July 26, 2005

Wal-Mart finds its conscience?!

I kid! But yes, the evil empire is, believe it or not, experimenting with ways to make its supercenters more green so that one day it might be more of a "jolly green giant" than the soulless, shit spewing, kleptomaniacal Godzilla that it's fashioned itself after thusfar.

Wal-Mart has bigger fish to fry than localized energy inefficiency. Swapping lightbulbs and recycling at a couple stores in Texas won't do anything to mend its massive crushing footprint and oppressive reshaping of the global labor market. Grist, punchy and funny as hell as always, captures the irony--"energy-efficient LED lights will illuminate the low-paid, uninsured, non-unionized Wal-Mart 'associates' on the floor below."

July 23, 2005

In the pink

Tabling today was a huge success with the ladies of CODEPINK outside Barbara Lee's town hall meeting in Oakland. There was standing room only, and 4-500 people were actually turned away from the theater while Medea, Barbara Lee, reps from After Downing Street, Goldstar Families, Vets for Peace, and Daniel Ellsberg spoke. I made sure Ellsberg was on the panel--I'm allowed some bragging rights, considering Barbara Lee's office had been trying to get in touch with him, and his office contacted me first about speaking at a rally we had planned but had since cancelled. In spite of how much Barbara Lee's office tried to distance themselves from CODEPINK in planning the event, and how many times we got shut down (the only time they'd talk to me is when I called "on behalf of Dr. Ellsberg"--we're lucky we even got to table!), I made sure Ellsberg got the invitation from Lee's office. But that's beside the point--everyone at the event showed us an overwhelming amount of support, and most importantly, the impeachment pie was a smash hit.

July 21, 2005

Coffee, anyone?

By now, everyone's probably heard of the GTA San Andreas "hot coffee" downloadable mod, which integrates an interactive sex scene into regular gameplay. Senator Clinton has her panties in a twist over it, and is pressing for an investigation:

We should all be deeply disturbed that a game which now permits the simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format with highly realistic graphics has fallen into the hands of young people across the country," Clinton wrote in a letter to the head of the Federal Trade Commission.
Honestly, Hillary--I realize you don't want the kiddies taking lessons from pixelated felons, but if you really want something to worry about, isn't the game's graphic violence potentially more harmful?

There's video of the mod on the GTA website...yes, I was curious to see what all the commotion was about, I'm a pervert. Figured it had to be pretty good to get Washington's dander up, and besides--The Sims 2 just doesn't cut it. "Woohoo"? I mean, c'mon! The mod is really pretty silly--the main character remains fully clothed in jeans and a wifebeater, and whispers sweet nothings like "you know I'm not insecure, but tell me I'm great." I'm not encouraging this stuff in video games, especially when it's in breach of some FCC agreement and comes off as denigrating to women (who are already subjugated in the video game world...but seriously let's focus on mending those things in our world first, eh?). Don't you think there are bigger things to be concerned about? Hillary, instead of wasting energy regulating how gamers' get their jollies, why not jump on the call for an investigation into whether Bush disregarded intelligence and misled Congress before invading Iraq? There are real felons to take care of, and real lives at stake. You can spend time cracking down on digital perps after you get to the bottom of true crime in Washington.

It's this kind of prudery and focus on what ultimately, in the grand scheme of things (uh, perpetual killing and occupation?), are trivial distractions. This is the type of stuff that conservatives used to detract from bigger questions and policies and undermine decent leadership when your husband was President. And now it's even more important to pick our battles and not divert attention from hammering the most unaccountable leaders we've seen.

I sincerely hope you're not doing this just to kowtow to conservatives, hoping to come off as the "moral" candidate for a 2008 race. There are far greater moral matters at stake.

July 20, 2005

The high price of low cost

Robert Greenwald's next project takes on Wal-Mart. Check out the trailer here.

Also, an NYT article shows how more visionary companies like CostCo are (with any luck) shifting the Wal-Mart paradigm and leading the way to low prices at no cost to their workers.
Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco's customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers' expense. "This is not altruistic," he said. "This is good business."
It has to draw more than just the affluent though--they're clearly not among the consumers who have no choice but to shop at places that exacerbate class and economic stratification. The CostCo model has to become industry wide and affordable for all sectors of the labor market before victims of Walmartization can see results.

Wal-Mart has warped Ford's original business ideals. At the inception of the assembly line, products were priced and workers wages were set so that employees could purchase what they made. Those that work at Wal-Mart have no choice but to shop where they work, buying the lowest quality products and locking themselves into perpetual poverty. It's the far more insidious corporate reincarnation of the truck system.

