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Based on a career (mis)spent in American politics, I debunk politicos, pundits and spinners, usually with a dose of humor to make it fun.

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May 12, 2014

Suggestions Regarding the June Primary in California and San Francisco For Your Review

People keep asking me "hey, who are you voting for in the June 3rd Primary" almost every day, it seems. Well maybe not, but when there's an election without a lot on the line (unless you live in AD 17 where the Chiu/Campos slugfest is clogging your mailbox with BS), I do hear this more often than not.

So without any further ado, here are my humble opinions on the ballot we're stuck with for June 3rd. Remember - for partisan offices, we now send the 2 candidates who receive the most votes in the primary - regardless of party.

This means that in places like San Francisco, which have an overwhelming number of voters registered Democratic and Decline to State, you could wind up with two Democrats vying for a job in Sacramento and no other parties represented. The same goes for heavily Republican areas that may wind up with two GOP candidates on the ballot, slugging it out.

Is this a smart idea or not? Personally I'm not sure, but if nothing else it ensures that political consultants who operate in areas dominated by one party have a job, no matter what, after June 2nd, so if nothing else this creates jobs, so, awesome.

Statewide Offices:

Governor: Jerry Brown. It's the first time in ages we've had an adult in charge of California. That is all.

Lt. Governor: @darth on Twitter. The current LG has made no secret he hates his do-nothing job, he never shows up to work, and spends most of his time mouthing off at the Adult in Charge (Gov. Brown). At least @darth could tell better jokes on the gov't dime, and he'd get a nice pension out of it.

Secretary of State: This is an "open" seat, as the incumbent is termed out. You can vote for Uncle Leland if you wanted (even though he's been busted by the feds). This is a tough call: I ended up voting for Alex Padilla, but I also like David Cressman because he's a reform minded guy. Either one would be fine.

Controller: This office does a lot of Important Things, but the one that most people care about the most is the Office of Unclaimed Property. The current officeholder is termed out, so basically the question is: who will ensure that money you're owed goes to you quickly, easily and legally.

Despite my years in the political business, etc, I honestly didn't know who to vote for. The only candidates I'd really heard of were Betty Yee (Current Board of Equalization member) and John Perez (former Speaker of the Assembly for a few years). I think I flipped a coin between the two.

Treasurer: This is a no brainer - John Chiang (the former Controller). Why? Because he did a really good job streamlining the aforementioned Office of Unclaimed Property. Having had significant dealings with this office, I can say the guy made it a lot easier and quicker to get back the money the gov't has that's legally yours. So yeah, move this guy over to the Treasurer's office, and let's see what he fixes there.

Attorney General: It sometimes feels like the other parties are phoning it in, because when a major party has as one of its potential nominees Orly Taitz, a wackadoodle from the Internet, you have to wonder. I voted for incumbent Kamala Harris because she's going to win anyways, so why fight it?

Insurance Commissioner: This is one of the few times where you can vote for someone and actually feel good about it. Incumbent Dave Jones has been one of the few people who got elected to a statewide office because they wanted the job AND wanted to do some good.

Board of Equalization, District 2: I like Fiona Ma, but it seems like all she's done for the last 12 years is run for one office after another, always looking to the next Government Gig while in office. I left this one blank. Shoulda written in someone.

Statewide Ballot Measures:

Proposition 41: This is a bond measure (aka borrowed money) for a measure to help with housing and homeless services for veterans. While I'm not a fan of voting for every single bond ever (since this bites us all in the ass when the massive interest is paid back), are you REALLY going to vote no on something for veterans? I voted Yes.

Proposition 42: I'm not sure why we have to vote on something this arcane as the enforcement of rules regarding public meetings etc., but when I read who is for it (State Sen. Mark Leno, among others) and read who was against it (one of these conspiracy nuts who things that a bus line is a tool of Satan), well it's clear that one should vote YES.

State Assembly - San Francisco Districts

State Assembly, District 17: I don't have a dog in this fight because I don't live in the district. Two SF Supervisors who ran for re-election in 2012, but somehow didn't like their jobs enough to serve out a full term are running: David Campos and David Chiu. This could result in a classic Democrat-on-Democrat fistfight in the fall if they both prevail. Either way if one of these people gets elected, Mayor Lee will appoint their replacement, so keep that in mind, regardless of your political leanings.

If I lived in this district I'd write in myself or something, because neither one really should be getting a promotion since they more or less lied when they ran for re-election. If you really want to take this seriously, why not vote for Chiu - at least he can work with an all-Southern California based leadership in the Legislature. Campos is running primarily to increase his pay or something, and will just be a grandstander like he did here in SF.

State Assembly, District 19: Vote for me. Yes, me. Write my name in. That is all.

Look I like Phil Ting and he's a nice enough person, but his advocacy to rename the Bay Bridge after Willie Freakin' Brown means I can't vote for him this time around. He's going to win anyways, so a few write in votes for me won't hurt. Plus in some weird twist of fate I'd win, let's just say I'd take the term "disrupt" to a whole new level in Sacramento.

US House - San Francisco

US House, District 12: Due to redistricting, all of San Francisco is now in one district, currently represented by Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Now, I like Mrs. Pelosi, and she's had a long career in the House, but the sad truth is the likelihood of her EVER becoming Speaker again is slim to none. There's plenty of reasons for this, some in her control, and some not. I raise this only because if things continue with the wackadoodles running the House as is, this isn't going to end well for anyone and someone(s) need to be held accountable for this constant Democrat Fail we have on the House side of things.

I ended up voting for Pelosi only because there's no one else with a real campaign to challenge her, but I did so knowing what's going to happen in November. If you're really upset about things like drones or whatever, then vote for Barry Hermanson. He is a nice guy and presses all the right lefty buttons, but he is also a perennial candidate, so don't expect an October Surprise if he makes it to the finals in November.

San Francisco Ballot Measures

Proposition A: I voted "No" because it's not clear from the Voter Guide how much the cost of this bond (aka borrowed money) would be passed on to renters. I'm sure it's a good thing, and like, every person at City Hall endorsed it, but that also makes me a bit suspicious.

Proposition B: If the Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions, then San Francisco is covered in cement and said Good Intentions. This is one of those well-meaning ballot measures (hey! let voters vote on every single thing ever near the water!) that has a lot of Unintended Consequences. Plus, the people behind it aren't being truthful about their intentions. So, vote NO.

Put it another way: would you want that howler monkey colony known as the SFGate comments section micromanaging development in San Francisco? HELL NO, VOTE NO.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to also make a pitch for a friend of mine in Washington State who is running for their state House of Representatives in a suburban district south of Seattle. His name is Mike Sando, and he's running for an open seat in the 33rd District up there. He's a parent, a teacher & coach, a labor leader, and serves on the Enumclaw City Council, and worked in the Legislature for many years, so he knows how to actually Get Things Done in Olympia, and won't need training wheels his first year in office.

I've known him for 20 years and know him to be a good guy, and that's rare in politics these days.. You can read more about him at his Facebook page and if you are so inclined, send him a few dollars. House races in Washington state don't cost a lot so even a donation of $20-$100 helps out a lot.

March 6, 2014

If Anything Interesting Happens at the California Democratic Convention in LA, I'll Let You Know...

I'm attending the California Democratic Convention in Los Angeles this weekend. It's unclear how much actually "news" or Democrat-on-Democrat political fighting will occur, but if anything fun happens I'll let you know.

You can follow me on Twitter at my main account, @njudah where I'll hashtag the relevant entries with #cadem2014. If anything warrants a longer form post, I'll post here from some hotel computer. It should provide for at least some entertainment, if nothing else.

I've been going to most of these things since 2003, depending on where they're located, and often I find just talking to the various people working behind the scenes, I learn a bit more than just what makes the daily news. Thus, I'll pass along any interesting details, should they pop up!

July 14, 2011

Just How DO Paid Signature Gatherers Get Paid?

Today's Chronicle had a report that signature gatherers for Public Defender Jeff Adachi's pension reform measure were "caught on camera" saying things to voters that were "misleading." After checking out, all I can say is that if anyone thinks they found a smoking gun, they may not be aware of a) how words can be twisted and b) how paid signature gathering works.

First, the words: many canvassers in the video were saying things like "if you want to prevent night time parking meters sign this petition." It is very correct that the petition says nothing about it, but at the same time, it would be almost impossible to prosecute. That's because if city pensions begin to dominate city spending, why yes, one could reasonably infer that "nighttime parking meters (WTF?) could in fact be a response to said financial crisis.

So could a tax on unicorn horns. You see where this is going.

Also, those that point the finger should be darn sure none of their folks pulled any similar weasel word stunts too - these things can backfire spectacularly if you're not on solid ground.

I avoid signing petitions at all costs, unless it is for something that I've heard of that is sponsored by people I trust. I think people in San Francisco would be doing themselves a favor by not signing these things based on some emotional chatter they get from some fool collecting signatures. It sucks, because many good things are put on the ballot this way, but I think we need to thin the herd on ballot measures for a while.

Second, the methods. When the press talks about paid signature gatherers, they'll usually do their research and find out how much they're paying per signature. In California it can be as high as $6 a signature. The question is - did the hippie in front of Safeway who asked you to sign a petition get $6 for your signature? Probably not.

Campaigns usually hire a professional firm to gather signatures for a ballot measure (local or state). That company will then hire contract workers who then go out and get the signatures. However, these sub-contractors don't simply go out with a stack of clipboards and start earning $6 per signature. Instead, they go out and hire another series of sub-contractors, and pay them a percentage of the $6. In some cases those sub contractors might even hire another level of folks, but that is rare.

Let's make it simpler: Campaign Signature Company "A" hires contractor "Elvis" to get signatures at $6 each. "Elvis" then hires a crew of 10 people to get signatures, but pays them only $3 each. This means that 10 people are being managed by "Elvis" bringing in signatures, who is getting $3 each and isn't actually out there doing anything - he is instead managing a crew of 10. Any one of those could take a dollar less and sub out the work themselves too, if they wanted. In the end, "Elvis" is going to make more money farming out the work to 10 people, each armed with 4 clipboards a piece, than he ever would alone getting the full $6.

Most of the people who do this are pros who follow the action wherever it goes, similar to those who once followed the Grateful Dead back in the day. They may or may not be from the jurisdiction and in almost all cases are simply trying to play a numbers game, racking up as many signatures as they can. Needless to say, these aren't people who know or care much about what the petition is for, so it's easy to see where the incentive is to make up stuff just to get people's signatures.

A bill to regulate the signature mills made its way through the state Senate. Predictably it was all on party-line votes - Democrats wanted it regulated to prevent fraud, while Republicans want to ensure that money buys access to the ballot.

One thing you can do right away is if approached to sign something is to ask if they are paid or not. Under the law, they have to tell you and it must be printed on the petition.

Either way, take the time to read the fine print before you sign. Just because something is called "The Kittens Puppies and Rainbows Initiative to Save The Children" doesn't mean it's so.

September 15, 2010

What Could YOU Buy with $119,000,000? Let's Start Counting The Ways....

It was reported in the news today that Meg Whitman, the rich lady trying to buy her way into the Governor's (non) mansion in Sacramento, has now spent $119,000,000 on her campaign to date, outspending billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York City.

While this has been a great private stimulus for the television stations, radio stations and commercial creators and the junk mail printers, it hasn't resulted in a landslide of support for Ms. Whitman just yet.

For fun, I was wondering what you could buy for $119,000,000. This was the result from an hour on The Google. Let's read on and see....and feel free to contribute your own ideas in the comments:

-$119,000,000 would fund the "Great Green Wall" that is designed to re-forest North Africa and prevent the spread of desert out there. (by the way, Bill Gates donated the $119,000,000 in this case)

-$119,000,000 would allow you to buy 119,000,000 copies of the Bible, in Kindle format. Or, 19,833,333 copies at 6 bucks a pop in print via Amazon.com (taxes and shipping not included).

-$119,000,000 would also buy you 7,933,333 copies of Atlas Shrugged in paperback format at (about) $15 each.

-$119,000,000 would cover the estimated loss of productivity created by Google's "Pac Man" logo. Surely you recall this excellent lunch break entertainment, yes?

-$119,000,000 would cover the cost of about 23,800,000 Alice Waters approved "healthy" school lunches. This was calculated by taking the cost the Berkeley Unified School District is spending now at their pilot program ($4.85) and rounding up to $5. Hey, let's not be cheap-asses - won't someone please think of the children??

If eating Belgian endive and organic food isn't your thing, you could buy 39,666,666 McDonalds Happy Meals at $3 each. And don't forget - that's still healthier than some of the crap schools serve nowadays.

-$119,000,000 could pay for 1,492 police officers paid at the low end of the San Francisco Police Department's pay scale (one of the best paid police forces in the United States.) Or, pay 'em half, double the number, and send them to "guard the border" instead? Or, perhaps send them to where crimes are committed, maybe? Hmm?

-$119,000,000 would buy 9916666 doses of the adult influenza vaccine at $12 a dose. Let's hope that anyone buying that many gets the group discount.

-$119,000,000 would buy 23,800 Glock 17 9mm pistols, presumably for our friends in law enforcement. At about $500 each, that's not a bad deal. (Although, or the record, I'm not entirely sure if most police officers use a Glock 17 or another model, this is based on some quick Googling).

-$119,000,000 would pay a year's college costs at a private institution in California for 2,644 students. Or pay for 4047 students at a UC school. Or pay for 5724 students at CSU. (Costs obtained from CaliforniaColleges.edu ). Or forget about tuition, etc. - build a college and call it Meg Whitman University!

-$119,000,000 could buy 1,700,000 "72 hour" disaster relief kits, complete with MREs, water, etc at $70 each. That might be pricey for disaster relief, perhaps? Again, buying in bulk usually gets you a better deal. In a disaster prone state like California, might that buy more goodwill than a bunch of stupid TV ads that ruin football?

Anyway, this was all back-of-the-envelope calculations after about 90 minutes on Google. Got any better ones? Feel free to enter them in the comments below.

June 30, 2010

Political Parlor Tricks: Fundraising Reporting Fun!

Right about now, just about anyone running for office, from Mosquito Abatement District Commissioner to Governor is sending out pleas on Twitter, Facebook, email, smoke signal, etc. begging for money. You see, we're hitting up against a "reporting deadline" whereby after today, most candidates will have to account for money raised and spent up to this point. Hence the e-begging and so on.

The Press, as usual, will peruse these, and based on how much money is reported, will declare who is a "viable" candidate. Predictable, yes. Accurate? Not necessarily.

That's because virtually every campaign (with the exception of those run by vain plutocrats) plays a little game with the reports. What they'll do is often ask staff to hold off being paid, or find vendors willing to wait a day past the deadline to get their bills paid. Why, you ask? Simple. By not showing that money as being spent they can show it as "cash on hand." Then, when The Press reports how much "money" they have, it looks like they have more than they really do. Trust me when I say this goes on way more than you might think.

It's a cheap trick, kinda like using wide ruled paper to make your report in school look longer than it is, or bumping up a font on that term paper. However, it is a tried and true way to make you look good, and The Press always falls for it. They can't help it - the next reports won't be filed for months.

Quarterly reports and the like are so 20th century. Instead, if people want to do public disclosure of money raised and spent, they should be filed electronically every week, and put online within days, and that way this kind of nonsense ends. More importantly, if you wanna drill down and see who is getting money from who, and whom they might be spending it on (vendors, consultants, pollsters, ad agencies, etc.) you'd find out a lot sooner.

As it stands, "disclosure" just means more money for the specialty lawyers and accountants who can deal with this bureaucracy legally, while the voter remains uninformed.

San Francisco has some unique twists on this, especially regarding spending limits, public financing, and so on, but that gets its own blog post.

June 1, 2010

The Disinfo Rehab Guide To the Worst Primary Election Ever

mckay1970s.jpgThis Democratic Primary hast to be the worst yet, because we have a lot of no-names running for office, super low turnout projected, some truly goofy candidates, and a lot of other things to vote on because people with a lot of money put 'em on the ballot. Meanwhile our state is literally falling apart. THIS is the best we can do?

It's all a big mess, so I've put together a list of things I voted for which you can use or not use, your choice. In many cases I'm leaving my ballot blank or writing in candidates. This is especially true for "unopposed" candidates - hey, unopposed incumbents, you're all wonderful people, but what's the point of voting in a race with only one candidate?

So, here goes:

Governor: If AG Brown's challenger had started up their efforts last year, instead of last month, this might have been an interesting race, especially after Gavin Newsom went down in flames like the Hindenburg on crack. But he didn't, so former Governor, Mayor, Secretary of State, Community College Trustee and Attorney General Jerry Brown gets the vote. Still, it would have been nice to have a real race, to help strengthen the eventual nominee.

Lt. Governor: F*ck this Peter Principle crap. "Mayor" Gavin Newsom has been about as useful as a football bat and as honest as a BP oil executive. The last thing we need is to give him a promotion so he can act like more of an insufferable bigshot. Vote for Janice Hahn - she seems like a nice person (So nice she hasn't really used the treasure trove of info against Newsom that much) and her dad was a cool Mayor in the 60s. More importantly, in a general election, you can bet the Republicans will use his record to engage in a political beating that in all likelihood will result in violations of the Geneva Convention. No one wins with that.

