Saturday, October 22, 2005

A whore to special interests

The LA Times called out Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday for vetoing several bills that would have tried to collect taxes from businesses. It turns out the Governor, who pretends to care about balancing the California budget, isn't really very interested in half of the equation.
The most interesting veto concerned a bill that would have required Californians to pay state taxes owed under any judgment entered against them by the Internal Revenue Service. A recent court decision said the state couldn't collect taxes in some long-running cases, citing a four-year statute of limitations on tax violations. The state Franchise Tax Board was shocked by that decision, but heads really swiveled at the governor's veto of a bill to reinstate such collections. For a big company, the legal bills of a delaying action could easily be less than the tax liability.

Schwarzenegger's sympathy for businesses that "forget" their tax payments or game the tax code at the expense of the state budget is ludicrous. But the worst aspect of his vetoes is that they make honest taxpayers feel like chumps.

Mixed Messages

Old friends Saddam Hussein and Donald RumsfeldAs the trial of Saddam Hussein begins, the New York Times is reporting the "news" that more murderers in the global American torture system are getting away with it.
C.I.A. to Avoid Charges in Most Prisoner Deaths

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 - Despite indications of C.I.A. involvement in the deaths of at least four prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, C.I.A. employees now appear likely to escape criminal charges in all but one of those incidents, according to current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Federal prosecutors reviewing cases of possible misconduct by C.I.A. employees have recently notified lawyers that they do not intend to bring criminal charges in several cases involving the handling of terrorism suspects and Iraqi insurgents, the officials said.
I sense the hand of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who with Donald Rumsfeld and John Yoo, forms the U.S. axis of torture.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

More on fair wages

The initiative has been filed. This press release from the GPCA should show up on the state website in a few days. You can read it here first:
Green Party of California first to endorse initiative to dramatically increase state minimum wage to help ‘working poor'

SACRAMENTO (October 20, 2005) – An initiative filed this week to dramatically raise the state's hourly minimum wage – to as much as $8.75 from the current $6.75 within three years – has been endorsed by the Green Party of California. The "California Fair Wage Initiative" would appear on the November 2006 ballot.

Language for several versions of the initiative were officially filed earlier this week by representatives of Californians for Fair Wages (CFW), including Barry Hermanson, a Green Party Assembly candidate in San Francisco and Pat Driscoll, former Green congressional candidate from Sacramento.

A coalition of social justice and labor representatives formed CFW following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto – for the second year in a row – of a modest proposal to raise the hourly minimum wage to a modest $7.75 in two years.

The minimum wage – despite significant increases [in the cost of] housing, food and energy – has not been raised since 2002. To equal, in purchasing power, the state minimum wage paid in 1968, the state's lowest-paid workers would have to earn about $9.50 an hour today. California [has] the lowest minimum wage in the West.

One version of the initiative – the final version won't be decided upon until December – would raise the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour over three years, with an annual cost of living increase (COLA) automatically included to keep pace with inflation. A second version raises the minimum hourly wage to $7.75 an hour in two years, with a COLA. This version also would add one-half of the annual COLA to allow workers to recover purchasing power lost over the past 35 years.

"We believe this initiative, whatever the final language will be, is not nearly enough for our minimum wage workers. But, it is a much more progressive step than what has been taken by either the governor [or] the Legislature. It's a fair initiative, for workers, for business and for California," said Driscoll, a GPCA official spokesperson and treasurer for CFW.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Wag the pigeon

Hitchcock's The BirdsI'm as scared of birds as the next guy, but am I the only one who thinks the sudden focus on avian flu is a pretty transparent attempt by the White House to stop people from thinking about some other things?

It's official: Iraq is Vietnam

anti-war protestThe anti-war protest in Los Angeles on September 24, 2005
Bush Likens War on Terror to Cold War
By Warren Vieth and Josh Meyer. October 7, 2005

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Thursday compared the war on terrorism to the struggle against communism and said a network of Islamic extremists was determined to use Iraq as a staging ground to topple moderate governments in the region and to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia."

