Author Archives: gdewar

Japan Invents a “Shut Up” Gun and I Want One NOW….

shutupgun.jpgGod bless The Awl. Without this in my RSS reader I might have missed out on the news that scientists in Japan have invented what is informally called a “shut up gun” – a device to silence people who talk.
Using the same effect when you talk into a cell phone that relays back your own voice on a delay, only on a larger scale, it’s fairly effective at, well, shutting people up.
I can think of about a million uses for this in San Francisco, and when these become available, I’m buying one. Muni, Supervisors, Mayor, annoying people on the street (to start) : consider yourself warned.

Interesting Quote from the PBS Documentary on President Bill Clinton

While watching the second half of PBS’s documentary on the Clinton years, this line popped a bit. Seems relevant to just about anyone in politics:

“You can never blame your enemies for doing what your enemies will predictably do.
You can only blame yourself for what you’ve given your enemies.
If you have given them absolutely nothing, guess what they’re going to be able to do?

-Lawrence O’Donnell, from the American Experience documentary on Bill Clinton

A Modest Proposal for Campaign 2013-Onward: End Public Subsidies for Partisan Primaries

Regardless of what political party you may belong to, one cannot escape the conclusion that “primary” elections, particularly at the national level, have been devolving into epic, money-fueled “sh*tstorms” for the last few decades. Every year it’s the same thing – a few small states suddenly become “important” for a few weeks, other states play games moving their primaries to be important, some states still have party caucuses and so on.
It’s hard to believe that it really wasn’t that long ago when primaries were not the main method of selection for delegates to the national party conventions – much less choose in advance who said nominee would be. I’ll skip a long history lesson and simply say this – it’s time to ask if primary elections are effective anymore in a post-partisan era, and more importantly, why cash-strapped states should be forced to pay for what is essentially an exercise by private entities to decide matters related mostly to internal governance.
Having lived in a caucus state in the past, I can tell you that while party caucuses can be a bundle of crazy in and of themselves, they do attract people who are genuinely interested in what’s going on, and supporting a certain candidate or political ideal. In the last few presidential years, participation has increased in caucus states, and I believe even more people would attend if they simply knew where to go (in this example I’m excluding Iowa for obvious reasons).
More importantly, people of a particular party should be the ones to decide their nominees – not lazy sometime voters who only vote based on junk mailers and obnoxious Super PAC TV ads. If they want to let in non-members that’s the party’s choice – but again, I don’t see why the taxpayers need to pay for it (and in the case of caucuses, they do NOT since it’s a party function. Heck Iowa’s GOP makes money off their straw poll!).
But beyond that, regardless of how parties want to conduct themselves, I still have yet to hear a solid answer as to why the state needs to spend millions to conduct an election that’s really just a private organization’s decisionmaking apparatus.
If a party wants to have us use county and state resources so they can have a poll about who they’re supporting as their presidential nominee (or whatever), they can simply raise the big time cash they raise anyway, and write a check to pay the costs. So to be clear – I don’t necessarily want to abandon them altogether – but the subsidy has to be reconsidered.
Heck, why not open up the voting booth to any private group that wants to poll their members? Maybe this is a money maker counties and states are passing up?
Seriously, it’s time to end the public funding of these moneybombed storms of tv ads, mailers, and more. It’s fine if the Democrats and the Republicans want to have their fistfights and their precious primary elections – they can simply reimburse the taxpayers so it’s one less burden on us when we really can’t afford it anymore.

A Modest Proposal for Campaign 2012: Signed Pledges to Serve Full Terms in Office!

