Saturday, March 25, 2006

Open letter to Matt Drake


Somebody needs to make a serious run against Chris Daly in District 6 this year, but, based on the material on your web site, you are not the one to do it. Your whole approach is out of focus, starting with the picture of the city on your issues page taken from Alamo Square, which is in District 5.

* Housing: If you have nothing new or interesting to say on a subject, it's better to say nothing at all. What you've said here is worse than saying nothing at all. Yes, we all know we have a shortage of affordable housing. Most of us also know, however, that there is no easy solution to the problem, since the demand has outstripped the supply for years, which makes even market-rate housing too expensive for everybody except the well-off. The least you can say about housing in SF is that there is no shortage of luxury units for the well-off, which is what your opponent facilitated in the Rincon Hill area---more than 3000 luxury condos in residential highrises. What the Rincon Hill projects are going to do to the city is accelerate gentrification, blight the skyline, and actually prevent a genuine neighborhood from ever evolving in that part of town. This is what you should be talking about, not citing Matt Smith's article in the SF Weekly quibbling about how to spend the fees Daly extracted from the developers to mitigate the unmitigatable. Whether these fees go into the general fund or are spent South of Market St. is beside the point. The damage has already been done by permitting this development in the first place. Smith also supports residential highrises in San Francisco, which is not the sort of housing idea that is going to get you elected in District 6. Besides, Daly already has a lock on the pro-highrise vote.

* The marijuana clubs: This is an issue that you could use to differentiate yourself from Daly, who has allowed 19 marijuana clubs to open up in District 6, an appalling fact that you don't even mention.

* The Power Plants in the southeastern part of the city: This is another safe issue that won't help you get elected. Everyone agrees on this. In fact, it is already happening.

* Trees and solar power: Another non-issue. Everyone agrees on this kind of thing in SF. This is motherhood and apple pie territory. Forget it.

* Treasure Island: Yes, the island is going to be developed. The trick is going to be to not allow it to be overdeveloped, which includes again confronting the residential highrise menace, a bad idea whose time, alas, has evidently come for the city.

* The homeless issue: Again, you have nothing new or interesting to say. To beat Daly, you need to line up clearly with Mayor Newsom on this issue, especially since he is actually doing an excellent job on it. It got him elected mayor in the first place. Daly hates the mayor for that very reason, among others.

You don't even mention Daly anywhere on your website. That's not the way you are going to beat him. Daly's volatile, bullying personal demeanor and his ultra-left rhetorical bullshit have to be confronted directly, along with his stands on specific issues. If you can't do that, you won't have a chance of beating him. He won't hesitate to hammer you personally and politically.

Rob Anderson


More anti-war hysteria on the Left

It's the sort of hed one would expect to see in the SF Bay Guardian or Carlos Petroni's ultra-left Frontlines: "American Coup D'Etat: Military Thinkers Discuss the Unthinkable." Except this is on the front page of the April edition of Harper's Magazine! Inside Harper's has a transcript of a dialogue among a panel of military intellectuals: Andrew Bacevich, Brig. Gen. Charles Dunlap, Richard Kohn, Edward Luttwak, and moderator Bill Wasik, an editor at Harper's, who gathered the panelists to discuss the possibility of a military coup in the US. To their credit, the panelists all denigrate the likelihood of a military coup. So why waste the valuable pages of a serious monthly magazine on this bullshit? 

Lewis Lapham, longtime editor of Harper's, has been vociferously againt the war in Iraq from the beginning, and the feature may reflect his bias. But the coup idea is a preposterous notion and yet another indication---along with the impeachment fantasy and Senator Feingold's censure idea---that the country's anti-war intellectuals are coming unglued. In any event, as the panelists point out, it's not a matter of the country's military becoming enamored of the idea of taking control of the US, but, rather, the militarization of the minds of the country's civilian leadership that should be a more serious concern.
On the other hand, in the same edition Lapham himself has an excellent piece on the recent cartoon riots staged by the Islamic fascists: 

Here was a coordinated attack on the freedoms of thought and expression fundamental to the existence of a liberal society and the workings of democratic government, and where were the public voices willing to say so? On sabbatical or leave of absence, mumbling apologies, sending their regrets. 

Yes, and the same was true of the local media---with the honorable exceptions of the SF Chronicle and the online chat room, The Wall---as I pointed out in a recent post.

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