Category Archives: Debunking Politicos Pundits + Spin

As The Media and Everyone Loses Their Sh*t over Bell, CA Corruption, A Reminder…

By now, the big story the Los Angeles Times “broke” about the excessively high salaries in tiny Bell, CA has been the outrage heard ’round the world, and the fallout has begun, complete with resignations, recriminations, investigations and more. Politicians of all stripes are seeking to make a name for themselves going after these goofuses. While it’s righteous and harmonious that these looters get some punishment, let’s not all pat the LA Times on the back for it’s alleged “investigative reporting.
Why? Simple – this is not a new story in Bell, or any of the little towns outside of Los Angeles, many of which have faced similar corruption scandals in the past. In fact, I wrote about these corrupt little burgs seven years ago when neighboring communities were mired in similar scandals (and yes, at the time Bell was paying people bazillions of dollars in “perks” while city services starved).
In my old blog post from an old blog long since dead, I detailed why: many of these towns have a disenfranchised electorate that either can’t vote, or simply don’t, no one covers these towns and their myriad of contracts and payments and whatnots so there’s no transparency to said local governments, and frankly the LA Times has “reported” on this on occasion, but doesn’t really care either. A huff and puff editorial in 2003 rings hollow when you consider that Bell’s shenanigans were going on -and the Times did nothing in the ensuing years to keep the heat on local governments like it claimed was a good idea.
So while everyone at the LA Times is high fiving each other and reveling in the attention just remember – this is nothing new, this has been happening for ages, and will continue to happen until something changes. It’d be nice to think the Times would be the innovator in finding a way to connect these residents with their local government and inform them so they’d stop voting for these idiots, but between Sam Zell and the overall cluelessness of the newspaper “industry,” I’m not holding out for any miracles.

“Meatless Monday” Resolution Doesn’t Go Far Enough – We Need “Do the Hustle” Tuesdays Too!

IMG_0965.JPGSo, in old news recycled, we’re being reminding in various web-spaces that the City of San Francisco did indeed pass a non-binding resolution declaring a weekly “Meatless Monday” in order to “encourage” (love that word) people to be more holy or something. The people for it think they’ve really made a difference or something. Plenty of outsiders have seized upon this as another billy club to beat on Our Fair City with, and out-of-state Gate commenters are literally so angry and screaming mad they’re going to need their blood pressure meds re-upped early.
Calm down, people and take a nice deep breath before you blow a blood vessel, let’s review for a moment, shall we?
-Like any emotion inducing non-binding resolution, the key word here is non-binding. That means it’s nothing more than a majority of supervisors expressing an opinion, albeit under the aegis of the City of San Francisco. Still, if a majority of Supervisors were sitting in a bar, and all agreed they liked Guinness, that would have about as much legal impact as a “non binding resolution.”
The twist is, however when these things are doing at City Hall, emotional proponents and their feisty opposition scream and yell, cry and moan about this like it means something. IT DOES NOT! I can go to McDonalds, buy a big bag of burgers, and stand out on the street giving them out to anyone I so choose and the Man can’t crack down on me.
Hell, I can even SIT DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK and hand out burgers and (for now) no one can stop me. If I want to eat NOTHING, not even VEGETABLES but simply go breatharian, I can do that too!! The point is, nothing is going to change, aside from some dead trees to print this thing up. Ooh, how “revolutionary!”
-I have no problem with Supervisors expressing their views on current events, by the way. I can respect other people’s points of view, and I’m sure this had good intentions. There is an irony here, however – the resolution’s main supporter, Sup. Sophie Maxwell, currently lives in a district with no real grocery stores. Try finding vegan anything or just some fresh produce on a regular basis, and you’d be hard pressed to do so. During a recent trip on the T Line I took the time to walk the neighborhood, and news flash, one has to get in a car or take a train to get any decent food. I certainly didn’t see anyone thinking “Gosh we should stop selling meat on Mondays to save the planet” – because of course wealthy liberal types aren’t going to go take the T Line to dialogue on these – they’re too busy parking a Prius or something.

