Category Archives: California Politics

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.

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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 (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 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.

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:

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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.)

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.

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!

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!

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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.

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, 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!

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.