...Although the arguments Bush used in his lengthy speech were not new, he described the U.S.-declared war on terrorism and its link to Iraq in grander terms than previously, equating it to the Cold War that dominated U.S. foreign policy throughout the second half of the 20th century and comparing terrorist leaders Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Zarqawi to such tyrants as Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Cambodia's Pol Pot.

...The speech, billed as a major policy address, came at the end of a weeklong effort by his administration to shore up popular support for the central tenets of his foreign policy. Bush's approval rating has fallen to new lows in recent polls, and support for the Iraq war has declined.
We all know that the "war on terror" had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq. Following the President's analogy, if the war on terror is World War II, Iraq must be Vietnam. (This doesn't make the President John F. Kennedy, however much he may wish. I've seen movies about JFK, and the current President is no JFK.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Green revolution in Orange County?

Vote GreenFrom the Tiritilli campaign:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Green Party candidate scores in Orange County 48th congressional Special Election primary, predicts ‘Green revolution' in run-off

SANTA ANA (Oct. 4, 2005 / 11:05 p.m.)– Green Party candidate Bea Tiritilli – running a surprising strong race despite her party's tiny registration in conservative Orange County – late Tuesday night found herself among the top 10 finishers in the Special Election primary to replace former Congressman Christopher Cox in the 48th District.

As of late Tuesday night, it appeared none of the 17 candidates had won more than 50 percent of the vote, which forces a Special Election run-off Dec. 6. The top vote-getter in each party qualifies for the run-off, including Tiritilli, who was running 9th with more than double the Green Party's .56 percent registered voters in Orange County. She was leading six Republicans, a Libertarian and one Democrat.

"I look forward to meeting with my campaign team and working on a strategy to promote a peaceful and Green revolution in Orange County and the United States," said Tiritilli, 42, a high school teacher who made opposition to the Iraq War and social
justice a major part of her grassroots campaign.

"We must bring our soldiers home from Iraq. That's our first and most imperative priority. We need to defeat the mind-set that war is the only method to combat our differences with other nations. Next, we must overturn the pathetic environmental policies this administration has designed to pander to the corporations. This includes starting fresh with an energy policy which does not subsidize big business at the expense of conservation and small alternative-energy businesses," said Tiritilli late Tuesday night.

"We also need to focus on sane immigration reform that doesn't blame undocumented immigrants as scapegoats for everything that ails our society. Instead, we must take a creative approach to examining and acting upon the roots of undocumented immigration, which often means economic desperation brought on by American foreign policies that favor corporations at the expense of the poor and dwindling middle class," Tiritilli added.
The OC Register, which went to bed earlier, notes: "But all of tonight’s results will be unofficial and the Registrar will have more absentee ballots to count tomorrow. Absentee ballots received today will not be counted until tomorrow."

Green Party fair wage campaign

I've mentioned it before, but I just noticed that the website finally has some content on it, so I'll mention it again: the Green Party of California has decided to "place a statewide initiative on the November 2006 ballot designed to dramatically increase the state minimum wage to a "Fair Wage" in the direction of a Living Wage."

From the Californians for Fair Wages Coalition website:
The goal is to create a coalition, known as the Californians for Fair Wages Coalition (CFWC), of Worker's Organizations, Labor, Public-Interest, Peace-and-Justice, and Faith-Based Groups, for the purpose of circulating, and passing at the ballot, a statewide initiative to raise the minimum wage to a "Fair Wage" in the direction of a Living Wage, including provisions to index wages for inflation (COLAs).

We have already held one initial conference in the north and are finalizing plans for one in the south to introduce all interested parties and organizations to each other, to discuss the parameters and goals of the partnership, and to review research and data of various campaign related studies. Later meetings will define the final provisions, authorities and duties of the rest of the campaign. CFW and the Green Party of California sponsored the Conferences.

Election night

48th Congressional District Primary Election

FINAL UPDATE (11:00PM): Absentee and 268 of 268 of precincts reporting.

