Category: I Hate Politics Page 2 of 7

One guy’s progressive endorsements

My Ballot
There have been people in the past who have trusted me to give my take on the ballot to help them decide what to do. Things have been so busy this year that I haven’t gotten to this to this point, but, better late than never. I think in future elections I’ll do this a little earlier. (Part of the reason I am not posting this until now is that I am using this blog post, written tonight, as a way to clarify my own thoughts and make my final voting decisions.)

The ones that probably need the most help (in my subjective view) are up top; sorry if the order is confusing since it’s not the same order as the ballot. Ah, well. And, of course, the farther away you live from me, the less likely our ballots will be similar.

Special focus:

BART Director, District 4: Robert Raburn – he is an experienced transportation planner and transit/bike/pedestrian advocate, and a good guy. (He was E.D. of the East Bay Bike Coalition for 15 years, of which I’m a member.) From what I can tell, his opponent the incumbent is a politician with no particular expertise in transit planning. Vote for Robert Raburn.

Yes on Prop 25: This doesn’t go far enough, but it’s worth voting for. The budget should NOT require a 2/3 vote in the legislature.

No on Prop 26: Neither should fees to mitigate pollution! Defeat the initiative funded by Chevron.

While I’m on the subject, No on 23! Beat the Texas oil companies’ profit grab and save California’s climate policy.

Yes on Prop 19. The two main reasons I’d vote for it: Local, state, and federal government “waste valuable resources targeting non-violent cannabis consumers, while thousands of violent crimes go unsolved. And there is $14 billion in marijuana sales every year in California, but our debt-ridden state sees none of the revenue that would come from controlling and taxing it.” (Quote from the Yes on 19 website.) That last reason alone is reason to vote for it. People are going to do it either way (similar to alcohol during Prohibition), so why not maximize the societal benefit?

Also, it’s nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol. Alcohol is (obviously) addictive and can cause death if overused (or, for example, if used before getting behind the wheel), both unlike marijuana. Time Magazine reports on how marijuana is not a gateway drug — but the discredited idea is still used as an excuse to continue a failing policy. Read more info from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

City of Oakland Mayor:

The Ron Dellums era is (thankfully) ending. Let’s just forget about the last four years of Oakland city government, shall we?

Oakland needs a leader who is focused on Oakland, not just an office to hold when termed out of the state legislature. I’ve heard good things about both Rebecca Kaplan and Jean Quan — people I trust have a lot of experience with both of them, and I think they’re running for the right reasons. Luckily, the city has finally implemented the ranked-choice voting (instant runoff!) that voters mandated several years ago, so here’s my recommendation:

  1. Quan or Kaplan
  2. Kaplan or Quan
  3. Anyone else but Don Perata

Perata is the front-runner due to name recognition, I’m guessing. However, even though he represented Oakland in Sacramento, he lived in Alameda. I just worry that he’s going to be similar to Dellums — out of touch with what a mayor should do and just marking time. If you vote the way I suggest, your vote will certainly count for either Kaplan or Quan, since I will be shocked if either of them finish worse than 3rd.

Other state ballot measures:

No on Prop 20. The redistricting commission established by Prop 11 a few years ago was not designed to redraw Congressional districts, and it shouldn’t. There’s a lot at stake in terms of federal funding for California, and Californians should keep our state on a level playing field relative to other states.

Yes on Prop 21: Cars are far too subsidized in California, and State Parks need funding. It’s a modest user fee that saves recreational opportunities and habitat. Easy choice.

Prop 22: I am just not sure. If you support local government and agree with the League of California Cities that the state government shouldn’t borrow from cities to plug holes in the swiss-cheese-like state budget, then vote Yes on 22. If you agree with the California Teachers Association and the California Professional Firefighters (the union that represents the state agency that fights wildfires as well as many local departments) vote No on 22 to protect state funding for things like education. This might fall under the “when in doubt, vote no” strategy, especially since it’s a constitutional amendment.

Yes on Prop 24: It repeals a law that creates corporate tax loopholes. I don’t believe the scare tactics that say businesses are leaving California, because the data says they aren’t.

Yes on Prop 27 (with philosophical reservations). Prop 27 abolishes the aforementioned redistricting commission and returns the responsibility of redistricting to the legislature. On balance, I say vote yes, but I am doing it while holding my nose. Most progressive organizations say that you should vote yes on Prop 27, which seems to be a primarily pragmatic stance.  Passing Prop 27 would undoubtedly result in more liberals/progressives/Democrats in office after the redistricting, because the California legislature is controlled by Democrats, and legislature-run redistricting processes generally favor the party that is currently in power through the creation of gerrymandered districts.