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One of the Weirdest Political Ads Yet – Nava for Attorney General

pedronavaad.jpgThis year’s primary is one of the worst ever. There is very little interest in the election, a lot of boring candidates, and none of them have much money (well aside from Him, Her, and that Other Guy). This inevitably leads to some crazy-ass stuff put out there in an effort to be “daring” but usually ends up being “lame.”
Case study: Pedro Nava for Attorney General. Now, I’m sure he’s a good guy, and he served 3 terms in the Assembly and passed some bills. Yay. How that qualifies him to to be Attorney General? I have no idea. I actually met him once ages ago at a fundraiser for John Kerry that I attended in Montecito, CA and he seemed like a nice enough guy, but this video just has all kinds of WTF all over it
I mean, what’s up with the weird cartoony background? The dogs? The dog with bunny ears? The dog with glasses flying a plane? And he’s not even looking at the camera? And the clapping dog? OMG.
Ok I thought the clapping dog was kinda funny. But you know what? I really don’t give a sh!t about his record on “animal rights” if he’s running for ATTORNEY GENERAL. I’d be much more interested in seeing something about crime and that kind of thing.
Plus, it’s been my experience, having worked with candidates in the past who’ve been Big Friends of the animal rights movement that it’s a kiss of death for a campaign. In 1994 I worked for a Senate candidate that made as big a deal about his record as Pedro does, and he got his ass kicked. Every time someone starts touting such a record, they very rarely win in a competitive election.
I’m scanning in mail pieces. There’s just so much weird out there this year. Oh and those ads for Prop. 17 are easily the most full of sh!t ads I’ve ever seen. Mercury Insurance Sucks!

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.

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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!)

How Many Trees Must Die For the Sierra Club’s Sins?

There’s a really boring primary coming up in June and by now you’ve likely received a voter guide, and some political junk mail. It’s rather amazing to see so many groups and campaigns (especially for DCCC) that have little money to begin with, who are spending big money on dead tree mail and doorhangers.

It’s especially baffling to see the Sierra Club, which is allegedly in the business of Saving The Earth or something, literally littering neighborhoods with thousands of dead-tree doorhangers. In fact on the day they hit my neighborhood, not only did they do a poor job of distribution (often just dumping them in a pile at the front door or in our case putting them on our gate), but because it was windy, 80% of them blew all over the place. Really effective and “green,” smart guys.

It was followed up by what is likely to be their one postcard sent to voters before the primary – one that cost a lot to mail because postage is now so high for bulk mail, and because they had to use a special blend of smug and soy to print the damned thing. Guess how much I (or any of my neighbors) looked at it? Well you can come by the recycle bin by our mailbox and see how effective all those dead trees were.

It never ceases to amaze me how lower budget campaigns insist on using dead trees as their exclusive campaign communications medium. It’s especially amazing given that San Francisco has the highest concentration of voters online anywhere in the United States, and by using targeted online advertising, they could reach more people for less money, and a big percentage of their budget wouldn’t be at the Post Office. And yes, their consultants could still make the same 15% they would off the junk mail.

San Francisco: Where talk is cheap – and so is “going green!”

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.

Ha! I Was Right! Elsbernd IS Gunning For Higher Office!

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a guest blog post for the SF Weekly’s blog, “The Snitch,” about the upcoming week in joy that was the Board of Supervisors that week. Since it was also the week they were taking most of the week off, it was a short post.
However, it seems one of my predictions was right on the money. In the post, I noted that Supervisors often come up with big sounding (but do nothing) “charter amendments” so they can sound like they’re a big knowitall when they run for Some Other Office. People disputed this, but as it turned out I was right about Sup. Sean Elsbernd’s plans for his career.
Today the SF Weekly reported that Elsbernd is aggressively courting supporters for a run for the US House seat held by Jackie Speier, should she decide to run for Attorney General. That’s interesting because a) most of the candidates running (6? or more) on the Democratic side are unknown outside their home base, b) Speier leaving the US House after just winning the special election not too long ago says a lot about the US House, and c) Speier could declare for governor and have a ton of support, since there is no declared candidate for Governor on the Democratic side, and the election is just 4 1/2 months away (!).
Does Sup. Elsbernd (or any Supervisor for that matter) deserve a promotion? Personally, I’d hold out for a better candidate, preferably someone not contaminated by the do-nothing dysfunction of Sacramento, or the culture of blame and recrimination that infects the Board Chambers or Room 200.
All of this is moot, if Rep. Speier stays put. Given how crazy the Democrats are, and how they are prone to dumping gasoline on fire and lighting the match, I figure their potential collapse just gets more and more likely the crazier these primaries get. No one votes in them anyway, so if you do vote, you’re like 1000 votes instead of one. Have fun!