Attorney General: This has to be one of the worst primaries I've ever seen. You'd think that the California Democratic Party would have some top notch people running for this. Instead we have a DA that has an aversion to prosecuting crime (Kamala Harris), an Internet executive who's well meaning, but never served in law enforcement (Chris Kelly), and a trio of term limited legislators (Nava, Torrico, and Lieu who I am sure are all good people). I don't know that any of them are qualified in an era of high tech crime, violent crime, and so on to be our top cop in California. Given that only Harris and Kelly even have a shot, I'm voting for Kelly and hoping to GOD that if he wins, he hires some good people to ensure that the problems of crime are taken seriously in the next 4 years. Besides if Harris wins, her record is a killer outside the boundaries of Liberal San Francisco.

Insurance Commissioner: Having once worked for an Insurance Commissioner (in Washington State) I can safely say that this job seems like a yawner, but it can be often the most important job in the state. A good Insurance Commissioner can make sure that insurance companies are held accountable and fight them when they try to pull shenanigans like Prop. 17. The fact that our current one is a joke doesn't negate that. Vote for Dave Jones, as he's endorsed by all the Good People.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson's record on education in the Legislature was actually pretty good, and he used to be a science teacher so there's that. I've met him a few times and he was always willing to listen to people worried about education, when others wouldn't so I voted for him. Also, the ruler in my desk drawer somehow has his campaign logo on it - I think I got it at a convention or something, and it's a good ruler.

All of the rest of the state offices are uncontested, so I'm not bothering with them. Congrats in advance, people.

There's more, click on through for the rest!

Continue reading "The Disinfo Rehab Guide To the Worst Primary Election Ever" »

May 25, 2010

Why I Like Watching "Treme" But It Also Scares the Hell Out of Me

treme.pngIf you've not had a chance to see HBO's latest show, "Treme", by author/ex-journalist/blogger hater David Simon (he of "The Wire" fame), I strongly urge you to do so, by any means necessary. If you have HBO and OnDemand, it should be there, if not, well wait for the DVDs or explore (ahem) alternate means of content delivery or whatever, but you really need to see this.

The Short Recap: it's a story about people from various parts of New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurrcaine Katrina in 2005-2006. We all know what a supreme f*ck up FEMA and the feds were after this disaster, and we've all seen the pictures on TV. What Treme manages to do is to personalize those stories and do that expertly woven tapestry of lives and events that Simon pioneered in The Wire.

It's both fascinating, and horrifying to see what can happen to an American city in the 21st century, and how "shock doctrine" ideologues, good old fashioned corruption and racism, and the economic realities of a debt-ridden nation of do-nothings can collide and create the mess that we still have to this day.

Now, while I enjoy the drama and a well written TV series, and so on, Treme still scares the Hell out of me every week I watch the show. That's because I truly fear what is going to happen to San Francisco when the inevitable Big F*cking Earthquake hits us.

We are not prepared for what people will do to our city after the quake, and after years of rule by Prince Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors, I genuinely believe that the only line of defense we have against a horrifying immediate aftermath is going to be the citizens of SF, and them alone, helping each other out. What's scarier though, is how this corrupt city will no doubt use the disaster as a way to destroy neighborhoods and create "Suburbia By the Sea," and historical anything be damned.

Continue reading "Why I Like Watching "Treme" But It Also Scares the Hell Out of Me" »

May 20, 2010

Why I'm Voting "NO" on Prop. 16 - No, Really!

13299_111631608866160_111598052202849_150204_7339158_n.jpgSometimes, I really, really, REALLY hate ballot initiatives.

Case in point? Proposition 16. Easily one of the most bullshit-named initiatives we've got - the "Taxpayers Right to Vote Act." This is one of the most misleading titles ever because...taxpayers already have the right to vote on any socialization of the power system in their area right now! Go ask the hippies in San Francisco if you're not sure (where public power has been voted on 8 times and lost, each time.)

This wasn't easy, because I absolutely hate the self-appointed violent Stalinist "activists" who support so-called "public power." They don't really care about anything but their ideology, and aren't afraid to use violence and death threats to enforce their political correctness on others.

So why, then would I ally myself on the same side as these clowns? Simple. "Two Thirds" vote requirements are bullshit, plain and simple. The idea that a ballot measure could get 65% of the vote and still lose??? That's tyrannical. Our legislature wallows in dysfunction, and local governments have a Hell of a time getting things done because of similar laws and it's all because a few radical ideologues in Sacramento hate local governments and want to hurt them as much as possible.

Hence, I'm voting Hell NO on this thing since I hate 2/3rds rules as a matter of general principle. Besides, the money PG&E spent to put this thing on the ballot could have gone to many better things.

I think it's also time California re-think the idea of "Ballot Measures." It has devolved from the people's way to counter balance corporate influence into an ATM for companies willing to buy the signatures and write self-serving laws that benefit only them. Epic grassroots power FAIL.

(Oh also, vote no on 17, which is a bid by those plutocrats at Mercury Insurance to jack up your rates. They suck too!)

May 15, 2010

Let's Do Write Ins For The Non-Challenged Incumbents in June!

Oh, June Democratic Primary Ballot. You are, in fact, the worst primary ballot yet, and I've been voting in these things for far too long. At the top of the ticket is a yawn-fest (if some crackpot no name actually beats Gov. Brown in the primary, I'll buy everyone that reads this column a beer), in the middle an "evil of two lessers" choice (nominees for Attorney General), and at the bottom, a confusing battle locally for people who actually want to serve on the San Francisco County Democratic Central Committee (a job that pays nothing, sucks up your time, and drives you mad).

What to do, what to do?

Here's what I'm doing - my time-honored tradition of using my mail ballot as a taxpayer funded coloring book. Now, far be it from me to trivialize voting in the World's Greatest Democracy, but when so many of these things have been pre-ordained, I think it's time for some Write In Candidate Fun.

This is nothing new - when San Francisco instituted its IRV/RCV/WTF/OMG/FML voting system, it was reduced to a joke since so often, incumbents were unopposed for re-election. Despite the fact we were promised it'd make it easier for no-names to beat the Big Kids, nothing changed, so I took the liberty of making those poll workers work, by counting my write in ballots, more than once.

This time, I propose something different. Many, many incumbent legislators are on the ballot in the primary who have no opposition, so there's no risk if you decide to say "Frak It" and write in the name of someone else. It's not like we dislike people like Fiona Ma, Tom Ammiano, or Leland Yee, but they're going to win with 99.99% of the vote in the primary, AND win re-election in the fall. So why not write in someone for those spots, and have some fun with it?

I have no delusions that out of such an exercise we're going to read in our Google Readers the day after the election that Fiona Ma has been ousted, via write-in votes by Rory B. Bellows or some other crazy thing. So go for it, and post in the comments who you wrote in for what.

PS: Of course, the idea that taxpayers are paying for an election that is for the nomination of candidates by party is nonsense - there's no reason at all we need to waste tax dollars on this. Party nominees should be made by members of that party, be it by convention, private vote, or whatever, but this idea that the government has to sponsor such contests is ludicrous.

April 13, 2010

Let's Freak Out About Politics As Usual With Chris Kelly And Kamala Harris!

scream.pngIn less than two months, voters will be headed to the polls for primary elections for Democrats, Republicans, et al. If you weren't aware of this, or hadn't put much thought into it don't feel bad - most people aren't doing so either.Turnout is likely to be low, because it's a battle of no-names for most races, and the top of the ticket has a presumptive Democratic nominee (minus any actual campaign). So, the drama filters downward.

For some reason, many termed out legislators, a rich dude, and the DA from San Francisco have crowded the field for Attorney General - at last count I saw 6 on the Democratic side alone. Many voters are undecided, since no one candidate is particularly well known outside their hometown/district. Harris is the presumptive "front runner," but most voters are undecided. Ironically, a poll early this year indicated that the top choice for Democratic primary voters was a candidate who wasn't even running for the job. Ouch.

In a crowded race, it's expected that candidates are going to pump themselves up as much as possible, and rip on their opponents to win. So it should have been no surprise when Chris Kelly, a wealthy attorney, noob to electoral politics, and former bigwig at Facebook, made the call to unleash the political Krakken, with online advertising and more against presumptive front runner Harris' record as District Attorney of San Francisco. This is pretty much politics as usual. Nasty, annoying, yes. Unexpected? No! (Remember that ugly race between Westly and Angelides in the 2006 primary? Wait, you forget about trivial, annoying BS? Good for you - you're saner than I then.)

Apparently no one told Kamala Harris' campaign that, unlike an uncontested race in Safe San Francisco, an open Democratic primary can quickly become an unruly brawl. Thus, the Harris campaign responded to the online ad buy and the YouTube video by losing their collective sh*t, and using weasel words to attack the concept of online advertising. In particular, you can tell they just loved using the phrase "...in his new video, which the "privacy expert" Kelly has undoubtedly expertly placed on your Facebook homepage, Google searches, email inbox, or all three in recent days..."

In other words, be very very scared of the Big Bad Man Who Bought Google Ads and Snuck Into Your Computer at Night and Placed them. BE SCARED! BE OH SO SCARED OF THE SERIES OF TUBES!!!!

GIve me a fucking break. Either the Harris campaign has no clue how Google ads work (!) or more likely, are just using weasel words to create some weird impression of Kelly - ironically what they accuse Kelly of doing. Oh, by the way, the Harris campaign has placed Google ads too. OH TEH HORRORS!

They follow it up by bragging about how many Facebook Fans they have. Really? I think I read about this in Who Cares Magazine. (I've written about why this metric can be total BS, go read it, it's funnier than this post).

Like it or not politics in 2010 are going to be nasty. Every candidate has a record that will get examined in fine detail by the media and their opponents. Ms. Harris is no exception to the rule and neither are the other 5 candidates. Plus, if she can't handle a mild attack like this, how in the heck is she going to fare against the Republican onslaught in the fall if she's nominated, when they will not have any problems calling her Satan's Choice for DA and throw the kitchen sink (and parts of her record) at her?

Personally, I've not heard one candidate actually talk about any issues that would have any bearing on things you or I might actually be concerned about. Instead I've received many e-begging emails asking me to find more friends for them on Facebook. Having a candidate act like an emotionally needy teen doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence that they know what they're doing, which is why I might just leave this part blank when I go "vote" in June.

March 17, 2010

John Cusack for Governor 2010? Sure, Why Not?

Say+Anything+001+resized.jpgNow, calm down and bear with me here. I'm not entirely kidding. Here's why.

There's no denying that after 7 years of mismanagement by Governor Doofinator, the 2/3rds rule and an array of inexperienced or corporatized "Democrats" in Sacramento, combined with endless bullsh*t "ballot measures," we need a change at the top.

But right now our choices are limited to "eMeg," another vain billionaire who has no idea how government works, and AG/Former Governor Jerry Brown, who is smart, knowledgeable, but has chosen to run a campaign so low-profile, no one knows he's running, and is likely to lose, especially with the Democratic base divided over "President" Obama's performance, and a GOP who's willing to cater to the batshit insane to reclaim power.

Now, my scenario here was a bit more relevant in January, when I came up with it, but I figured I'd put it out now, on the eve of the California Democratic Convention, since I'm worried we're going to have a new level of arrogant stupidity invade the Capitol. So for your consideration, I wonder if perhaps Democrats run John Cusack* for Governor in 2010.

I came up with this for several reasons. While Brown was able to dispatch the inept and expensive "Newsom for Governor" campaign in 2009 by raising money and spending little, that approach does not work in early 2010, which is what the campaign chose to do.

Up against a crazy billionaire, though, at this late date, it isn't working anymore. Now, we have the prospect of a candidate who has no challenge in the primary coasting, but not building a statewide network to fight this craziness. The "kitchen table" approach won't cut it this time around. Brown has name ID amongst older voters, but he doesn't necessarily have an image or name ID with many new voters, nor does he have a mechanism to do that. (And sorry, but f*cking Facebook doesn't count)

More to the point, we can't afford another vanity governor who will do more damage to the state, and who's willing to lie to get the job. And while I note the irony of replacing one Hollywood candidate with another, I've been reading Cusack's articles and interviews for some time now, and he's a very bright, very engaged person, not amongst your typical arrogant Hollywood liberal who drives around in a Prius but does so for just for show. And, his career hasn't had the post 80s drop off that others of his generation have had - he's still fairly well known amongst voters of all ages. (and it's not like similar ideas haven't popped up before!)

Admittedly this is all a bit wild - but the fact is if either Cusack, or any Democratic candidate could have easily upset Brown if they'd just had the courage to step up for both the Party, and more importantly, the improvement of the State of California. Brown would have been caught flat-footed, and people would have had a chance to make a real choice in June.

Of course, Mr. Cusack has better things to do than waste his time working with an incompetent, lying state government. It's too bad that more people that know this to be the case never bothered to even try. But cowardice in the Democratic party starts at the top, with a President who is always willing to sell out his own party for the sake of keeping the people who hate him happy, and it continues on down to an array of California politicians who don't seem to know, or care, how to make this state great again.

Unfortunately, we all lose in the end.

* I also propose Mr. Cusack because he just seems cooler than most "stars" but Hell, it could be anyone (politician, star, or otherwise) with a little cash and some name ID who isn't a moron (because voters are too stupid to read up on this on their own) to do what Arnold could have done, but failed to do - cut the crap and rally people to a reform agenda. The trick is whoever this magic person is would have to surround themselves with good people - something again in short supply in politics!

February 25, 2010

OUCH! Former Newsom Campaign Manager Garry South Issues Scathing E-Blast On...Gavin Newsom?


That's all I could think of when I was sent this email from Garry South, the chief strategist of the Hahn for Lt. Governor campaign, who also happens to be a former advisor to the now defunct Newsom for Governor campaign. Newsom, as you may know, might actually run for LG after all, and the fact one of his former advisors is working for another candidate? Well one had to wonder if that was going to end in tears or not.

Today, the following communique was issued by Mr. South. Upon reading it, all I could think of was just how much of a knockdown dragout fight this race could be. Read on:




I am surprised and perplexed that my friend and former client Mayor Gavin Newsom apparently has decided to jump into the lieutenant governor's race at the last minute - especially against an already-announced candidate who would be the first woman lieutenant governor in California history.

In every one of several conversations we had about the job while he was running for governor, the Mayor expressed nothing but disinterest in and disdain for the office of lieutenant governor. In fact, he was derisively dismissive of Gray Davis's decision to run for and serve as lieutenant governor prior to running for governor ("I'm not a Gray Davis," he said). On a couple of occasions, he directed me to repudiate publicly in the strongest terms that he had any interest in ever running for lieutenant governor.

The Mayor himself told the Chronicle in October that rumors he may run for lieutenant governor were "absurd" and "a complete lie," and angrily accused Jerry Brown of personally spreading false information to that effect. As recently as December, he himself said flatly "no" when asked directly on a San Francisco radio show whether he intended to run for lieutenant governor.

In addition, when he precipitously pulled out of the governor's race in late October - against my advice - he said he couldn't continue as a statewide candidate because he was a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So far as I know, he's still a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So it's pretty hard to see what's changed over the last four months that would now allow him to run for another statewide office.

If the Mayor does run, it is his responsibility to explain why he now claims to want an elected office he summarily dismissed publicly numerous times over the last several months, and which just earlier this year he called "a largely ceremonial post" … "with no real authority and no real portfolio."

I've got to wonder why Mayor Newsom would want to subject himself to a statewide race against some of his own people, who seem quite willing to take out the blowtorch and pliers and go to work on the Mayor over here. I sure as Hell wouldn't want to go through that, and I can't imagine why Newsom would either. Even if he won the primary, he'd come out of it with enough damage that it might make the LG in reach for the Republicans in November since everything's kind of up in the air now.

Bring on the pain, Democrats!

October 13, 2009

Hold On A Second...That Sign Looks Like It Was Photoshopped, Mr. Mayor!

gavinsignfake.jpgSo, it seems Mr. Mayor Whatshisname has a new campaign video out. I guess nowadays posting something on YouTube is a really big deal, and this is like, way Web 2.0 campaigning and all Obama-like and whatnot. Fine.

However, I find this video interesting. but not for a reason Team Newsom might like. You see, I was noticing that suddenly the Mayor is supportive of a "Constitutional Convention" to reform our state's government. This is an idea popular with the liberal types, the conservative types, the business-y types, and political bloggers. So now I guess he's on board. Um, woo hoo?

What's funny is while watching this video (with the older, cooler logos from earlier this year) I saw this image at 0:24, and it made me wonder out loud if this thing was photoshopped in some way. I didn't recall seeing any old Newsom 1.0 signs with "Constitutional Convention" on 'em before, and I'm nerdy enough to notice and keep track of things like that. What really got my attention was how oddly colored this is compared to other elements in the video.

Anyway, I figure the good people on the blogs can pick this apart and have fun with it. Maybe I'm right and maybe not. But the great thing about The Internet is you can always pose a question and let others do the heavy lifting.