Gerrymandered districts have problems. However, the commission as currently constituted — “balanced” between Dems, Repubs, and “independents” — is no panacea either. It certainly doesn’t reflect California to the extent that the legislature does. The tipping point is this: Prop 11/Prop 20 has a weird clause that requires that districts be homogeneous based on income — read more at http://www.today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/no-on-prop-20-yes-on-27-171353.aspx — and for that reason I say No on 20, Yes on 27.

State Candidates:

U.S. Senate: Barbara Boxer

Attorney General: Kamala Harris
Lt. Governor: Gavin Newsom
Insurance Commish: Dave Jones

Governor: Jerry Brown
Sec’y of State: Debra Bowen
Controller: John Chiang
Treasurer: Bill Lockyer
State B.O.E. (District 1): Betty Yee

9th Congressional District: Barbara Lee
16th Assembly District: Sandré Swanson
CA Supreme Court: no idea at this point.

Alameda County/Oakland measures:

I need to do way more research before I say a word about these. More later, maybe… but for now I think this is pretty comprehensive for anyone who’s going to read this. Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

Our brains reject facts, and misinformation makes us confident. Ah, well.

This tab has been open in my browser at work since July 11th, because I’ve been meaning to finish reading this article and posting it, but I just haven’t gotten to it.

From “How facts backfire” in The Boston Globe:

[W]e often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote.

This dovetails with what Drew Westen was saying when I first saw him at Netroots Nation in 2007, and — going back a few years — George Lakoff’s work on frames.

This being an unfinished thought, I guess I shouldn’t feel too much pressure to come up with some kind of pithy conclusion (beyond this pointless sentence).

Love the commons; hate politics.

Can't wait till the election is over.

[Thanks, Flickr commons.]

Compare and contrast…

“Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.”

– George Washington, 1796

“I wish you’d have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. I’m sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn’t yet…. I don’t want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I’m confident I have. I just haven’t — you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.”

– George W. Bush, 2004

The similarities and differences between the two quotations are striking, especially considering the more than 200 years between them.

I just read Washington’s Farewell Address from 1796, and it’s a little fatuous of me to say that I found it pretty amazing. He was truly wise, and I wish that we would have listened to him more.

I’m reading it because I’m in the process of writing a blog entry (or at least was — the draft is gone since I foolishly updated Firefox without saving the draft in Drupal) encouraging members of the Green Party to stop railing against CLCV for leaving their gubernatorial candidate off our “GreenGov2010” site (to help the next governor become a better governor in protecting the environment than the one we have now). So far we have only posted info about the major candidates — the ones with any viability to win, the ones we all know about — though we will post all the candidates after the California Secretary of State’s office releases the certified list of candidates on April 1st.

I couldn’t remember which of our founding fathers had warned against the evils of political parties. A quick search revealed that at minimum George Washington had done so. In his eloquent (and verbose) farewell address, written and delivered at a time in which people wrote and orated amazingly complex sentences, he announced his decision not to seek a third term and warned against several things, including entanglements with permanent foreign alliances, government without religion and morality, and, yes, the establishment of political parties on geographical or other bases.

It’s amazing, and sad, how the near-total domination of parties in our political system have given rise to many of our first president’s fears. Read his speech (because I just don’t have time to list them at the moment… though I plan to).

The point is, for some reason Greens are pissed off at CLCV for leaving their candidate off the site, but it’s not our fault that the Greens have zero chance to win. It’s a classic case of looking everywhere except yourself for the source of your problems.

Luckily, WordPress is smarter than Drupal in the sense that it auto-saves what you write when you create a page or a post, so at least this blog entry is still around. I also really, really needed to not have that silly German U.S. Census ad up at the top of the homepage anymore.

*Who’s* following me?

Governor Schwarzenegger? Seriously? (Why?)

Hi, Jason L. Gohlke.

Gov. Schwarzenegger (Schwarzenegger) is now following your updates on Twitter.

A little information about Gov. Schwarzenegger:


120056 followers
359 updates
following 56370 people

You may follow Gov. Schwarzenegger as well by clicking on the “follow” button on their profile. You may also block Gov. Schwarzenegger if you don’t want them to follow you.

The Twitter Team

Turn off these emails at: http://twitter.com/account/notifications

Maybe this is why everything is so screwed up.

Our society’s elite opinionmakers are humongous hypocrites.

