that can keep pace with the established parties. Of course, occasionally random districts will elect an independent to the House. But these instances are few and far between.

But let's assume we did have 3 parties, all of them winning elections across the United States so that the House was composed of 3 parties. What would happen? Without any one party commanding a majority, little lawmaking would occur. Alliances between parties would have to occur in order to get anything done. If the Greens just start voting with the Democrats all the time, Green voters are going to become disillusioned. If they battle the Democrats, then little lawmaking will occur and voters will perceive the third party as obstructionists and vote them out of office. We can have 3 parties for limited periods of time, and it has been so in our not so distant past, but ultimately we find a balance with 2 parties. It is the nature of our system.

A better system is a proportional representation system. In a PR system, if the Greens get 15% of the votes, then they get 15% of the seats. This allows virtually any party to compete at any time. Instead of needing to get 51% of the vote in a given district to gain any representation, all a party needs to do is get 1% of the vote. Congress becomes heavily fragmented in PR systems, however, but this leads to varying alliances between political parties. Often these alliances change depending on the issue. A PR system allows third parties to easily gain power and creates an environment where people can more easily choose a party who meets their interests. The drawback is that you vote for a party, not a person, in PR systems.

If we have just two political parties and you have to choose one side, the question becomes one of comparison: Which side am I going to take? Am I going to vote for the Republicans, the party who denies global warming, the constitutional right to privacy and evolution, the party who gave multiple tax cuts to rich corporations in the face of a recession, the party who called FDR a Communist for proposing social security? Or am I going to vote for the Democrats, the party who launched the war on poverty, the party who fights for the environment, the party who brought us the 40 hour workweek, the minimum wage and unions? It's not even close. You may not support 100% of what the Democrats do and you may not like the fact that they aren't doing enough to curb corporate power, but they are the only alternative to the dark, gloomy future of the Corporatist Republicans. The Democrats are our only chance to save the environment, ensure equal rights for all and end poverty.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Should the Republican Party be Allowed to Actively Propagandize Inside Law Schools?

The Federalist Society is just the Republican Party with a Different Name

Although I am not a conservative and deeply disagree with the morality underlying conservatism, I am a proponent of free speech. Ideas need to be discussed openly in order for humans to come to any sense of real truth.

Conservative groups dedicated solely to the open exchange of ideas, therefore, are just fine with me. The problem is when a group uses the shield of "exchanging ideas" to cover its true purpose of promoting a specific political agenda. The Federalist Society does exactly this, as I have argued before. Here is the Federalist Society's self-stated purpose:

The Society's main purpose is to sponsor fair, serious, and open debate about the need to enhance individual freedom and the role of the courts in saying what the law is rather than what they wish it to be.

I have no problem whatsoever with this purpose. There's nothing wrong with debate about individual freedom and the role of courts. (Indeed, I too take the position that activist judges subvert the role of courts. I just look at the facts, instead of the imagination of Republicans, and the facts prove that Republican judges are activist judges, not the liberal judges.) The problem is that this isn't the society's true purpose at all: the true purpose of the Federalist Society is to transform the independant judiciary that we now have into a craven Republican machine.

Some have disagreed with me here. They insist that the Federalist Society is about ideas, not politics. From the Federalist Society's website:

Q. Does the Federalist Society take positions on legal or policy issues or engage in other forms of political advocacy?
A. No. The Society is about ideas. We do not lobby for legislation, take policy positions, or sponsor or endorse nominees and candidates for public service. While overall the Society believes in limited government, its members are diverse and often hold conflicting views on a broad range of issues such as tort reform, privacy rights, and criminal justice.

I took the liberty of bolding take policy positions. Why? Because recently Karl Rove gave a speech before the Federalist Society. If Federalists were making arguments before that the group is only about ideas and not about politics, that argument was eliminated by the presence of the ultra-political Karl Rove. Allowing Rove to speak was, in effect, taking the policy position that Rove is a legitimate speaker.