July 23rd Downing Street Day of Action

On Saturday, July 23rd, members of Congress and activists around the country are organizing a day of action to call attention to the explosive evidence of government manipulation revealed in the Downing Street memo.

The day of action coincides with the 3rd anniversary of the controversial British intelligence minutes which verify that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” to justify the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. The memo demonstrates that Bush was already committed to going to war in the summer of 2002, despite contrary assertions to the public and Congress. Although its contents potentially prove that the President committed an impeachable act by misleading Congress, millions of Americans have never heard of the document. Events on July 23rd aim to raise public awareness on the implications of the Downing Street memo.

Participants around the country will be encouraged to promote coverage of the Downing Street Minutes by their local media, gather signatures on Congressman John Conyers' letter to the President, and lobby for a Resolution of Inquiry in both the House and Senate. This would create a select committee to investigate reports of a pre-war deal between the United Kingdom and the United States and evidence that pre-war intelligence was intentionally manipulated.

Over 300 events are listed on an online map at AfterDowningStreet.org. Prominent speakers and ordinary citizens will hold public forums, perform dramatic recreations of the Downing Street meeting, and host house parties and study circles. Congressman Conyers' office has organized more than 100 house parties through johnconyers.com. The Congressman and former Ambassador Joseph Wilson will participate in a national conference call with attendees from 4 to 4:30 p.m. ET on the 23rd. For details, contact Jonathan Godfrey at 202-744-7441 or jonathangodfrey@gmail.com.

Members of Congress will either host or participate in at least eight events of their own around the country on or around the 23rd. Here are some details:

Congressman John Conyers, Jr.
Wayne State University Law School Auditorium
Meeting Local Start Time: 2:00pm
471 W. Palmer Street
Detroit, Michigan 48202

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Grand Lake Theatre
Meeting Local Start Time: 11:00am
3200 Grand Avenue
Oakland, California 94610

Congressmen Jim McDermott
Seattle Labor Temple
Meeting Local Start Time: 1:00pm
2800 First Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98121

Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Covenant Worship Center at Legacy Hall
Meeting Local Start Time: 12:00pm
425 South La Brea Avenue
Inglewood, California 90301
CODEPINK will prepare a performance
10am-11am, will gather at the
CODEPINK office, 2010 Linden Ave

Go to AfterDowningStreet for more.

UPDATE: CODEPINK got the go ahead from Congresswoman Barbara Lee's office to do some tabling at the Oakland event on the 23rd (like we'd be stopped anyway)...come by for some impeachment cobbler and rallying!!

July 16, 2005

The way things should be

Did some grocery shopping with the fam this morning at the Ferry Market in the city. The market's right on the water--shadowed by the Bay Bridge, with Telegraph's wild parrots presiding over the produce .
I'm not sure if it's something uniquely San Francisco (hopefully it's much greater than that), but there's always this amazing, almost palpable sense of community at the market. Everyone shows such deference to one another. Strangers interact warmly, regardless of age or background, without any underlying intolerance. Though the market is populated mostly by lefties, I think eating good food and supporting local farmers is something we can all agree on; bringing the family farm to the city is a concrete way to bridge the cultural divide. The market's also a great place to witness progressive purchasing power, with everyone buying responsibly--a great alternative to WalMartization, and a model for a sustainable future.