This year we have a lot of elections this year – everything from President down to Supervisor here in SF. You can expect the usual avalanche of junk mail, advertising, and whatnot everywhere you go. Today I’m making a modest proposal for Campaign 2012 focused on our local elections – a signed pledge by every candidate running for Supervisor in San Francisco stating that they intend to actually serve the full term of the office they claim to be seeking in 2012.
This may seem superfluous, but look back to just last year. We had several candidates for office who got elected in 2008 saying they wanted to serve as Supervisor or in some other capacity, but within a few years were spending most of their time running for Mayor. Not only did this mean they spent a lot of time not doing the job they were elected to do (and well paid for) but also spent taxpayer money to get that other big job.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people who are filling our boxes with junk mail and ads saying how they’re going to do all sorts of wonderful things as Supervisor to sign a pledge saying that they will actually do said job.
Obviously there’s nothing legal binding anyone to said agreement, but anyone breaking it sure would look shady, that’s for sure. Likewise, those who did honor it would restore some integrity to CIty Hall.
Here’s a suggested pledge:

I (state your name) am running for Supervisor in 2012. If elected by the voters of my district, I hearby pledge to serve the entire term in office.
I will not run for higher office during my term, nor will I raise money to run for another office during my term.
I will serve the people of San Francisco to the best of my abilities and will stay at City Hall during my four year term.
SIgned (state your name)

It’d be curious to see if anyone signed this pledge. I certainly would like to know if I vote for someone or volunteer on their campaign that they’d actually follow through, and not just use City Hall as a campaign office for another gig.
If you have suggestions for this proposed pledge, leave a comment in the section below. Thanks!

Why Is The Inner Sunset SF’s Perennially Politically Abused Neighborhood?

Here we go again.
As you may or may not know, after every census, legislative districts at all levels are redrawn to better reflect a growing and/or shifting population. Other times it’s to reflect the decline in population of an area. No matter what, how those districts are drawn are important, especially in a city like San Francisco. However, once again, it seems the Powers That Be at the Redistricting Task Force want to once again gerrymander the Hell out of the Inner Sunset neighborhood at the Board of Supervisors.
For ten years a strip of the Inner Sunset was tacked on to the former District 5, which was represented by Matt Gonzalez, and later Ross MIrkarimi. From what I’ve been told, this was a way to “ensure” the district was progressive. Never mind the fact that it created a strange division in a neighborhood, or disempowered community activists – it was serving the “Progressive” needs that came first. Whenever local leaders wanted to organize an event with local Supervisors, they had to find a time when both Supervisors Elsbernd and Mirkarimi could attend, since both represented the area. I remember moving literally across the street and down a block and finding myself in another district.
The proposed changes make things worse. Now, it’s proposed we divide the neighborhood into three districts. I’ve posted a zoom in view of the map, but you can go to the Redistricting Task Force websiteFour Corners (but with three districts!) as you step from one to the other.
The Inner Sunset has traditionally been identified as a westside neighborhood, and its interests align themselves with other contiguous neighborhoods. The political gerrymandering of this area to serve shallow interests that could care less about our neighborhood has to stop. I would hope that some adults would intervene and make some changes. In the meantime, email the commission and the politicals at City Hall and let them know you’re tired of seeing our neighborhood cut to pieces to serve the politicians’ needs, not ours.

OccupySF Continues to Disappoint. Maybe It Should be Called CampingSF Instead?