UPDATE: It seems great minds do think alike and our friend MattyMatt noticed the same thing also.

Mainstream media? Gavin Newsom? You got some 'splainin' to do! ;-)

October 9, 2009

Let's Show Gavin Newsom How Crowdsourcing Is Supposed To Work

image.php.jpegSo the other day I ranked on "Mayor" Newsom's gubernatorial logo crowdsourcing efforts, something I still stand by. I mean, not to go all Don Draper on this, but this selection is a joke. I say this with many years of experience conceiving and executing mail and online campaigns. And as I've said before, although I personally do not do design, I know how to talk to creative people in the design field to execute good products.

After talking to several colleagues, we all agreed that perhaps this might be an opportunity to show how crowdsourcing is done properly. Now while I can't offer cash prizes for submissions, I DO have a couple of projects coming up soon that will need some work, and I'm interested in casting a wide net for talent.

So, in the spirit of Being Constructive and Having Fun, I'm putting out a call for my own Gavin Newsom Logo. Here are the design parameters I'd like you to consider:

-Since we're not the official campaign, we're going to go with "Go Gavin Newsom!" as our slogan/logo/whatever.
-Stylewise, I'm looking for something that's pop-culture aware, but not too cutesy
-The artwork has to be easily seen from a distance (signs) and reproduce well on a variety of media (t shirts, stickers, mousepads, signs, etc)
-Irony, humor, satire and so on are welcome if done well
-If you use the Obama Font, do so carefully. It's already overdone as is, so show me something new.

Personally, my biggest wish in the political mail business was to do a bio of a candidate in the style of a 70s action movie poster (you know the one where they have scenes of the movie behind the main actor, all popping out at you from the center), but no one ever went for it. I suppose action scenes of commission meetings and speaking out at public comments time aren't as cool to detail as chasing bad guys in a speedboat in Louisiana.

October 1, 2008

Is This REALLY The Best Way To Make Serious Energy Policy Decisions?

Presidential election years bring with them not only a Big Decision about who will lead our country, but a plethora of ballot measures at the state and local level. This year is no exception - we're being asked to vote on a tremendous amount of policy questions (and in SF, a lot of non-binding "feel good" resolutions that have no power at all). In particular, however, voters are being asked to make some pretty major decisions about energy policy at the local level, and with 2 state propositions.

Energy policy is a complicated question at best, and our state's experience with the disastrous "deregulation" scheme should have been a warning about the dangers of politics in energy policy. We were promised lower rates and competitive energy providers - instead we had Enron and others driving up costs and causing rolling blackouts when there was no reason for them.

Now, we're being asked to make some serious decisions this November, and while the campaigns all use the language of Good Intentions, all seem to be hiding something in the details. People are right to be concerned about global warming and our dependence on oil from unstable regions of the world. Unfortunately, the three measures we're being asked to vote on contradict each other, or hide what they're really about.

Prop. H, on the San Francisco ballot, claims to be about requiring the City to use clean energy sources in the future. It even has produced campaign commercials online that claim the support of Sen. Obama and Vice President Gore for the measure (even though neither has endorsed it). More importantly, though, the measure is not really about clean energy at all - it is all about a public takeover of the power system from PG&E. Ironically, PG&E has signed the world's largest contracts for solar and wind power - but that's something Measure H backers won't tell you.

There is no reason why the two should be connected at all - yet the promoters of Prop. H are playing off people's good intentions to pass something else - and give the City the authority to take over any "utility" - even if it has nothing to do with power generation.

Likewise, Propositions 7 and 10 make many similar green promises about clean energy. What's strange, though is that many people already in the business of providing solar or wind power oppose these, because they were written to benefit specific companies or people (such as T. Boone Pickens, the right wing oil billionaire). Even an expert would have a hard time decoding what these things really do or do not do, so it's hard to imagine how we, the people are supposed to make a decision about this when we have our daily lives to lead and so on.

It is too bad that our Governor and our Legislature are busy posturing and politicking to perhaps come up with one comprehensive energy strategy for California, one that helps us reduce carbon emissions and provides us with stable energy supplies we need to compete globally. This patchwork of local and state measures, none of which seem to coordinate with each other, is a recipe for another energy mess like we had in the past, and it's time citizens demanded more from our supposed leaders.

I have to believe with all the smart people we have in California, be they from academia, business, the technology sector, and so on we can't come up with a better way to make good energy policy that will leave a positive legacy for ourselves and our planet, instead of this hodge podge of politically motivated ballot measures.

June 9, 2008

DNC Chair Howard Dean is in Millbrae on Friday, the 13th. Discuss.

This might be interesting: Dr. Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee is in town on Friday the 13th (!) for an executive board meeting of the state's party. The folks at Calitics cover this in WAY more depth than I.

It was only 3 years ago that Dr. Dean was running for Chair of the Party, and there were all sorts of dire warnings if he won. Three years later, and Dean's plan to actually work in all 50 states has paid off somewhat. And much of the internet/grassroots organizing of Dean evolved into what would later become Sen. Obama's campaign.

If you're a registered Democrat and want to stop by the proceedings, you can stop by the Westin SFO, located at 1 Old Bayshore Highway, in Millbrae, just off of 101, and not too far from the BART/Caltrain station. They ask for a $20 donation if you're not an e-board member, but remember, that's just what they ask. Unless you're doing something really outlandish, they don't mind Democrats watching the oh-so-thrilling proceedings.

June 4, 2008

The Only Post Mortem I'll Do on the Leno/Nation/Migden Bitchfest...

Plenty of geniuses can do all the political post mortems on how Carole Migden and her Sacramento crew invented a new way to lose a sure-win re-elect. For me, I have but one question: will the people who stole my photos of frakking Flickr at least have the courage to reveal themselves, and buy me a case of Schlitz Beer for stealing my photos?

Come on. You stole an image from me, and didn't have the courage to post an email address or any contact info on your website. The election is over, Leno won, now come clean. It's good for your karma, and I'll happily forgive as a good Christian, but I can't do so unless you 'fess up.

Bogus Turnout Means It Didn't Take A Lot of Votes to Win...

While reading up on the results of last nights sort-of election here in the Bay Area, I wanted to see how things turned out in some San Mateo County races, and I was struck by two things:

1. San Mateo's elections site is easily the best one out there. While all the other counties have some long boring URL, San Mateo's URL is shapethefuture.org, and they even name brand their (excellent) results section as "RaceTracker."

Beyond that, if you've ever had to deal with San Mateo County's combined Assesor/Clerk/Record/Elections department, you know that this is easily one of the few citizen-friendly, efficient operations out there. Warren Slocum has long been recognized as a leader in applying innovation and technology to improve the elections process, and the function of the departments he controls, with amazing results.

While we in San Francisco continue to plod along with an Elections and Ethics system that's half-assed, San Mateo has a model of honest, efficient government. In other words, how it's supposed to work. Can we vote to get annexed by San Mateo County, or pay the brainiacs at the stem cell council to clone the awesome Warren Slocum? Pleeeease?

2. Anyone running in an open primary in most races really didn't need a lot of votes out of the eligible voter ranks to win. Check out the results for the Assembly seat down south - the winner only needed 10,000 votes to win! So few people bothered to show up (as there was no presidential contest or statewide contest on the ballot) that really, only a handful of people voted at all, and the winner, who will now probably coast for three terms, got off pretty lucky.

It's kind of funny to think for all the money the outside interests spent to support or oppose the candidates, the cost-per-vote must be huge. But those trees were gonna die anyway, so I guess they died for a good cause.

May 14, 2008

When Did Anyone Ever Expect to Read the Words "Hillary Clinton" and "Longshot Campaign" in the Same Sentence?

Whilst reading the breaking news that John Edwards finally endorse Barack Obama (AFTER the North Carolina primary), I have to say I was more than a bit surprised to read this:

Democrat John Edwards is endorsing former rival Barack Obama, fresh signs of the party establishment embracing the likely nominee even as Hillary Rodham Clinton refuses to give up her long-shot candidacy.

Now, mind you, I was never one to simply assume Mrs. Clinton had this thing pwned from the beginning, but many other people did, and made their choices as appropriate. Now, Bill and Hillary are personally in debt, have $20 million in general election campaign money they can't spend, and have pulled out all the stops to block Barry, all to no avail. Up against a guy who most people hadn't even heard of just a few years ago.

Go figure. That's almost as baffling as the state Senate incumbent with a warchest full of cash and an array of Sacramento insiders running the show, now running third in a three way race. Strange how a year changes things.

April 6, 2008

Yes, San Franciscans, There IS an Election on April 8th! Vote for Jackie!

Many people don't realize that there's an honest to goodness Special Election on April 8th. There's been some campaign activity, to be sure, but even with all the nice pieces of mail from the Elections Department, et al, it's easy to forget. Heck, I forgot to apply for an absentee ballot this time around, and now have to go vote in person!

As I noted on my way more popular blog on all things MUNI, right now we don't have anyone in Congress representing the 12th CD (which includes part of San Francisco and San Mateo County) due to the death of longtime Rep. Tom Lantos. Now, if 50%+1 of the good people of the 12th CD vote for Jackie Speier, we can send her to Congress immediately (she doesn't have to pass "GO" and doesn't need to collect $200), and we can have one of the most effective members of the Legislature (yes, we've had a few and she was one of them) be representing us on some pretty important issues right now.

If, however, we don't vote, and she doesn't make the threshold, there'll be a "Special General" election, that will coincide with the June Primary. However, she'll win that one for sure, but we will not have anyone in Congress representing us. Besides, put it to you another way - how many of the current crop of candidates kicked ass on privacy issues and have a train named after them? Hint: Just one, and isn't some hippie-dippie Green candidate.

Today (Sunday, April 6th) there's an event for Jackie at the Machinists Hall down in Burlingame. For a mere $10 donation, you can enjoy a fine spaghetti dinner and meet the candidate and her many supporters. It's an easy commute for those of you in San Francisco - you can take BART or Caltrain to Millbrae, and walk a few blocks to the union hall.

Whatever you do today, be sure to vote on April 8th! We can all talk big in San Francisco, but now it's time to do something about all that big talk, and send an effective legislator to Congress who can shake things up. Go Jackie!

April 3, 2008

State Lawmaker Wants to Tax Facebook Gifts, and iTunes Music? OMGWTF?


Thank God for term limits, loopholes in term limits, and a perpetual budget "crisis" in Sacramento, for it allows California's well paid lawmakers to invent new and improved ways to to invent half-assed ideas and "solutions" that just create more problems.

We saw it last year when the state Assembly voted to gut MUNI funding (and funding for every mass transit agency in the state), all the while cooing "green" to the cameras. Today, we have the strange case of Assemblyman Charles Calderon, who's eager to tax America's #1 music retailer, iTunes (and apparently all those little dollar gifts on Facebook as well).

To do so, however wants to avoid the 2/3 vote in the Legislature, because well, he'd need some Republicans to vote for it. So instead, he's trying to get some wording changed in the code that governs sales taxes, which mandate that to levy a sales tax on something, it has to be something tangible, in Our World, as opposed to the virtual world. (i.e. that rubber ducky you bought your high school friend on Facebook should be taxed the same as if you bought one at the dollar store.) The advantage to this back-door approach is that you only need a simple majority to rewrite code language. Clever, but not particularly honest, since the effect would be to, um, levy new taxes on consumers.

First, let's tackle the politics of this little gem. Ya see, the state of California's budget system is a joke, hepped up on mandated spending (courtesy of the voters) and mandated debt (all those *@#$! bonds, also voted on by the voters), and the usual Dumb Things Legislators and Governors do. We've heard big talk from Gov. Doofinator for years, but after all this time he's done nothing besides pile on bond debt like crazy. The revolving door of legislators, term limited (thanks, voters!) doesn't help much either - everyone's so busy looking ahead to the next job, they really don't do anything productive to get past the BS and find some honest solutions.

Continue reading "State Lawmaker Wants to Tax Facebook Gifts, and iTunes Music? OMGWTF?" »

March 28, 2008

Blogger Coverage of the California Democratic Convention This Weekend

Normally, I'd be headed to a state Democratic Convention in Northern California, because just as artistic folks go to Burning Man, and my comics/anime/film friends go to Comic-Con, folks like me go to these things because you can get your political geek on, in the company of friends and strangers and not feel weird.

In fact, when I re-launched my blog in 2006 I did so armed with a press pass at the CDP convention, which was rather fun (and cheap - Sacramento affords many hotel deals, it seems) and went to the 2003 and 2004 conventions as well

This time around, I didn't think I was going to be in town this weekend so I didn't make any plans, but had a trip pushed back at the last minute. By then, any decent rates on hotels were not to be found, and I couldn't get a press pass in time. Ah well. Probably for the best, as I have tons of other work to do, both for work and for my 15 minutes of Internet fame thanks to the awesome folks at io9.com. (Note to self: never allow yourself to be filmed unless you're dressed to impress, you never know where that video might end up, along with your improv skillz).

However, if you're looking for blogger coverage, fret not, for many of San Francisco's "A-List" Bloggers&trade will be on the case. The gang from Calitics.com will be there, as will Sweet Melissa and Beth Spotswood, and plenty of others (whom I'll add to the list as I discover 'em online). The party itself will stream live video at their site, but as we all know the real fun and drama goes on in the many caucuses, after hours parties, and whatnot at these things.

The funniest thing about this convention is the lack of drama in the Presidential race since we had this stupid idea that moving our primary "ahead" would make us more "relevant" and whatnot. Oddly enough, if California had simply kept all its primaries in June as God and Man Intended, California would literally be the king-maker in the race as one of the last primaries with a sizeable cache of delegates, super or not.

As it stands, most of the drama will be in races for state Assembly and Senate where term limits have created open seats, and of course there's the Migden/Leno/Nation drama-fest as well. Not nearly as much fun as having a host of presidential show up at your convention, but for us Political Nerds it'll be fun.

Or something.

March 5, 2008

Some Suggestions For the Guardian Now That They "Won" $15 Million....

Wow. That was fast. The jury in the ongoing litigation between the Bay Guardian and Village Voice Media came to a rather sudden end as a jury awarded the Guardian $15 million and sided with its claim that its competitor, SF Weekly, was selling ads below cost in an attempt to put the paper out of business.

There has been an endless amount of spin from each side at their respective "blogs," and the personalized vitriol between the Guardian's management and the VVM management has been a bit over the top. More importantly, I, as the reader of local media, have not had an objective voice report on this trial, so it's really hard to know who was telling the truth, and who was lying.

Re-reading some of the "blog" postings by Tim Redmond and Andy Van De Voorde, it was hard to believe each "reporter" was even talking about the same trial - it was spin spin spin. This is the mainstream journalism I'm supposed to fear the demise of, thanks to Evil Blogs and The Internet? Hmm.

Now, while they're popping champagne corks over on Portero Hill, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that VVM will appeal said verdict. But let's pretend for a moment that said appeal fails and VVM writes the BG that oversized Publisher's Clearing House check. Here are some (real) suggestions on what to do with the money:

Continue reading "Some Suggestions For the Guardian Now That They "Won" $15 Million...." »

February 5, 2008

Primary Day Record Turnout: If It Matters, People VOTE...

Record turnout in today's California primary, as well as in other states, is getting all sorts of press-y goodness. Everyone's just simply amazed at the level of interest in the process. Astounded!

And now the Institute of No Duh makes a point: If these things are front-loaded for some professional bore like say, Sen. Kerry (as we had in 2004) guess what? No one cares. If you have a battle of the Titans like we had in 2006 for Governor of California against Gov. Doofinator, guess what? You get record low turnout even in the Bay Area!

But o hai! If you have a contest where something's on the line, and you have candidates who are kicking ass and taking names to get a nomination for President, and you have a population that has seen what happens when you let Ralph Nader and the GOP define things, guess what? People go to the F*CKING polls.

They don't need lefty gimmicks like "IRV" or other phony baloney reforms - they just need people to step up and do something. We have had an entire generation of politicians scheme and plot to take any sort of spontaneity out of the nomination process (mostly on the Democrat side) because of the scars of 1972.

Along the way, politickers and prognosticators, pundits and pontificators forgot something pretty basic - if you have something that matters, people will participate. If it's all phony baloney BS that serves up a big batch of Mushy Rhetoric with a chaser of "We Don't Give A Crap What You Think," then guess what? People tune out.

If you're in California and haven't voted yet, do so at once! It matters and it's worth it. I voted for Obama today and I couldn't be happier, to be honest. It was a difficult choice but when I see so many good people who felt politics was crapola turn around and decide that not only would they get involved, but do so for this guy, I figured he had something we could use.

Vote early, vote legally, and if you're a DTS (aka non aligned, aka Independent, aka nonparisan) voter, demand a Democratic ballot and vote. (The GOP hates DTS voters and won't let you play, but Democrats have seen the light. Good for them.)

January 25, 2008

Random Reasons Why You Should Say "No" To the Phony Baloney Slot Machine Initiatives...

UPDATE: The LA Times does an analysis of the deals and finds that the campaign disinfo and reality part ways. Check it out.