First, Karl Rove is at the center of a massive criminal investigation that involves the loss of key assets in the War on Terror. Rove has cancelled virtually all public appearances so as to isolate himself from the storm. Any organization hosting Karl Rove at this point is endorsing his conduct and accepting him as a reputable man.

Second, Karl Rove is not a lawyer. He didn't even graduate from college. In short, someone like him has absolutely no business telling anyone about the "proper role of courts" because he lacks the education necessary to understand the delicate composition of our nation's judiciary. Rove comes at the issue from a political perspective, not an idea-based perspective. This directly contradicts the Federalists' self stated mission.

Third, Rove's remarks prove my point that the goal of the Federalist Society is to increase the power of the Republican party, not to provide any sort of legitimate debate on ideas. Rove joked that with so many Federalists inside the administration, White House chief of staff Andy Card could call a staff meeting there. Rove also said that among the president's greatest contributions "are the changes he's brought about in our courts and our legal culture" and added that "those changes would not have been possible were it not for the Federalist Society."

Fourth, Rove chose to make his first public remarks since Libby's indictment at the Federalist Society event. It shows just how loyal the Federalist Society is to the Republican Party. If the Federalists truly were an organization with a wide range of thinkers, a controversial figure such as Karl Rove wouldn't have received the standing ovation that he did.

In light of the Federalist Society's mission of pushing the Republican agenda, I'm not sure it deserves a place on law school campuses. Surely, no one would allow the Democratic Party to set up shop on campus. Would Republicans be ok if the Democratic Party instead called itself the "American Society"? And although we have liberal groups on campuses, they are dedicated to individual issues, not just to helping support Democrats at all costs. The Federalists don't even pretend to address issues other than to attack the entire judicial system as too liberal. And how incredibly unethical is it to mix the law with active partisan politics? Choosing judges and lawyers based on a "litmus test" of Federalist Society membership is morally reprenhensible.

People need to at least be aware that the Federalist Society is dedicated to politics, not ideas. Many of my own classmates were duped into joining based upon the belief that the Federalist Society had some sort of relation to Alexander Hamilton. The group's self-stated independant purpose is a way to covertly recruit members and skirt rules against political endeavors.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bits & Pieces

1. The Corporatist Movement is Turned Back

California's Special Election resulted in some good news: a complete rejection of Arnold's attempt to remake California in his conservative image. All of the right-wing initiatives failed from Prop 73's "Parental Notification" nonsense to Prop 77's attempt to turn over redistricting to 3 unaccountable political appointees.

Progressives everywhere hail this election as a huge sucess. But is it? Granted, the outcome was exactly what the world needed, but the reality is that all we did was hold back the Corporatist Movement. No progress was made other than preventing a massive regression in society.

2. The Corporatist Movement Moves Forward

A perfect example of how, even on a day where the Corporatist War on America suffered a devastating blow, the Corporatist Movement still made strides. That's because Benedict Arnold Supervisor Aaron Peskin, elected by the people to fight the Corporatist agenda, decided to sell out and vote to allow the Home Depot project to proceed in San Francisco.

Read that: anti-competitive big box business is now in San Francisco. There is simply no rational reason to prevent Walmart's entry at this point; the day of the first Wal-Mart opening will certainly come due to Peskin's disgusting move.

The Supervisors who voted to maintain competition among local business: Tom Ammiano, Gerardo Sandoval, Chris Daly, Jake McGoldrick and Ross Mirkarimi.

The Supervisors who voted to sell out San Francisco to a massive GOP financier that will siphon dollars from our local economy: Aaron Peskin, Sophie Maxwell, Michela Alioto-Pier, Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd and Fiona Ma.

The War on Corporate Evil doesn't forget. This blog, and this writer, will constantly oppose all of these Supervisors for the rest of their political careers. They have shown themselves to be traitors to our cause and tools of the mega-rich. Aaron Peskin, in particular, has lost all progressive credibility. On the other hand, the Supervisors who took a bold stand to fight big money must be honored. These courageous 5 Supervisors fought tooth and nail to keep San Francisco progressive, and I won't forget that.