July 12, 2005

Durbin almost redeems himself

Though Senator Dick Durbin may have come off as an unprincipled pissant cry baby when he apologized to republicans for his comments on Gitmo, he was definitely on his game while grilling Kenneth "advocacy is a big word" Tomlinson, Chair of the CPB. Now if only he'd stood up to the big guns.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: What was Mr. Mann's expertise? Why did you happen to hire him? According to Senator Dorgan who’s seen the raw date, he was paid thousands of dollars, his data riddled with spelling errors was faxed to you from a Hallmark store in downtown Indianapolis. What is this Mann's background for judging a program like Moyers’s program and whether it’s liberal or not?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: Well, he worked for twenty years for the National Journalism Center, which is a 401(c)(3) organization.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: National Journalism Center?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: National Journalism Center.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: What is that? I don’t --
KENNETH TOMLINSON: But the point of watching it –
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Excuse me, what is the National Journalism Center?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: It’s a center here in Washington that found internships for --
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: And they're straight down the middle of the road, moderate centrist group, right and left?
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Well, I got to get to the basic question here. I won't go through the list of some of Mr. Moyers's more liberal guests -- Frank Gaffney, Grover Norquist, Richard Viguerie, Paul Gigot – on his liberal program --
KENNETH TOMLINSON: It is our experience --
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: But let me ask you this if I can: Did you feel that it was your responsibility or authority to go out and put together the “Wall Street Editorial Page” show and to find subsidy for that? Did you feel that that was your responsibility to do?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: I felt that the law required us to reflect balance in our current affairs programming. I was not the only one involved in encouraging a program that represented a diverse point of view from the Moyers show.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: So following Mr. Moyers’s comments in St. Louis, can we expect you to do the same for The Nation magazine? Are you going to raise $5 million to make sure they have a show?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: I don't see -- I don't see today we have a balance problem. We have a 30-minute show, “Now,” and we have a 30-minute show, The Wall Street Journal. That's balanced. Let the people decide. Balance is common sense.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: But, Mr. Tomlinson, the people, I said at the outset, already decided. They thought that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was presenting balance. And they thought that, you know, they gave it high approval rating. You have perceived a problem here which the American people obviously don't perceive.

July 10, 2005

Fox plays Anchorman

Newsweek has picked up on evidence that Karl Rove was behind the retaliatory outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Try as they might, the wingnuts can't use the old "Newsweek got it wrong" defense on this one (not that they could on the Koran desecration story either) . As for Fox? They've got better news to report--apparently, a panda giving birth in a DC zoo is more important than evidence that the most powerful unelected official in the U.S. committed a federal offense. FoxNews--only you could make Ron Burgundy look like a journalist. How about a nice panda punch in your puss?

Oh, and the White House Press Corps? Sack up and pitch Scotty a curveball. Russell Mokhiber and Helen Thomas are the only ones that would ask any tough questions. But Christ, someone's got to question the puppetmaster's integrity.

July 04, 2005

Peace is patriotic

Reclaim the 4th--declare independence from tyranny.
Bush weenie roast anyone? CODEPINK has got the goods.

And from Common Dreams, an article on progressive patriotism by UCSB's Dick Flacks:
Indeed, throughout the nation' s history, many American radicals and progressive reformers proudly asserted their patriotism. To them, America stood for basic democratic values - economic and social equality, mass participation in politics, free speech and civil liberties, elimination of the second-class citizenship of women and racial minorities, a welcome mat for the world ' s oppressed people. The reality of corporate power, right-wing xenophobia, and social injustice only fueled progressives ' allegiance to these principles and the struggle to achieve them.

July 02, 2005

Chicago Tribune plays lapdog

The Chicago Tribune published an editorial, "About that memo..." on June 29th. The author's stumbled into Bush's alternate universe. In defense of the floundering occupation, or what is deemed "building a representative democratic government for Iraq" (truly representative to its people if built in the interests of another country, eh?) the author struggles to downplay the Downing Street Minutes as mere evidence of government "business as usual," rather than acknowledging it as the smoking gun that it is.

The author is guilty of the same mistakes the media made 3 years ago at the time of the DSM's writing. He still attempts to use 9/11 as justification for the war in Iraq, though Iraq was not the hotbed of terrorism it is now prior to invasion. He take the same defensive stance big media outlets have taken, acting as though objective inquiry and equal time were offered to peace advocates, when papers like the Washington Post and New York Times (both of which were forced to do mea culpas after the invasion) did little more than beat the drums of war.

But hey, if you can't blame the liberal media, there's always the UN--the author tries to place responsibility for the war on the international body, saying they could've stopped the war if it "had been willing to enforce its resolution." The author forgets that the US ignored UN recommendations for further weapons inspection and attacked preemptively.

UN weapons inspector Hans Blix reported in detail on Iraq's failure to cooperate with inspectors. If Iraq had cooperated, it would have defused any U.S. intention to go to war. Iraq did not.

The author neglects another British memo released in the Times after the minutes, showing the Brits scrambling to push a UN ultimatum on Saddam to justify the illegal debacle in which they would be complicit. The UN's involvement is a lame excuse--the administration was determined to override their requests, as they see the institution as little more than a tool subject to nothing more than their own foreign policy decisions.

Tony Blair has acknowledged the authenticity of the memo. If the DSM were not the smoking gun, the media would not be so hard pressed to silence and discount it by regurgitating the party line and passing it off on the body that tried to halt the invasion.