One of the unintended consequences of having our Presidential primary in February is the onslaught of Yet More F*cking Ballot Initiatives, at the state and local level. In particular, anyone who's even sort of registered to vote has been assaulted by countless ads promoting the expansion of slot machines for just four wealthy Indian tribes in Southern California (aka Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97).

There are plenty of reasons to vote "no" on these stupid things...here's a few in random order:

-Most of the promises about revenue sharing are phony. The tribes get to decide how much and when to pay the state money, and the state has no legal ability to demand the money should they decide to go back on the deal. They keep repeating a $9 billion figure but that's over 20+ years, and there's no third party to assure that everyone's living up to the deal.

-There is virtually no gaming enforcement in California now - and now they want to add 15,000 MORE slot machines to a virtually unregulated market. Compare this to Nevada, which has strict gaming laws, armed agents, and a tested enforcement mechanism to keep crime and dishonest payouts away from the customer. (BTW, did you know that Indian casinos in California refuse to disclose their payout rates, whereas in Nevada it's required by law? The Indian casinos in SoCal don't want you to know that at best their payout rates are 70%. In Nevada, it's 90+%)

-Most Indians won't benefit from all the money that will come pouring in. The 4 tribes that are putting up these deals have tiny memberships and make sure to keep as many people out as possible so they can keep all the money. Oh, and they keep saying how much they help "surrounding communities?" Unless all those desert towns are full of political consultants, lobbyists, lawyers, and advertising people, I don't see that as the case. They sure don't like letting unions organize their workers, and they don't mind dumping their low wage workers onto county health systems so you and I pay their health care costs. WTF?

-Democrats in particular have no reason to support these initiatives - in 2006 when the tribes didn't get every single thing they wanted from the Legislature, they immediately pumped out millions of dollars in dead-tree junk mail slamming anyone with a "D" next to their name, purely out of spite. Well, at least some white political consultants got their payday, right?

People supported the original Indian gaming measures as a way to allow tribes to try and build a financial base to support ongoing governmental and social services. I don't know that this was necessarily a great deal to begin with - an Indian candidate for Congress I worked for years ago once said that he felt like the reliance on gaming and alcohol/tobacco sales was akin to that scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" when Jimmy Stewart sees his hometown had he not been born.

That said, as a member of a tribe with Indian Gaming (in Wisconsin, where my cousin was tribal chair in the 90s), there were not a lot of options and most people wanted to do the right thing. Since then, however there has been a tremendous amount of money spent in politics, electing legislators and Governors and the like, there's been plenty of money to spend on all sorts of unsustainable developments in a desert, and absolutely no way to enforce gaming laws to protect both the casinos and the customers, I just can't vote for these things anymore.

It's especially difficult when you see a few wealthy small groups of people do nothing for the many folks who could use real help in getting out of the cycle of poverty. But then again, poor Indians around the state aren't lobbyists or political consultants, so I suppose in the eyes of the Sycuan, Agua Caliente, Pechanga and Morongo, those Indians "got what they deserved."

Whatever. After years of being pro-Indian gaming, I'm voting "no" this time around....it's not an easy decision but when something is so transparently bad a deal, I just can't vote "yes" for some vague notion of "liberal guilt" popular in San Francisco, especially when I know plenty of Indians who are telling me it's a bad deal for everyone.

January 15, 2008

State Sen. Jackie Speier for Congress! Hell Yeah! Read All About It at Melissa's Blog!

I have been a big fan of Jackie Speier since I can remember, and have campaign buttons, mementos, and more from her many runs for office throughout the years. I have a campaign button collection that spans decades, but mostly includes rockin' politicians such as Jackie. Heck, when I worked at the Big Company one of the jobs I got to work on was a cool mail piece for Jackie in her last run for State Senate - ironically enough against a world-class douchebag I had the displeasure of attending junior high with.

Oh but enough nostalgia. Go check out Melissa's awesome writeup of the kickoff I missed because despite my Speier-supporting, I suck.


Check it out , and be sure to vote for Jackie Speier in the primary if you're in Our Fair District!

December 3, 2007

Ron Paul, Ronpaulr Onpaul? Ronpau Lronpa Ul, Ronpaul!

Ronpa, L'r onpaulR o npaul ro npaulr onp aulron pa ulron pa Ulronp Aul ro npaulro npaul ron paul ronpaul ronp au lro npaulr, Dr. Ron Paul.

Ron Pau'l ron pa ulron, P au lron paul ronepau lron pau lronp-aulron paulr, onp aul Ronpa, ul ro npaulr Onpaulronp aul ronpaulr onpaulro np aulronp aulronpaul ron paulr, on paulron pau lronpau lro npa ulronpa ulronp aul ronpaulr onpa ulronpau lr onpa ul ronpau lron pa ulr onpaulron paul ronp.

Ro np, au'l ro npaulronp aulr onpa Ul. Ronp, Aul. Ronpa Ulron, pa ulr onp au l ronpau lr onpaulro npaulronpa* ulronpaul ronpaulronp, ualr onp aulronpa ul ron pau lron p aulronpaul.

R on Paulr onpa Ul. Ronp au lronp au lron paulronp aulron paul lronpaulron pau lronpau lron paul ronpa ulronp aulr onp aulron pau lronpau lronpa ulr onpaulr.

Ronp aul ronpaulronp aulr onpaulron paulro npaulronp, aulr on pau lro npaulr "Onp au Lronpaul" ron-pau lronpaulro npau lronpa ulro, n paulron paulron pa ulr onp.

Ro, npau lron, paulr O npaulro N'p aulr o npaulr onpau lronpau, lro-npaulronp-Au. Lro npa ulr onpau lr onpa ulronpau lr onp aulro "Ron Paul" ro npa ulro npaulro np au Lronpa ulronpa. Ulr'o npaul ro , npaulr - O npau lronp aul ronp aulr on PAUL ronp au lro np aul Ronpaulronp aulronpau, lro N paul ronp a ulron pa Lron pau Lronpaulr (ron paul ro Np Aulro npa Ulronpaul ro Npau!) lronpaul ronpaulronp, aulro npau lr on pau lr Onpaulro/Npaul ronpaulro npa ulronpa.

Ulron pau lro, npa ulronpau - Ron Paul!

*ron pau'r onpaul Ronp Aulro np AULR!

Translation after the jump - please read before flaming!

Continue reading "Ron Paul, Ronpaulr Onpaul? Ronpau Lronpa Ul, Ronpaul!" »

October 23, 2007

San Diego Wildfires Inspire the Best and Worst In US Citizens....Glenn Beck and SF Gate Commenters Clogging Sewers With Their Remarks...

Folks, I'm not a millionaire like say, Don Fisher or Gavin Newsom, so I can't do what I'd like for our citizens in the struggle in Southern California. But I can do this - if you buy an "Adama for President" shirt right now I'll donate the markup (I only make 3.50 on these things) on all shirts sold from now through the end of the year to a suitable charity that will help our fellow Californians in their time of need. Would we want our fellow citizens to the south crapping on us when the Big One hits? NO.

While we in San Francisco are enjoying this lovely 80 degree warm weather and clear skies, our fellow citizens to the south are going through a literal Hell with these wildfires which are so bad, the firefighters are at something like 0% containment and almost a million people are now displaced from their homes.

And yet, in a tragedy of this of Katrina/1989 Quake/OMG We're FRAKKED proportions, jackasses on line and in the mainstream media (i.e. CNN) find a way to take a tragedy and make literal sh*t out of it....all for their petty, stupid, rotten little agendas.

Idiotic Jerkoff Glenn Beck made snide remarks about how the people whose homes are burning are people who "hate America." (And CNN backs it up! How "liberal.")

Now, putting aside the fact that Glenn Beck's inherent stupidity keeps him from saying anything relevant (um, DUH Glenn, San Diego and Imperial County and that whole area are super-Republican and home to MANY MANY SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN), um, WTF? Why, in the middle of a horrid tragedy would ANYONE SAY SOMETHING THIS F*CKING RETARDED???

Now, I should not be surprised given that people paid to be assholes, such as "commentators" and "news analysts" have to come up with new and improved way to be a jerk to "get ratings" and "make a story" but please. This is just wrong. Now, if the so-called "progressives" like MoveOn.Org had a brain, they'd broadcast these bs remarks all around the TV sets of southern california and pressure CNN to show this guy what real pain is like, but of course instead their idiot consultants come up with crap like that General Betray-Us ad (dhut dhut dhut get it?) Oh well, betting on the idiocy of MoveOn and Glenn Beck is a sure fire winner any way you cut it.

Oh, but then there's the sewer pipe known as the SFGate comments on their "stories." Once again, the pretext of "commenting on a story" is hijacked by people who have to serve their own agenda. Don't like "bad" mortgage holders? Stick it to 'em. Don't like people in Southern California? Stick it to 'em. Wanna just sh*t on people who are going through a terrible time in their lives? STICK IT TO 'EM.

Yeah, that's right. Let's take out our own crappy day on people who have had a truly crappy day. Class act, SFGate commenters.

There's just one problem. One day we are going to have one FRAK of an earthquake here. How will you feel when the losers who take time from talk radio to spam out a comment at the San Diego Tribune or whatever sh*t on you for "getting what you deserve" when your loved ones die or your home is ruined in the Next Big One?

Time for a lot of people to take a shot of Shut-The-Fuck-Up with a chaser of Be-A-Human-Being-And-Not-An-Asshole. Maybe, just maybe, the Chronicle can redeem itself. Glenn Beck's been a worthless shit for years. This won't change a thing. All I know is if I lived in San Diego I'd be telling Comcast or whoever that they can take their CNN and send it to Iran where it belongs with all the OTHER America-haters.

September 12, 2007

NBC Pilots OnDemand - The SF Science Fiction of "Journeyman" and "Bionic Woman"

Despite NBC's catfight with Apple, resulting in the removal of new NBC shows on iTunes, you can catch many of the pilots for NBC on Comcast OnDemand. Last night I had a chance to watch the Bionic Woman remake, Journeyman, and Life.

I'd mentioned Journeyman earlier here when I did a roundup of all those TV shows set in San Francisco. As an added bonus, it turns out Bionic Woman is also sort-of-set in San Francisco - at least in the opening scenes, we're told that Jamie Sommers is a bartender in San Francsico (but like the other project David Eick co-produces, Battlestar Galactica, it is primariliy filmed in Vancouver, BC).

I won't rehash the long chatter about why all those much ballyhooed "tax credits" the politicians promote have failed so miserably (read the old article for that little lecture) but instead just marvel how, especially in the case of Journeyman, they did a pretty impressive job of making the mix of location and L.A. shots pretty seamless.

In an article on SciFi.com, executive producer Kevin Falls talked about how he was "new" to doing scifi on TV and the challenges he faced as he was new to the genre.

Mr. Falls need not worry, for Journeyman is truly a good piece of science fiction. Yes, the time travel thing and whatnot is obvious, but there are other elements spotted in the pilot that make this truly a piece of science fiction:

-Our Hero is a reporter for a newspaper called The San Francisco Register and apparently makes enough to afford both a huge victorian and a fancy Mustang, which he wrecks.

-Our Hero does actual investigative pieces as a reporter for a big daily in SF about the Mayor, and apparently spends time following up with multiple sources, which delays his finished piece by a day.

-Said newspaper is full of reporters and editors in a huge office downtown, working on multiple investigative pieces and doing their own work at any moment. The editor does not beat any one up, nor does he fire most of the staff to save money. Instead he cracks the whip and makes everyone turn in their work on time, and demands they check sources. He frowns on blogs, but not in "that way."

-In this alternate reality, MUNI buses drive fast enough on Taylor Street to knock a guy into the solar system and back. They also run an "18 Columbus" bus on Market Street for our friends in North Beach. It's not a smelly diesel one either.

-MUNI also runs on time,all the time, and F-Market streetcars are fast enough to potentially mow down a hapless dude in 1987.

-Also, the SFPD has a huge main headquarters where Our Hero's brother is a detective. This alternate reality has detectives using a faux Google on iPhones to solve crimes. Oh, and yeah, they really do solve a lot of crimes, and no doubt with Our Hero's new ability, he can help brother detective solve all those murders and stuff.

-No word yet on whether this version of Earth has a San Francisco D.A. that fights crime effectively, but the writers and producers have to be careful. If they pile up too many unbelieveable premises all at once, the "suspension of disbelief" starts to falter.

And so on. You get the idea. Go watch it and see what you think!

PS: The Bionic Woman is not without its own scifi:

- nanotechnology to make people super strong? - believable, sorta

- a shadowy government agency that's trying to create supersoliders? - sure, why not

- bartenders in San Francisco who can afford huge flats for themselves and their younger sister, apparently sans rent control? - now that is science fiction!

August 29, 2007

Reason #3,572,893 Why Newspapers (And the LA Times) Suck

Watching the completely stupid management decisions of Big Media (and for that matter Little Media) in the mainstream is kind of like watching a trainwreck in progress, with clowns. It's really painful to watch, and the blood and tears make it a horrible thing to watch, but the clowns make it kind of funny, because, well, they're clowns.

OK, bad analogy. But hey, clowns.

Anyway, once again we see why the LA Times, once a great paper that consistently informed I, the reader, in ways the Chronicle is completely unaware of, is starting to circle down the drain. In this case, in their desperate attempt to get me to go to the Macy's Labor Day Sale, they had these kewl ads programmed with mad Flash skillz.

The problem? You can't click them closed and they completely obscure the article I was trying to read. In other words, the entire point of me being on the site in the first place is gone - I'm just suppose to click on the ads and forget about reading anything in the LA Times entirely.

You realy have to hand it to the idiots in charge of these publications. To "save money" they fire off most of their staffs - funny because in a knowledge economy such as the news, you might want to have people on board who know about the subjects their writing about.

Then they start realizing "gawrsh, there's that thar series of tubes" out there, 15 years too late, and come up with bigger and dumber ideas for "online," when of course, they're not blaming The Series of Tubes for everything bad known to man (read any front page of the San Francisco Chronicles to read the silly bleatings of what is left of their staff on almost any issue).

Then they wonder why it is people don't pay 50 cents or more a day for a "newspaper" filled mostly with wire service copy, partsian politics posing as "local news," dull, witless and endless "commentary" from people who restate the obvious, and on and on. "Alternative" papers don't fare much better - they're doing the same boneheaded things the mainstream does, just nastier.

And of course, we could power the entire Solar System on the perpetual whining of journalists, who bitch and moan about how "the tubes" are responisble for all their woes - but never once take a look at the fact that Big Corporatisation of the workplace affects most industries too, and who of course can't be bothered to learn any new skills - or oh I dunno report some news. Maybe lookup that whole "colluding with the government on the Iraq war thing" and the whole "suck up to the powerful all the time" thing too.

If there was an actual newspaper that reported news in the Bay Area, and one that wasn't wedded to self interest or special interests, I'd happily pay for it, and I'd be willing to pay more than what most papers charge now. When one comes around, can someone let me know?

Since it will be sometime around the Apocalypse, I'm sure you'll be wanting to get in touch anyway. KTHXBAI.

April 28, 2007

Hypocrisy? From a Political Consultant? Shocking!

While reading some coverage of the California Democratic Convention this weekend, I caught this article in the Chronicle by Carla Marinucci about the role of "bloggers" at the convention.

I would love to attended since this is probably going to be one of the few "good" conventions to attend, but I just couldn't justify the expense when I've got more important things to do than run around with political types who chatter on about how "great" their candidate is.

However, Marinucci's article was notable for one thing -it exposed just how terrified poltical consultants are of emerging media and technology. When we get to the point where smart, articulate people can put together on their own the media you used to have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive political consultants with lots of specialized equipment and personnel, that's about the time people start to wonder why it is we need "political consultants" in the first place.

Plus, when you consider the vast difference in sophistication, execution, design, and concept of advertising by mainstream American companies vs. the dull, cheap-looking ads of political campaigns, you start to wonder - why are people paying for advice that's so 1980s?

That's why "consultants" have to do what they can (just like mainstream media) to malign and stereotype citizen media. They, like the newspapers, are desperately trying to protect a monopoly-driven marketplace that has only a few people in control, and regard you as nothing more than a consumer of what they decide is best for you. For an example of this kind of nonsense, check out this quote from Ms. Marinucci's story:

But one key state Democratic strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymitybecause of concern for riling the netroots crowd, warns that such efforts are potentially positive and negative. Netroots commentary can frequently be intensely personal, even "totally mean and irrational," the strategist said, with some bloggers finding power in their ability "to assassinate political characters online." "It's amplified by the anonymity, and it can be scary that it's so irresponsible," the insider said. "And it's pulling the mainstream media in that direction."

In other words, this "consultant" is engaging in the kinds of things he alleges "all" bloggers do. Even though most people of any repute sign their names, and there is genuine anger and distrust of the media, the Highly Paid Democrat Consultant Way of Doing Things, and more that people want to talk about . Plus, how is it any better when political consultants get their clients to raise millions of special interest dollars for negative hit pieces and tv spots? Hmmm?