3. Justifying Torture by Using Ludicrous Hypotheticals

A comment on the "torture debate" currently raging. Liberals charge that torture undermines the United States' commitment to human rights, inflames the hatreds of terrorists, and has been empircally proven not to work. Conservatives make just one counter argument, generally:

What if the United States knew of an impending terrorist attack and the only way to prevent that attack was by using torture?

The trick of this hypothetical is to create a situation where torture might seem justifiable as a way to justify any and all torture. The logically fallacy of this hypothetical is that it contemplates a situation which has never presented itself in reality.

The assumptions of this hypothetical are so ludicrous as to make the entire debate irrelevant. The hypo assumes 1) that the US knows of an impending terrorist attack, 2) that the US knows it has a suspect with information regarding the attack, 3) that the US knows it can prevent the attack using the suspect's information and 4) the suspect would only reveal such information through torture.

Torture doesn't work. Terrorists especially are willing to die for their cause and they train to resist torture. Torture has never been used to prevent an impending terrorist attack. Further, terrorist cells disperse information in such a way that no one person knows everything.

Regardless of the merits of torture, the decision to torture should not be premised upon hypotheticals that exist only in the minds of the American Enterprise Insitute. Torture is conducted on a daily basis and it has nothing to do with preventing an imminent terrorist attack. We have made the world hate us and created thousands of new terrorists.

4. Bill O'Reilly Calls for Al-Qaeda to attack San Francisco and Murder itsResidents

I endorsed, and the people affirmed, Initiative I
which simply stated that the people of San Francisco are opposed to the presence of military recruiters in our public schools given the military's homophobic, bigoted stance on gays.

In response, Bill O'Reilly advocated a terrorist attack upon San Francisco and implicitly encouraged the mass murder of innocents simply because we San Franciscans deplore bigotry. Here's the exact words from the madman himself:

Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

That's right folks. Bill O'Reilly thinks that George W. Bush should give a speech where he tells Al-Qaeda to attack San Francisco and murder its residents simply because San Francisco doesn't hate gay people the way Texans do. O'Reilly may not have committed a crime with this statement, but he certainly harbors criminal intent. If he were a Democrat calling for Alabama to get attacked by Al Qaeda, he would already have lost his job.

5. Corporatist Republicans Refuse to Swear In Oil Executives

The Republicans, yet again, sided with their corporate donors over the rule of law. To prevent future legal actions stemming from yesterday's Senate hearing over record oil profits, the Republican Party refused to swear in oil executives so that their testimony would be under oath. 3rd quarter oil profits rose 62% to $26 billion. ExxonMobil earned nearly $10 billion in the 3rd quarter, a record for the corporation. Clearly, these executives needed to answer for these windfall profits.

Republican Sen. Ted Stevens (recently compared to the Grim Reaper on The Daily Show), said that there was no need to swear in the executives because they were already obliged to tell the truth. Gee, I guess we should just stop ever taking oaths anywhere as long as people were already obliged to tell the truth.

As a result of the Republican Party, oil executives felt free to lie at will. Again, the average American loses so that fat-cat right-wingers can win.

Monday, November 07, 2005

San Francisco Local Election Guide

San Francisco has some important local issues to vote for in the Special Election.

For Assessor, vote Gerardo Sandoval. He's a solidly liberal Supervisor who promises to bring a strong moral voice to an importantjob. His main opponent, Phil Teng, is Mayor Newsom's choice.

For Treasurer, vote Calvin Louie. The progressives in San Francisco have lined up behind Louie mostly because Incumbent Jose Cisneros is Mayor Newsom's appointee. Newsom needs to get a message that his pro-corporate agenda needs to be toned down.

My recommendations on local initiatives: VOTE YES ON EVERYTHING

YES on A - $246 million for City College of San Francisco.

YES on B - $208 million for street paving and added bicycle lanes.

