According to a new Harris poll, 68 percent of Americans say they believe there is a civil war in Iraq, compared with 14 percent who disagree. Only 13 percent think new Defense nominee Robert Gates will make the situation in Iraq better, versus 42 percent who think he will make no difference. “About half of those polled would like the government to set a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq, while 18% favor withdrawing all U.S. troops now and 19% favor sending more troops to stabilize the situation.”
The San Diego City Council “voted late Tuesday to ban certain giant retail stores, dealing a blow to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s potential to expand in the nation’s eighth-largest city.”
Also today, WakeUpWalMart released the first ad in its “Hope For The Holidays” campaign. Watch it:
Galen Brown at Sequenza21 has a discussion of the Tower Records issue featuring specific knowledge of the classical music market and, basically, further confirms my lack of concern that classical won’t be able to hack it in the internet age.
“The nine-member US Supreme Court appeared split as it took up the debate over global warming, with rival lawyers arguing whether some greenhouse gas emissions should be regulated.” The AP reports that the Court’s “conservative members seemed to recoil at the idea of government regulation, while their liberal colleagues openly embraced it.” The “pivotal swing vote,” Justice Anthony Kennedy, “did not reveal where he stood.”
UPDATE: More analysis of Kennedy’s role in the case at SCOTUSBlog.
“The Pentagon is developing plans to send four more battalions to Iraq early next year, partly to boost security in Baghdad, defense officials said Wednesday.” The AP reports that the “extra combat engineer battalions of reserves, likely to be sent to Baghdad, would total about 3,500 troops.”
House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made passing critical labor reforms, like raising the minimum wage and enacting the Employee Free Choice Act, a priority for the 110th Congress. To distract from that effort, right-wing media outlets are now engaged in an effort to tar Pelosi as anti-worker.
The conservative claim, initiated by Hoover Institution fellow Peter Schweizer, is that Pelosi and her husband are guilty of hypocrisy over workers’ rights because they own a vineyard in Napa Valley that is non-union. The claim has filtered up through the blogs to Fox News and conservative print outlets like Investor’s Business Daily.
Last night, the ABC News affiliate in San Francisco filed an investigative report that systematically debunks the charge. Watch it:
Here are the key facts:
1) Pelosi treats her workers better than unionized vineyard workers. “The Pelosis pay more than union workers are paid in the same valley — that from the pastor at St. Helena’s Catholic Church, a well known advocate for farm workers who’s involved in labor negotiations with the same labor manager the Pelosis use. … Monsignor Brenkle says the Pelosis pay a $1.25 an hour more than workers at Napa’s biggest union winery. … Of the more than 300 vineyards, fewer than four are union, and most of the farm workers in the Napa Valley get paid better.”
2) Pelosi is prohibited by law from helping her workers unionize. If Pelosi wanted to have union workers, “she could not ask the union for a contract. It’s illegal and has been since 1975.” Marc Grossman of the United Farm Workers Union explains: “It is patently illegal for any grower to even discuss a union contract, which is the only way you can supply union workers, without the workers first having voted in a state conducted secret ballot election.”
An ABC News reporter asked Peter Schweizer “if he had researched those facts before he called Pelosi a hypocrite.” Schweitzer responded, “It’s not my responsibility to go and find out how every single particular circumstance is handled on the Pelosi vineyard.” Why burden yourself with the facts?
“Last week, a couple were threatened with fines of $25 a day by their homeowners’ association unless they removed a four-foot wreath shaped like a peace symbol from the front of their house,” the New York Times reports. “The fines have been dropped, and the three-member board of the association has resigned, according to an e-mail message sent to residents on Monday.”
Andy Rotherham remarks: “I’ve gotten a slew of emails asking why I haven’t written anything about Sunday’s NYT mag piece by Paul Tough. Well, what is there to say? Most important education article written this year.” I wish he would say more — I thought the article raised more questions than it answered. In particular, Tough and his admirers mostly seem to read his conclusion as an optimistic one: here’s how to make school work for poor kids, while it actually makes me incredibly pessimistic.
Let’s take a look at Tough’s conclusion:
Nawaf Obaid, adviser to the Saudi government and managing director of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project in Riyadh and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, speaking strictly for himself says that unless the USA finds a pony in Iraq soon, we’ll be looking at Saudi intervention in the civil war: “Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance — funding, arms and logistical support — that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years.”
As GFR notes this would, in essence, entail Saudi Arabia throwing its lot in with al-Qaeda as a means of fighting Iran and various Shiite groups. Meanwhile, the United States — if we listen to the hawkish right — will be at war with both sides!