It's nothing new - these conversations have gone on for years. Now, people can talk to others around the world and organize themselves and succeed. And THAT has the well-paid, 20th Century political class scared, because they have no idea what to do, besides, well use the cover of anonymity to engage in character assassination!

April 16, 2007

Be A Correspondent for GregDewar.com at the California Democratic Convention!

Last year I kicked off this site at the California Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento. I wanted to go to the big convention in San Diego this year (which will feature many presidential candidates) but work commitments won't allow it.

So here's your chance to help me cover the convention on the ground for me while I cover it on the webcast. I'm looking for a few committed folks who are attending the convention willing to post "live from the floor " dispatches. In exchange, I'll get you a press pass so you'll have full access to the convetion.

Email me and tell me why you'd like to be a correspondent and if you're picked, I'll ensure you get a press pass! Thanks and I look forward to your interest!

February 14, 2007

Consumer Advocate Harvey Rosenfield Learns The Truth A Year Too Late

Reading the news from Insurance Commissioner Steve Poinzer's office, you've got to wonder if consumer "advocate" Harvey Rosenfield is having the worst case of buyer's remorse in California political history.

That's because Ponizer is appointing a guy from the insurance industry to help regulate the industry. True, he said he'd be "non partisan" and "independent" and used all kinds of well crafted buzzwords to convince California voters (and Harvey Rosenfield) he was better than Cruz "Lose Weight Ask Me How" Bustamante.

Thus, consumer "advocate" and Proposition 103 author Harvey Rosenfield drank the Kool-Aid and endorsed this guy over Bustamante. The endorsement was considered a coup for Poinzer's campaign, and while many could understand why Rosenfield would not endorse the terminally lame Cruz, many were stunned he'd endorse Poinzer.

Today, he reaped the benefit of his work with today's news. You can bet the author of Proposition 103 and a lifetime consumer advocate is having that moment of clarity many have when they realize the've not only been duped - but that they've helped elevate something they've fought their entire career.

On behalf of all of us who are paying way too much for insurance and getting way too little in the way of service, we'd like to thank all involved for their part in this little drama. We'll happily sign away more of our paychecks for lousy car and health insurance, and sleep well knowing that Steve Poinzer and his friends in the insurance industry are well taken care of. Thanks to all who helped.

October 22, 2006

Disinfo Rehab Mail Archive - Fall 2006

Note: This entry will be updated as I get more mail. New mail is featured at the bottom of this entry! Today's additions: Jane Kim, Marin Healthcare Board, and more!

As promised, here is the first installment of the Fall 2006 Disinfo Rehab Mail Archive. Unlike television ads, which bloggers and media folks can easily dissect because they're on TV, YouTube, candidate websites, and the like, mail is a "below the radar" medium. You know it is out there, but unless you're on the targeted mailing list, you won't see it.

Which is why it makes for a great way to send distinct messages to distinct groups of people - and a great way to attack someone and get away with it. By the time anyone notices it, it's too late to do much about it, and the press usually isn't sent copies of hit pieces by candidates!

Since I personally do not live in a district with an angrily contested Supervisorial race, I'm interested in submissions from readers who might have something they've received in the mail in the Daly/Black/SF Republican Party brouhaha, and the mega-money festival that is the District 4 battle to replace Fiona Ma, now that she's been elected to a 6 year term in the Assembly. Oh and if anyone has any "freaky" mail from way out in Distrct 8, send it over!

As always, if you submit a big pile o' mail, I'll buy you a drink/coffee/whatever once this nutty election is over. Email me and tell me what you have and I'll make arrangements to pick it up, or you can simply scan them in yourself and send them in as JPEGs.

Please note that all pieces that appear on this page were sent to actual voters, who in turn gave the pieces to me for inclusion in this fall's archive. (To protect their privacy from identity thieves, their names and addresses have been Photoshopped out)

A mail piece's appearance here does not indicate I'm endorsing or not endorsing a particular candidate, and it does not indicate that campaign endorses this site, its views, or anything at all. Conspiracy theorists, please put down the crack pipe and find something else to worry about.

Update: A loyal reader tipped me off to a similar project being done by the East Bay Express, entitled Fun with Misleading Mailers. Short and to the point, the additional coverage of the myriad of pieces hitting the mailbox is great for voters

And now, for the fun, after the jump!

Continue reading "Disinfo Rehab Mail Archive - Fall 2006" »

July 19, 2006

Yes on Proposition 89 A.K.A. The Political Hack Full Employment Act of 2006

Everyone's been asking me if I'm supporting the so-called Clean Money Proposition 89 given my past views on political reform, and experience in campaign finance. I always say, without skipping a beat, that I support this proposition with no reservations at all.

Now that's the "loud: part. The "quiet" part is "But not for the reasons the authors and supporters intend, since I just want a full employment act for political hacks." Waitaminit! Did I say the loud part quiet and the quiet part loud? D'oh!

No really, listen! Now, of course the inevitable fight between Sort Of Funded Good People and the representatives of the Forces of Doom With More Money will wage some sort of battle. The state's Big Important Paper will weigh in, as will its fine columnists on the relative merits. And they'll all be as fun to read about as that whole debate over the Paint Drying On A Hot Day initiative.

That is, if the public is even reading. (No one seems to realize Stargate SG-1 is back on the air, and Lost and Battlestar Galactica and a ton of movies are coming out this fall. Do Cylons dream of electric political reform bills?)

Whee! Now, the funny thing about these kinds of initiatives is that they're taking a hybrid idea from other states (Maine, Arizona, Massachusetts) and declaring that Their Way Is The Only Way to "clean up" politics. As I've said time and again, these reform efforts usually have more to do with gutting The Other Guys' say in politics, coupled with a naive hope that the outcome of the people's votes can be gamed to favor Their Guys. (IRV Minions, I'm looking at you....)

But let's put aside the many Unintended Consequences we'll be paving the Road to Hell with, and find out why I'm supporting this wild proposition. It's simple - any time you have a system of matching funds, public funding, whatever, you change the marketplace for political products. Instead of lopsided spending by The Guy With All The Support and The Guy With No Money or Hope In Hell, thus creating a single marketplace in a given district for product, suddenly we'll have more customers for the same products!

Think about it. Every robocall vendor, every direct mail vendor, heck every button-maker and tchotchke maker from Yreka to the Mexican Border will suddenly have lots of new people to sell stuff too. Every political hack that wants to avoid law school for another year can instead take a year off and work on the campaign of any Joe Sixpack or Sally Hempcoat running for office anywhere in the state - no matter how hopeless it is for a hippie socialist to win in "The OC" or a right wing neo-fascist to win in Berkeley, CA!

JobCorps, SchmobCorps, if politicians want to create more jobs right away, they'll jump on board. It's easy, and the taxpayers foot the bill!

Sure, there's that whole issue with that pesky Constitution of the United States, and sure there's also no guarantee that experienced people who do things as they're done now will suddenly lose and give way to the wide-eyed hopeful dreamers who want to pass that whole "No Kitten Left Behind" bill that gets stalled in committee by the special interests, but I say, who cares?

There are a lot of robocalls and brochures I need to sell if I'm ever going to get enough money to go into real estate or the olive oil business. So quit your bitchin' and say "Yes" to Proposition 89. I am sure my future kids will thank you when they're getting braces, iPods, and Harvard educations. I know I will!

Pardon the gap in postings. Unlike professional bloggers who sideline as consultants, I, as a consultant who sidelines as a blogger, sometimes have to do real work during an election! More fun is coming soon though. Really!

June 14, 2006

California Primary 2006: The Death Rattle of So-Called "Reform"

Wasn't that just a wonderful primary election?

We had the a record low voter turnout statewide, and we had a record number of mail ballots that were held until the last minute, simply because people either didn't know who to vote for, or who to vote against. We had some of the nastiest campaigns, funded by all sorts of well funded interests, and Democrats in particular are left with a slate of candidates most people still don't know a lot about, at a time when we're facing Real Problems.

Whose fault is it? Oh, it depends on who you ask. It's the Democrats' fault. It's the Republicans' fault. It's the consultants' fault. It's the special interest groups' fault. It's the fault of people who wear those rectangle glasses. It's the fault of someone's husband. It's the "progressives'" fault. It's the "conservatives'" fault. It's the know-it-all bloggers' fault. It's the fault of Someone Else.

Oh, and don't forget it's Money's Fault. Bet you didn't know inanimate representations of currency could be at fault. But to some it is.

"So," you ask, "whose fault is it really?" you ask. Good question - thanks for asking!

It would be easy for me to take the Official Snarky Knowitall Position that it's everyone I just mentioned's fault but that would be a bit too easy, and a bit overdone. Instead I'm going to suggest another idea: that we in California had a Perfect Storm of Unintended Consequences, from all the so-called "reforms" that self-styled "reformers" have pushed on us for the last several decades.

Continue reading "California Primary 2006: The Death Rattle of So-Called "Reform"" »

June 6, 2006

Vote Today 6-6-06 aka Satan's Day!

If you haven't already mailed in your ballot, get it to a polling place now! If you haven't voted yet, go vote now! It's easy, it's fun, and you can mess with The Man on his dime and time!

The only big predictions I have are that with so many mail ballots being returned in person today or late in the mail, we won't know the results of any close race for a while. The only other thing I can predict safely is that if Steve Westly wins the nomination, he is going to have a lot of fence-mending and foot-kissing to get back in the good graces of many high ranking Democrats he's pissed on. But we'll see.

Meanwhile, here's a fun note my brother sent to me. It seems last night's episode of the Simpsons in reruns featured our own Mr. Anglides. Check it out! Meanwhile, don't forget to vote and be sure to check out the election parties for free stuff later tonight!

Art Imitates Life Dept. - Official Savors Simpsons Role

February 29th, 2000 -- Sacramento Bee
"The Simpsons" cartoon show has waded into California politics. The latest episode featured a bar-tending contest with the winner getting his photo on a beer calendar. A photographer stepped forward to snap the winner's picture -- a photographer identified as, "Phil Angelides, Duff Beer vice president for calendars and fake ID's."

The character looked only a little like the state treasurer and Sacramento developer by the same name. "Nobody looks good on 'The Simpsons,' but I'll take it as an endorsement," Angelides said. "If I ever run for office again, I'll say I'm the vice president for calendars and fake IDs. That should be worth some votes." The mention was more than a coincidence. Angelides said "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening is a friend. Good thing he's not a relative ...

June 2, 2006

Greg's All-Star Guide to the June Primary!

Don't forget to check out the Direct Mail Disinfo Rehab Archive before you vote!

If you are like many people in this state, you asked for a mail ballot this year. And, if you're like most people in this state, you still haven't returned it yet.

Don't feel bad - just about everyone else is in the same boat you are. Return rates in key counties in California are abysmally low, owing to the fact that there are so many candidates, most of whom no one has heard of, running for so many offices. Every campaign I've worked on this cycle is seeing record rates of non return of ballots statewide.

So, beat those election blues, and print out a copy of my patented All-Star Guide to the California Primary. You can easily fill out your ballot, and you get a dose of snark just for laughs!

The Big Races
Note: If people are running unopposed, I'm not including them here since there's nothing to choose!

U.S. Senate: Whatever you think of Dianne Feinstein (some folks love her, some folks hate her, some folks don't know) know this: Dianne Feinstein is going to win the Democratic Primary in a landslide Vin Diesel would envy, and is going to be re-elected. Oh yeah, there's some token resistance but you might as well cast at least one vote for a winning candidate.

Since the balloting is so easy for California, may I suggest you send a 20 or a 50 dollar bill to the campaign of Jon Tester for US Senate instead?. Jon is the kind of Democrat we need in Washington DC, who can win in a place like Montana. He's a no-BS guy who represents the best the West has to offer - and he's going to have a chance to knock out Sen. Conrad Burns, who is so deep in scandal it isn't funny. Besides if he wins he can help DiFi be a committee chair, so it's a twofer.

California Governor: It does not take a genius to figure out that I am not a fan of Governor Doofinator, and his constant lying, "reinventing" of himself, and the tomfoolery that was the Credit Card Bond. So, who then, can send this guy back to his magic ticket and his restaurant in Santa Monica?

I'm telling folks to vote for Phil Angelides. Yeah, I know, I know. But the usual math doesn't apply here. Angelides has been consistently opposing Gov. Doofinator from Day One, he didn't monkey around in the recall or support the Credit Card Bond, and he's straight with voters on what he'll do if elected. Republicans who chortle at the follies of the primary take note: Democrats chortled at your follies when they had Congress and the Presidency in 1994 - and look at what happened to them.

Lt. Governor:Tough one for me, as I met John Garamendi (albeit over the phone) while working for the Insurance Commissioner for the State of Washington. Nice guy. But I've always been a supporter of Sen. Jackie Speier throughout her career. What to do? Flip a coin? Waffle? I can't vote for both!

I'm gonna vote for Speier, since I think she would do more with the office. Garamendi is a great guy, but I wish he'd run for something else so I wouldn't have to make this kind of choice. Besides, she's the hometown hero!

Secretary of State:This one is easy - Easy choice : State Sen. Deborah Bowen. Not only was she one of the few candidates to get an endorsement at the Democratic Convention, she is also the only candidate who actually worked on any of the issues a Secretary of State faces (i.e. voting machines, political reform, etc.) and she was my State Senator when I lived in Venice.

Attorney General: Another difficult choice. I've been supporting Jerry Brown for years. Back in Santa Cruz I organized a rally with him during his Presidential bid that got on CNN and CSPAN, and later when I worked at a tech company, ended up explaining our RealAudio technology to him when he had the radio show. It's hard not to support him, but Rocky Delgadillo isn't such a bad guy either. So vote for Jerry Brown but let's hope we see Delgadillo run for something else someday.

State Controller: Don't you just love that title? Sounds like one is running for Cylon Overlord for California or something. Here's a chance for you to give someone a promotion who actually deserves it: vote for Sen. Joe Dunn. This guy really did stand up to Enron and their BS during the power crisis, and beyond, and he'll bring that integrity to the Controller's office. Unlike people like Sen. Sheila Kuehl, who voted for giving away the state to greedy speculators, Joe Dunn was the guy who remembered job 1 for him is serving the citizens. Go Joe!

State Senate, District 8: This is a tough one for me - Lou Papan was a real hero in supporting the special ed program at my old high school, where my mom works. But Mike Nevin's wife also worked at my old high school and knew my mom too. Oh yeah, there's current Assemblyman Leland Yee running a strong campaign too. So who do I vote for? Calgon, take me away!

In the end I voted for Lou Papan, but not as part of some plot to deny Nevin votes but more due to a coin toss between two guys from San Mateo County, and because he was such a good guy in the Assembly when it came to special education. But the battle seems to be between Yee and Nevin so if you want to vote for someone who's more likely to win, then go ahead and vote for Mike Nevin.

State Assembly, District 12 - SF: Ok, like you had to ask. I'm telling everyone to vote for Janet Reilly. and regular readers know I've written about when she kicked off her campaign, when she campaigned with John Kerry, and about the only debate she had with Ms. Ma..

People ask me why and the answer is simple. There are people in the local and state Democratic Party who view the Party and those in it as part of an exclusive club, and that club likes things predictable, safe, and for the benefit of their club membership, since after all, they have the best interests of The People at heart. Anyone questioning that is cast out as a pariah.

Janet's campaign has never been one on the "inside" and as such is a lot more welcoming to citizen input, and isn't as beholden to the club mentality that really disdains volunteers, Internet activists, and anyone not Already In The Club. They really don't like you, and don't like the fact they have to ask you to vote for them because They're Just That Good. Plus, when you see the nonsense being tossed at Janet, you figure she can't be that bad. Vote for Janet and piss off the Man.


Proposition 81 - Library Bonds - vote NO: How can anyone be against library bonds? That means more money for libraries right? And I like libraries so I should support it, right? NO!

This is Yet Another Bond Issue that gets on the ballot because it "gives money" to good causes. But you see, it doesn't "give money" - it sells debt that we have to pay billions in interest on later. That blows out the budget in future years. So many bonds are passed by voters that it is killing our state's ability to make budget decisions. Vote no, and tell them to raise taxes or cut something first.

Proposition 82 - Preschool for All - Vote YES: This proposition isn't perfect, nor is it a cure all. But it doesn't use bonds, and it does take a step towards doing what we should be doing to at least not have as many screw ups in the public school system. Besides, Rob Reiner isn't that bad of a guy.

San Francisco Propositions A, B, C, D: Sometimes there's such a thing as too much democracy and voting, and the fact we're even voting on some of this stuff, which should either be passed by the Board of Supervisor and voted up or down by the Mayor, or perhaps addressed elsewhere, is a sign. But since we do have them, here's an easy way to vote:

If you like Mayor Gavin Newsom, and allied interests, and do not like the Board of Supervisors and their allied interests, go ahead and vote "no" on everything. Sure, there is that issue of violent homeless people being put in the old folks home at Laguna Honda, but so what? Gavin's got a tough re-election in 2007, possibly, and the last thing he needs some ballot measures to give him guff.