As the always-brilliant Glenn Greenwald writes in Three key rules of media behavior shape their discussions of “the ‘torture’ debate” at Salon.com:

[R]oughly 40% of Americans favor criminal prosecutions for Bush officials — even before release of the OLC memos — and large majorities favor investigations generally. The premise of those who advocate prosecutions is the definitively non-ideological view that political elites should be treated exactly like ordinary Americans when they break the law and commit serious crimes. Individuals such as Gen. Antonio Taguba, Gen. Barry McCaffrey and former CIA officer Robert Baer advocate investigations and/or prosecutions of Bush officials. But no matter: the Beltway opposes the idea, and it is therefore dismissed by media stars as coming from the “Hard Left.” …

This remains the single most notable and revealing fact of American political life: that (with some very important exceptions) those most devoted to maintaining and advocating government secrecy is our journalist class, of all people. It would be as if the leading proponents of cigarette smoking were physicians, or those most vocally touting the virtues of illiteracy were school teachers. Nothing proves the true function of these media stars as government spokespeople more than their eagerness to shield government actions from examination and demand that government criminality not be punished.

Read more.

Obama reveals Bush administration crimes (part 2 1/2 of 9,347)

I’m too angry to write about this, but I can’t let it go without note.

I’ll leave it to the esteemed Glenn Greenwald to explain the Bush-era documents that the Obama administration released yesterday detailing the regime of secret laws and memos the Bush administration used to rule the country (you know, instead of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights).

Greenwald writes:

It’s somewhat surreal to witness — now that George Bush is out of office — the avalanche of establishment media reports suddenly acknowledging today, rather explicitly, how radical and lawless his presidency was, as though we only learned of that this week with the release of these memos. As the commenters to Michael Scherer’s Time post point out, there were people who have spent the last several years documenting that and trying to sound the alarm over it, yet were largely dismissed as shrill unSerious partisan “leftists” and “civil liberties extremists.” I suppose it’s acceptable to observe these facts now that Bush is no longer the President (this happened in the “past”) and the evidence for all of it is rubbed so unavoidably in our faces that denial is no longer possible.

“Life without Bush” (Morford)

I’ll take a sane president over an abundance of material for columnists any day. That said, I don’t want to read any more columnists complaining that they don’t have Dubya to kick around anymore. It strikes me that the basic message there is, “I’ve gotten used to being able to lazily phone it in, because Bush was such an easy target. Oh, no, now I have to actually do some research.”

Well, they won’t have to look too far if they’re looking for politicians’ failings. There are many.

5 more things President Obama can do right away

President Obama has been in office a good five days now, and he’s taken several important steps to signal his willingness to reverse some of the worst mistakes of prior administrations. Of course, followup is the most important part, but he has:

  • Pledged to close the illegal prison at Guantanamo Bay. Wretched legal reasoning from Alberto Gonzalez and John Yoo aside, the United States shouldn’t be torturing people and ignoring the right of habeas corpus.
  • Pledged to make government more transparent and accountable. From launching a White House blog to blocking the two-way street between lobbying and regulating, Obama seems determined to finally finish and cross the bridge to the 21st century Bill Clinton liked to talk about.

Sure, there are more, but you get the idea. Here are some of the next things I think he should do — with varying degrees of difficulty, but that probably will be received largely favorably — that will help this country get back on track as a place of freedom, innovation, equality, and opportunity:

  1. End the prohibition on shampoo, toothpaste, and beverages for travelers. Letting people take liquids and gels of any size through security at airports is long overdue. That particular security procedure isn’t making us any safer, it’s just irritating us and making us spend money in the airport. And here’s a perfect way to counteract that loss of revenue by airports —
  2. Restore the right of non-passengers to accompany their friends and family into concourses at airports after passing through the same security procedures passengers do. Remember those days, long ago, when you could have a drink or dinner with whoever took you to the airport while you waited for your plane? I barely do. Again, this won’t make us any less safe, but it will more than make up for airport vendors’ lost revenue from item 1 above.
  3. End the war in Iraq and pledge to spend money on the states. The states? You know, the ones that are united together, here in America? Restore funding to the state and local governments that the Bush administration cut. The money comes from us; it should go to us.
  4. Re-regulate the economy. The de-regulation in vogue during the Clinton and Bush administrations simply didn’t work. There’s a reason anti-trust laws exist. Make corporations accountable to society — the commons — not just their shareholders. I mean, if a corporation is a person, it should be liable for the harm it does to all of us, right?
  5. Invest in green jobs. The WPA and the CCC worked, right? How about investing money in building a new, environmentally friendly energy infrastructure? Create good jobs for Americans that won’t go overseas and will put us back in the lead when it comes to the pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit our country was founded upon.

That’s just a few, off the top of my head. Can you think of any more?

Notice how the media use “GOP” as shorthand?

Many, if not most, of the articles I’ve been reading lately refer to the two major parties as the “Democrats” and the “GOP”. I know “GOP” is supposed to stand for “Grand Old Party.” But now I propose a few new backronyms for GOP:

  1. Getting Obsolete Party
  2. Going Overboard Party
  3. Geriatric Out-of-touch Prevaricators

The possibilities are endless, really. Any other suggestions?

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