This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles, commentaries, columns, and other work by San Diego Free Press regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors, and locally sourced writers on: six months of the Kasparian scandal, threats to democracy, the port trucker strike, pathetic Issa, stopping Trumpcare, not waiting on homelessness, PTSD, Watergate 45 years later, and lots of other grassroots news & progressive views from San Diego’s friendly, neighborhood, all volunteer, slightly funky, community news site.
If you’re poor and dying of cancer, console yourself with the thought that rich people will pay less taxes under the American Health Care Act. Oh, and the tax cut is retroactive, in case you have any questions about the true nature of what Republicans are up to.
If you believe in the electoral process, there isn’t much of a window left to save it. As stories in the Washington Post and elsewhere demonstrate, Russian influence in the 2016 election was a) ordered by Putin, b) more widespread than previously realized, and c) just a precursor to what we can expect in coming years.
What’s coming is the destruction (and privatization) of natural resources, education, and the nation’s infrastructure, along with an erosion of rights and protections for most of us. But, don’t worry, there’ll be good times on Wall Street.
At a place called Cavo Greco
waves break inside rocks
sun foams from the mouths of caves
messengers are mistaken for their songs
A Republican Senate Health Care Bill So Bad, It’s Called BCRAP
By Doug Porter
You can’t make this stuff up folks. The Senate version of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act is being called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” Plan (BCRAP).
Passage of the legislation means more than 20 million (final number TBD next week) will lose healthcare coverage, premiums will skyrocket, especially for older Americans, as the lack of a mandate will remove incentives for healthy people to enroll.
A massive response is what’s needed. Republican legislators must be persuaded that the political cost of supporting BCRAP isn’t worth the benefits party leaders are promising.
By Tyson Siegele / SanDiego350
SDG&E and its parent company Sempra have been misleading customers about their stance on Community Choice Energy (CCE).
Sempra promotes itself as an upstanding community participant with only the best intentions for its customers, but in conjunction with SDG&E, it charges exorbitant rates and fights tooth and nail behind the scenes to maintain its monopoly. It does so at the expense of electricity consumers.
By reviewing Sempra marketing material and comparing Sempra’s statements to its actions, a clear pattern of misdirection and exploitation emerges.
With one senior aide telling Politico “No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” the Congressional Black Caucus rejected an invitation from the President Donald Trump to meet at the White House.
Members of the 49 member caucus were put off by the invitation signed by “the Honorable Omarosa Manigault,” noting the-reality-TV-star-turned-White-House-aide had in no way earned such a title.
The CBC’s letter in response to the invitation pointed out the failure of the administration on numerous occasions to respond to entreaties from the group and the policy proposals coming from the White House were, in fact, harmful to their interests.
Thirteen men operating in secret are just about finished bolting together the various parts the Senate version of Trumpcare. This bill is obviously so bad the only defense Republicans are able to mount is lie about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Congressman Darrell Issa’s version of these falsehoods is to claim Obamacare is so flawed as to warrant an emergency replacement. It’s the big lie technique writ large because the biggest flaws in the current program are the result of deliberate acts of sabotage by his party.
I really want to believe that we are getting closer to a coordinated plan for housing people who’re experiencing homelessness. But I’ve sat through enough of these meetings over the last decade to justify my skepticism.
I’m not intending to criticize the concerted and well-intentioned efforts of the RTFH to craft a solid, viable plan for ending homelessness in San Diego. And this isn’t to trivialize the value of the work being put forth by Focus Strategies, a consulting firm from Sacramento, in crafting a plan based on data and metrics. But when I heard during the RTFH membership meeting that their plan won’t be completed for another year, my heart sank.
Surely most of the providers and advocates attending that meeting are close enough to the human beings currently experiencing homelessness to know what another year of waiting and planning and meetings will mean in human suffering. For many, a breaking point where they lose hope and turn to drugs and alcohol for solace. For others, another year on the streets will result in assaults and rape, loss of their children, loss of employment, loss of dignity and even entrapment in human trafficking.
For some, it will mean death.
California’s port truckers make it possible for the both the old and new retail economies.of the world to function. This week they’re calling strikes and staging picket lines at ports on the West Coast, including San Diego.
This work stoppage is about more than wages and benefits; it’s about an economic nightmare akin to involuntary servitude enabled by corporations like Toyota, Walmart, Target, and Amazon.
Companies like XPO Logistics, Inc.–the target of this week’s actions– are illegally misclassifying workers as independent contractors, forcing them into a debt peonage system of the sort most Americans think vanished a century ago.
It was the night of June 17, 1972, that 5 so-called “burglars” were caught red-handed inside the National Democratic Party Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC.
But as it turned out, not only did the burglars have CIA and anti-Castro Cuban connections – they also – and most importantly – were being paid out of a slush fund from the Committee to Re-Elect President Nixon, which was managed by the highest officials inside the White House.
The burglary of the Democratic Party’s HQ was just the tip of the iceberg – but it was that tip that eventually led to Nixon’s resignation on August 8th, 1974.
Our ability to vote in fair and free elections has never been more in doubt. This is about more than any single foreign power, dark money donor, or racist state official taking action to degrade Democracy. It’s about all of them combined. Follow me down this rabbit hole….