If you do not like Mayor Gavin Newsom and allied interest, and like the Board of SUpervisors, and their allied interests, go ahead and vote "yes" on everything. Sure, that whole Ellis Act notification thing probably won't stop a desperate home-buyer from running over Grandma to get that TIC, but so what? Gavin's got a tough re-election in 2007, possibly, and perhaps these ballot measures (some of which were put on the ballot by Supervisor Daly) might be able to give him some guff.

Other Offices:

San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee: Ok, pop quiz: what is the one job people run for, spend money to get elected to, that most people have not even heard of much less know what they do?

That would be the Democratic Party Central Committee. Ya see, each county has a "Central Commitee" for each party. These are partisan positions within the parties themselves - they are not funded by the state or anything like that. These might seem like ceremonial posts, but how the people on this committee vote determine all sorts of party business at the local and state level. So in a way it matters, but not always in an immediately understandable way.

The problem is you have to vote for so many people out of a pack of like, a zillion, and (thank GOD) "Ranked Choice Voting" has no place in these races. I'm going to recommend the two people I actually have met and known: Boe Hayward in the 12th Assembly District and Tim Paulson in the 13th.

Both are good guys - I helped out Boe with his postcards this year, and Tim Paulson is the director of the San Francisco Labor Council and all around good guy. There's two endorsements - figure out the rest of the slots on the ballot after casting your ballot for these guys.

That's it! Enjoy the fireworks on June 6th!

May 31, 2006

A Modest Proposal Ridding Us of So-Called Independent Expenditures

Special Note: Don't forget to check out the Direct Mail Disinfo Rehab Archive with mail from the 2006 primary election, recently featured at SF's Usual Suspects website!

Whenever you pass a political money reform bill, the road to Hell gets a new paving of unintended consequences. Take Proposition 34, which was supposedly going to limit "big money" in elections for state office.

We passed "limits" which were designed to keep "big money" out of elections, and it did have the effect of limiting large unlimited contributions, which are apparently evil in and of themselves, out of campaigns by candidates for office. One problem: no one found a legal, Constitutional way to limit efforts "independent" of candidates by those "big money" folks to speak loudly, carry big sticks, and have an incredible amount of influence in an election.

We've gone through 3 cycles under the new regime, and as both a manager and observer of Assembly races, I have to say that the influence of outside groups has increased ten-fold, as backers of previous reforms had hoped. Now, when a candidate runs for office, he or she has to pray to the God of their choice that assorted interest groups not only support them, but will spend untold bucks on their behalf, and pray that they'll do something that's helpful to their campaigns.

In 2002, we saw trial lawyers, eager to take a posthumous hit at then Assemblyman Lou Papan, spend uncounted millions on behalf of Gene Mullin, to "punish" the daughter of Lou Papan for not toeing the line enough in his time in office. While Gene Mullin's campaign claimed it was "all them" when they won, the fact was if it was not for untold spending by outside groups, we may or may not have had a different result.

Likewise, in 2006, we have the political gang war that is the 12th Assembly district primary. No less than 11 allied "independent expenditure" committees (who oddly enough seem to have the same candid photos in their ads as the candidate does) are picking on Janet Reilly, for reasons obvious and not so obvious. For all the "experience" people talk about, it seems strange that the only thing people helping a candidate can do is to pump out mail that is more about hype than substance.

There is, however, a simple cure for this disease, one that does not require demolishing the First Amendment, passage of new Road to Hell legislation, or even taxpayer funding of politician's races. It relies solely on common sense, and a candidate's values.

Continue reading "A Modest Proposal Ridding Us of So-Called Independent Expenditures" »

May 23, 2006

California Primary Political Mail Archive is Up at GregDewar.com!

The first step of our Disinfo Rehab project is up and online! Thanks to good friends on the Peninsula and in San Francisco, as well as some trusty campaign volunteers, I've posted the first of what will be many entries into a Political Direct Mail Web Archive that you, the citizen, can review in advance of California's Primary Election on June 6th. (Temporarily, PDF files submitted to the arcive are featured here while we get Flickr to cooperate!)

Currently the archive features entries from State Senate Candidate Mike Nevin , who has some of the most novel mail pieces, evoking an earlier era in campaign themes, as well as a piece I picked up at a street fair last weekend from the campaign of Fiona Ma, who is running in Assembly District 12.

More from our gubernatorial candidates, our friends in high and low places, and those running for other offices will be featured as the days go by. You may also make submissions by email by sending me an email with your reasonably sized JPEGs or PDFs of stuff you find.

Oddly enough, because I recently re-registered only a few months ago into the new house I moved into, I'm not getting the volume of doubleplusungoodmail I usually get. So, if you're looking at that steaming pile of dead trees, and thinking of junking it, think again!

I'm offering a drink bounty to voters for new and unusual pieces of mail, in particular those sent out by special interests influencing the outcome of many of the Legislative elections in California, where so many people are running for ever so many offices.

Enjoy the archive and keep coming back as more images (and more commentary) are added to the new disinfobabble and artistic licenses issued by today's politickers. Consultants are also welcome to submit pieces they are proud of, as well.

UPDATE: Big updates coming this weekend. Meanwhile, check this article out discussing the increasingly flat out false mail going out to the public.

UPDATE 2 - May 28th: More pieces have been added from the Reilly/Ma race and the Yee/Nevin/Papan race....anyone wishing to submit pieces they've received should email me with their entries...thanks!

Oh and some advice for the volunteers eager to tell us about their candidates - the moment you put a handout or a piece of unauthorized crap in a mailbox, not only do you earn bad karma, but you are also committing a federal crime. Just last night I found two piecesfor a candidate for DCCC shoved in my mailbox at home in the Inner Sunset. Not smart. Kids, learn the rules and play it safe, ok?

May 18, 2006

50 Million Westly Dollars Can Be Wrong

Much is made when a personally wealthy candidate runs for office about how, by the miracle of “spending lots of money,” they can automatically win office. Steve Westly’s campaign not only benefits from this conventional “wisdom” – it’s an active part of the campaign’s message.

What pundits, politickers, and the like tend to forget is that part of winning a campaign is having the money to pay for what you need to win – but that the other part is how you spend your money. And in the case of Steve Westly, our multi-millionaire Richie Cunningham running for class president, it's becoming clear that the how of his campaign is starting to kill whatever advantage, cash-wise, this guy had.

Last night I caught the latest spat of ads from Westly on TV, and they were laughable at best, pathetic at worst. We are less than three weeks away from a pretty significant primary election, and what is the Westly campaign blowing tons of cash on? Ads about whether Phil Angelides is running a "negative campaign." (Don't try looking here for them - I guess they don't mind putting them on the air, but they sure didn't put them on their own site.)

So,umm, let me get this straight. This is the big issue millions of Californians are concerned about in this year's gubernatorial election? I guess that whole affordable housing/jobs/economy/environment/education/taxes thing isn't the main issue at the kitchen table this season.

No, it's whether "Mean Old Phil" is playing by some imaginary Marquess de Queensbury rules, and rather than move on and just tell people about why he's the better candidate, he's spending money talking about something no real voters give a crap about and tosses in a lie about Angelides' tax plan that's patently false. Hmm. Sounds like someone broke his own promise about those Queensbury rules.

Putting aside for a moment whether Phil or Steve is the bestest Democrat boy running, there's a bigger issue here. If Steve Westly can't handle a random, unscripted question from the peanut gallery, or a few jabs from a fellow Democrat, how the Hell is he going to handle going up against Gov. Doofinator and his huge team of spinmeisters, politickers and a massive state funded disinfo ops team, much less the many millions in independent expenditures from allied right wing groups that will toss out crap far worse than he's ever had to deal with?

No wonder this guy barely beat McClintock in 2002. Perhaps after the election, Westly and Senator Huffington, President Perot, Governor Checchi, and the rest of the rich geniuses can get together and have a beer about those Queensbury rules.

Don't forget to send in your political junk mail so we can do some disinfo rehab prior to the election! Send me a note and we'll get it on Flickr ASAP!

May 15, 2006

Turn That Political Junk Mail Into Gold (Sort Of)

Last weekend, mail ballots in the California Primary were mailed out to voters, which means the first wave in what is going to be an avalanche of political junk mail is starting to make its way through the US Postal System. A primary such as the one we have now, where just about every term-limited politician is running for every other office on the ballot, makes it even more ominous.

This is also a chance to observe the power of dead trees vs. television. That's because TV ads are seen by "everyone." Heck, you can go on YouTube.com and see ads by the ever telegenic Steve Westly, the humorous Phil Angelides and more. You can even scrutinize the oh-so-clever ad by Fiona Ma, driving around town in a shiny new Prius! How enviro-friendly! (I wonder if she actually owns a PC-Prius or if they just rented it....frankly I'd be more impressed to see a candidate slog through the district on the N Judah, in a TV ad, complete with weirdos and stalled trains, but I digress).

Now here's the thing about TV ads - the reason it's so easy for snarky bloggers, politicos and the local press to pick apart these little gems is because they are so accessible. Direct mail, however, is not. Everyone is getting different pieces of mail depending on where they live, and what their past voter history (if any) is. More to the point, by the time anyone in the press sees anything earth-shattering or nasty, the election's over.

This time, however, you can help particpate in a good old fashioned Disinformation Rehab for the Primary. If you start to get a nice big pile of steaming junk mail, don't recycle it. Instead, send me an email and tell me what you've received in the mail.

If it is something I do not already have, you put it in the mail and send it to me, and I buy you a coffee or other beverage of some sort somehow. I'll scan in the best of the bunch and post a gallery on Flickr, and we can all give these guys and gals a once-over they don't usually get.

And besides, it'll be fun! Really!

May 4, 2006

Channeling Mike Dukakis in the Race For Governor

I was wondering why watching Phil Angelides andSteve Westly seemed so familiar.

At first I thought it was because I remembered meeting Steve Westly when in 1989 he ran against Gov. Jerry Brown for Democratic Party Chairman (he lost that race in 1989, and backed Phil's opponent when Jerry quit). Or maybe it was because smilin' Phil was in all those house party videos in 1992 when Democrats stopped losing in California.

Then I realized what it was - both men are channeling the spirit of former Governor Mike Dukakis in their campaigns. Now, unlike some, I don't say this to be mean, but more as an observation. It's not a bad thing to me, but I don't know if it's the winning plan for beating Gov. Doofinator in California in 2006.

Continue reading "Channeling Mike Dukakis in the Race For Governor" »

May 2, 2006

CDP Final Update: The Sci Fi Convention Ends...

Thanks to a 10-day long internet outage at home, this got posted late. Earthlink sucks.

Well, it's finally over. The 2006 Democratic Star Trek/Wars/Gate Convention is done, the myriad of tchotchkes, stickers, and campaign sundries are in the dustbin of history, and everyone's going home...some happy, some sad, and some who were just happy to get all the free "stuff" at the convention.

But the unreality of the event was truly that of a Comi-Con or Star Trek convention, because for all the hype and shenanigans inside the convention, and all the fiercely passionate run ins between rival campaigns, the fact is very few actual voters know who most of the people on the June ballot are, much less who they'd actually like to see in office.

In the end, the passionate fights between the two titans of the Democratic ticket, Steve Westly and Phil Angelides, came off more like the never-ending debates of lore: Kirk Vs. Picard, Star Wars 77-82 vs Star Wars Prequels, or that big debate over Silver Surfer from a few years ago. Lots of noise and hype, but most people on the outside don’t really know what these folks are talking about. But if you dare say you’re not that interested in their cause or candidate, people look at you like you just committed a war crime.

Continue reading "CDP Final Update: The Sci Fi Convention Ends..." »

April 30, 2006

CDP Update 4 - Anglides Gets Convention Endorsement with 68%!

I was a bit tired after a long day of politiciking and spinning and what not, so I'm posting a bit late - but Phil Angelides won the vote for the CDP endorsement with 68% of the vote. So my little prediction earlier was entirely wrong. I'm not afraid to admit it.

The vote itself wasn't revealed until late last night, but you heard about it when the loud whoops and yells of Angelides' supporters late that night. It was truly a sight, along with the legions of orange-shirted Westly supporters (most of whom were not actual voting delegates, but rather volunteers) who had a long look on their faces, and quickly disappeared from the evening festivities.

It was a true moment where spin, and betting on spin, paid off. In this case, Angelides campaign, which has run into some trouble because of Westly's incredibly large TV buy (and resulting name ID and poll momentum) was starting to feel the pressure from the echo chamber, the press and political insiders. So the campaign made a calculated risk to put it all on the convention, and Westly's campaign put together a well funded effort to make their presence known at the convention to try and block the 60% vote.

But Phil rolled a hard six, and won, bigtime. Westly made the mistake of not playing down expectations for himself, and by Saturday morning at the press conference, was clearly convinced "momentum" was on his side, and was predicting a win for himself. Big mistake. He should have played it cool and not been sucked into the hype. Instead now the Angelides campaign has something they can spin as a big moment for them, and Westly just spent a ton of money on 65 lb. pieces of beef for nada.

Now obviously most voters in this state have no idea who they'll support for the Democratic nominee, and still, most people either don't care, or could change their mind at any time. But in the neverland that is the world of spin, the insiders, the funders, and the press, Angelides stopped a tailspin for his campaign, and is flying high. Whether that means anything to the rest of us remains to be seen.

But for now, a chapter of political theater is over. What a night!

April 29, 2006

CDP Update 3 - Throwing A Wrench In the Machine

See live, uninterrupted coverage of the circus right here!

Today has been a bit less weird. I can safely say that the comic-book convention metaphor is holding, and I don't mean that in a good or bad way, just a way.


Today I ran into Assembly Candidate Janet Reilly as I stopped to say hello to our esteemed Senator, Dianne Feinstein. Tons of people were mobbing Sen. Feinstein and camera-phones were ablaze in getting a shared moment with the Senator recorded for posterity.

I also had a nice conversation with Frank Russo of the California Progress Report at his booth from whence he is live-blogging the entire convention.

But my favorite moment was watching the convetion speeches of Phil Angelides and Steve Westly, and it would seem that my previous entry about the Westly beef-fueled blocking of the endorsement vote might have been premature. I spoke with several actual voting delegates who told me how they were selected and how most of them were for Angelides, parties or not. It was most notable that when Steve Westly spoke, his legions of volunteers provided the bulk of his applause, not the delegates, something KTVU reporter Randy Shandobil queried Mr. Westly about at a press conference.

I watched Westly and while he seems like a truly nice person, he also comes off as over-rehearsed and evasive as he did in 1989 when he ran for chair. I chose to throw him a curve ball that was not on any "talking points memo" for the day when the press conference started.

My question? Well, I decided to ask him about his campaign's use of Myspace.com, which the campaign had trumpeted early on as a sign of his tech-savviness and his outreach to young people.

I asked him if this was the case, why was it that after all the hype and hullaballo, his My Space Profile was linked to only 40 or so friends, while rival Phil Angelides' profile was linked to over 1000 people.

Now, to be sure, a MySpace profile for a politco is not a big deal, but I wasn't as interested in the answer as I was interested in seeing how he'd handle such a wacky question, wacky questions and situations being something you need to deal with as a candidate and as Governor. I'd hoped for a joke, or something.

Instead he looked at me in that frozen smile of his and for about a second telegraphed a glare that could only be described as "What the F*CK are you asking me this for?" and then gave a weird, rambling non-answer answer.

I was kinda hoping for a sign this guy could go off script and relax, since his speech was so totally rehearsed he went off speech on less than 10 words. More importantly I was hoping for a sign that we are not repeating the mistake of nominating a Gray Davis or a Mike Dukakis or an Al Gore.

Sadly , it didn't happen. Oh well.

Next up: The vote showdown in the convention center!

UPDATE: It seems my mayhem was not confined to La Convencion.....this accounting of MySpace.com street cred seems to say it all..

CDP Update 2 - Recipe for Derailing 60%

Last night the Sacramento Convention Center was abuzz with all sorts of politicos vying for support from delegates and others, via the time honored tradition of the "hospitality suite." With so many open races locally and statewide in the June primary, people were in overdrive to put on the best party possible.

On this, and this alone, there is no doubt that ex dot-commer Steve Westly, who has self-financed his campaign for Governor, had one of the best parties I've ever seen. They didn't just have a big room, no they had a live band, a dance floor, a carving station with huge 65+ lb.. side of beef for sandwiches, discounts on the Convention Center's overpriced drinks, and a lot of people in orange shirts, custom made for the weekend.

It was a bit much, but the stakes are high. Phil Angelides has to roll a hard six to jump start a campaign that's fallen behind in the polls in the wake of Westly's TV ads, and it's in the form of an endorsement vote today.

Continue reading "CDP Update 2 - Recipe for Derailing 60%" »

April 2, 2006

On Protests By People We Call Immigrants...

Interesting fact no one has mentioned in all the hysterics people are raising about the massive protests by people some call "immigrants" here in the US recently. (although it should be noted many people were legal residents and citizens of the US - for some reason when Californians talk about "immigration" they seem to think anyone with a Latin sounding name or who has a certain skin color is ALWAYS an alien, meant to be feared, and never ever to be regarded as a possible fellow citizen...but I digress).