occupysflogo.jpgWTF, OccupySF?
Seriously. First I read this story where the “brave” Occupy Army went and harassed a locally owned business based on totally false information that made them look like complete idiots. Wow! Way to show solidarity with the 99%, gang! What’s next, beating up hot dog vendors in the Mission?
Second, I read a story in the Chronicle about the increasing number of homeless kids in SF public schools. (the story doesn’t mention the number of kids who may have a roof over their head, but still live in poverty). This, in a city of billionaires and innovation? Really? Even worse, these kids have to compete against kids in wealthy suburbs (who have all the advantages necessary) on standardized tests. You’d think that would inspire some direct action, perhaps at a billionaire party, or a corrupt fundraiser for the “Mayor” or one for Supervisors, or for anyone in the Political Establishment? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
Instead, there’s just more infighting about whether to camp in the Mission, or whatever. Fortunately, the disorganization at City Hall is about the same at OccupyCampingSF, so no raids are forthcoming. Thank goodness the camping can continue.
I don’t disagree with some of the points the Occupy movement is supposed to be making – it’s a sick world we live in whereby profitable banks like Wells Fargo are getting huge tax rebates (and bailouts from taxpayers) and meanwhile I’m fighting off illegal charges to my dead dad’s estate by similar banks and the like, charged in the hopes I’m either too dumb or too frustrated to fight them. It’s even more frustrating to see needed projects get held up in bureaucratic limbo – but a stadium for billionaires gets a pass on CEQA and a billionare yacht race is being subsidized by a broke city.
Unfortunately once you leave echo chambers like blogs and IndyBay and other said media, the message ain’t getting through to the people who really are part of the true 99%. Anecdote: During the holidays I was at a suburban pizza place and the news was on some of the TVs. When the latest footage of Camping SF came on, I couldn’t help but overhear comments by folks, most of whom wrote the whole thing off as a bunch of kids playing protester. However, these people are also folks who are getting screwed over by a tax burden shifted from the wealthy to the 99%, who are paying more in taxes and getting less in services, and so on. They should be joining the movement (if they do in fact feel it’s in their interests) but they won’t because who wants to be around a bunch of smelly protesters bent on God Knows What?
In the end, this is becoming a clusterf*ck on all sides, and like most “protests” on the left, will go nowhere. That’s too bad , because another loud, unruly lot, the Tea Party folks, have practically “occupied” the GOP to the point where a joker like Herman Cain was considered a real candidate for President.
WTF, indeed.

#Occupy is No Longer About Important Issues We Need To Deal With, It’s About Camping

occupysflogo.jpg(This is an expanded version of a post I did earlier this week.)
The #Occupy movement, be it in San Francisco, Oakland or elsewhere insists on having “no leaders” to distinguish themselves from The Man, Wall Street, etc. That’s lovely. However, this leaderless movement has created an unintended consequence: we’re no longer talking about issues of economic inequality, democracy, corporate accountability or other Really Big Problems, and how to fix them.
Instead, we’re mostly talking about a movement centered on camping in parks.
While there’s a core group of people who are committed to an Actual Cause, there’s a growing part of the encampments that are only about people wanting to camp in parks and be allowed to do whatever they want, laws and civility and cleanliness be damned.
Mike Aldax’s day with #occupysf made this clear – and that the growth of the “camp” has less to do with people working to bring up issues, and more to do with transients taking advantage of the situation for their own selfish needs (drugs, booze, etc.) Needless to say, this isn’t doing much to expand the people involved to include more of the Actual 99% they claim to represent.
I support the Occupy movement bringing up their issues and forcing people to confront what they’ve been in denial about, but it’s time to apply some creativity. We don’t have to have people camping in crappy tents in a park to continue to force local and national government to deal with the issues mentioned above. They also need to do some (gasp!) self-policing and tell those who are there to cause trouble to fuck off, and work with the police to keep the peace if they want to keep claiming the moral high ground.
The “shock and awe” movement of the initial Occupy movement is over – its time for Act II. Be creative. Don’t repeat the past like a Civil War re-enactment (looking at you, 21st century hippies). Blow minds, not with your funk, but with something that really shows why financial abuses by the few at the top harm the many, and why we who aren’t hipsters, hippies, or Those Not Part of the Left should give a damn.
Oh, and that “human microphone” thing? Cute, but the joke’s over. At this point it just sounds like a Protestant church overrun by angry white kids.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s some additional insight from those who’ve seen this all before, and make some suggestions, which of course will be ignored by Occupy.
Final thought: How many of ‘em went to vote in the SF Mayoral election, where LITERALLY the “1%” bankrolled a campaign to protect their tax breaks and elect our “Mayor” ?
Oh, right. They were at the camp site.

