If you can get past the multi-million dollar glut of garbage that Carl DeMaio and his sleazy allies are throwing at Bob Filner in the closing days of the election, the choice San Diegans face is a simple one: do you want the same old moneyed interests running San Diego or do you want to take a step toward a more democratic city government that listens to the voices of ordinary citizens more than to the pleas of the plutocrats?
“We have a conservative movement that has learned, over the decades, to mimic many of the characteristics of its enemies.” ~ Thomas Frank
During the run-up to the June primary Carl DeMaio used a quote from one of my OB Rag columns in a mailer attacking Nathan Fletcher that implied the Rag’s support for his candidacy. My response was a column, “Carl DeMaio is a Dangerous, Mean-Spirited Liar and Other Tales of Fear and Loathing in San Diego” where I observed:
As Frank Gormlie noted in an OB Rag piece last Saturday, Carl DeMaio used a pull quote from one of my OB Rag columns describing Nathan Fletcher as a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” . . . What is not at all surprising here is that DeMaio uses my piece and the OB Rag logo out of context, without permission, implying our endorsement of him. That kind of sleazy, unethical behavior is his raison d’etre. .
The Munger Muddle, Democrats for Education Reform, Obama, and the Koch Brothers et al Weave a Tangled Web that Might Just Kill Our Children’s Future (if we let it)
In a recent column, I outlined the connections between the advocates and funders of Proposition 32 and opponents of Proposition 30, noting the central role of Proposition 38 backer Molly Munger’s brother, Charles Munger, who has donated over $20 million of his own money to a campaign fund to gut unions and defund education. Charles’s main allies in this effort, as I pointed out in that column, are also big supporters of the privatization of education and other forms of profiteering at the expense of public schools.
It is clear that the incestuous political relationship between the Mungers is mutually beneficial in the short term and that Molly had hoped to kill Prop 30 with negative ads while passing her own initiative, and perhaps she just doesn’t mind if the political voice of teachers’ unions is silenced as collateral damage.
In the aftermath of the spectacular shellacking that Mitt Romney gave the President in the first debate, there was much handwringing in liberal circles. Critics on the left side of the spectrum couldn’t believe how Mr. Obama let Romney prevaricate so boldly and wildly as he hammered away at the President’s record while simultaneously and stunningly repackaging himself as a centrist unrecognizable to those of us who were paying attention to Mitt’s rightward tilt during the primary season and the obvious implications of his plutocratic agenda.
But hey, it worked! Now the Rombot is neck and neck with the face of hope in the polls and progressives have been forced to ponder the real possibility of a Romney/Ryan victory, a horror that had seemed to be getting less and less likely until Obama showed up and played the listless corporate Democratic technocrat with low T to Romney’s perky plutocrat on a crazy Viagra binge. The result: perky plutocracy won and now it’s nervous time even after Joe Biden’s frantic full court press attack on Paul Ryan in the Vice Presidential debate.
While there is certainly much to be worried about, it has less to do with style and more to do with Obama’s core vision. On this note, the most important and insightful analysis came before the first debate not after it. Paul Krugman in “The Real Referendum” presciently noted that the President and other prominent Democrats like Bill Clinton have become smitten with referencing their fondness for the timeless wisdom of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan. [Read more…]
Last week in the New York Times Adam Nagourney noted in his article on Proposition 32, “California Is Latest Stage in the Battle Over Unions,” that:
By design or not — and some union officials said they believed it was by design — the fight has forced unions to divert money from what had been their top priority: winning approval of an initiative by Gov. Jerry Brown to pass temporary tax increases to head off nearly $6 billion in new cuts in state spending.
“Labor has to stop everything it is doing to defend against this,” said Peter Dreier, the director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. “It’s pretty effective in forcing the unions to spend a lot of their resources to stop this from passing.” [Read more…]
As Doug Porter noted here last week, the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) released a new report on poverty, earnings, and income in San Diego County that revealed the sad fact that “more than a third of San Diego County’s population” lives “in economic hardship.” Nearly one out of five children in our city live in poverty with 16% of women, 21% of Latinos and 23% of African Americans joining them—and we are losing ground “as the quality of jobs created by major industries in the region failed to keep pace with the cost of living.”
Median income is falling and the household income for all races and ethnicities decreased here in San Diego. About 17% of us don’t have health insurance, three out of five renters are paying more than they can afford, the middle class is getting leaner, and poverty and income inequality have been on the rise over the last five years. [Read more…]
After nearly twenty years of ‘reform’, the schools of Chicago remain among the lowest performing in the nation.