Deep Thought Of The Day: Campaigning Vs. Governing

It’s not like the past was some sort of Golden Age ever, but I wonder: are we finally at the point where the skills to run a good political campaign are so exclusive of good government that we now have a system that excels at putting people into office who are great at the election part, who have no real clue how (or maybe even the desire) to do the job they so desperately wanted?
Think about it: to get elected all you have to do is sound good, look good, and play to the press’s desire to cover the horse race. If you’re ahead, EVERYONE wants you to win because people like a winner in a horse race.
When you get elected, despite the fact the press focuses on deal-making, in the end, governing is a Hell of a lot more difficult, and many people really don’t want you to succeed (no matter who you are).
If things were as simple as the speechmakers claim, it sure would be easier to get things done. Plus when speechwriters and spinners came up with boneheaded ideas (think the Central Subway here in SF as a local example) that have no basis in reality, wouldn’t be the clusterfraks they are now.
This isn’t exclusive to one party, despite what the partisans on both sides think. You all know who you are.

I Wish I’d Posted My Prediction on the Massachusetts Senate Race…

Lessons for bloggers: don’t hold back on unpopular predictions, lest you end up being right. A few weeks ago I predicted that Martha Coakley would lose the US Senate special election in Massachusetts. Every single time I brought this up, my Democratic friends would look at me like a heretic and proceed to rattle of something they read on “Daily Kos” about why I was wrong and that speaking such heresy meant I was going to Hell. And yet, none of their reasons had anything to do with actual facts or history. So here was my reasoning, and why liberal bloggers sometimes have their heads in the sand:
-Martha Coakley’s campaign was spectacularly poor. She didn’t campaign like she should have, once she got the Democratic nomination. If part of life is showing up, in campaigns, it is everything. By basically assuming she’d win by default, she made the classic mistake that allowed the other candidate to define the race. She also made several verbal gaffes that amplified her seeming disdain for talking to actual voters.
-Her campaign was run almost exclusively by DC based political people, and veteran campaign consultants and workers were sidelined by the Geniuses from DC. Another sign of something Really Bad. Pushing aside the people who know the state in favor of generic strategies based on abstract polling data and focus groups doesn’t work well. Plus, there are a lot of rings that need to be kissed in Massachusetts politics, and you don’t necessarily know which ones those are if you’re relying on whiz kids from DC.
-Massachusetts is not 100% Communist Leftist Whatever. Massachusetts has elected Republicans as Governor exclusively since 1990, and it was only in 2006, when Deval Patrick won, that the cycle broke. Also, remember that Ted Kennedy himself came dangerously close to losing his re-election in 1994 against Mitt Romney (!), and it took a Herculean effort of money and resource to ensure his re-election. Had it not been for some extremely poor choices of words by Romney, and a recognition that Kennedy was in trouble in time to do something about it, he might have well lost. Remember, in 1994, the Speaker of the US House lost his bid for re-election that year.
-President Obama is an easy target. People know right now they can call him names, they can use code words for the “n-word,” and they can call him a liar in front of the entire country, and nothing will happen. Obama’s obsession with getting the acceptance of people who quite literally, do not think he’s a legitimate holder of the office, and who will say or do anything to tear him down, is his ultimate weakness.
No one fears President Obama if they cross him, so they rip him a new one on any big or little thing (remember that bullshit crying spasm the righties had about his choice of mustard? WTF?). So of course they’re going to prop up some dude in Massachusetts and make 41 the new majority number for a Senate of 100. (Wait, what?)
There’s no reason why Obama and Democratic office seekers can’t turn this around, but it isn’t likely they will. Running around and “re thinking” and “re framing” are popular pastimes of bloggers, party insiders, and the endless amount of “staff” of officeholders, and while they’re talking and bitching, the other side wants to kick their asses. Until they decide they’re going to respond in kind, they will continue to get their asses kicked.
The sad part is the other side has nothing of substance to offer beyond blind rage. When we had them in charge of Everything (President, Senate, House, SCOTUS), the best they could come up with was Tom DeLay/Jack Abramhoff style corruption, a war without end, and endless trillions added to the deficit, and a bubble economy that just blew up on us. But we don’t think about that anymore, right?
PS: Oh, and one other thing: despite what the folks Outside of California assume about our Golden State, California is not 1000% Communist either. Look at the history of statewide initiatives and elections starting in 1982, and see just how well “lefties” do. Barbara Boxer has always had to run a tough race, and the Democratic hold on statewide offices has NEVER been absolute, ever.
The fact the California State Democratic Party acts like it IS 1000% Democrat is well, I suppose good news for Republicans?
PPS: Jack Donaghy is one of my all time favorite characters on TV. F*ck yeah, Jack!