Why I Like #OccupySF but Don’t Like the Symbolic Resolution A Certain Candidate for Mayor Proposes

I’ve made no secret in the past that I am a true “law and order” kind of guy, in that I believe both the state and the people need to abide by rules, created by the people, and enforced by the state, to ensure than tyranny by the mob does not rule.
That said, I don’t disagree with most of what the #occupysf folks are out there for. Even as a capitalist who technically should be on the side of those shi*tty big banks who bankrupted the world economy, I cannot abide by them. That is because at heart, I am a true capitalist, and I think those who manipulate government to allow for so-called “investments” that would not meet the standards of the shadiest Las Vegas Casino, much less what the SEC should allow, need to seriously STFU. Also, those shithead “banks” are fucking over real capitalists and have shit interest rates. So, yes, the #occupysf movement is making a point, and if it means some days in the park, whatever.
Today, however I talk about talk vs. action. In San Francisco we have a member of our Board of Supervisors (A county legislator for the rest of you outside our fair City and County, a unique blend of government in California), who is trying to ride the #occupy movemenet to City Hall as Mayor. That is his right, of course, but what I find offensive is the use of the most impotent weapon out there: the Non Binding Resolution.
What this means to you, the #occupy supporter in San Francsico, and to the millions of you outside of San Francisco who are ticked off at income inequality and at a political system that makes money #1 and the people #230002893203020320302 is that despite all the heat and light discussed tomorrow, at the Board of Supervisors meeting is that, no matter what, not a goddamned thing will change.
Yes, you’ll have a nice piece of paper with the City’s name on it supporting La Causa. A failed candidate for Mayor will have something to slap on some cheap dead tree in the last 7 days of the race. The Temp Mayor, who is truly the mayor of the 1% will have to either go nuclear in his response or save it for November 9th, post election. In the end, the “politics of feelings” will have won and a chance at stopping the localized version of corruption will be swept away, a la Oakland last week.
There is another option.
That option is to tell all the self-serving politicians who show up and talk liberal platitiudes at #occupysf and tell them to fuck the Hell off unless they do the following:
-They renounce Ed Lee, a puppet of the corporations who is doing what he is told and is well paid to do so
-They renounce things like a billionaire yacht race that gives away the City to the Billionaire 1% while they pay not a dime, all in the promise of “trickle down economics”
-They stop giving billionaires like Sean Parker tax breaks, while small businesses in our neighborhoods shutter because they can’t make payroll.
-They stop supporting a plan that kills public transit for the pathetic needs of a few so-called “non profits” and steers money away from the N-Judah, the 5-Fulton, the 38-Geary, the L-Taraval, the M-Ocean View and more.
It’s up to you #OccupySF and up to you, Liberal San Francisco. Don’t be bullshitted by dead tree mail or empty actions. It’s the votes that count and if after 10+ years of So-Called Progressives running the legislative branch of City government you can’t stop it?
It’s time to admit you lose.
And you and John Avalos can take your “symbolic resolution” to the nearest impotence clinic, as that is the best it will be.

