San Diego Voting Tuesday

San Diego, my home town in the tumultuous years of 1968-1969, and of close cousins their whole growing up years, always gets more than my passing glance when it’s in the news.  Today it’s about the elections on Tuesday to put a fully elected mayor in, to replace the temporary one, Todd Gloria, who replaced the serial harasser Filner last summer.

The candidates are big-business backed city councilor Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez, also a city councilor, who counts labor unions among his backers. After  Filner, the first Democrat  mayor in decades, stepped down to deal with the torrent of accusations about his unwanted sexual demonstrativeness, his voters seemed in disarray. Hope had been high that he would be an antidote to the corruption and budgetary malfeasance San Diego had suffered under for years, earning it the nickname of Enron-By-The-Sea.

His behavior and leaving office were a double punch to the gut of his voters who at first seemed in disarray.  They seem to have recovered quickly with Alvarez as the standard bearer.  The vote count on Tuesday is expected to be close.

The NY Times, characterizing the race as one of sharp ideological divides, gives a good backgrounder, though for the life of me I don’t understand how ideology is a good characterization of what is going on.  There are almost twenty years of history to indicate the past effects of the policies Faulkner says he will continue to pursue.  There are thousands of people whose pensions were gutted during past Republican mayors who naturally, would prefer a leader who takes their loss, and the abrogated contracts and promises, seriously.

As usual, the winner will be decided not entirely on the merits of his ideas or actions but by the variable winds of voter enthusiasm, understanding of policy-to-pocketbook linkages and, unfortunately, fealty to myths, beliefs and ethnicity.

Whoever wins, perhaps the conversation will have been begun –using the minimum wage increases proposed by Alvarez as proxy–  over how any society determines what is needed for its citizens to produce enough in their working years to keep them alive and in dignity during the years they cannot work.

If, at the most abstract, one must earn enough in half a life to provide for a full life, how is that to be done?  If no surplus is created during the working, or is raked off by others, how is life to be secured for the years of no-work?   If during the working years, pensions can not be created, if the hope for living after the working years depends on the vagaries of a stock market — which can be sent soaring or falling by conditions in Brazil or Greece– do we have the basics of sound economies, and therefore livelihoods, even in place? It’s an enormous question which is never properly dealt with.

Tuesday’s San Diego election won’t answer the question but perhaps it will be formulated a bit more clearly and spoken more loudly.

Going After Elizabeth Warren’s Attackers (Dems)

From The NY Times:

In a sign of the left’s new aggressiveness, a coalition of liberals is trying to marginalize calling out a centrist Democratic policy group that was responsible for a Wall Street Journal op-ed article this week that said economic populism was “disastrous” for the party.

The coalition, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and three other liberal advocacy organizations have urged their members to contact a group of congressional Democrats who are honorary leaders of the centrist group, Third Way. It published the op-ed article on Monday contending that the liberalism of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio of New York City and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would lead Democrats “over the populist cliff.”

The article — written by Jon Cowan, president of Third Way, and Jim Kessler, its senior vice president for policy — criticizes progressives like Ms. Warren and Mr. de Blasio for opposing measures to cut costs to Social Security and Medicare.


on Thursday, the liberal blog Daily Kos announced that it would endorse and raise money only for candidates who promised not to join Third Way.

Yes!  Join the campaign…

From DailyKos:

So who else is enabling Third Way’s destructive agenda? Why, let’s name names!

House members
James Clyburn (Southern South Carolina)
John Dingell (Ann Arbor, Detroit’s western suburbs, Michigan)
Ron Kind (Southwestern Wisconsin, La Crosse, Eau Claire)
Joseph Crowley (NYC, Bronx, Queens)
Allyson Schwartz (Northeast Philly, eastern Montgomery County, Pennsylvania)
Jared Polis (Boulder, Colorado)
Thomas Carper (Delaware)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
Mark Udall (Colorado)
Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire)
Kay Hagan (North Carolina)
Chris Coons (Delaware)
Warren herself is having none of it:

Third Way’s spokesman responded by saying that under Warren’s plan, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase’s CEO, would be entitled to a higher Social Security payout.

“Oh please. I’m out there working for Jamie Dimon the same way Dick Cheney is out there trying to save the environment,” Warren said.

— and she’s got friends.

“Lee Fang, writing in the Nation, examined Third Way’s ties to Peck Madigan, a Wall Street lobbying firm. Other liberal groups responded angrily to the column, denouncing Third Way as a front for the banking industry.  Warren herself got involved on Wednesday, although she did not respond directly to Cowan and Kessler’s column. Instead, she sent a letter to chief executive officers at six major financial institutions, calling on them to disclose their companies’ spending on think tanks, although they are not legally required to do so.”

“Shareholders have a right to know how corporate resources are spent, and, even more importantly, policymakers and the public should be aware of your contributions and evaluate the work of the think tanks accordingly,” the letter read.

from Washington Post

GOP Claims About IRS Vendetta on Tea Party Completely False

“The unredacted IRS treasury report was released today and it turns out we’ve all been lied to in a huge way. Progressive groups were singled out for scrutiny just like conservative groups. But worse than that, the IRS Inspector General misled Congress about this fact during testimony and in letters, and the progressive terms were “redacted” in the original report.”



