Wednesday, March 31, 2004 Bush's Gas Attack: Does Good Policy Make Bad Politics? This is a super helpful site - one to send to the conservative relatives maybe, even. Looks like the main Bush tactic so far is going to be to just make stuff up about Kerry. The big question, then, is whether the media (especially the TV) will call them on it. How many lies do they have to tell before it becomes a big enough story to run with? We'll see, but given that the election is still eight months out, they're well on their way. Sites like this will help.

For what it's worth, I personally wouldn't mind seeing the gas tax raised one bit. I bike, take the bus and telecommute. We own a small, efficient car, and pay premium rent to live near where we work, on the grounds that time is just about the only thing you can't get more of in life so there's no point spending it in traffic. There's a shoulder-high stack of studies that point out what an incredibly negative effect sitting in traffic has on family life. It's curious that supposedly "pro-family" groups never take this issue up; I suppose scapegoating people with a different sexual orientation is an easier way to raise money than actually solving problems that affect kids' lives.

Since people aren't apparently making this connection on their own, one way to help them connect the dots is to do what economists call "sending a price signal," i.e. making it more expensive to drive, so that people consider alternatives and make housing choices that take transporation into account. I'm sure the Kerry campaign won't make this argument and it's probably just as well, but I look forward to a time when someone can at least try.

Air America launches today. Go listen, if you can!

Monday, March 29, 2004
In case you've been getting a sense of scandal fatigue (or scandal overload, even), but weren't sure if it's for real or just seems that way: Daily Kos is running this convenient list of 10 of the investigations occurring right now. 100% involve Republicans. You are not imagining things.

Monday, March 22, 2004
A great article in Salon (subscription required) on globalization and the Economist, from James Galbraith (of the really interesting Univ. of Texas Inequality Project). I love a good Economist debunking, like the slicing and dicing of their two graphs at the beginning of the piece. But here's the conclusion... The marginal rate (tax rate on the highest earners) was 90% in this country during most of that period, the longest sustained period of strong growth this country has ever seen. When right wingers say that high taxes inhibit growth, they're either lying, or they're at least ignoring large quantities of data.

Sunday, March 21, 2004
Steve Lopez has a point of view we just don't hear enough today...

Friday, March 19, 2004
News story of the week. Bush campaign gear made in Burma.

Monday, March 15, 2004
New Report Details Wal-Mart's Labor Abuses and Hidden Costs: The .pdf of the report itself and all the gory details is here, but the bottom line is that each store costs the community around it more than $400,000 a year.

Morning crazy editorial roundup: Two from the News-Press this morning to get your blood pressure up without coffee. First, they're against the inclusionary housing ordinance on the grounds that it won't be effective in getting affordable housing built. Yet instead of proposing a real fix, they vaguely hint at some kind of "incentives" being needed. Incentives? You could build a 3 room, tin roof shack between the highway, a public bathroom and a sewage treatment plant here and sell it for three quarters of a million dollars. We sure don't need any more "incentives," but viewed through the market-fundamentalist colored glasses of the News-Press editorial page, incentives are the only solution that don't constitute "meddling." Those who are on the losing end of the housing equation here in town don't care about free market ideology and all the yammering that goes with it. They just want a place to live. If the market can't provide that - and here, clearly it hasn't - then lets try something else.

The next one was some syndicated hoo-hah from the Heritage foundation, Daniel J. Mitchell's Take ax to federal spending. It's long and could've just as well have been boiled down to this nut (warning, some of this may sound familiar): More blind adherence to fiscally conservative idelogy, more oversimplistic garbage. Let's complete the sentence "when politicians spend money..." with a real answer: most spending goes towards things like education, firefighters & police forces (or defense, nationally), health care for people our broken system has forgotten, and protecting the environment - exactly the things that generate and maintain the so-called "productive sector" of the economy. These are democratically decided upon objectives, not the wanton desires of polticians that have been imported here from Mars that Mitchell paints them as. The "productive" sector wouldn't exist without education, the true generator of jobs in the current economy. Dumb!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Stories like this sure make me thankful for Governor Schwarzenegger's steady hand and noble leadership... Thank you, Governor. Thank you so much for the $72 you saved me on my Vehicle License Fee, and for saving me from the horrible, horrible burden that taxation imposes on our free society. Those darn kids shouldn't have to blow their noses anyway. I agree with you, Governor, that the fraud, waste and abuse in our school systems is just an abomination. So again, thank you.

Monday, March 08, 2004
So, I'm going to give the Supreme Court a call today and see if I can schedule a duck hunting trip with Mr. Scalia. Or maybe he'd like to come here to Santa Barbara to give a nice keynote: How is this possibly OK? How should this guy not be impeached so fast that it'd make his head spin?

Sunday, March 07, 2004
I'm glad Peaceful Tomorrows (a group of families of people who died Sept. 11th) and the NYFD find the September 11th flag-draped coffins in Bush's first campaign ads as offensive as I do. They're asking the campaign to withdraw the ads, although it seems to be falling deaf ears so far.

Sometime this week I'm going to write up an election wrap-up. It was a tough one and has been hard to think about, but these things seem to work better if they've sat and marinated for a week or so so I'm not rushing it.

Monday, March 01, 2004
Beware the fine print! Sunday's News-Press explored the numerous deceptive "slate mailers" (subscription required) you've probably received in your mailbox this past week. I was certainly dismayed to see Broooks Firestone's face on a John F. Kennedy Alliance mailer that falsely called itself a "Democratic Voter Guide." I saw the same from a group called the Council of Concerned Women Voters, which sounds deceptively similar to the normally progressive League of Women Voters.

Just so you know, these mailers are usually produced by political consultants with the intent to confuse independent or inattentive voters. They force down-ticket races to pay for their appearance in the mailer, then they give out free endorsements to high-visibility races (like President or Senator) to hide Republicans in Democratic clothing (or vice versa). Don't blame the candidates for paying to get on these mailers; if they don't, their opponent will. Once you see the fine print at the bottom, though, take these mailers straight to your recycling bin.

Just so there's no confusion, here are your official Democratic Party-endorsed candidates on Tuesday's ballot:
President: No endorsement
US Senate: Barbara Boxer
Congress, 23rd District: Lois Capps
Congress, 24th District: Brett Wagner
State Senate, 15th District: Peg Pinard
State Senate, 19th District: Paul Graber
State Assembly, 33rd District: Stewart Jenkins
State Assembly, 35th District: Pedro Nava
Supervisor, 1st District: Salud Carbajal
Supervisor, 3rd District: John Buttny
Superior Court Judge, Office 6: Adrian Andrade

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