Primary election 2014 coverage for the deaf

May 25, 2014

It’s been a busy time in my life, and I really thought these election columns, which now date back 18 years to when I wrote about Prop. 209, among others, would fall by the wayside. But then I realized I was going to do the same amount of research in any case, because I still have to vote. So I’ll find a way to make it work.

Speaking of which, we’ve got kids graduating high school now who will be off to college in the fall. The first group of kids to have never been alive in an age of affirmative action. I’m not sure what exactly Prop. 209 was going to solve, but it seems safe to say that its passage failed to do anything.

California has a jungle primary now, thanks to stupid California voters. The good thing, I guess, is I will finally vote for candidates who win with some regularity. But my Peace and Freedom-loving ass will no longer be getting any love in the fall.

WordPress sure looks different these days. I hope this publishes in the right place. It teaches me that we need to pay more attention to lapsed users at my day job. But enough of this opening monologue, which is just a sign that I need to do more, other, writing.

Governor: Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown

I haven’t received anything in the mail—nor have I seen any ads on TV for this race. But who can blame them? Brown has overcome a lot, such as being named “Edmund,” in his life and is ready for a fourth term as governor. I will take this as more proof that term limits are stupid. (I covered this four years ago, but the reason term limits don’t apply in this case is because the counter reset everyone to zero when voters passed term limits in 1990. Anyway, we have about 4 years to abolish Prop. 140, or California will regress once again.)

My candidate appears to be Cindy Sheehan, and I’m not interested. I get that times are tough for third parties, but such gimmickry can do more harm than good. How many people will really say, “Oh, Cindy Sheehan. I remember her! Yes, that is who I want as governor!”? Well, I hope it works out for them.

The play here may be to pick the second-best candidate, in case something happens to Brown. Otherwise you’re going to be stuck voting for only one candidate in the fall. (Again, jungle primaries are stupid.) I enjoy the cleverly named Rakesh Kumar Christian. He’ll get 1,000 votes from the last name alone. Akinyemi Agbede is probably doing this for a doctoral thesis, considering the ballot states the candidate is a doctoral student. There are 11 other candidates, and I’m not going to do bits on all of them. As bad as these were, imagine how much worse the others would be.

Lieutenant Governor: Amos Johnson

My party has nominated a security guard to be lieutenant governor. That’s perfect. I am happy to play along. In other news, there’s an Americans Elect candidate: Alan Reynolds. Good for them. It’s nice to see democracy at work, even if it amounts for nothing, because, that’s right, jungle primaries are stupid. I remember when I heard about instant runoff voting for the first time. I thought to myself, “Wow. That’s clever. What would be the opposite of that?” Well, we have an answer.

Anyway, Gavin Newsom is the incumbent. If you want to secure a Democrat in this role, I guess go for Eric Korevaar. I’ll be pleased with the rent-a-cop and hope you will be too.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla

Eight candidates. All dudes. The only name I recognize is Leland Yee, but I didn’t like him when he was a San Francisco Supervisor. I didn’t like him when he threw a fit about the Hot Coffee mod in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. And, I don’t like him now. Of course now no one likes him, but I don’t care about that.

I usually don’t have to guess so much for such an important role, but I do here. My party has no one nominated. There are no women nominated. So all I can do is pick the most ethnically sounding name I can and hope it works out. Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Padilla! When he becomes president in 2032, I’ll pretend I was being prescient. A shout out to Green Party candidate David Curtis, who under profession, put “Dad.”

Controller: Betty Yee

Six candidates, four women. There is probably a joke there. I’m just happy I can vote for a Yee, although I was going to have this whole thing about voting for the right one, and Leland done fucked it all up.

So John Perez is probably going to win. He is the Assembly Speaker, and people care a lot about that sort of stuff. Ashley Swearengin has an awesome name, but I’m not sure why “Mayor, City of Fresno” is something to be proud of.

That takes us to Betty Yee. She is on the Board of Equalization, so this is a logical next step for her. I have always loved the name “Betty,” and perhaps a victory here will help Archies around the world see the light. This is where you should be glad I only have one vote.

Treasurer: John Chiang

Chiang was the Controller for two terms and is now trying something new. It’s the term limits carousel. Everybody get on board.

I will always like Chiang because he stood up to Arnold Schwarzenegger when the governor wanted to pay state employees minimum wage while the budget wasn’t done. I don’t know anything about the other candidates, and I’m ready to just move on.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris

I’ll accept Orly Taitz because the campaign ads will be ridiculous. But with a jungle primary, which, yes, is stupid, you can’t risk a cupcake opponent in case the other candidate dies or wins the lottery. So maybe not. The Libertarians finally get on the board here, with Jonathan Jaech, so if you want an AG who says he doesn’t want to prosecute because government should not get involved, there’s your guy.

Ronald Gold is a prosecutor and stands out in a field of attorneys. Phil Wyman is not only an attorney but a rancher, so there is that. I will stick with Special K.

Insurance Commissioner: Nathalie Hrizi

Can you believe it? A Peace and Freedom candidate will finish third! That’s because there are only three candidates. Dave Jones is the incumbent. Ted Gaines is also getting involved. They should turn these lesser races into reality shows. We would get to know the candidates on a level not seen without the assistance of SuperPACs. Everybody wins.

Member, State Board of Equalization, District 2: Fiona Ma

This is the most pointless item on the ballot. There are only two candidates. But it’s a jungle primary! And in this case, it’s not the jungle primary that’s stupid. It’s that we’ll have to vote twice on the same race, once now, and once in the fall. It’s about as useful as a preseason NFL game.

