Friday, May 30, 2008


Next Tuesday, June 3, will be my third of four elections this year: the special primary, the Lantos-replacement primary, this, uh, regular primary, and the general election in November.

Regarding the ten propositions on this particular ballot, sfwillie’s blog provides a mechanically simple recommendation:

YES on E and F
NO on all the rest

You can find E and F, right next to each other, mark them both YES, then go back and mark everything else NO. Very easy.


Prop E. YES. This gives more power to the Board or Supervisors over the Public Utilities Commission which just recently instituted huge, family-unfriendly water rate increases. This should be a no-brainer. Currently the Mayor appoints the entire commission, with minimal BOS oversight.

Prop F. YES. This is a poison pill to stop the giveaway of land to Lennar Corporation which plans to move the poor folk out of the adjoining neighborhood. Sometimes poison pills are good.


Prop A. NO. I ranted about this in a previous post.

Prop B. NO. The only thing guaranteed by this proposition is that retirement payments to city retirees will increase by approximately $80 Million per year, starting immediately. Some savings on retiree health care expense are promised, but not for ten or twenty years.

Just as with Wimpy’s promise of payment next Tuesday for a hamburger today, promises made by the current group of CityHallers can’t possible justify the delivery of an $80 Million hamburger today.

Prop C. NO. More bullshit. Sweet Melissa explains that this includes disability retirement benefits with other retirement benefits that can be stripped from a City employee convicted of a job-related crime of moral turpitude. This would prevent City employees who are about to be fired and stripped of regular retirement benefits from filing bogus claims for disability retirement.

A genuine claim for work related disability retirement should not be stripped. What this measure assumes is that the City Attorney is incapable of protecting the City from bogus disability claims. If true, we need a new City Attorney, not Prop B.

Prop D. NO. Pure political correctness bullshit. Better to burn the cash—less overhead.

Prop G. NO. This gives valuable San Francisco land to Lennar Corporation so that they can make a profit. A side effect of this plan is that poor minorities will be forced out of the adjoining neighborhood and eventually out of the City altogether. Supporters see this a good way to help solve the “crime” problem.

Prop H. NO. This proposition was placed on the ballot by Mayor Newsom. Enough reason to vote against it.


Prop 98. NO. The two state propositions are competing. One is terrible the other is benign. Just to be sure I’m voting NO on both. The status quo is ok.

Prop 99. NO. The two state propositions are competing. One is terrible the other is benign. Just to be sure I’m voting NO on both. The status quo is ok.

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Monday, May 26, 2008


The first thing my parents taught me about politics was, Never cross a union picket line.

The second thing they taught me was, Republicans support regressive taxes and Democrats favor progressive taxes.

Yet, it seems that almost all SF opiners who call themselves “progressive” support Proposition A, a “special” parcel tax that supports general non-capital operating expenses for San Francisco’s public schools.

These “progressives” seem not to notice that some of their usual villains also support Proposition A, which would add $198.00 to every property tax bill in the city.

The owner of the largest office building downtown would pay an extra $198.00 per year, to rise with inflation. The owner of the biggest mansion in Pacific Heights would also pay the extra $198.00.

Likewise the young couple who are already struggling to meet the mortgage on their tiny fixer-upper in the Bayview will also pay the additional $198.00.

The public school teacher (more likely two of them married) trying to own a home in San Francisco will also pay the same additional $198.00.

Why the heck would Warren Hellman and Donald Fisher bankroll the campaign to pass this textbook example of regressive taxation? Because they support public education?

More likely it’s because they support the principle of regressive taxation, per se, and want to see as much of it as possible.

Later on my parents taught me, All taxes are fungible.

I understand this to mean that once a governments gets their hands on tax revenue they do whatever the hell they want with it.

So, when they want to raise taxes the government pushes forward a simpatico government program, such as teachers, or baby hospitals.

Then they tell us they really really really need $1,100,000.00 for a ten foot wheelchair ramp (indoor).