The Supreme Court has just agreed to hear a case challenging partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. While it will be a while before a ruling gets announced, this case has the potential to unleash a wave of lawsuits against widespread partisan gerrymanders nationally.
Author Greg Palast is coming to San Diego on June 30th. His 2016 film “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” presents an overview of modern-day voter suppression efforts threatening our representative democracy.
The Intercept has now published a report indicating information on 198 million US voters was accidentally left unprotected on the internet by a GOP contractor. The data included: “the voter’s date of birth, home and mailing addresses, phone number, registered party, self-reported racial demographic, voter registration status” as well as computer “modeled” speculation about each person’s race and religion.
Trump is a train-wreck, I know.
But while the pathetic carnival that is the White House continues to distract and horrify Americans, some hugely important news is getting lost in the din.
Here are a few of the stories that should be getting equal time but have been drowned out by the drama of the Disaster in Chief.
Democratic Party Leadership Moves Monthly Meeting to Avoid Protests
By Sara Kent
Six months ago the news broke about Sandy Naranjo, a young mother, progressive activist, and passionate labor advocate had filed a lawsuit against one of the most powerful men in San Diego. In the complaint, she outlined several claims of gender discrimination and retaliation she experienced while working for her former boss, Mickey Kasparian, President of United Foodservice and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135.
It seems appropriate to set down a timeline for clarification and reflection on this unfortunate anniversary, given the many moving pieces, purposefully confusing narratives put forth by some involved, and events that have happened since.
The question of how we continue to decry the treatment of one bad actor at the center of harmful, divisive actions contrary to our values without undermining San Diego’s broader labor movement is the challenge those of us who are labor allies, former and current union members, and concerned progressives are now facing
By Indivisible 49
TrumpCare and the Senate – What’s happening and what can we do?
The Senate has been creating a health bill behind closed doors that will likely come up for a vote soon.
Why can’t we tell you what’s in it? Because we don’t know. In fact, many in the Senate and the Secretary of Health, Tom Price, don’t know either. So, who is deciding the fate of our health? A panel of 13 men. Our two Democratic senators oppose the bill but it’s not enough.
By Stan Levin
Memorial Day, 2017
Mission Valley, San Diego, California
Cool, overcast morning
A resident of the hotel,
person of means who would sometimes be called
(disparagingly, or admiringly) a “Fat Cat,”
had spent the night on a bed
for which he had, or more accurately,
his Corporation had popped three-fifty.
His room had a view of the hotel golf course.
For the purpose of this narrative,
with your indulgence, I will refer to him as “FC.”
This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles, commentaries, columns, and other work by San Diego Free Press regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors, and locally sourced writers on: stopping Trumpcare, RepubliMath, fear and loathing in America, BigPharma, Carlsbad cronyism, and lots of other grassroots news & progressive views from San Diego’s friendly, neighborhood, all volunteer, slightly funky, community news site.
Just when I thought things might be slowing down for the summer, the political world has gone bonkers, the resistance has spread even further, and we have our first heat wave of the summer.
It looks like the employment boom under Donald Trump is kicking off as El Jefe’s lawyers have hired attorneys to represent themselves. Vice President Mike Pence has also retained representation.
The President of the United States has apparently gone unhinged on Twitter. Trump’s (probably accidentally) confirmed news accounts saying he is the target of an investigation… (I’m hesitant to write any more because things are just moving too fast.)
Jim Comey. My man! I wish I could shake his hand. I mean I’ve got to put aside my deep deep deep disdain for the FBI to give props to a man who has come through with something I’ve so much wanted somebody from a high place to do – call Donald J. Trump out for what he is: a liar. For all the world to hear and see.
Of course he was stating the obvious but it needed to be said just as he said it: out loud – because some of us and the media keep cutting him slack with witty intellectualizing about what a lie really is, how a lie might not be a lie if it wasn’t intended to be a lie. What a lie all of that is.
Now, to be fair, I’d say that kind of logic might be the case with your typical run-of-the-mill fabricator, but Donaldo is a master liar. He can’t open his mouth without lying, the lies flying off his tongue like bullets from a machine gun, it seems. I mean forget “liar, liar, pants on fire” this man’s entire wardrobe is on fire. His closet is ablaze.
A hairline fracture
Was enough to free the grass –
By Julie Whitney
According to NASA, “97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely the result of human activities.”
Furthermore, the earth has unequivocally warmed dramatically since the 1950s, due in most part to human activities. In fact, during that time period, many of the observed changes are “unprecedented over decade to millennia.”
The earth is like a greenhouse. The technology we use, as well as normal human activity, have resulted in ever increasing amounts of gases being released into the atmosphere. The build-up of these greenhouse gases prevents heat from escaping the earth’s atmosphere.
This, in large part, leads to the current symptoms of climate change we have all experienced: warmer climate and ocean temperatures, more extreme weather events, a rising sea level, and dilution of the ocean’s salinity from melting glacial ice sheets to name a few.
Attorney General Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday mostly consisted of memory lapses and the rollout of a new legal strategy of refusing to answer questions “in case’ the President wants to invoke executive privilege in the future.