For those of you out there who refuse to vote a straight Democratic ticket because then you can say you’re “objective,” here is your out. The Republican candidate, James Theis, is an organic foods manager. Keep an eye on this guy. I bet you he is going to lead the backlash against the anti-GMO crowd because he can act as a subject matter expert. And I might support him. But not here.

United States Representative, District 19: Zoe Lofgren

There are only two candidates here as well, and both are Democrats. It makes sense, considering where I live. Lofgren, who should do a photo with Alonzo Mourning, submitted a statement! It’s boilerplate, but she does mention bringing BART to San Jose.

As a Representative, it generally doesn’t matter who we have, because they will vote the same way on everything. However, Lofgren has seniority, which is a big deal in those circles. (Again, term limits are stupid but luckily only at the state level.) Robert Murray will have stories to tell at cocktail parties. I know if I ever met him I would want to know what it was like to run against Lofgren.

California Assembly, District 28: Barry Chang

I really struggled with this one. I’ve read a ton of press on Evan Low. I’m a fan! Which in modern Facebook lexicon means I like him. (Hey, when you only write a column every two years, some of the jokes will be stale. Deal with it.) There’s only one issue with Low. He’s not Barry Chang.

Chang sends me stuff in the mail. He takes risks, like putting his smiling family next to a high-speed rail train. I don’t mean he put his family near a moving one. But just that he would associate himself with high-speed rail! I am convinced I’m the only person left who supports this project, and that all these polls showing 40% support or whatever it is are all doctored.

Now, granted, he doesn’t approve of the Central Valley route, and he uses some polarizing language in his mailers, criticizing the love of my life, Jerry Brown. Like I said, he takes risks. Well, I respect that. And I don’t necessarily want all decision makers to agree on everything before they even debate a topic. This is my point: I trust Brown and Chang to work together to figure things out. I’m not going to let what goes on in other elected chambers sully my understanding of public service.

Chang also has a picture of his dog with his family on one of the mailers he sent, which I don’t appreciate it, but I’ll let it slide. If it turns out Low has 2 cats or something, I’ll reassess.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 4: Stuart Scott

I already got the SportsCenter jokes out of my system. Scott is running unopposed. I ain’t sayin’ nothin’, but that ain’t right.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 21: Julianne Sylva

I’ll give D. A. Lempert credit: He (the “D” stands for “Dennis”) writes a candidate statement with integrity. The issue is outgoing judge Kevin McKenney endorses Sylva. That’s got to mean something. She’s also bilingual, and her name starts with “J”! Something for everyone.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 24: Diane Ritchie

Did you know a lot of people glaze over the length of these pieces but read the shorter ones because they’re shorter? It’s really a shame because I’m just not that funny in these shorter vignettes. Anyway, Ritchie is the incumbent, and when I look at the other two candidates, I wonder why they don’t run for Office No. 4 and give Scott a run for his money. He needs someone to whom he can bust out the whoopin’ stick.

Matthew Harris has a lot of good endorsements, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he won. Annrae Angel is also a fine candidate. The problem with voting for judge is, by the time you know whether the judge is any good, it’s too late to do anything about it.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson

I really need something, anything, on these candidates. Voting for the incumbent because he is the incumbent is stupid. But I know nothing of Marshall Tuck and Lydia Gutierrez.

So here is something to think about. In terms of funding, the schools aren’t dealing with the crises they’d been dealing with for, what, the past 10 years? It takes a different mindset to be in charge when you’re prioritizing resources when you have enough of them. Having to cut back isn’t necessarily more difficult, but the conversations are different.

What does it all mean? There is definitely a better qualified candidate because of current budget situation, but I have no way of knowing who it is. And Super Nintendo of Public Instruction is a key office in these times. Do we really want people to vote on these things? Why not ask me to make a souffle while you’re at it?

Member, Board of Supervisors, District 4: Ken Yeager

He’s running unopposed, thus shelving the day-after headline of “Yeager bombs.” Did you know kids aren’t drinking Jägermeister anymore? It’s going to be the new rye. Anyway, I like the guy. His statement talks about his endorsement of the work on the 280/880/17 interchange. Sounds good to me.

Assessor: Larry Stone

Dude is 73 now. And we all know who he is because when that annual assessment of your property’s worth comes in the mail, it’s signed “Larry Stone.” What with the recent real estate history in the area, he was ripe for the picking, yet no one unseated him. This time around, he’s running unopposed. He should include a sticker with his annual love letter, but whatever. It does save taxpayer money not to.

District Attorney: Jeff Rosen

He is another incumbent running unopposed. Similar to judges, by the time you find out how good he is, it’s probably too late for it to matter.

Sheriff: Laurie Smith

Kevin Jensen retired and doesn’t like what he sees, so he’s running against incumbent Smith. I remember her name, so I must have had a strong opinion last time around. But checking my notes is cheating, especially considering the rationalization I use when selecting candidates in the first place.

Both candidates have good statements, although Jensen alleges favoritism without giving examples, which is worthless. Smith, as an incumbent, has a laundry list of endorsements and everyone’s favorite keyword, “bipartisan.”

Mayor, City of San Jose: Dave Cortese

The undercard is so boring this election, but we finally get to what is essentially the main event, even if there are still propositions and a ballot measure remaining. Rather than start off by going through the candidates one by one, I’ll first talk about the issues that are important to me. That way, it will explain why I react the way I do and give you the proper context. Like I usually say, it’s about informing you, not to get you to vote like me, although I do bold my picks for the lazy, and I do appreciate those votes.