YES on C - Lessen the mayor's power to change the budget for the ethics commission and increase ethical standards for city dealing.

YES on D - Change the standards for appointing the Muni directors. Right now Newsom gets to appoint all 7; this would change it so that he appoints 4 and the Board of Supervisors appoints 3. That's more than reasonable.

YES on E - Uh, I guess. Just changes the election date of 2 minor city offices.

YES of F - Protect local firehouses and set basic emergency standards.

YES on G - Allows the de Young museum garage to have entrances and exits both inside and outside Golden Gate Park.

YES on H - Gun safety initiative. This is perhaps the most important iniative on the ballot because it is guaranteed to save lives. A yes vote bans the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammo in San Francisco. As well, the possession of handguns will be prohibited except for police officers and security guards. I personally despise guns because they have just one purpose -- killing.

YES ON I - Yes vote simply affirms that the people of San Francisco are opposed to the federal government's use of public schools to recruit for the military. Considering the military's homophobic "don't ask, don't tell" policy, allowing the military's presence on campus affirms that it's ok to discriminate against gays.
UPDATE: Has the right-wing California Supreme Court helped place an unconstitutional initiative on the ballot?

It has come to my attention (via some reading for school) that it violates the California Constitution to include multiple subjects within a single proposition: "[A]n initiative measure embracing more than one subject may not be submitted to the electors or have any effect.” Cal. Const. art. II, § 8 (d).

After having a Republican governor for 16 consecutive years, our Supreme Court went from one of the most liberal in the country to being a staunchly conservative court. Recently, the Supreme Court has declined to use its power to strike down initiatives such as Proposition 21 that mentioned multiple subjects.

Still, the right-wing Court's adherence to Republican principles above the Rule of Law doesn't change the Rule of Law. The fact is that Proposition 76 amends the CA constitution to decrease school funding as well as gives the Governor unilateral power to cut spending anywhere he pleases. Both may be loosely related to the budget, but under that argument anything can be related to the budget because every state action has some sort of cost. The constitutional rights of schools to receive adequate funding is simply a completely different topic from increasing the power of the Governor and decreasing the power of the legislature.

As Judge Mosk pointed out, the proposition systems "is somewhat comparable to the public deciding by popular vote the appropriate technique for surgeons to employ in brain surgery."

California Special Election : Fight Arnold's Right-Wing Power Grab

Tuesday, November 8th is Election Day. The importance of tomorrow's election cannot be underestimated.

This was not a planned election but rather an election forced upon the public by the Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former star of 'Last Action Hero' decided to take advantage of low voter turnout in a non-election year in order to increase the power of his Republican base. When voter turnout is low, the Republican percentage of the vote increases. And the cost for all this? Somewhere between $52 and $55 million dollars.

Predictably, the same old conservative interests benefit from Arnold's initiatives. Here's a rundown, proposition by proposition, along with the War on Corporate Evil's recommendation:

73 - VOTE NO.
The proposal: A yes vote would prohibit underage girls from obtaining an abortion unless they notify their parents first.
The impact: Abused girls will have to resort to illegal abortions; many will die. The Christian Right will have successfully chipped away at Roe v. Wade. This is one for the fundamentalist croud. Also, there will be millions of dollars spent on litigation because this law will be challenged relentlessly.

74 - VOTE NO.
The proposal: Decrease poor teachers' benefits even further than now by extending their probationary period from 2 to 5 years. Allow the state to save money by firing permanent teachers who receive 2 "unsatisfactory performance evaluations using a modified dismissal process." What exactly this entails is largely unknown at this point.
The impact: More smart people will decide that being a teacher isn't worth the expense. Blaming the teachers is another example of Republican sleight of hand. The real problem is the lack of funding for schools and the problems of recruiting and maintaining highly competent teachers. Blaming the teachers we do have without spending any money to improve the pool of teachers is completely irresponsible.