Or that Gavin really really really needs four six-figure (campaign) consultants and the money should come out of Muni, because, I guess, it’s all about transportation anyway, transporting Gavin’s ass to Sacramento.

Board of Education President Eric Mar, (who tried to scuttle JROTC and put the kids who found safety there back in general population) is running for Supervisor sometime soon.

Chief pro-Prop A contributor, Don Fisher is trying to ripoff a prominent part of the Presidio to house his completely unspectacular (I’m told) modern art collection.

Assuming Prop A goes through, we’ll want to track Eric Mar’s position on Fisher’s land grab.

So I guess our brave new century has spawned a new kind of progressive, a “parcel-tax progressive.” Not exactly like a Margaret Thatcher liberal, but sort of.

BTW: The ballot statement in favor of the Proposition-A parcel tax, which is signed by Gavin Newsom, the school board, the C of C, the teachers’ union and some parents group, contains this astounding claim:

Voting YES will ensure that we have a quality teacher with the proper qualifications, training, and support in every San Francisco classroom.

I guess the people who believe this statement could also be persuaded that a parcel tax is a fair way to finance government.

Warren Hellman believes in regressive taxation, as does Don Fisher. At least they don’t call themselves “progressives.”

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Saturday, May 24, 2008


The media consternation regarding Hillary’s RFK assassination comment is way out of proportion to their supposed interpretation of the remark. The pundits are afraid to say exactly what Hillary’s comment intended.

Senator Clinton’s comment was clearly a request that one or more of her supporters assassinate Barack Obama.

The only way, she suggests, to put her in the White House, and to keep a black man out of it, is to kill the black man.

Given her famous support among poor, uneducated, gun-owning white people, Hillary’s request could reach dangerous ears. Lone nuts don’t get all their instructions from Mars.

The assassinations of the 1960s set back US political progress forty years. Barack Obama is the first serious threat to the corporatization of all human experience since George Wallace was silenced by J Egger’s crew.

If Barack gets offed, there’s going to be some serious explaining to do.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Ted Kennedy has been a prominent feature of the US political landscape longer than most Americans have been alive. The possibility, as suggested by recent medical reports, that he will soon depart the scene caused an acute spike in cable news coverage.

Old Bob Byrd, former Klansman who’s not afraid to waggle the Constitution at us, wept and declared his love for Teddy. Best friend Chris Dodd was visibly shaken.

Then Teddy left the hospital and the story went away.

The theme of most who spoke during the newsspike was “fight.”

“Teddy has always been a fighter.”

“Teddy’s gonna fight this, and beat it.”

So the story which was basically, “Teddy’s gonna die,” became “Teddy’s gonna fight.”

That way we can put off thinking about death.

Teddy’s seventy-six years old. Despite what my retiree tennis acquaintances say, seventy-six is plenty old, especially for a man, especially for one who’s had so much to eat and drink.

According to some third-party medical analysts, chemo and radiation can extend Ted’s life only a few months. Surgery appears futile.

So, what’s to fight?

Ted, if you don’t want to spend your remaining days as a patient, it’s ok.

It would be a great example to us rapidly aging boomers if you went the hospice route, abjuring the lopsided end-of-life expenditure of health care resources.

I think that for many terminally ill elderly, doctor visits, tests, and treatments gives them something to do, instead of just sitting around waiting to die. And Medicare pays…

Even for my mom, who was fairly hardbitten about such things, she got bored with hospice morphine and Atavan, and for a week or so wanted to know “what’s next?”

It wasn’t easy to tell her, “Well, death.”

The news this morning showed Teddy piloting his sailboat. The wind looked pretty good.

I’ve always been annoyed by our culture’s denial of death.

Death always comes as a surprise. Death is an aberration . Death is just a disease that medical science has yet to cure.

The dominant European religion tells us that we, as individual identities, live forever and that death is merely a transition from earth to heaven.

I was somewhat reassured recently to find this issue baldly mentioned by Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound.