So there are a few ways to parse these candidates. Of the eight, five submitted statements. These are the same five that appeared at a debate earlier this spring, which of course I only heard about on the news after it happened. Another way to separate these candidates is whether they publicize their stance on pension reform.

Now, I will go down that rabbit hole, just for a second. Previous readers will recall my disgust with Measure B. I said if it passed it would make recruiting police and fire more difficult. It would make our best leave for greener pastures. And it would make crime go up. That’s exactly what happened. But like Prop. 13, if you poll voters to see whether they would do it all over again, they would line up and vehemently say “yes.” It just feels so good.

At this point, what’s done is done. Now granted, only the specter of Measure B has had an effect. But it’s hard to see the momentum reversing course. Regardless, it doesn’t matter because we still get to pick a mayor, and this topic isn’t one with unanimous support yet. So in that light, let’s move on.

Everywhere I go, I see Madison Nguyen signs. She has a lot of money behind her. She is the current Vice Mayor. And she has other characteristics of my last favored candidate (Cindy Chavez) as well: a) minority, b) woman. But, unfortunately, I’ve lived here for most of my life. So I also know about Ly Tong’s 28-day hunger strike when a neighborhood was to be rechristened “Saigon Business District” instead of “Little Saigon.” I know she was almost recalled. So no thanks.

The guy I am probably supposed to vote for is Pierluigi Oliverio. He is my city councilman. Yet I see so many signs in my neighborhood for other candidates, and I often see Oliverio’s name attached to public events as a form of free advertising. (Or maybe he is sponsoring them, like his Shakespeare in the Park endeavor.) It’s not just semantics. Having it brought by Pierluigi Oliverio for Mayor is a paperwork issue, but that doesn’t make it look any less like cheesy advertising. I will vote for him if the runoff is between him and Nguyen. And then I will move to Colma.

Sam Liccardo went to private school (Bellarmine) and supports pension reform. He talks about spending “smarter” instead of spending “more.” I know what that means, and I don’t want a mayor that preys on telling people things that sound indisputable. Rose Herrera does a lot of things well, but she also supports pension reform. She did go to Overfelt, so I do give her some credit. If she became mayor I wouldn’t leave town.

Who does that leave? Dave Cortese. I keep calling him “Dan Cortese,” which at least now might get me some extra clicks because of search engine optimization. I generally don’t pick the candidate that singles out crime as a top priority, because it’s too easy to do that, and who doesn’t want to stop crime? However, with the recent spike in the murder rate, it does make sense, this time. And he’s an environment and public transit guy. Cortese has a shot, because he has name recognition and has a lot of unique positions. For example, several candidates will split the female vote, the pension reform vote, etc. Yeah, I guess he is splitting the hispanohablante vote with Herrera, but they are so different as candidates that it may not matter.

The other candidates are worth a mention. Bill Chew. Timothy Harrison. Mike Alvarado. There. I mentioned them.

This race will require reassessing after the primary. It’s really going to depend on who faces off for the most part. I think it’s going to be Cortese/Nguyen, but we’ll see. No matter what, the new mayor will be better than Chuck Reed.

Proposition 41: Yes

The VA Hospital scandal could not have happened at a better time for this one, even if it doesn’t directly help the situation. This is a $600 million bond measure for helping prevent veterans from becoming homeless when they get back.

The people against it are the typical “OMG bond measures mean more taxes later!!!1″ If the return on investment is higher than the interest rate paid on the bonds, it’s worth it. But why have that argument again?

Even conservative groups favor this one (#supportourtroops), so I am sure this will pass handily.

Proposition 42: Yes

Forty-two is such a great number. It’s really a shame this go-round that it’s being wasted on such an inconsequential proposition.

Right now, public record totally exists, even if your name isn’t Keanu. But that shit costs money. So who should pay for it? Well, if it is a local meeting, then it is locally paid for, except for when it isn’t. Prop. 42 will shift this burden to the state level, which will ensure the records will stay public, accessible, and publicly accessible.

So that’s it. The reason you don’t like this is because you want people to pay for their own stuff instead of making a larger body of government take care of it. If that’s how you feel, you should definitely be voting “no.”

Measure B: Yes

“You’ve reached the end of your journey. Survival is everything.”

I’m getting too old for these columns. That’s probably why I’m using a 20+-year-old pinball reference to express this feeling.

Measure B renews an existing parcel tax on Santa Clara County libraries. So the pro side is using the age-old “your taxes won’t go up!” argument to support their cause. Whatever it takes, I guess. “That’s how we’ve always done it” is a terrible reason for anything, even if it’s the right thing to do.

Look, we know that parcel taxes for libraries raise property values enough such that the parcel owner gets a return on investment, if you will. There is nothing unique about the situation that can lead us to believe that it will be any different this time around. But if you want your libraries to be more self-sufficient or you just don’t think the libraries need whatever newfangled whatnot it is they have now, then you would have to vote no. As for me, I want fewer stupid citizens. If only our libraries were already so good that we didn’t need to have a parcel tax at all.

Perhaps we wouldn’t be voting in a jungle primary on June 3.

General election 2012 coverage for the deaf

October 19, 2012

I got all my work done, and rather than get caught up on 10targets.com, I decided it was time to tell people how this general election is going to go down. Probably, it will be via the elevator. Anyway, I don’t need to force wisecracks because they happen anyway, especially if a candidate has a phallic-sounding name.

