Monday, June 30, 2008


In a dichotomized system, voters get only one more
choice than they would under a totalitarian regime.
Wikipedia, "Two Party System"

In his Unity, NH, unity appearance with Hillary Clinton (who repeated her Goldwater-girl omission* yet again) Obama stated his Iraq policy as “responsible, gradual withdrawal.”

These are obvious weasel words that carry no clear promise. These words actually endorse the status quo in Iraq, since the status quo is something to be changed only “responsibly” and “gradually.”

Amazingly, this grim outlook is omitted from the list of Obama’s policy shifts to the right (NAFTA, FISA, guns, death penalty). Arianna breaks it down as well as anyone.

For instance:

In an interview with Nina Easton in Fortune Magazine, Obama was asked about having called NAFTA "a big mistake" and "devastating." Obama's reply: "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified."

Overheated? So when he was campaigning in the Midwest, many parts of which have been, yes, devastated by economic changes since the passage of NAFTA, and he pledged to make use of a six-month opt-out clause in the trade agreement, that was "overheated?" Or was that one "amplified?"

Because if that's the case, it would be helpful going forward if Obama would let us know which of his powerful rhetoric is "overheated" and/or "amplified," so voters will know not to get their hopes too high.

Conventional wisdom is that Obama needn’t worry about his party’s left wing because those people (we) have no other choice. For us Obama’s message will be monotone: the awful consequences of a McCain presidency.

This is not unlike McCain’s main argument.

Fear itself.

So I’m voting for Nader, even though he can’t figure out Obama’s background.

Obama is not, as Nader so awkwardly stated, half African American. He’s half white-American and half black-Kenyan.

Whatever ancestral stories Barack Obama heard around the dinner table, they didn’t include American slave experiences, or Jim Crow experiences, because none of Barack’s ancestors were victims of either.

I gave up on Barack when he gave up on Reverend Wright. Barack wants us to know that he personally shares none of the Reverend’s anger and bitterness. Why should he? Obama can "turn the page" on historical wrongs much more easily than those who actually suffered them.

One of his rightward moves took place on Fathers Day when he chided black fathers for abandoning their children, as if this accounted for the disparity between US blacks and whites.

How ironic! Barack’s father cut out when Barack was only two or so. Yet Barack grew up to be a presumed Democratic nominee for president. It helps to have white grandparents who can provide entrĂ©e to white society, private schools, for example.

Anyway, I agree with 95% of everything Ralph Nader says about economic, social, and foreign policy. The difference between Obama’s policies and Nader’s are infinitely greater than the differences between those of Obama and McCain.

Neither McCain nor Obama promise any significant resistance to the corporatization of all human experience.

Two rudderless rafts are carried by powerful currents toward the edge of Niagara falls. One of the rafts is captained by Obama, the other by McCain.

* Hillary has been repeating her “four decades of political involvement” fib, so she can claim that her husband had two of the three democratic presidential elections victories in that period. Of course, Hilary’s political involvement began four years earlier with her work for Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964, won, incidentally, by a democrat, which she continues to omit.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Floating in the smarmy effluence that is the Russert death coverage are attestations by Chris Matthews on MSNBC of the importance of the Catholic faith, which he shares with the deceased.

Then we cut away to the public viewing at St Albans School (where Russert sent his only son). St Albans is a private Protestant prep school for the ruling class and for those eager to serve the ruling class.

[Click on picture for source.]

When I was a kid the nuns taught us that even entering a non-Catholic church or synagogue was “giving scandal” and should not be done.

When it comes to young Catholics eager to serve the ruling class (thinking perhaps that a “gentleman’s gentleman” is actually a gentleman), distinctions about religion tend to blur.

Chris Matthews has been one of the louder voices ragging on Obama for “sitting in the pew Sunday after Sunday,” listening to extremist views without objecting.

Then he touts his own Catholicism as if it’s views were uncontroversial and mainstream.

I wonder if Chris Matthews is a real Catholic.

Here’s a quick test. The three statements below are ironclad Catholic doctrine. To call oneself a real Catholic one must agree 100% with all three statements (and a whole lot more).