75. VOTE NO.
The proposal: Require unions to get annual, written consent from government employee union members before any political contributions can be made.
The impact: Add huge costs and disincentives to union political contributions in order to defund the Democratic Party. People don't have to join unions, so if they don't like a union's politics, they can drop out. Requring annual votes would take away millions of dollars from Democratic coffers in order to conduct largely pointless votes.

76. VOTE NO.
The proposal: This would allow the Governor to unilaterally cut spending on the programs of his choice when he declares a budget crisis. In addition, the formula for computing school and community college spending would be changed to allow them to be cut more than the California Constitution currently allows. Finally, it would restrict spending to be based on an average of recent revenue growth.
The impact: There's nothing wrong with the idea of a spending limit, but it's inclusion in this proposition is a red herring. The real problem with this initiative is that the Governor would be allowed to cut any programs he likes with accountability to no one. Predictably, you can expect massive cuts to social programs and education while those of corporate evil will be left intact. As if this proposition were some kind of sick joke, Arnold also attempts to sneak in a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT that would cut funding for schools by about $4 billion. This is the ugliest proposition on the ballot.

77 - VOTE NO.
The proposal: Allow 3 judges to redistrict California's legislative districts instead of allowing the legislative to redistrict.
The impact: Sounds great, right? Why should the politicians get to gerrymander their districts to ensure re-election? Well, I agree. But on the other hand, what's the alternative? This plan is far worse. Using "judges" sounds great until you remember that a lot of judges are just cronies of politicans. And these 3 judges are guaranteed to be political cronies -- they will be chosen by legislative leaders. It's more fair to allow the legislative -- who we get to vote for and can vote out if we don't like what they do -- to redraw our districts than 3 unaccountable political appointees.

78 - VOTE NO.
The proposal: Allow government subsidies for drug manufactuers to provide rebates to some low income Californians.
The impact: Corporate welfare disguised as benefit for the poor. Truly sick. Vote for Prop 79 instead to help poor people. The drug companies have paid millions in propaganda because they stand to earn millions more.

79 - VOTE YES.
The proposal: Provide more drug discounts to a wider group of people than Prop 78. Instead of corporate welfare to drug companies, this proposition works by refusing to contract with manufacturers who will not provide the Medicaid best price for Medi-Cal.
The impact: Huge savings on drugs for the poor, slightly less profits for mega-rich corporations. It's a win-win.

80 - VOTE YES.
The proposal: Requires 20% of energy sources to be renewable by 2010. Re-regulates the electricity market.
The impact: After deregulation, electrical bills soared and energy companies scored record profits. Then Enron and rolling blackouts hit. Still, some conservatives still claim deregulation was great because 1) deregulation is a buzzword successfully framed by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and 2) corporations made out like bandits. In favor of this are unions and labor groups; opposed are energy companies who have funneled their contributions through 2 political action groups to cover their tracks.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

PENDING DOOM: The Battle Over Home Depot

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors postponed a vote on the proposed Home Depot project for the second week in a row. Supervisor Ammiano decried "backdoor lobbying" that other Supervisors are currently engaged in. Some think that a smaller Home Depot would be ok, but a bigger one won't. The size is mostly irrelevant. Home Depot is anti-competitive and will harm local hardware stores in San Francisco. It will still be the largest store in the city.

The Examiner published a pro-Home Depot editorial in this morning's paper. As I turned the page, a giant Home Depot advertisement filled up half of the next page. Clearly the Examiner is not neutral on this issue. Still, this was the first coherent defense of the Home Depot project I have read. I've addressed most of the editorial's arguments in my previous Home Depot posts, but here's a few comments for now.

Part of the editorial claims that since San Franciscans already shop at Home Depot in Colma, competition isn't harmed by the new store. This erroneously assumes that if they build a Home Depot in San Francisco, no new customers will be generated but will rather just be transferred from one store to another. This is nonsense. Some people either can't or don't want to drive to Colma. If a new store is built, some people will find that driving to Bayshore is more convienient than driving to their local store whereas driving to Colma was not.