President and Vice President: Joel Edelman and Lance Armstrong

It’s time for the least important thing on the ballot. Think about it: When 10 people vote on something, each of those votes is 10% of the electorate. With more than 200 million US citizens able to vote for this contest, well, you know where I’m going. So have some fucking fun with it.

Guess what? My entire life I had been looking forward to the 2012 general election. Do you know why? Because it’s the first one in which I would be at least 35 years old. That’s right. I can be the president. And that’s what I’m going to do. I am writing myself in as president.

But I need a vice president as well. Well, I might as well use the same strategy that I used for the primary. What better way to meet someone I have always wanted to meet than to have them be running mate? Pure genius, it is. But at the same time, it needs to be someone that nobody would want as president. That way, no one will ever assassinate me. See? I’m thinkin’.

And that’s why I will be writing Lance Armstrong in as my vice president. He has everything: Name recognition, access to money, and the contempt of our society. How perfect is that? So it’s an Edelman/Armstrong ticket in 2012.

United States Senator: Dianne Feinstein

Similar to my annual Oscars sheet, I usually get one candidacy right. This time it’s going to be Senator. Elizabeth Emken is everything I don’t want in a candidate. She lives in Danville. She doesn’t understand how the world works. And she has a chip on her shoulder because her son is autistic.

Just in general, don’t get me started on autism. What constitutes the condition has been widened over the years so more people can “have” it, and it’s become the Dallas Cowboys of conditions. “Don’t talk shit about the Dallas Cowboys,” people always say. Well I do. And Emken is Tony Romo and Leon Lett, rolled into one.

I got to vote for Feinstein in my first ever election, 18 years ago. She’s the Glass Joe of ballots. You’re always going to get that one right. This could be my last chance to practice my star punches, but I will still enjoy six more years of her success.

United States Representative, CA-19: Zoe Lofgren

The voter information pamphlet screwed up Robert Murray’s candidate statement by not putting the bullets in front of the bulleted statements, and it all goes downhill from there. His occupation is “businessman/lawyer/entrepreneur.” Sounds kind of redundant, or perhaps it was a tie between “businessman” and “lawyer,” so he decided to add “entrepreneur” as a tiebreaker. His statement is also very presumptuous. For example, I didn’t know I already knew what it took to raise a family and run a business.

Anyway, his whole tack is that he doesn’t like the national debt. Well, who owns the bonds that cover the national debt? Mostly, it’s Americans. And with interest rates so low, it’s clear there is a lot of demand for buying our debt. His statement is all talking points and platitudes (ugh, now I can’t use either of those phrases again).

Lofgren speaks in hyperbole as well, but more importantly her votes have reflected my values often enough that I will continue to vote for her. And it’s nice that I will at least get another one right on this ballot, because she’s got no chance to lose.

California State Senator, District 15: Jim Beall

California has a jungle primary now, because you’re all assholes and voted to have one. Like jungle volleyball, it sucks. Well, the top two vote-getters in the district during the primary were Joe Coto and Jim Beall. These were the two candidates that I had the hardest time choosing between in the first place. I went for Beall last time and have no reason to think otherwise this time. I don’t appreciate all the negative mailers that Beall has sent out to smear Coto, but whatever. That’s tiebreaker shit, and I already made a decision in June. See why jungle primaries are retarded?

California State Assembly, District 28: Paul Fong

Stupid WordPress. I accidentally activated a keyword shortcut, and then when I hit Undo, it deleted the entire paragraph on this race. I hate typing things twice. I hate typing things twice. Anyway, in June there were two candidates on the ballot: Paul Fong and Chad Walsh. Well, what a shock. Those two were the top finishers in the primary. And now I get to vote for the same person twice. I don’t like any kind of repetition. So anyway, I will continue to vote for Paul Fong. Lame-ass jungle primaries.

Santa Clara Valley Water District, District 2: David Ginsborg

The candidate I wanted to vote for didn’t submit a statement. His name is Drew Spitzer. Spitzer! For the water district! That’s perfect. Oh well. Maybe next time he will submit a statement. Barbara Keegan is well qualified, but she made a mistake: One of her flunkies came by with a card listing her endorsements (including Charlotte Powers, who I helped win a city council seat in 1992), and per usual, I ignored the knock on the door. However, what handwritten note was written on the card? “Sorry to miss you.” Miss me? You weren’t even here! None of that malarkey, Joe Biden or otherwise. That leaves David Ginsborg. An endorsement from Rod Diridon Jr. goes a long way with me. Also, under occupation he includes “father.” Fuck yeah.

Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, District 4: Garnetta Annable

Benjamin Cogan is an automotive technician. I wish he had put the rag down for a minute so he could have typed up a candidate statement. I would have liked to have seen what he would bring to the table. Dorsey Moore talks about solar, which is a big keyword for me, but he is also heavy into the jargon, using the phrase “user experience.” I am a user experience professional, as it were, and I’m sure that he and I have nothing in common in our careers. Nobody, not even me, should be using the word “experience” as a noun unless you’re talking about Dr. Frank. The incumbent is Garnetta Annable. I don’t recognize voting for this before, so maybe it’s some new thing that resulted from a measure passing. That’s probably it. But there is an incumbent already. So I really don’t know. My job is to connect the broken arrow next to my candidate with a pen. Garnetta is 66, so she will make sure old people will be able to use everything, so that’s great.