Catholic Test:

1. Homosexual orientation is a grave disorder and all homosexual acts are gravely disordered.
o Agree 100% (Catholic)
o Don’t agree 100% (non-Catholic)

2. Willful, therapeutic abortion is murder.
o Agree 100% (Catholic)
o Don’t agree 100% (non-Catholic)

3. The use of condoms or other artificial contraception is always a mortal sin.
o Agree 100% (Catholic)
o Don’t agree 100% (non-Catholic)

Many people (me) would say that these are “extreme views.” Actually, when it comes to extreme views I prefer those of Reverend Wright (but not that awful white priest), to those of the ex-Nazi Pope Benedict.

The difference is black and white.

Anyway, Chris Matthews should tell us if he’s a real Catholic, or if he’s a St Albans Catholic.

btw: It’s hard for me to consider the RCC these days without thinking about the Mayan Codices, which conquistador-priests destroyed almost four hundred years before Hitler burned his first book.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008



Not the fact that Muni Metro had an accident with itself (SFGate story). We’ve come to expect such. And with current operator-contract negotiations stalled we might expect more such.

We keep reading about Muni deploying exotic rolling-stock (ancient restored streetcars, double decker buses) all in an effort to support and cement San Francisco's role as a tourist town.

The problem with Muni is poor human performance, not boring buses. Muni management knows how to spend money on rolling stock, but they don’t know how to manage human performance.

One problem is that the performance standards for other City employees are so low that Muni drivers feel singled-out. So that part is intractable.

Not intractable are English-usage errors. With the Chronicle downsizing and all, you’d think they'd have a few competent copy editors eager to keep their jobs. Yet we get this (emphasis mine):

At 2:03 p.m., a westbound one-car T-Third train rear-ended a two-car N-Judah train, which had stopped at a light on King Street between Third and Fourth streets.

Let me shout to the world: there is no such thing as a “one-car train.” A single car is a single car. You don’t get a “train” until two or more cars are coupled together. Sheesh!

Webster's Online:

Main Entry: train
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from trainer to draw, drag

7 a: a connected line of railroad cars with or without a locomotive

And stating the fact correctly wouldn’t have been that difficult, like:

At 2:03 p.m., a single westbound T-Third streetcar rear-ended a two-car N-Judah train…

I guess the editors figure that anything that rolls on tracks is a train, regardless of the number of cars.

So this would be called a “one-car train”:

Or this:

Or this:

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Kamala Harris has been such a terrible District Attorney that it’s hard to imagine anything good coming out of her office.

Most recently she failed to prosecute a cousin of Mayor Gavin Newsom for what looked like a tight DUI-drugs case. (Mayor Newsom, like DA Harris, gained his present office mostly through the influence of Willie Brown.)

She herself is the subject of a Federal false claims investigation.

[Click on image for source.]

So I was prepared to rag on Kamala when she announced she would pursue criminal sanctions against parents of chronically truant kids (SFGate story).

Great! Murder is out of control, so let’s crack down on hooky.

Upon consideration, this move shows her true concerns and points to a possible gracious exit from her current position in which she is way over her head.

Wikipedia says she has a history of involvement in child welfare legislation and enforcement.

And chronic truancy (more than one-third of school days missed) is almost always the result of a home environment that is not good for children.

I know, from various war stories I’ve heard over the years, that for many children who are growing up in chaotic or abusive family situations the hours spent at school are the safest, most supportive, most predictable and orderly hours in the day.

My Education Informant knew one third-grade boy who had to stay home two or three days a week to watch his infant sister while papa went to the methadone clinic.

In this country, at this time, a child has a right to a primary education. Keeping a child out of school is a crime. This means that a family that’s unable to organize itself well enough to get the kid to school regularly shouldn’t have custody of the kid.

The families need help, but the kids can’t wait. So we applaud DA Harris.

Go Figure:

Summer vacation from school, in this country, came about because children’s labor was needed on the farms. Now, the children are out of school but the law forbids their employment as farm laborers.

Some local commenters seem to think that Barack, if elected, might appoint Kamala Harris Attorney General. This seems like a little hometown grandiosity. Her paltry record and her unsavory associations should prevent such an ascension.

But she could probably handle and enjoy an appointment to head some child warfare branch of the Justice Department.

You go, Kamala! To Washington. And see to it that all the children get a good education.

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Friday, June 13, 2008


Representative Eshoo (per SFGate) wants to regulate the sound volume of TV commercials.

What will I do with my stains if I can’t Shout them out?