A funny thing happened on the way to labor’s extinction: the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) staged one of the most daring and important strikes in recent memory. As Chris Hedges put it during his Democracy Now interview last week “the teachers’ strike in Chicago is arguably one of the most important labor actions in probably decades.” And in the midst of this struggle, most of the corporate media around the country have decried the horrible greedy teachers from their editorial pages and assured readers that they were on the side of the children rather than the teachers.
It’s the week after Labor Day and the Carl DeMaio attack machine is in full force, with SuperPac-funded ads in the works designed to keep pounding away at Bob Filner while DeMaio furiously tries to repackage himself as someone palatable to moderate Democrats and Independents. This will involve things like lying to San Diegans about his environmental record, spending big money to woo Latino voters, and hoping that some local Democrats are terminally stupid enough to buy his “independent” populist reformer act. While I have written extensively about DeMaio’s right wing think tank pedigree, it never hurts to revive the historical record, particularly when we can count on the local news to fail on all counts in this regard.
It’s Citizens United on Steroids, a Bill of Rights for Billionaires
Last week, I addressed how the Governor’s tax measure was needed to stop the cuts to education and vital public services. The passage of Proposition 30 would indeed help California begin to turn the corner and finally stop the hemorrhaging of our education system. But where the passage of Proposition 30 would bring hope, the passage of Proposition 32, on the other hand, would kill it.
Proposition 32, the Special Exemptions Act, is a corporate power grab that would totally eliminate unions’ ability to take part in politics while leaving the rich, corporate special interests, and Super PACs untouched. It is Citizens United on Steroids, a Bill of Rights for Billionaires that would permanently eliminate working peoples’ voices from California politics. At present, corporate interests already outspend unions by nearly 15-1. What Proposition 32 would do is transform the political contest in California, where the privileged are already playing with a stacked deck, into a hopelessly rigged game. [Read more…]
Near the end of August, I helped organize the Governor’s visit to City College and stood with him, despite the many fierce disagreements that I have had with Jerry Brown’s policy positions and political judgment. I did so because it’s not an overstatement to say that the future of our children is on the line this coming November. While much of the attention will be on the Presidential race at the national level, here inCaliforniathe destiny of our children and the education system is up for grabs. Specifically, Proposition 30 represents a chance to put a halt to years of cuts to education and vital public services. If it fails, we will be throwing our kids under the bus. It’s that simple.
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his VP makes clear what vision he has for the American future: One Market Under God
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his VP makes clear what vision he has for the American future: One Market Under God. This grand dream is put in stark contrast to the Republicans’ absurd fantasy of Obama’s big government tyranny. If only we could return the country to the days of unfettered markets and bigger tax cuts for the affluent, all will be well. As absurd as their economic delusions are, it’s worth reminding ourselves where the last several decades of moving precisely in this direction have landed us.
In The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz outlines what by now is a sadly familiar story about the American economy: it’s a rigged game. Specifically Stiglitz thoroughly documents how recent income growth has occurred almost entirely in the top 1 percent. He notes how this has led to growing inequality and how those at the bottom and middle are worse off today than middle class and working class folks were at the beginning of the century.
To make things worse, Stiglitz illustrates how the inequalities in wealth are even greater than those of income. These inequalities show up not just in people’s pocket books but also in their general standard of living and health. During the last few years, those at the bottom have been most hurt by the recession but the middle class has been hollowed out too.
Progressive media is only worth a damn when it has the courage to think bad thoughts and consistently afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
I learned of Alex Cockburn’s death when I picked up a copy of the North Coast Journal in a gas station minimart in Eureka. My family and I were in transit between the deep woods near the California-Oregon border and our next destination off the Lost Coast Highway when we stopped to fuel up and get snacks. While I stood waiting for my son to finish buying a candy bar I picked up the paper and randomly flipped it open to an article entitled “Cockburn Country” in which Marcy Burstiner chastised the local daily, the Times Standard, for failing to adequately comment on Cockburn’s demise.
To rectify this omission Burstiner details how Cockburn had been living in Petrolia for two decades where he co-edited the left online journal and publishing outlet CounterPunch, continued to pen his column for The Nation, and published many books challenging the sacred cows of American Empire and skewering the pieties of the right and left alike. Burstiner tells the story of Cockburn giving a speech in 2009 to “a rag tag bunch of nobodies” in the rain inEureka with incredible passion and energy despite the circumstances. She then ends her tribute by musing, “Alexander Cockburn, if your spirit hovers over me at some rainy Eureka rally in the future, know that one of your fellow residents appreciated you for being a thinker in a world where most people avoid thinking, for calling out the bullshit you saw in the world around you, for exasperating people around you of all political stripes and for being part of our little world out here.” [Read more…]