In between non-answers Sessions did his best to eat up the five minutes allotted to questioners, alternating between defending his honor and verbally wandering through the political landscape. The former Alabama senator denounced claims regarding his involvement with Russian active measures during the 2016 presidential campaign, calling those allegations “an appalling and detestable lie.”
California Senator Kamala Harris once again turned lemons into lemonade by asking so many direct questions as to cause the witness to complain of being nervous. Republicans correctly interpreted this as a cue the Attorney General was closing in on having a case of the vapors and asserted their prerogative as white males to interrupt her.
At last month’s May 9 meeting, first-year Councilmember Cori Schumacher called for a discussion of how to formalize the process for appointments to city committees and commissions to improve public transparency. Mayor Matt Hall was stumped.
“We’ve done this same process for almost 40 years,” he patiently explained to the rookie council member, “and it seems like it’s worked out all right up to this point. Help me understand what we need to fix.”
By Jack Doxey / Veterans For Peace
I belong to a group called the Veterans For Peace and we often walk at night handing out sleeping bags to people who are unsheltered and have little more than a thin blanket to keep them warm. The unsheltered might be sleeping next to buildings that are lit up all night, but they are denied the dignity of having a place to use a bathroom. They are treated as outcasts. This is not the Emerald City. It is a city where the stark contrast between wealth and poverty is alarming and tragic.
We are a city of conventions and a place where people like to come and enjoy themselves. Do not think that visitors do not notice.
By Julie Trager
Like Paul Revere, riding from Boston to warn the American militia that the Redcoats were coming, I am warning of another force that is attempting to protect its way of life. Now that SB 562, the bill for a single payer healthcare system, has passed the Senate, Big Pharma will likely roll out a massive disinformation campaign as it tries to stop it from passing through the California Assembly.
As Big Pharma has the distinction of being the largest lobbying industry, beating out major oil companies and the Koch brothers in their spending to influence legislation and government officials, it’s worth understanding what’s at stake and what they plan to do about it.
Today’s column is about mathematics. We’ll start with the basics: five is a bigger number than four. 5-4 was the final vote tally at the City Council on Monday against holding a special election in November 2017.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer used addition and subtraction to punish the members of the City Council he felt were obstructing his plan to put convention center expansion and a proposal to redevelop valuable Mission Valley real estate before the voters.
The Mayor added $5 million to the city budget to pay for the special election that the council had removed. And he subtracted dollars destined for projects favored by the Democrats on the Council.
If you live in California, DON’T call your US Senator about opposing the TrumpCare bill currently under consideration. We already know both our Senators won’t vote for something that goes scurrying back under the refrigerator when the lights come on.
Instead, ask them to withhold consent on all Senate business until Republicans agree to hold a public hearing on ACHA.
The baker’s dozen of good ol’ boys hammering out a ‘healthcare’ bill in the United States Senate are hoping to push their Frankensteinian creature to a vote this week. They’d like to pass legislation affecting one-sixth of the domestic economy and impacting (at a minimum) 23 million people with as little outside input as possible.
A couple of weeks ago I saw Dead and Company open their tour in Las Vegas. The trip was filled with a bit of personal nostalgia for the many other times I came see the Grateful Dead play two or three show runs there before Jerry Garcia died. Of course, all of those trips, taken with friends steeped in the larger history of the band, were full of easy, ironic references to Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where he tells the tale of his own savage journey into the Heart of the American Dream.
Back then, when my friends and I stayed in Circus Circus with 6 of us packed into the cheapest room we could find, sleeping on the floor or in the bathtub, someone would always remember the passage where Thompson writes:
The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing on Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This is the Sixth Reich. The ground floor is full of gambling tables, like all the other casinos … but the place is about four stories high, in the style of a circus tent, and all manner of strange County-Fair/Polish Carnival madness is going on up in this space. Right above the gambling tables the Forty Flying Carazito Brothers are doing a high-wire trapeze act, along with four muzzled Wolverines and the Six Nymphet Sisters from San Diego.
. . . and conservative journalism isn’t news journalism
By Bill Adams
Mainstream news media has long been accused of having a “liberal bias.” Some studies have supported this belief. “Liberal bias” may be inherent in news journalism for reasons that aren’t flattering to conservatives.
Defining Liberal and Conservative. While political views are neither immutable nor binary, certain characteristics have remained relatively consistent. Broadly speaking, liberal policies support labor, equality and a strong social safety net, strong public institutions, progressive taxation, diplomacy and the avoidance of military conflict, and protection of the environment.
By Indivisible 49
House- Votes all week! Monday: HR 338 To promote a “21st-century” energy and manufacturing workforce. (read: support renewable energy AND coal.) along with a series of hydroelectric bills. For the rest of the week, votes expected on bills related to veteran health insurance, health-related lawsuits, and COBRA coverage. See full schedule here.
Senate- Healthcare bill is on the fast track. One area currently being engineered is cost ratio for younger vs. older adults. Also, there are battles being fought about attaching abortion provisions to the bill. This article provides a good summary of that issue as well as rules guiding the bill as it goes through the Senate.