We recall that in Greek mythology (religion) Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humankind. Zeus punished Prometheus by binding him to an isolated rock.

Lost to me, until my recent re-reading, was that Prometheus had given humankind another gift, referred to in Aeschylus as “blind hope.”

Prometheus: I caused mortals to cease foreseeing doom.

Chorus: What cure did you provide them with against that sickness?

Prometheus: I placed in them blind hopes.

Chorus: That was a great gift you gave to men.

Prometheus: Besides this, I gave them fire.

[Translation by David Grene, U of Chicago series]

As a gloomy pre-adult I questioned the value of living a life, with all its stings and sparrows, when death was the inevitable result. In short:

Why live, when you’re only gonna die?

Needless to say, these thoughts are not well received. Our tribe doesn’t need its members moping around, questioning the meaning of life.

It is painful for an individual’s brain to contemplate its own annihilation.

To live a life without blind hopes, neither fearing nor denying the temporary nature of one’s self, constitutes, I think, a worthy, maybe noble, goal.

Still, it’s hard to imagine a world without Ted Kennedy in it. Or sfwillie for that matter.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008


Lennar Corporation is sponsoring heavy TV advertising in favor of Proposition G, a redevelopment plan for Hunters Point and its mostly minority residents.

The ad touts the benefits to San Francisco of this plan cooked up by City Powers. Of course, we have to filter these claims through the knowledge that Lennar Corporation has only one performance standard—profit.

Organizations and residents of Bayview Hunters Point along with grassroots progressives and others opposed to the corporatization of all human experience have qualified a competing ballot measure, Proposition F, aimed at affordable housing and fair treatment for current BVHP residents.

I’ve been having trouble remembering which is which, so I’m using this mnemonic, which sort of indicates my preference:


G for GREED.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008


We assume that our mayor’s sojourn in Israel has more to do with his gubernatorial bid than with personal tourism preference.

We assume that Newsom is doing what he does best—getting the support of rich people.

There must be potential donors to Newsom’s campaign for whom pro-Zionism is a necessary condition.

Thanks to the SF Bay Guardian for finding this egregious example of Newsom’s Zionist ass-sucking: Newsom repeats the tired old party line that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. In a Jerusalem Post interview Newsom says:

“To those who make that assertion [that Israel oppresses Palestinians], I would like to see it backed up in the context of the capacity of understanding. I think there is a lot of bias and bigotry, and frankly a lot of anti-Semitism…"

Clearly the interviewer was fishing for the last statement, “I think there is a lot of bias…” Very strange are the weasel words that precede it. “I would like to see it backed up in the context of the capacity of understanding.”

What could this possibly mean?

There’s “understanding.”

Then there’s “the capacity of understanding.”

Then there’s “the context of the capacity of understanding.”


Newsom said he "absolutely" believed some of the anti-Israel speech emanating from his city was anti-Semitic.

Poor Newsom! What’s he supposed to say? He could as easily have agreed that some of the anti-Israel speech was… psychotic.

SFGate ran an op-ed criticizing Newsom’s trip to Israel. Her perspective on the “birth” of the state of Israel:

On May 15, my family will commemorate an-Nakba, Arabic for "the catastrophe," which is the dark underbelly of Israel's foundation. Sixty years ago, Jewish militants and, later, the Israeli army, forced 2 out of every 3 Palestinians - more than 700,000 people - to flee their homes. Many Palestinians who resisted expulsion or were unable to leave were massacred in cold blood, as were those who returned to harvest food from their orchards or gather personal belongings left behind. The Palestinians who fled now constitute the oldest unresolved refugee population in the world, despite their internationally recognized right to return. Meanwhile, Israel permits any Jew from anywhere in the world to immigrate and obtain citizenship.

Newsom’s trip is being paid for by the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation, clearly a pro-Zionist organization. This page explains the programs JCF funds.

I wonder how Newsom accounts for the receipt of such valuable consideration as plane tickets, hotels, meals, and incidentals, from SFJCF. Is this considered a campaign contribution? A gift?

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