Anyway, back to the point: When France's loudmouthed and bigoted Muslim population, mostly French but culturally hating France, had their protests it was weeks and weeks of violence, destruction and the exposure of the French as totally incapable of dealing with conflict.

However, when people in this country had objections to a bill that would have made instant felons out of a significant part of the population without any plans for how to deal with that, much less the inevitable arrests of people simply because they "looked" like a felon, held huge protests here. All were peaceful, there were no violent clashes, no one looted or burned, and in the end, folks were talking and yelling and whatever - but no violence, no burning of LA, no riots.

No matter what you may think of the immigration situation, you have to admit that it's a credit to this nation that we can still have large protests like this and not have them become violent like the French Muslims. Part of it is due to our culture, and part of it I think also has to do with the fact that unlike Muslims, Latino newcomers and Latino Americans do not have churches who advocate for the likes of bin Laden.

Anyway, I thought that was interesting to note.

November 3, 2005

A Guide to the Doofinator's Special Election Bonanza

This is one of the easiest elections to analyze and make recommendations, for you, the reader, and all the people who call me on the phone asking me what I think about the election. Ready?

Vote NO.

That's right - whatever it is that's on that ballot, be it a state proposition or Yet Another Bond Issue, just vote NO. It's easy, it's simple, and it will send a message to the cabal of get-rich-quck consultants, the Doofinator, and The Man that it's time to get to work to solve problems with real solutions, not this half-assed, phony baloney bullhonky they call "reform."

Nothing on the ballot was so critical it had to pass in 2005. If we are going to spend almost a hundred million dollars for an election no one asked for, we should at least be voting on something big, something bold, something that's based on something more than phony baloney consultant-driven initiatives desigend to get a few Republican political consultants and a few Democratic political consutlatns rich quick - while we the people have to live with the results.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

August 10, 2005

Some Straight Talk from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom You May Have Missed

"Re-thinking" and "strategizin' " are popular topics amongst political types to the left of G. W. Bush. This past week members of the Young Democrats of America held their national convention in San Francisco, and the talk was punctuated with some hard realizations doing "business as usual" wasn't going to cut it anymore. Good.

What struck me most, though was the coverage of the event in the local press barely made mention of their own mayor's remarks, and those that did gave it short shrift, presumably because he's not on the "politically orthodox" side of politics.

Which is unfortunate. That's because in a time when you have so many Democratic politicians in Washington DC running around thinking they're in charge of things, when they're not, and you have lifetime political hacks from D.C. running around, grabbing corporate cash and attacking party chairman Howard Dean for daring to act like, well, a Democrat, Mayor Gavin Newsom's remarks were a breath of fresh air.

Here's a quote, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, that's worth a look:

"I am not popular in my party," he said. "What's the point of winning if you can't advance your principles? You can't talk in ideals unless you are willing to manifest them...We need more clarity in our party," Newsom said. "It's about integrity."

You'd think a statement like that, coming from the guy who's had to take crap from wealthy, psueudo-Democratic battle-axe Dianne Feinstein, and who decided to stand on principle on an issue that was not going to get him any points in a future political career would be applauded, if not by the supposedly progressive Bay Guardian, then at least by the allegedly powerful "liberal blogosphere."

While I can forgive the latter for not reporting and amplifying Newsom's remarks since there's no way for them to know what's up without being able to read it somewhere, I have to take issue with the Guardian, both for their burial of what would seem to be a bold, progressive statement, and for their coverage of the event in general.

It becomes obvious in a situation like this that no matter what Mayor Newsom says, because he was Not The Politically Correct Person saying said statement, they had to bury it in a half-assed piece about the YD's.

You almost get the sense that there's such a determination to slam Mayor Newsom as "Willie Brown, Part Deux" (even though he's not), they can't even concede one little piece of decent coverage.

News flash: Mayor Newsom is not perfect, lefty folks. We know that. But trying to demonize the guy and being unable to concede on principle when he's done some great things ultimately kills La Causa a hell of a lot better than the Ghost of Satan Willie Brown could or will. It shows an inability to grasp today's political terrain, and a desire to return to what I call the "Bad Good Old Days" - when it was easy to be on

But there's a bigger issue. You'd think that they'd send someone to, oh I don't know, try and cover the issues at hand at said convention, and perhaps engage in a little reporting, maybe even quoting some people and attaching names to quotes. Even better, send a young person who'se politically savvy to try and bring the perspective of the people these folks are tryin' to reach.

Instead the Guardian sent an old college professor whose experience with the Young Democrats dates back to the 1950s. That's great. But nowhere in this coverage does any real history of the group get told, to place anything that happened at the convention itself in context.

The author clearly went over there with a presupposed concept in mind: the tired old saw of "How the 1960s are Still The Best Years for Activism Ever" and the new hack, "Oh You Democrats Didn't Talk About The War As Much as I Deem You Should (Even Though I Didn't Bother to Cover Most of the Convention Anyway)."

Hmm. Sounds like a bad country song. Oh, but I digress.

But to wind it up: Not only did the Guardian make a mis-step in under-reporting their own elected officials' statements at a natinoal convention in their home town, they also blew a chance to do some real research and come up with a story that might have told the reader a little more about the proceedings and asked some hard questions.

Instead, we got yet another iteration of the old "60's Great/Today Bad" rhetoric that makes me literally ill every time I hear it. The 60s have been over for some time now, folks. Smokin' pot and marching a lot may have been the way to go back then. But to make a difference today, one has to get with the times, not try and re-enact the 60s the way those Civil War buffs do so on battlefields in the South.

UPDATE: It seems in my haste to post something, I made the mistake of not noting Pat Murphy's coverage of said convention at his local news website, SF Sentinel that included coverage of Mayor Newsom's remarks.

Many people have opinions of Pat Murphy's work - whatever they say, I still find it a good local resource for many events that don't always get covered by the Big Papers In Town, and Pat's never shy about his opinions, or labeling them as such. Kudos to Pat for covering more of the Mayor's speech.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

March 29, 2005

Stem Cell Con Job or Why Are We Scrambling to Let A Deadbeat In Our Community?

I don't know what is more irritating to me, as a taxpayer, to observe and make me cringe when it comes to the so-called "Stem Cell Research Initiative" voters, in their inimitable wisdom, passed in 2004 here in California.

Part of it is the actual law itself - but also, the way both the press and so-called "leaders" of local governments have chosen to overlook serious problems with this law.

Instead, they've chosen instead to shower an institute funded with $3 billion dollars of credit card spending with yet more "free" (aka "taxpayer funded" goodies). All for a scientific institute that is to be headed up by...a real estate developer with no experience in science, let alone stem cells.

Let's start by taking a look at the law itself. Now, throughout the campaign, voters heard endless, heart-tugging emotional stories of those afflicted with terrible diseases. The initiative's backers skillfully manipulated people, who want to do things to help others, to vote for this new law. People against the law were dismissed as ultra-right religious extremists (even though opposition came from people of diverse political views).

Like so many other initiatives, any real examination of the ramifications of the law were never fully examined. Then the thing passed. And suddenly, after the dust settled, we started to see a wave of "mea culpas" from the press like this one in the December San Francisco Chronticle, and another in the Bay Guardian.

Among the little details: the initiative is using borrowed money, $3 billion worth, and part of that has to go to paying of the debt created by the borrowing right away. So first thing we're seeing these guys spend money on isn't life-saving research - it's bond debt. Out of $300 million in borrowed money in the first few years, as much as $200 million could go to...debt service. To paraphrase the Chronicle - this is like using part of a home loan to make the house payments. Now there's a responsible way to manage money!

If the institute wants to stop spending money on stem cell research, they can. And if they want to spend it on wild parties, they can. And if you want to call your elected officials to bitch and demand a stop to such shenanigans...you can't. They wrote the law so it's almost impossible to enforce the same kind of oversight we demand on every other state program.

Best of all, the guy who wrote this thing, with all its faults, and vague promises of how the taxpayers will make their money back, just happens to be the guy in charge of the institute now and responds to queries about how he'll run things with the words "trust me."

That inspires a lot of confidence. Especially since he's the one that wrote so many poison pills in the law that keep anyone from stopping him from using the state credit card any way he wants. No wonder he was the Governor's choice for the job - we all know how much Gov. Doofinator loves spending on the taxpayer's credit cards!

Now, I am sure the reporters here are congratulating themselves on a job well done for 'exposing' the innards of this law. But I have to wonder -where was all this investigative journalism before the people voted on it and why did so many people including celebrities, politicos, and pundits, sign on to this thing without reading the fine print?

It gives me little satisfaction to say "I told you so!" in this instance - I'd rather people have been a little more responsible, used their votes a bit more wisely, and demanded real answers to some questions before voting.

Now, it's bad enough that voters passed a law with more loopholes, giveaways, and outright deceit as this one - but it is worse to see what so-called "leaders" of California's cities are doing now to attract the Big, Taxpayer Funded Headquarters for this thing.

Reading the "bids" taxpayers' representatives in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and elsehwere are simply astonishing. We have a situation where cities, in a desperate bid to get the institute in their home towns are trying to out-do each other with offers of free office rent, free gym memberships, free this, and free whatever. Anything at all to get the $3 billion dollar credit card in their home town.

Now, what's really pathetic is that once again local elected officials are doing two dumb things local electeds do really well - make "investments" in vague promises, and never tell anyone where the money is coming from to pay for said "investments."

The first is one we hear a lot. Whenever some large, and usually dumb, idea is presented to the public, elected officials use their favorite word when they want to "invest" in a vague promise with your money. They use the word "encourage." Whenever you hear this word, you need to get out a guard dog and put it next to your wallet - because it usually means someone wants to take money away from you and piss it away on something really dumb or give it away to someone who already has billions of dollars.

In this case, cities are giving away all kinds of free things, including hundreds of thousands of square feet of real estate, money to pay for fancy offices, and money for things like gym memberships to get the Big Headquarters of the so-called "California Institute for Regenerative Medicine" aka "The $3 Billion Credit Card You Have to Pay For."

Every single time you read what elected officials have to say when asked why they're giving away money in a time of budget crisis to this thing, they all say something along the lines of how spending this money is an "investment" that will "encourage" businesses to open up shop near said institute, and thus, trickle down the effect of all that spending into local tax coffers, and of course, "create jobs." Now, there's nothing in any of these deals that guarantees any of that. But you never hear that part. No one asks, and no one tells.

If there is one thing I wish I could accomplish in politics, it would be to spend the next ten years on a long rage PR campaign to put a stake in the heart of political "junkie logic" like this in public discourse. Why? Because it is 100%, pure, unadulterated bullshit. Let's see why.

Now, let's use our friend "metaphor" to deconstruct the political junkie logic in an easy to understand way, and see why any local elected official that engages in said logic needs to be asked to leave town:

Suppose you were asked to take a good portion of your take home pay and put it in an investment your new friend wants you to make. No one can show you the potential rate of return. In fact, no one can show you that there's any return at all. Worse, when you ask how the investment will work, you're attacked as being a coward, a liar, or just plain crazy. "Can't you see how your 'investment' will 'encourage' people?" they say?

You keep asking "But if I give you my $40,000 of savings, how will I make the money back?" and your new friend keeps saying that your money won't directly benefit you back - but it will encourage others to give money to you since you're such a great person for making this investment, and you want to encourage others to do the same so you get your money back. You have no guarantees, and the person taking your money could disappear tomorrow -and you'd be left with nothing.

Now, if this sounds more like a "con" than a sound investment, you'd be right. If you did something like this, you'd go to jail. If you're an elected official, you're praised as someone who "creates opportunity" and is "pro-business."

Meanwhile the countryside is littered with abandoned office space and industiral plants businesses got at the taxpayers' expense, all in the name of "investing" in the community and the vague promise of "jobs" in the future. And guess what? Most of those elected officials got promotions from the voters anyway!

In the case of the Stem Cell Mafia Institute, the "winning" city may find itself in for a rude shock should they "win" the right to have this debt-creator in their backyard, paid for by more of their citizens' money. See, there's no rule in any of that well-written law that the money has to be spent locally. In fact, they're mandated to spend money where research is being done now - anywhere. Even out of state.

And no company has put up its stockholders' dividends or its own profits up and said "Hey, I'll move to the city where the Institute is!" - because most companies aren't so stupid as to invest in fairy tales. There's also no guarantee that in the future the Stem Cell Mafia won't come back and say "give us more or we'll leave" after the big investment.

So while we can't figure out how to pay for a few cops in L.A., we can find money to give away $177 million to a billionaire for speculative development, and we can find millions more to "give" to a taxpayer-financed credit card agency with no real fiscal oversight. We can't vote ourselves taxes to pay for roads, schools, and whatnot but we can vote to borrow money and entrust it to a guy with no scientific background and let him play with it as he sees fit.

It's time to end the madness. If there was even a small amount of common sense, civic leaders across California would not be letting themselves be played like this. They'd instead suggest that if the Stem Cell Mafia wants to pitch its circus tent in their neighborhood, they'd have to have written guarantees that they'd employ local people at decent wages.

They'd have to guarantee that the states taxpayers, who are paying for the credit card debt keeping the lights on, would share in the patents and royalties generated by any research. And they certainly wouldn't' compete against each other like hookers at a street corner - they'd work together, since all of California voted for the initiative, and all of California should benefit.

I realize what I just said was a fairy tale as well. But hey! A person has to dream, right?

(note: this article was originally published on March 29, 2005. However in the ensuing upgrade from one platform to another, it was lost. It is being republished as current events warrant a trip in the Political Wayback Machine.)

October 15, 2004

Schadelmann's All-Star Guide To The 2004 Election!

Voting in California takes some effort. Not necessarily to drive to the polls, wait in line, or fill out the mail ballot and find the post office, but to simply wade through a pile of initiatives, everyone's favorite tool of democracy, in a timely fashion.

Every year people call me and ask how to vote on these things - and every year it seems we not only get more of these initiatives, but we get dumber and dumber ones as well. So as a public service to my fellow Californians, here's the Schadelmann.com All-Star No-Nonsense Guide to the 2004 Election, with notes as needed:'

President: John Kerry. Yes, I know he isn't perfect. Guess what? I don't care! At least he doesn't think he's perfect, like the guy in office does now. (I'm waiting for the press conference where Bush says he's "better than Jesus" like John Lennon did...)

US Senate:Is there a race for Senate? Sure there is. I'm voting for Barbara Boxer, mostly because she autographed a newspaper I had from a rally I ran for her in Santa Cruz, and got her picture taken for free with my mom and dad when they visited Washington DC in 1994. What have you done for me lately, Mr. Jones?

US Congress:I can't imagine there's a district in Southern California where the person they drew the district for is going to lose. So you can pretty much vote for anyone and the "right" person will still win.

Rep. Jane Harman lives just a few blocks away from me, so I'm voting for her so I can tell people a Member of Congress lives just a few blocks away from me. And she seems nice. Her campaign is actually running a credible effort too, which is rare these days. Good job!

California State Legislature: The same reasoning applies here - the person they drew these districts for is going to win, barring some bizarre circumstances, so again, you can pretty much vote for whomever you want, and the "right" person will win. Have fun with it. Write in me for State Senate somewhere. Or your dog. Whatever.


Proposition 1A - Local Taxes and The State - NO: This is one of those initiatives I'd like to believe does what it says, since it's in line with something I believe - that the State shouldn't be taking locally collected property taxes away from local authorities. It's wrong, and it denies local authorities, and the citizens who elect them, control over their own money.

That said, it's unclear that this will accomplish a worthy goal: keeping local money local. After reading so many analyses that aren't clear as to the details (where the Devil usually resides) I can't really endorse this as a result. Which sucks, because I don't know if anything better will come along, but I'm tired of voting for good-intentioned, hastily written laws that end up not working.

Proposition 59 - Open Government - YES: This is an easy call. When you pick up the newspaper and have to read yet another scandal involving Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, or another example of how people who work for the public want to keep the public uninformed as to what they're doing, it's clear that this law, which would clarify and codify the concept of open government, is needed.

Proposition 60 - Equal Ballot Access - YES: This is a simple law - it asserts the rights of people to nominate candidates of their party, and see the winner of the party's primary appear on the fall ballot. This allows all parties to compete for your vote on the November ballot. You'd think such a simple, open, and small-d democratic concept would be a slam dunk for passage - but the People Who Know Best are slamming this concept with Proposition 62. Vote "yes" and stick it to The Man.

Proposition 61- Children's Hospital Bonds - YES: Normally I despite "bonds" because they're sold to the public as "more money for (fill in the blank here)" but no one ever talks about the huge interest payments that make these things cost way more than what they give to (fill in the blank here). At the same time it is really hard to say "no" to children's hospitals, which serve anyone, and if you've ever met someone whose kid had heart trouble or leukemia, you know the work they do is great. So vote yes, despite the bond's inherent weakness as a funding mechanism.

Proposition 62 - Special Interest Primary Elections - Hell NO: Longtime readers know full well what I think of this special-interest funded nonsense, designed to rig elections and allow political consultants and their pals in wealthy industries to play shenanigans with the political system.