Good Hosts to a Troublesome Crowd

Boxer & Pelosi Greening D.C.


“The Speaker sent a letter Friday to the House chief administrative officer, directing him to report back to her by April 30 on how a “Green the Capitol” initiative could be implemented. She said she wants the House, which has about 10,000 employees scattered across several million square feet of office space, to institute “the most up-to-date industry and government standards for green building and green operating procedures.”

On the Senate side of the Capitol, Democrat Boxer has used her role as the new chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee to initiate a pilot program to get senators to adopt more energy-efficient lighting in their offices.

…for example….

— Coat windows on the outside with ultraviolet-reducing film to reduce heat entering buildings and keep out harmful UV rays.

— Plant more trees nearby to shade the buildings and lower the inside temperature during the capital’s hot, humid summer.

— Place solar panels on the roofs.”

Small, but good.

In other news I heard today of a Japanese fitness center that had hooked up all it’s machines to a big building connected battery, enough to run the TVs, some of the lights and other electrical. If this were done in the Senate exercise room and every Senator given a quota…

Foley Report: Self Policing Fails (again)

Count me among those who think the non-action by the sub committee for Moaning and Sighing is scandalous all by itself.

Howard Berman,
otherwise a good Dem,[notably, except for his Invade Iraq vote in 2003] has soiled his good name with this report. [pdf]

Notwithstanding the concerns regarding the specific conduct of some individuals who learned of certain allegations regarding Representative Foley … the Invesitgative Subcommittee did not find any current House Members or employees violated the House Code of Official Conduct.

Even the NY Times Editorial writers get it: “the bipartisan committee produced a report yesterday that was a 91-page exercise in cowardice.

As Melanie Sloan of CREW says:

“This report is proof positive that the ethics committee is incapable of handling allegations of wrongdoing. To restore the public’s confidence in the congressional ethics process, the new Congress should immediately move to create an Office of Public Integrity to handle complaints against members of Congress.”

CREW Press Release

Aside from the Committee’s failure to find that any House Ethics rules were broken, two other things struck me. Those people directly reponsible for supervising the Pages, in the Residence Hall and at the School, seem not to have been in the loop enough to be the first point of contact for the offended Pages. Those who did complain went to their sponsoring Representative, which makes sense enough I suppose. But the Pages don’t work for their Sponsors; they are not in their offices doing their work. They work the House floor and for many people. Had I been in their shoes I might have thought to complain to someone I saw often, as a mentor or supervisor; a teacher, a Residence Hall supervisor. That didn’t happen.

The second thing that struck me is that although the letter from the Committee to all Representatives said it was “conducting an enquiry regarding any conduct of House Members, officers, staff related to information concerning improper conduct involving Members and current and former House Pages” the only matter of investigation in the report is about Foley. No Page called the 800 number and spoke of improper conduct of any other House Member? I hope it’s true that all the Ladies and Gentlemen are so well behaved but with 17 year olds of both sexes wanting attention and Representatives of all proclivities frankly, I’m surprised. Adult sexual interest in adolesents is certainly not, by sadly long and sadly documented evidence, a perculiarity of homosexuals.

Interestingly, Berman doesn’t make his e-mail public, but here is the DC address and phone. You might want to send him your comments,

Congressman Howard L. Berman
2221 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-4695

Anti War Representatives Heard – 4 Years Late

Walter Pincus is among the best reporters we have had in the whole miserable run up to and sorry execution of the war. It is very nice to have him write this retrospective of Democrats now about to take power.

Although given little public credit at the time, or since, many of the 126 House Democrats who spoke out and voted against the October 2002 resolution that gave President Bush authority to wage war against Iraq have turned out to be correct in their warnings about the problems a war would create.

With the Democrats taking over control of the House next January, the views that some voiced during two days of debate four years ago are worth recalling, since many of those lawmakers will move into positions of power. They include not only members of the new House leadership but also the incoming chairmen of the Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget and Judiciary committees and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Democrats Move Into Power

However, I think the closing sentence of his piece needs a thorough and tough-minded piece or two all on its own.

[Congresswoman Barbara] Lee was described as giving a “fiery denunciation” of the administration’s “rush to war,” with only 14 colleagues in the House chamber to hear her.

None of the reasons she gave to justify her concerns, nor those voiced by other Democratic opponents, was reported in the two Post stories about passage of the resolution that day.

Political Gossip

I can do without most gossip. Whether and where Angelina Jolie has a tattoo doesn’t glue my eyes to the news. Here’s a little tid-bit I am glad to pass on, however.

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia’s newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn’t long before Bush found him.

“How’s your boy?” Bush asked, referring to Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

“That’s not what I asked you,” Bush said. “How’s your boy?”

“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,” Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Webb is going to cause us grief someday but in the meantime, Go Jim, Go!