Approve of Occupy Oakland? Don’t Approve? Either Way, Jean Quan F*cked Up

Whether you support Occupy Oakland or if you think they should not be at Ogawa Plaza at night, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: “Mayor” Jean Quan is a complete f*ck up. Her lack of leadership, lack of accountability, and past failures regarding public safety came to a head and the result is that now people worldwide know just how much Oakland sucks.
Listening to Jean Quan’s babbling at the press conference, it was clear she was in way over her head, and resorted to invoking Bil Keane’s “Not Me” as often as she could. Apparently Ms. Quan (the same “Mayor” who can’t be bothered to maintain her home) had plenty of excuses, but never once said “the buck stops here” the way a real leader would.
Quan has never had a strong record on public safety to begin with, firing lots of Oakland police officers (only to have to re hire many once the crime rate soared) and the epidemic of violence plaguing the city, particularly African American citizens, has never been a priority for Quan to begin with. Heck one of her top advisors is a pro-criminal attorney (who, in an ironic twist, will represent protestors from Occupy Oakland).
Now, she’s found a new way to piss off everyone. For those who wanted the protestors out of the plaza at night, as per “the rules” she has failed miserably. The heavy handed response (which included critical wounding of an Iraq war vet) was way out of proportion, and inflamed the situation. Now, we have more people in the park, tensions are higher, and in response, last night Quan decided to let the protestors stay.
In other words, she was for beating them down before being against it. One day it’s a threat to the Republic if the protestors stay past 10pm, the next it’s peachy keen. What the f*ck? No matter which side you’re on, we can all agree that this isn’t how to run a city.
Quan’s non-management had an impact far beyond Oakland, however. Any plans by the SFPD to clear out the encampment at Justin Herman Plaza went out the window, because the last thing Temporary Mayor Lee’s political advisors were going to do was allow him to pour more gas on Quan’s flames. More importatnly, the images of Oakland went worldwide, and today we have people marching all over the world, protesting Quan’s incomptence and mishandling of a delicate situation.
Finally, a word about the ranked choice system that gave us Jean Quan in the Mayor’s office: it sucks. She never had much support, her election was due to a flawed system, and now, thanks to that, we have a so-called “mayor” who isn’t up to the job, and has no support.
One wonders what will happen on Election Day in SF as voters are subjected to this bullshit system and who might end up as Mayor. No matter what happens in November, I predict we in SF will show once again why we’re better than Oakland, and send RCV to the dustbin of history so we avoid the potential of a Jean Quan in office here at home.
UPDATE: Now Ms. Quan has completely capitulated to OccupyOakland. So basically all the violence and cracking veteran’s skulls were totally unecessary. She’s now pissed off everyone at City Hall and everyone at OccupyOakland because, well, she has no idea what the f*ck she’s doing. Time to resign, Jean, you’re just not up to the job.
Also, if you’d like to help out Scott Olsen, the vet critically injured by Quan’s indecisive “leadership, here’s a link to some resources so you can get involved.

Campaign 2011: Vote NO on LEE

we3n.pngSo far this election season has been one of the most depressing ones we’ve had in a while. At a time when San Franciscans have a chance to change our City and make things better, we’ve seen the full force of political corruption joining with corporate/plutocrat funded media to rig this election as much as possible.
It’s bad enough that Temporary Mayor Ed Lee has proven to be a liar, and to be a corrupt, arrogant “business as usual” politician, but it’s worse when we see the lamestream media pimp a candidate like the Chronicle and the Bay Citizen, to name a few, have this year. The print journalism people wonder why it is that they’re going the way of the dinosaur – perhaps their corruption is just too much for readers to take.
As for the charity-funded “media” – their days are numbered when the wealthy find a new fad to invest in, but in the meantime have provided some of the most biased news in town, so bad it would make even the political pamphlet known as the Bay Guardian blush
However, thanks to the bullshit voting system known as Ranked Choice Voting (or whatever the f*ck it’s called now), things get even blurrier. Because one has to vote for three candidates, you can bet that many people will end up putting St. Ed Lee on their ballot somewhere. This will do more to help him than anything else, because under ranked choice voting, if you put the front runner ANYWHERE on your ballot, you’re more likely to help them, even if they aren’t your first choice.
Yes, that’s right. I am hoping we abolish this system after this election and send it back to the east coast lefties who sold us this snake oil, and we can go back to honest elections.
In the meantime there is one solution to the corruption at City Hall – vote for ANYONE but ED LEE. Vote for whomever you want, but for the love of God and City, don’t put this thug’s name anywhere on your ballot.
If you’re wondering who to vote for, three reformers come to mind: Public Defender Jeff Adachi, an effective administrator, author, businessman and filmmaker, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, an effective reformer who fought for gay marriage and is against the Central Subway to Hell, and Assessor Phil Ting, who’s trying to run a campaign not based on lies, but instead asking voters to help create solutions at City Hall.
These are just a few, but whatever you do, vote for ANYONE BUT ED LEE. We can’t afford another four years of corruption and lies and Willie Clown Brown and his minions.
Artwork created by Eric of Baghdad By the Bay.