Proposition 30: Yes

I don’t hide the fact that I am a big fan of Governor Jerry Brown. And you have to admit: There have been a lot fewer controversies than during Arnold Schwarzenegger’s time in office. One of the things Brown said was “no new taxes, without voter approval.” Well, guess what 30 is? Yep.

The budget was on time as well. Requiring a 55% majority instead of 2/3 helped with that, of course, but one of the other tricks was to put a state-size version of the “fiscal cliff” you might have heard about with the federal government. In short, if 30 fails, there will be another $6 billion in public service cuts for the current budget year. The current, 2012-2013 budget year. Remember that for when we get to 38. Ninety percent of that is what’s referred to as K-14 schools, essentially everything except four-year colleges. The money comes from incomes higher than $250,000. Specifically, it changes the state income tax rate from 9.3% to as high as 12.3% for those making over $500,000 per year. Today, anyone making $48,029 per year or $40 million per year pays the same state income tax rate.

If you want to vote no it is because you vote no on everything. The standard no argument is being made by the standard no arguers: taxpayers associations and small business associations. They hate everything. They don’t understand the reason their business is still small is because they don’t know how to run a business. Instead they point fingers at regulations and other liberal bastions of hell. If only we had a supply-side economy.

Proposition 31: No

Some states have a two-year budget cycle instead of a one-year budget cycle. The idea is that this will somehow limit spending. However, it hasn’t. The “off-year” budgets tend to mimic the annual budget that it was designed to replace. The reason for this is, just because the state goes to a biennial budget, it doesn’t mean most businesses and public works departments don’t still work on an annual basis. Two years is too long to do the same thing, no matter what it is.

This would have been easier to sell when we had overdue budgets and $20 billion budget deficits. However, we’ve gotten the budget under control, relatively speaking. The economy is improving. Thankfully we didn’t have the opportunity to fall for this when it could have seemed like a sensible decision.

There are other individual aspects of 31 that are interesting, such as allowing governors to reduce spending as needed, but the bad outweighs the good. If you like to do the same thing for twice as long as we have been doing them, then you would like 31.

Proposition 32: No

Half of a solution, 32 prevents unions from using payroll deductions for political stuff. But that’s how they get their money. Still, getting money out of politics is fine.

But wait. What about everything else? Oh, maybe someday that will be addressed. But for now, 32 only deals with the union side of the money problem in politics.

Usually the ads that yell the most are the wrongest. And the ads are pretty lame. They spin this in an inaccurate fashion. And many of them use a made-up word: exempted. Perhaps you mean “excepted” or “exempt.” That’s normally grounds for dismissal, but I have to overlook this. Even if you assume there will be similar measures taken with other forms of campaign contributions, they haven’t happened yet, and until they do, there is an imbalance that will cause low-information voters to do more stupid shit.

The reason you vote yes on 32 is because you don’t like unions and would like to shut them up for good

Proposition 33: No

I remember this one. It was Proposition 17. Ah, I miss the shit show. Basically, people with gaps in their insurance coverage would then have to pay more for insurance, because those who don’t would get to pay less. That would make it more likely people wouldn’t get insurance at all because it would cost too much. So like a lot of things, it sounds like a good idea until you think about what will actually happen.

The reason you vote yes is because you’re having trouble budgeting your existing insurance coverage and could benefit from the discount. And in fact two years ago, I voted yes. The economy sucked. These short-term measures seemed important to maintain a quality of life that was more endangered than it is today. But now with the economy finally getting a little better, it’s easier to look at the big picture. Having uninsured motorists costs all of us more in the long run. I’ve changed my mind.

Proposition 34: Yes

There’s not much to say. You’re either for the death penalty or you aren’t, unless you’re John Kerry. Then you’re for it until you’re against it.

The main arguments for repealing the death penalty involve innocent people convicted and sentenced to death. Big deal. They still have to sit in jail for life. How is that better? No, the reason I am against the death penalty is because red tape makes it cost more than keeping them alive. Also, it does not deter crime. The only thing it does is provide closure for some victims’ families. I say “some” because they don’t all feel this way. And besides it doesn’t matter to me what they think anyway, because their bias is no better or worse than anyone else’s. I’m not going to grant them any extra affordance. If gang violence is such a problem in our society, then why do we allow this mentality among, say, the likes of Marc Klaas. Let’s devote resources to when the kids could still be alive. Amber Alerts are awesome. The death penalty is not.

Proposition 35: Yes

I like to be the one who zigs where people zag. But sometimes I can’t do it. Proposition 35 essentially makes it so human traffickers would now have to register as sex offenders. This is not going to be a deterrent. People traffic humans because it’s lucrative. Does anyone commit crime because they think they can get away with it? Not really. It’s because it’s an easy way to bring some scratch. In addition, this goes after the symptom and not the root cause, which I hate: It doesn’t reduce demand for sex workers. This is no different than the war on drugs. Demand-side economy, people. Affect demand, affect the supply, not the other way around.

The reason you vote no is because you like small government. All this does is create more rules and more bureaucracy. But of course social conservatives like government spending when it controls people’s private lives. So really only libertarians will be voting no. These types of props annoy me.

Proposition 36: Yes

It would be weird for people to vote one way on 34 but another way on 36, but it will happen. The death penalty is a very clear concept and something most people don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about. Three Strikes maybe isn’t so cut and dried.