JOHN CAMPBELL (REP) 36640 46.0%
MARILYN C. BREWER (REP) 13272 16.7%
JIM GILCHRIST (AI) 11490 14.4%
STEVE YOUNG (DEM) 7110 8.9%
JOHN GRAHAM (DEM) 3242 4.1%
BEA FOSTER (DEM) 2606 3.3%
DON UDALL (REP) 1284 1.6%
JOHN KELLY (REP) 955 1.2%
BRUCE COHEN (LIB) 667 0.8%
DAVID R. CROUCH (REP) 455 0.6%
TOM PALLOW (DEM) 270 0.3%
GUY E. MAILLY (REP) 138 0.2%

There will be a runoff, and Tiritilli starts off in 4th place, besting the Libertarian by 31 votes. I didn't see any polls, but Gilchrist did disapointingly well. He came on strong on election day, getting a much higher vote at the precincts than from absentee voters, and handily beating the most popular Democrat.

Hopefully Tiritilli will benefit from the absence of a second Bea in the race. Given that Campbell is clearly going to win the reelection, Tiritilli could also benefit from an anti-War protest vote, but I fear noone will show up.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Defining the Green Agenda

sunflowerYesterday, Ken Sain started an important conversation on his blog about defining the Green Agenda. I've been thinking about this for a while, but haven't articulated my ideas. As Greens, we have great platforms and articulate candidates. But defining your agenda is about more than that. It is about choosing priorities and bringing those issues to the public. Ken has his suggestions, and included are the top issues I would choose: alternative energy, universal health care, and ending the war in Iraq.

I would love to see Greens across the country choose three or four issues as national priorities on which to focus. We could redefine the Greens as a party committed to tackling the tough issues that affect all Americans, but that the corporate parties ignore (or make worse). We could really hammer the Republicans and Democrats, but we have to stay focused and coordinated: table with these issues, campaign on these issues, write press releases and policy papers about these issues.

The three or four national issues would be complimented by one or two regional issues chosen by state and local Greens. (In California the focus could be Prop. 13 reform or a Green approach to immigration, and in Los Angeles, transportation or homelessness).

Election tomorrow

Bea TiritilliThe congressional special election featuring Green Party candidate Béa Tiritilli is tomorrow. The New York Times is billing the election as a test of Republican confidence in the White House. In this overwhelmingly Republican Orange County district, one Republican, Marilyn Brewer, is running away from the President, while another, John Campbell, is sticking by his party's leader.

It seems unlikely that either one would win more than 50 percent of the entire vote, so the fun will really start on Wednesday, as the field narrows to one candidate from each party (from 17 overall) heading into the December run-off.

UPDATE: An enterprising Vibes Watch correspondent sends this:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE * Sunday, October 2, 2005 * The Green Party of Orange County
Green Party Demands Retraction of Accusations of Violence, Attempted Murder by Minuteman Founder Jim Gilchrist

ORANGE COUNTY-The Green Party of Orange County demands a retraction of slanderous statements made by Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project and American Independent candidate for Congress in the 48th Congressional District, accusing the Green Party of being "terrorists" and individual Greens of orchestrating "mayhem" and "attempted murder."

Mr. Gilchrist's outrageous remarks were made during a televised debate that included Green Party candidate Béa Tiritilli in Irvine on September 20th, and to an Orange County journalist following another debate the following evening.

As a political party dedicated to nonviolence in policy and action, we demand that Mr. Gilchrist produce evidence to support his false and baseless claims of violent crimes or apologize for lies. We further call upon the American Independent Party to distance itself from its candidate's irresponsible, outlandish public behavior.
Why is would-be anti-immigrant icon Jim Gilchrist picking a fight with the Green Party candidate? My guess is that he hasn't exactly received the groundswell of support he had hoped for. I liked Tiritilli's response to Gilchrist's first accusation about violent Greens: "A few violent people who may or may not have been Greens do not represent my views any more than a few white supremicists at a Minuteman rally represent the views of the entire American Independent Party."