The editorial makes the following claim: One fact seems to get lost: No one can make San Franciscans spend money at Home Depot, and if people continue to spend money at the homegrown businesses they say they want in their neighborhoods, those businesses will continue to thrive.

First, people shop at the Home Depot not because of choice but because the market dictates it. If screwdrivers are $2 at Home Depot and $3 at Local Bob's, why shop at Local Bob's? You'd be a fool to do it. Of course, what you don't realize is that Local Bob pays his worker higher wages and reinvests his profits back in the local economy. As a result, the real cost to individuals, when you factor it actual cost spent + cost to society from shopping at Home Depot vs. Local Bob's, suddenly you aren't saving any money by shopping at the Home Depot. But consumers don't understand this because they only factor in the actual cost spent, not the real costs of buying from Home Depot.

Second, local business cannot "continue to thrive" just because some portion of the community supports homegrown business. The problem is that the local guy will certainly lose not all, but a large portion of his business to people other than those who support homegrown businesses. Just because a significant portion, or even a majority, of citizens feel that homegrown businesses are better, all it takes is for a minority of people to support the Home Depot for their anti-competitive practices to obliterate small business.

The San Francisco Examiner is a right-wing rag. No one would read it if it weren't free.

I'm not optimistic about the Home Depot. It seems as though the Board of Supervisors will ultimately approve the project conditioned on a smaller size. Size doesn't matter; the mere fact that an anti-competitive big box corporation is entering San Francisco will harm our economy. Although the store must be rejected on environmental grounds, the Home Depot should not be allowed to do shady backdoor manuevers to subvert the legislative process. As is, the proposal doesn't pass the environmental muster. The Supervisors should deny the project and refuse a vote until the environmental report is begun from square one. In the interim, the supervisors need to pass an anti-big box ordinance that would forever prevent the intrusion of Walmart and Home Depot in our beautiful city.

Finally, since we're on the subject of the Home Depot, I had to mention this. A man is suing the Home Depot because he sat on a toilet seat in the restroom that was covered in glue. Employees ignored his cries for help for 15 minutes because they thought he was kidding; the man thought he was having a heart attack.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Culture of Corruption

Yesterday, the Republican Party engaged in a game of 3 card monte with the Press. Friday's indictment of "Scooter" Libby ushered in a wave of negative press for President Bush, and rightfully so. A top aide to the vice president has been charged with five felonies relating to a the outing of a classified CIA officer. This is a huge news story. The Republican Party works like a corporation, not an organization, and as such yesterday they rolled out a new product guaranteed to satisfy their manical base: the nomination of far-right wingnut Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

So they even fooled me and had me posting about Alito's nomination. In one way, it had to be done -- a Supreme Court nomination is a huge story. On the other hand, it's not fair that Bush and the GOP had this card in their back pocket that they could play to deflect the indictments. The news media should not be so stupid as to let off the administration just because they've momentarily become distracted. Cheers to the Daily Show for giving the leak story the lead last night and criticizing the rest of the Press for playing along with the Republican marketing effort.

1. Libby will likely be the only one indicted. If you read the indictment, the evidence against him is massive. Fitzgerald may well have decided that if he didn't prosecute Libby, he could potentially be in trouble because the evidence of the 5 felonies was so blatant. Since he has a credible story for not doling out more indictments, Fitzgerald would prefer not to indict.

What of Rove? What of Cheney? What of Bush? They will likely all be spared considering the fact that we have a Republican Congress and a Republican Prosecutor. (Clinton, on the other hand, had to face both a GOP Congress and an Independant Republican Prosecutor who was a member of the Federalist Society.) The evidence against Rove is apparently being ignored; we can't get the evidence as to Cheney and Bush because they won't go under oath.

Funny how we got Bill Clinton under oath to talk about a private consensual affair but can't get Cheney under oath to talk about how his number one man committed five felonies while on the job.