We’ve all heard the stories about a criminal’s third strike being relatively less egregious than the first two. Well, 36 is addressing that. Only “serious” or “violent” felonies will count. Otherwise, I guess it’s just a foul ball. There are exceptions, but that’s the general idea.

On paper it still seems like a bad idea, but let’s take our heads out of the sand for a moment. We’ve built hella jails since Three Strikes passed in the ’90s. Crime hasn’t gone down as a result of Three Strikes. People commit crimes because they have to or because they’re bored. Life in prison? At least then you wouldn’t have to cook. And that’s just the half of it. Think of all the people that get let out of jail early so the Three Strikes people can stay in.

If you vote no, you better be ready to vote for some more prisons so we have somewhere to put them. That kind of sounds like government spending, though, doesn’t it?

Proposition 37: No

This one makes me have to take a shower every time I think about it. Let me explain it as clearly as I can. The point of 37 is to identify certain foods as having genetically modified ingredients. It also restricts the use of “natural,” which is a nice-to-have. This one is like 32 for me. It’s putting certain foods at a disadvantage for no reason. It’s part of a larger solution that hasn’t been laid out yet. There’s no reason it couldn’t have been laid out here, but it wasn’t.

Look, we’ve had genetically modified food for years. Think about how big a cauliflower was when you were a kid. Now think about how big they are now. Cauliflower has been the size of my head my entire life! How do you think it got that way?

Essentially, if 37 were enforced properly, just about every piece of produce, including organic produce, would have a GMO sticker on it. All this is going to do is scare consumers. We already have a societal problem when it comes to getting people to eat their fruits and vegetables. How does this help that? The few items that wouldn’t have the sticker will cost more because more people will foolishly want them.

I’ll be transparent. I love genetically modified food. We’re going to solve world hunger with this shit. We’re already on the way there. We can’t discourage this kind of technology. I don’t give a fuck that Monsanto and DuPont are behind the no campaign. I understand why they are against it, and I know those two companies are bastards. But I’m not going to support 37 out of spite. Just because Monsanto poisoned an entire town with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) production doesn’t mean everything they do is wrong. Actually, to stubbornly frown upon every action they make, regardless of potential result, is quite the conservative viewpoint.

But all of that aside, if you want to mark food as being modified, fine. But there should be no exemptions. It can go right there, next to that pareve and Circle K stuff. Just don’t give me that “you have a right to know” BS. I will tell you. Your food is already genetically modified. And the crops that weren’t? They crosspolinated with crops that were. Blame the bees. Don’t blame me.

Proposition 38: Yes

I hate Molly Munger. There aren’t non-misogynistic words out there that I can use to describe how I feel about her. She can’t understand normal thinking. There.

Whenever we have two competing education propositions, they both fail. People don’t understand that only one can become law, so they vote no on both. And it’s already so hard to get a single one of these to pass. Ugh. Anyway, more on 30 and 38.

The one with more votes, if both pass, is the one that becomes law. And 30 is way better than 38, because 38 wouldn’t take effect until 2013. That means the cuts in the budget I talked about if 30 didn’t pass would still happen. In addition, the tax increase is spread across all who make $7,316 or more. Granted, the increase is small, but poor people don’t save money. (That’s why they’re poor!) You’re taking purchasing power away from them, and that’s bad for the economy. The reason you take money from rich people is because they were saving it, and idle money doesn’t grow the economy.

So why not vote no? Because 38 is getting its ass handed to it in the polls. Of course, Munger’s brother, who is behind 32 incidentally, has decided to drag the state down with him, so he has spent $8 million on killing 30. Just because these propositions are about youth doesn’t mean you need to act like a goddamn child. So 30, which was leading in the polls, will probably fail as well. Thanks for nothing.

The one piece that is missing from this is why Ms. Munger is doing this. She is spending $30 million of her own money to support 38. Whatever gains she would get from 30′s failure can’t be worth that much. Is it really just vanity?

You have several reasons to vote no. Spite is a big one. Also because you want to help 30 pass if they both pass. However, it’s really unlikely that 38 will get more votes than 30. Might as well go for both and be glad it will be decided by more than one vote.

Proposition 39: Yes

Three years ago, we were having another wondrous budget cycle, in which a 2/3 majority in the State Senate and Assembly were required to pass a budget for the governor to sign, and it just wasn’t happening. Similar to Ben Nelson during the healthcare reform discussions, a few choice Republicans brought out the sausage-maker to get some favors made, in exchange for their budget-approving votes. One of those was to let businesses that had income in California count that income as being earned in other states, if those other states had a more favorable tax plan for them. So what a shock that corporate income tax fell as companies reported all their in-state income in a different state.

Think it isn’t that simple. Well, taxpayer groups lead those who oppose 39. That tells me all I need to know.

The reason you vote no on 39 is because you think that requiring these corporations to pay more in taxes will cause them to have fewer jobs. So basically all you Austrian economic types should be all over the no.

Proposition 40: Yes

Remember 11 and 20? These paved the way for the redistricting that occurred in 2010. Every 10 years, districts are redrawn because people are born, people die, and people move. Generally, Republican-led redistricting efforts result in more gerrymandering than Democratic-led and non-partisan-led efforts. So because Brown won the governorship in 2010 and had large Democratic majorities in the State Senate and Assembly, it should have resulted in more-fair districting. It also meant more Democratic seats because in 2000 the districts were not drawn as fairly, and many hugely Democratic districts were created to make it easier for Republicans to capture other districts.