Vote "no" and stick it to The Man. You can read back issues on this topic here, here, and here.

Proposition 63 - Funding for Mental Health - YES: The state of California, in one of its stupider moves, decided to dismantle our mental health system and devolve it back to the counties, and the effects are pretty clear.

We've traded any sort of system for getting people the help they need so they're not shouting at a wall somewhere on the street for one that doesn't work - in our state's case, letting everyone loose on the street where many mentally ill people now live. This initiative, like most, isn't perfect, but at least it tries to get some money where it's needed, and help cut down the cost of other problems, like homelessness, and crime, in the process.

Proposition 64 - Make Large Companies Unaccountable for their Misdeeds - NO: This piece of special interest funded legalese portrays itself as something that will help small business defend itself from "frivolous" lawsuits. As a small business owner myself, I'm sure I could be persuaded to support such a concept.

Too bad this is just an attempted to weaken the laws in California that keep large companies accountable when they pull shenanigans. But rather than go on and on about this noise, check out this amusing video which does a far better job than I, mostly because they're riffing on the old Schoolhouse Rock videos from the 1970s.

Proposition 65 - Local Taxes and The State II - YES: This was the initiative local authorities drafted before the compromise 1A was created. Just to have a little fun, vote "yes" and see what happens. Reading through the analysis is long, complicated and not a lot of fun. Don't we pay people to do this for us in the Legislature?

Proposition 66 - Reform Three Strikes - YES: In the clamor for "tougher laws" California came up with the cutely named "Three Strikes and You're Out" law. There wasn't a whole lot of reasoning as to why three felonies merited life imprisonment, versus two, or four, or 3.1416. It polled well and we passed it.

Since then we've had plenty of violent felons go on to commit lots of crimes, while some idiot who shoplifts beef jerky at a 7-11 gets a life term. This law would fix some of the problems with the law so that it makes more sense and gets more real criminals behind bars.

Proposition 67 - Telephone Taxes for Emergency Care - NO: This is one of those laws I don't like, since they're taxing telephones to pay for emergency care service, when that should be paid for in a more sensible way, but when I read who's opposing this, I don't like them either. I'd rather vote "no" and force the Legislature and the Governor, who are paid to solve these problems, come up with a more stable plan.

Proposition 68 - The Larry Flynt Gambling Initiative - NO: The card clubs and racetracks who were paying for this campaign have pulled their support, since their own polling showed this poorly-created law going down to defeat.

Like good gamblers, they decided to leave the table and not keep putting their money down on a bad bet. California needs to realize that gambling money is not "free" money, and getting our government addicted to the expansion of gambling in the long run is a bad idea, especially since California has no law-enforcement system comprable to Nevada's to police gaming in this state.

Proposition 69 - The DNA Database Act - NO: I'd like to believe that a massive database of every person who's gotten a traffic ticket's DNA would help law enforcement. But when you consider that this is the same government that finds new and exciting ways to screw up records and files, you have to wonder if this is such a great idea.

Proposition 70 - Yet Another Gaming Initiative - NO: Despite the fact that I'm generally very sympathetic to Indian gaming, I'm voting "no" on this one. The concept overall is very good - the tribes would voluntarily pay the same top tax rate California's corporations pay, on their profits.

But until there's a more sensible and powerful enforcement of gaming law on and off Indian lands, and until the State gets serious about being a gambling state and building up the infrastructure needed to keep gaming clean, like they do in Nevada, I'm not supporting this or any other initiative for a while.

Proposition 71 - That Stem Cell Thing - NO: Far be it from me to cast my lot with the Holier Than Thou crowd, or for being against research that would help people in the future. That said, I'm not wild about having a lot of money given to a few biotech companies who can spend this as they please, without a lot of oversight. Plus this uses the much-maligned "bonds" to fund this activity. We need a better way to fund real research in this state and this country, and this doesn't fix the "big picture" problem we continue to have. Vote "no" and force them to come up with a better idea.

Proposition 72 - Health Care Reform, Part 1 - YES: We've given private business a chance to do things their way, and frankly it's no longer working. More people pay a lot more and get a lot less for what they spend on health care. The Usual Suspects are trotting out tired catch-phrases like "rationed health care" and "bad for business" but we already have a system that's doing both.

When people can't afford to go to the doctor and let their problems get worse, that's rationing. And how is it good for business when you have employees that have to take their kid to the emergency room instead of a regular doctor? It's not perfect, but it's a start. Vote "yes" and once again, stick it to The Man.

That's all for now. Have fun!

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

March 15, 2004

What's The Difference Between a Fee and Tuition?

Gov. Doofinator (AKA Pete Wilson II) is at it again. Not content to push a phony credit card bond (with plenty of help from alleged Democrats like Steve Westly), now we're getting the usual "fee hikes" at the University of California, California State University, and community college campuses. (Prison guards will get their raises, don't worry!)

However, many reporters often make a mistake when covering these issues and it's not just a matter of semantics - it's a matter of accuracy. Specifically, whenever "fees" are raised, they often use the term "tuition" interchangeably as today's LA Times story does here.

The reason this is important is quite simple- the laws governing the creation and management are very specific - California residents cannot be charged "tuition" (i.e. money paid to cover the costs of their education) at any California school. The only people who pay "tuition" are out-of-state students at any of these schools.

Now to some people this may still seem like a semantic difference, but it's critical that those watching budget shenanigans know why it's important. Whenever "fees" are jacked up at a UC campus for example, not a dime of that money covers the actual cost of educating the people who are attending the school. Instead, the schools transfer the payment of the university or college's basic functions away from the state and on to the students and their parents.

Guess what one of those expenses is? Can't guess? More money for aid for students who can't afford to go to college! (and the bureaucracy that runs it!) If that cycle of silliness doesn't boggle your mind, I have a job for your as Governor Doofinator's budget guy/gal.

So once again the point needs to be clear - the money that folks are being asked to pay is not part of any "tuition" - and those covering such issues should know the difference since recognizing this fact makes the big picture issue a lot different than the one painted by Gov. Doofinator and his Wilsonian cronies.

Once again, we have one of the famous "California disconnects" in public policy. We pass bonds to build buildings at colleges, yet not a dime of that (expensive) money pays for the teachers or books that go in them. We raise the cost of attending the college buildings, but again, the increased out of pocket expenses do not cover the cost of the teachers or the books that are part of the education one is paying for.

Thus, when you attend a California school, you will end up spending a lot more time waiting for the classes you need to graduate. That means more money borrowed to spend more time in school, while those who can afford a 4 year stint at Yale or Stanford can get their degree and get on with their lives.

Which brings up one other point - whenever these "fees" are raised, the inevitable comparison comes up that although the cost is more, it's still "cheaper" than an Ivy League school which is considered comparable. This may have held water 20 years ago, but nowadays it is kind of like raising the price of a Camry 40% and saying "well it's still cheaper than a Mercedes Benz." Which of course, is true, but is it a value anymore if the price is inflated? Or does one start looking elsewhere for a better deal.

Frankly after years of paying for prison guard raises over school, and the sheer incompetence of UC's management of the weapons labs here and in New Mexico, I believe that comparison could be questioned. More to the point - with the eroding course offerings at all levels of the education system and the difficulty in getting classes needed to get out in four years, such a comparison at the undergraduate level may not hold any longer.

More importantly, the point of a public university system, built and paid for by the citizens of California, is meant for their free use first. A vibrant, active, and accessible education to those smart enough to qualify, allows our state to have people capable of creating the businesses and coming up with the new ideas we'll need to stay on top.

Otherwise, we will continue the slide towards becoming a Third World country - something I'd rather not see. A college education is no longer a "luxury" or an "extra" as it was in the Industrial Age. If you want a job or a future with any hope of more than minimum wage and no benefits, you have to go to college. Just ask the grocery workers who went on strike. Or the blue collar workers on the permanent unemployment line.

More important, the taxpaying citizens of California built these colleges with the idea that anyone smart enough to get in could go to school. This has been the social contract between the state and the people for over 100 years. Making the comparison in cost to other states or private schools is a betrayal of that contract - not everyone can pick up and move to Michigan, New York or some other state to get an education - nor should they.

Generations of prominent Californians were able to get their education at community colleges, state Universities, and UC campuses for a minimal cost. It's time to end the circus, and find a better way to maintain a free, quality education for those smart enough to deserve one.

PS: I recently read a very interesting story about an immigrant who came to California in the late 60s, who was in need of some improvements to his education if he was to succeed in his chosen field. Because Santa Monica College was available to him, he was able to take some classes and improve both his language skills and his knowledge of his new adopted homeland.

He has since gone on to be a tremendously successful businessman, and a leader on the national stage. You can guess where this is going...yes, in fact it was Arnold Schwarzenegger. (insert Paul Harvey-esque music here)


© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

February 25, 2004

March 2nd Primary Endorsements- Taxpayer Funded Fun!

The geniuses who moved California's primary from the sensible, and safe June to the irrationally early March did so to "give California more say" in the presidential primaries. But because of the unbalanced front loading of the primaries so far our "choices" have been reduced to picking amongst who'se left: Sen. Kerry, Sen. Edwards, Rep. Kucinich and yes, Rev. Al Sharpton, in the Tuesday primary. Whatever "influence" California might have had has once again been snatched away, reminding one of poor ol' Charlie Brown's quixotic quest to kick that football Lucy has.

While this may reassure Sen. Kerry's campaign, it has the unintended effect of potentially dampening turnout for other campaigns this March, which would be unfortunate. Several very important issues are on the ballot, and it's important to make sure one's voice is heard since many of these will have a more direct and immediate impact on people's lives than who gets elected President. Plus, with so many races already decided, you can do what I do when confronted with inevitable winners in these races, and use your ballot as state-funded entertainment.

So without further ado, some humble recommendations from Schädelmann.com:

President: The only real race right now is on the Democratic side - I am unaware of any serious insurgency on the GOP side. I make two recommendations for you to consider, it really depends on how you feel when you mark your ballot.

If you want to be able to say "Hey, I voted for the winner" then vote for Sen. John Kerry. Polls indicate he's got anywhere from a 25 to 32 point lead over Sen. Edwards, and the rest trail far behind. Thanks primarily to a large loan from himself to the campaign, he was able to revive his flagging fortunes and already President Bush and his minions are attacking him. Even if Kerry's lead were to drop 15 points (not likely) he'd STILL win by over 15 points anyway. So if you want to vote for the "winner" , vote for Sen. John Kerry.

If you don't care about voting for a winner, and want to have some fun, vote for Rep. Dennis Kucinch. I've had the pleasure of meeting Rep. Kucinch and think he's a genuinely nice guy and his campaign staff has always been fun to talk to. Barring some revelations over the weekend, he's not going to win the California primary. But then again, with Kerry being the inevitable winner anyway, voting for Kucinch won't hurt Kerry a bit, and could help Rep. Kucinch get some issues aired at the convention in July. So if you'd like to use your ballot for some taxpayer-funded fun, vote Kucinch.

Proposition 55: Vote No I hate to vote no on building schools, or fixing them since so many are in such sorry shape. But as usual, these fund will build lots of buildings, but make not one assurance that there'll be a dime to fund any classes in them.

Plus when you read the fine print and realize we're paying as much in interest (12.4 billion dollars) as we are in getting actual money to the schools (12.3 billion dollars) you begin to realize this is short term borrowing with long term debt problems. We have too many bonds issued as is - force the Doofinator and the Legislature to fund schools properly, or take the shackles off of local government and let local communities decide for themselves how much they would like to pay for decent schools in their area.

Proposition 56: Vote Yes. The two-thirds requirement to pass a budget is one of these idiotic "think tank" ideas some genius comes up with as a way to try and make things better, when in fact it makes things worse. It makes no sense for a budget with 64% of the votes in the Legislature fail, because it didn't get a full 66% vote.

The wild-eyed claims about making it "easier" to pass higher taxes and the threat of Californians waking up one day to find all their taxes have been quintupled is foolish. If a state Legislature raised taxes too much, they'd get voted out of office - that's our job as voters if that is in fact how we feel.

More importantly, it would force all of our state leaders to make hard decisions about how to run our state government, instead of allowing them to pass clever little "non tax" taxes, like state assessments on parking tickets and the infamous "snack tax" of Gov. Pete Wilson (aka Arnold I).

Return majority rule to the state budget process, and take away the excuses both branches use to evade their roles as leaders charged with making decisions.

Proposition 57/58: Vote NO NO NO NO. Gov. Doofinator ran Gray Davis out of town claiming that Davis resorted to budget trickery that ran our state in to debt, and that he, the Doofinator, would make "tough choices" and bring "leadership" to Sacramento. This bond and pony show does neither.

Rather than be a balls-out real Republican and cut like crazy, he instead proposes to get out the state credit card, and borrow our way out of our problems. This is not leadership - this is deferring the problem to future generations so that Doofinator and the Legislature can say they "fixed" the problem without having to make any difficult choices.

Particularly galling is the total sellout of the Jarvis Taxpayers Association, longtime foes of budget shenanigans (we thought) who have signed on to this foolish package, as well as the sellout of "Democrats" like Steve Westly, who claims to be a Democrat, but can't seem to get those sparkles out of his eyes when standing next to the retired movie star. The witty rejoinder we keep hearing from people who "reluctantly" support this nonsense is the old "well we don't want to make cuts in social programs, so this is the best we can do."

Bullshit! It's is just this kind of crisis that can force everyone to make real decisions and stand up for what it is they truly support and discard what they do not. Sure the battle would be ugly, and the short-term damage would be horrible, but the eventual compromise from an honest debate would be far better than this noise.

Superior Court, Los Angeles County: Since I recently moved here, I do not know much about these candidates. Rather than cast an irresponsible ballot, I'm leaving these blank. I rarely do this, but when I know so little about LA Superior Court issues, I'm not going to add to the noise by casting crazy votes and accidently voting for some nutcase candidate by mistake. Maybe that makes me less of a "knowledgeable pundit," but I'd rather admit I don't know something than lie.

Los Angeles County Supervisor: Los Angeles County, an area bigger than 20 states, has only five supervisors running the County. These people run "their" districts like little feudal kingdoms, safe from any real opposition with huge election bank accounts that ensure no one dares take them on. The geographic area of each supervisor's district is so big, that running a low budget campaign is next to impossible. Thus, voting in these races is like voting in a third world country where the election's been determined in advance, and the "winner" gets something like 110% of the vote.

Thus, vote for any non-incumbent in these races. If the ones running in your area are particularly insane, then write in someone. Anyone. Yourself, your friend, your dog, whatever. Punch a hole in these folks' egos and deny them their 90%. It won't change much but at least you'll make someone at the Elections OFfice have to hand count your ballot.

No matter how you end up deciding to vote, be sure to do so. And make sure you know where your mail-ballot is and your polling place. Although I'm registered in Venice as a Permanent Mail Ballot voter, I have yet to receive my ballot, and after several frustrating calls to the Elections Department did I find that I may never get it - and if I'd followed the advice of the first person to take my call, I would not have been able to vote at all this time around! Scary.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

October 6, 2003

ART ATTACK 2003! - A review!

Saturday night was the big night for Robbie Conal's latest Art Attack on Los Angeles on the Recall here so I dropped by to attend as a non-objective journalist and see what was happening. I wasn't sure what to expect but figured I could give up my usual Saturday doings to see what others were doing for La Causa days before the recall election.

Turnout at this thing was incredible! Usually when you go to these sorts of things there's a gang of usual suspects that shows up and does its thing, and that's that. The scene at Canter's Deli was quite the opposite. The crowd was huge!
It wasn't the size alone that made the turnout so impressive - it was the diversity of the group that caught me off guard. There were Usual Suspects, high school kids, college students, senior citizens, concerned citizens, high-falutin' professional types, and a lot of Regular Folks, all concerned about the election, and all wanting to do SOMETHING, anything to get the word out before election day.

That positive attitude - a "we can do it" attitude versus an angry, resigned, defeatist one - was something that was encouraging to watch. People were ready to put their feet on the ground and do something that would bypass the mass media and attempt to reach voters just a few days before the election, instead of just sitting at home and being pissed off. It was a good event and fun to attend - Robbie Conal and everyone involved deserve a high-five from the rest of us.

On Sunday I got ahold of a friend's digital camera and shot some video and still pictures on Main Street in Santa Monica to see if any posters made it here in the heart of Arnold Country (his main offices are on Main Street). Sure enough some did!

Here's a traffic light box with the poster, intact.

Here are some citizens checking out posters at Main and Hollister at a construction site....that one that has the "post no bills" sign stenciled in.

Someone violated Robbie's "Guerilla Etiquette" and posted one over by Rockenwagner - not cool, kids! Remember you're not supposed to post on private property!

Check out more images my gallery at journalspace. As I get more pictures I'll be posting them here and updating the site.

Note to Arnold Supporters, Law Enforcement Personnel, and Other Concerned Citizens: I can verify that I myself engaged in no illegal activities. Really. If you need proof I have plenty! Honest!

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

Fellow Travelers