When Eshoo succeeds with her volume campaign she can do something a little more serious, about misleading content.

Recently a young man died near the Giants’ ballpark in an episode of violence that included just one punch. Not a long, sustained fist fight. Just one punch.

When is the last time you saw such an outcome portrayed in fictional TV or movies?

There was a similar incident out here in the Avenues a few years ago that involved racial stuff, plus bicyclist vs motorist stuff, but there was just one punch, head hits curb, RIP.

It seems the reaction to the recent ballpark death was one of simple surprise. There were no racial or other social-issue overtones, just a death resulting from “normal” male adolescent/young adult behavior. (Contrast: the Golden Rule.)

There was shock that one punch could so change the prospects, not only of the dead victim and his family, but also of the perp and his.

It seems that not much malice is imputed. It was more like a freak accident.

The Greeks would have attributed it to mischief of the gods.

People get punched in the face all the time, maybe get knocked down, but they get right back up. We see it repeatedly on TV, everyday. Heck, if you believe TV, punching is a major and constant component of human interaction.

The Committee for the Accurate Representation of Violence wants to require TV and movie producers to accurately portray the consequences of all violent incidents.

For instance, the cop who subdues a suspect with a knockout punch to the jaw, must go directly to the hospital to have the broken bones in his or her hand set and put in a cast, and he/she must wear that cast for the next six weeks of the narrative.

And the suspect has to show up with his jaw wired.

We shan’t hold our breaths.

Among the most famous pictures in the history of photography are those by Mathew Brady of U.S. Civil War dead.

Those brave and unfortunate Americans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan can not be pictorially represented even as flag-draped coffins. TV news shows them in pictures taken when they were alive—as if the transition from live fighter to dead hero is as painless and antiseptic as turning off a light.

The fact that our poodledog-press accepts such restriction might indicate how close to the end America is in the lifecycle of empires.

I assume that the young man accused in the ballpark incident can honestly say he had no idea that one punch could result in death. This is the fault of our inculturation system, which includes schools, media and individual family values.

When CARV gets its way, boys and young men will know what one punch can do.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Kamala Harris, San Francisco’s District Attorney, currently under Federal investigation for submitting millions of dollars in false claims for border-protection funds, was a prominent endorser of victorious Proposition G, which gives hundreds of acres of San Francisco property to Lennar Corporation in exchange for one dollar and some promises.

In an apparently unrelated story reported this last Saturday, Ms Harris has struck a deal with “politically connected” concrete contractor, Ricardo Ramirez, who allegedly sold substandard concrete to numerous public works projects, The deal is that the contractor pleads guilty to one count of some environmental violation and agrees to stay home for a year (so-called house arrest). In return Harris dropped 14 felony and other charges.

According to the SFGate story:

Harris' office had no explanation for why it dropped the concrete case. It issued a statement stressing that Ramirez had pleaded guilty to the "most serious environmental charge" he faced and that he would pay restitution.

So we are left to speculate, is Ms Harris protecting one sadsack contractor, or is she protecting that contractors’ political connections?

Notable for our story is that Mr Ramirez allegedly sold substandard concrete for use on the new (disastrous) T-Third streetcar line, an albatross originally promoted as a boon to Bayview Hunters Point.

So, the fraudulent sale of substandard concrete to a project promoted as benefiting the mostly black population of BVHP, is not something Ms Harris chooses to prosecute. It’s as if it never happened.

The major promoter of the T-Third line, (a major infrastructure investment with no demonstrable benefit) was then Mayor Willie Brown.

We shouldn’t forget that Ms Harris was once a mistress of Willie Brown, per this SFGate copy regarding her first run for public office against incumbent lefty Terrence Hallinan, who had actually indicted SFPD brass for corruption. According to an SFGate story at the time:

But, because a large number of her contributors also have been donors to Harris' onetime boyfriend and political sponsor, Mayor Willie Brown, Hallinan is painting his challenger as a machine candidate who would be obliged to ignore local government corruption once in office.

"People don't give you money for nothing," Hallinan said. "One of the responsibilities in the next administration is to clean up the corruption that Willie Brown is leaving behind him. If Willie Brown is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for her -- and has really created her -- that means she's indebted to him."

Also, we should remember that Gavin Newsom achieved his first elective office via Willie Brown appointment.

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