If that’s not enough, the no campaign suspended its opposition, so why support a side that has already given up. It didn’t work on A Different World when Jesse Jackson tried to help Dwayne Wayne run for office, so it’s not going to work here.

Measure A: Yes

I’ll give the county credit. They know how to get their sales tax increases. They do their homework to figure out how much they can get away with, and they pick an election cycle in which they will get more of the votes they want.

This pragmatism comes into play because the county is only asking for an eighth of a cent sales tax increase. I mean, why fucking bother? It’s kind of a general fund catchall sales tax increase to cover recent cuts to public services to police, hospitals, homeless stuff, etc. They must have figured out a quarter cent wasn’t going to pass, especially considering the economy was worse when it was written. Now, maybe a 1/4-cent increase might have paid off, but we’ll take what we can get.

The same anti-tax people that hate everything the way Grouchy Smurf does are those who are behind the no campaign here. I’ve said enough about these Howard Jarvis cocksuckers already.

Measure B: Yes

B was in danger of not being on the ballot, I believe, because the sample ballot content was two words too long. Well, they must have figured it out because here it is. In short, it is a 15-year extension of a parcel tax set to expire next year. It’s to cover water stuff. There’s always water, education, and road stuff on every ballot. Here’s the water one.

Opponents of B quibble about where the money actually goes, but like a fart, as long as the money goes in the general direction of water works, I’m happy to let the county have a monopoly on my parcel tax money. People that drink bottled water are like people who send their kids to private school. You can if you want, but I’m still going to use the free alternative.

Measure D: Yes

No fucking chance. Minimum wages are usually raised through legislation or other non-direct-voting methods. (There’s a finer way to describe this, but my vocabulary is failing me.) San Jose State students came up with D to raise the minimum wage from $8 to $10. Hell yeah. I will always support a minimum wage increase, especially in a time with falling union enrollment. Business owners who cry about raising prices and firing workers don’t know how to run a fucking business.

Let’s say you have a business where you pay your workers minimum wage. Your labor costs are about 25%, for the sake of argument. (Most service jobs in, say, the fast food industry, tend to result in about a 20% labor cost.) That means your labor costs go up to 31.25%. If your business model depends on these 6.25 percentage points in order to be profitable, then you have a shitty business model. Just because you can legally hire people to do things doesn’t mean it’s good for society. We could do without McDonald’s in any case. Use some creativity and figure out what we need in this demand-driven economy. Fill a void. Don’t just do what other businesses are you doing. “Turnkey business” means “lazy and can’t think for yourself.” There’s a reason why 95% of businesses fail, and it’s staring at you in the mirror.

Measure E: Yes

It’s another cardroom gaming initiative. Right now M8trix and Bay 101 have 49 tables each. If E passes, they can combine to have 128 tables, effective 2013. Effective 2014, each cardroom can have up to 79 tables.

In addition, should slot machines ever become legal in California (not Native American ones), they would now be legal as well in these cardrooms. In addition, voter approval would no longer be required should other types of gambling be decriminalized in California. So if dice games such as craps were decriminalized, they would automatically be permitted in these two cardrooms and not be subject to a vote first.

Previous measures that increased the number of tables also increased the percentage cut that the city got. This one doesn’t do that, although revenue would increase because of the sheer increase of available tables. This would be why you would vote no, if you wanted the cut to go up.

Measure H: Yes

Besides parcel taxes, sometimes school districts float bond measures to get funds to take care of stuff. In this case, San Jose Unified wants $290 million to update classroom technology, increase energy efficiency, and perform basic repairs to existing buildings. It can’t be used for teacher/administrative salaries of any kind. It can be used for the construction salaries that would result from these various changes.

Interest rates are superlow right now. It’s not a bad time for bonds. And of course the improved schools pay dividends in reduced crime and increase property value. You’ve heard this song and dance before. It’s the same shit. And of course the same jackasses are against it. So the anti-tax and libertarian crowds should be voting no. Remember we wouldn’t need any of this if Proposition 13 were repealed. This is just how it works today.

Another hiatus

June 14, 2012

About a year ago in fact the Shit Show went on hiatus. And now the Hit Show is doing the same. You can always tell when something was taking too much time when, once you stop doing it, you can’t figure out how you fit it into your schedule. This happened with both.

The problems of course are:

  • No new content for the site because there’s nothing forcing me to write
  • There’s no volunteer work on my schedule for the first time in about 10 years
  • It’s too hard to find out about new music

If I do start writing again, it’s probably going to be industry stuff about content strategy/content design. And if I do that, I might as well get a new domain.

Friction Land “Friction Land”

June 3, 2012

I’m not so sure that San Jose has a particular sound, yet when I popped Friction Land in, it made perfect sense to discover they were from here. The leadoff track on their self-titled debut, “Just You & I” doesn’t have any local pop culture references that I can hear, but it still seems odd that I’m not at Nickel City while listening to them.
“Giving It All Away” tries very hard and reminds me of Alice in Chains. The backing wails during the chorus seem out of place (as if the wailer was looking for something to do), but otherwise this song does everything right.
The wailing is back in “Something Special,” but it makes more sense here. It’s got to be loud when done live, but people seem to like those things. I mean, Gaslight Anthem has made a living doing it.
Limp Bizkit fans would like “Follow Me,” which has nothing to do with Twitter. It seems that the lyrics are meant to be thoughtful, because they are mixed high and easier to understand than on the other tracks. Although they didn’t inspire me, perhaps you are more their speed. “Jesus, Buddha, Confucius/I want to know what the truth is.” Sure, why not. At least it’s a faster song.
The other track of note is “Faking Emotion.” It inexplicably has synths in it. This one is for prog fans.
Maybe our scene involves clear enunciation, no doubt an effect of San Jose Unified School District’s excellent test scores. I’m clearly really locked in to Friction Land even if I’m not inspired by it.