2. Republicans must stop lying about the fact that Plame was a classified CIA agent. I heard Tony Snow, a top FOX News contributor, saying on Bill Maher's show that it would be a crime if Plame were a classified agent, but she was not. This is a 100% lie. From Republican Prosecutor Fitzgerald's legal indictment of Libby, allegation 1.F. on page 3:

"At all relevant times from January 1, 2002 through July 2003, Valerie Wilson was employed by the CIA, and her employment status was classified."

The Republican liars never stop. As long as some uninformed people believe it's true, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has done their job.

3. Libby will be publicly arraigned this Thursday. Hopefully this will distract our corporate news corps from Alito and turn its attention to the crimes of the White House. Libby is expected to plead not guilty. The trial of Libby could expose how the GOP manufactured evidence to fight the war against Iraq.

4. Karl Rove was directly involved in the leak of Valerie Plame.

Everyone knows about it and abundance evidence exists.

Libby's arraignment named everyone but mysterious "Official A." Official A is the one who revealed Plame's identity to Novak, according to Fitzgerald's indictment. Numerous sources throughout the mainstream press have confirmed that Karl Rove is Official A.

Was there enough evidence to indict Rove? There are reports that Rove' attorney provided evidence to Fitzgerald that may have prevented his indictment. Of course, this evidence amoutned to proving one thing: that Rove is a busy man, so he can't remember all his conversations with reporters. If this convinced Fitzgerald not to indict, then Fitzgerald is worthless as a prosecutor.

More than enough evidence exists to fire Rove, so why hasn't Bush fired the man? Bush has proof, beyond any doubt, that Rove played dirty politics. Further, Rove then lied about it by maintaining that he had nothing to do with the leak.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the man whose wife had her career destroyed by Rove and the GOP, has called for Rove to be fired. Regardless of whether Rove technically committed a crime, he failed to act ethically and it does not befit a senior official at the White House to jeopardize national security interests for the sake of political gain.

The real story, however, isn't just about the outing of Plame. The outing of Plame was part of a larger plan to sell a war. And the key piece of intelligence surrounding this entire story are the sixteen words that Bush used in his 2003 State of the Union address: the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Ambassador Joe Wilson investigated this claim on a trip to Niger and found it to be 100% false monts before the State of the Union address. When Wilson publicized Bush's lie, they outed his wife.

So why was it so important to protect the lie Bush espoused in his "sixteen words?" Some responsible journalists are starting to tie Plamegate with the sixteen words, as they shoud be, by asking questions such as these:

Who forged the documents that claimed Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium for nuclear weapons in the African country of Niger?

How did a version of the tale get into President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, even though U.S. intelligence agencies never confirmed it and some intelligence analysts doubted it?

I'm eager to see this kind of hard-hitting reporting continue, even if it's about 2 and a half years late. The Italian intelligence agency was involved, and if you remember, the Italian government at the time was run by hard right conservatives who closely allied themselves with President Bush. The rat, ladies and gentlemen, is pretty easy to smell: the Republican Party conspired to forge the documents in order to sel the Iraq war. It's so obvious that it's not funny.

6. The Public Smells the Rat, Too

A new poll indicates that 55% of Americans believe that Libby's indictments indicate wider problems 'with ethical wrongdoing' in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an 'isolated incident.'

A new USA poll indicates that 55% of Americans judge Bush's Presidency to be a failure. At no point in Clinton's presidency did a majority ever rule it to be a failure; 50% was the highest mark he reached after the health care debacle. Indeed, In 71% called Clinton's tenure a success in January 1999 as he awaited his impeachment trial.

7. The Democrats Start to Gain a Backbone

Today, the Democrats began the process of tying Plamegate to the sixteen words. Sen. Harry Reid ordered the Senate into a closed session this morning to discuss the Bush administration's bogus intelligence that led to the Iraq war.

It's almost as if Sen. Reid reads War on Corporate Evil: "The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions."

Although nothing may come of it, this is exactly the kind of thing Democrats need to do with the little power we have. Harry Reid is the anti-corporate crusader of the day.