Evans the Death “Evans the Death”

June 3, 2012

This band’s name reminded me of someone I used to play an online RPG with like 15 years ago. So I found him on Facebook, and honestly, Facebook is so much faster and cheaper than going to therapy.
Evans the Death the band, on the other hand, is like a melodic version of Pillow Fights. They’re a driving rock ‘n’ roll band with a female lead singer and no pretense. There’s clearly a sense of humor, though, because the back of the CD has tracks 1 through 6, followed by six separate Track 7s. I actually didn’t care for any of the 7s, which just goes to show that when you buy SuperLotto tickets that you should get different numbers every time.
So anyway Slumberland Records always seems to get it right, and with the help of singer/keyboardist Katherine Whitaker, they do it again. That’s a label whose showcase I would attend.
The two tracks I like are “Sleeping Song/So Long” and “Morning Voice,” but they’re all pretty good. “Morning Voice” is more of a traditional song that alternates between noisy and quiet parts, like “Goldfinger” by Ash.

DEaf “Pocketknives & Friendship Bracelets”

June 3, 2012

I really want to like this record, but it’s just not very good. The songs are all short, like punk songs should be, but most of the tracks veer off into White Stripes territory, and that is the opposite of what I want.
An exception is “Hold My Hand,” because the backing vocals sound like Andrea Zollo (Pretty Girls Make Graves), but these are the slowest and most boring fast songs I’ve ever heard.
The sound attempts to be like Pre, Mika Miko, or even the Red Aunts, but instead it feels as if it’s on antidepressants instead. Useful punk is like when you have a good fart ready to go. Sometimes, you just have to let it rip.
“Make It” sounds like older Yeah Yeah Yeahs. If you want to hear the dude sing, “Find You” isn’t that bad, and it has some Devo-style sound to go with it.
If you don’t expect much, you won’t be disappointed.

Kissing Party “Wasters Wall”

June 3, 2012

Lots of suggestive titles and lyrics make for a good time on “Kissing Party.” All the tracks are good, but the best is “Empty Bed, but Bed.” The band borders on twee in all the right ways, and the male-female vocals work well with the fast pace set by the drummer.
The synths in “The Game” also stand out and make this a recommendable number. Most of the rest of the tracks are not radio-friendly, which is a shame. Sure, I can hate the game instead of the player, but when your sounds are all about players, it stings to not be able to spread the gospel.

Lower Dens “Nootropics”

June 3, 2012

I played the hell out of “Twin-Hand Movement” so I was excited to see a new record from Lower Dens. “Alphabet Song” is the first track and sounds like a remix of one of the dungeon levels on the original Legend of Zelda for the NES.
Although I’m pretty sure the band isn’t trying for it, the late ’80s video game feel continues on “Propagation.” I think it’s the synths. There are lots of things “Candy” could be about, but it didn’t seem to be about any of them.
“Lion in Winter Pt. 2″ has lyrics, unlike Part 1. Maybe it’s like “Another Brick in the Wall” because it is really good. Even musically it is better than the first one. The last track has the cliche title, “In the End Is the Beginning.” It is also 12 minutes long. I think it cycles through the end and the beginning two or three times, if you catch my drift.

Here We Go Magic “A Different Ship”

June 3, 2012

I reviewed “The January EP” in July. Now it’s a different month to review a different album. The sound hasn’t changed much — nor does it need to. “Hard to Be Close” is a good example of how the band continues to put out good work.
The falsettos are a bit strained on “Alone but Moving,” and I hear the channeling of Steve Miller Band a wee bit. If you’re looking for the female backing vocals found on previous Here We Go Magic efforts, you’ll find them in “Over the Ocean,” which also has harp and other acid-encouraging accompaniment. This is a lot of fun if you’re not trying to drive at the time.
A faster tempo and subdued-this-time harp give “How Do I Know” a nice, shiny finish. This track builds and builds toward a strong finish. The title track is last and 8 minutes long. After 5 minutes, you think it is done, but instead it is like Grampa Simpson telling a story.
The album is fine, but I was really excited and set my expectations too high. I think I might have had the wrong impression about the band from the get go.

Blasted Canyons “2nd Place”

June 3, 2012

It’s an EP, and everyone in the trio does everything. On leadoff track “Get High,” singer Matt Jones sounds like Ivan Doroschuk (Men Without Hats). That’s really hard to do by accident. There are bits of Peter Schilling in there as well. “Liquid Fiend” has a retro, Portland-power-pop sound mixed with a little P.I.L. The bass and guitar sounds like the Jolenes’s “Spare Tire Liar.” I enjoy this one as well.
Slightly noisier is “Holy Geometry.” The guitar during the bridge sounds like Operation Makeout. “Finken’s Lament” is much noisier and very experimental. I guess the different tracks are auditions for what their second LP will sound like. (This EP is a followup to their debut full-length.)
More of a Sisters of Mercy sound can be found on “Manson Eyes.” The last track is “Glass on Your Pillow” and is an amalgam of noise and goth. It’s a bit too disorganized to work, but then it’s the last track, and that’s what you do at the end, so whatever. They probably end their live sets with this one as well.

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