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For fun, I debunk political disinformation pushed by the left and right in American politics.

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May 12, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Statewide Offices:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statewide Ballot Measures:

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

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

State Assembly - San Francisco Districts

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

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

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

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

US House - San Francisco

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

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

San Francisco Ballot Measures

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

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

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

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

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


March 6, 2014

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

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

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

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


October 14, 2013

The Yahoo Mail Fiasco: Yet Another Example of Silicon Valley's Endless Commitment to "Fiddling", not "Innovating"

Turned on the Internet this morning and it seems there was a firestorm of criticism being leveled at Yahoo.com for their changes to their long time Yahoo Mail service. Reading the coverage, it sounds pretty bad for those who relied on this service.

I haven't used Yahoo mail much in years (although in the late 90s/early 2000s I relied on a primitive but reliable version of the service when I traveled).

After reading some of the specifics, I have to say I'm not really that surprised. Yahoo is under a lot of pressure to reinvent it self, and fast and start making something called "money" to justify all those salaries that ride the Yahoo Bus** south every day.

Unfortunately, they seem to have chosen the route that is common for companies, big and small in this so called "tech"*** sector - pay lots of people to endlessly fiddle around with a product, changing details big and small, and often, to seem like they are doing something, when they're really not.

It would be unfair, however, to simply play the "let's beat on poor dying Yahoo" game. Take a look at the Pain in the Ass known as ios7. Apple too, chose to add lots of gadgety bullshit we didn't need (really, did I need my home screen to look like it's in "3D") and added an endless array of setting, pretty pictures and such. They also took a lot of the ease of use that was the hallmark of previous iOS's (iOSes?).

It doesn't really hit you until you use someone's phone using iOS6 and you realize Apple in the post-Jobs era that this, like other products from the tech*** world was a classic example of fiddling by committee, not creating any true innovation. One can only wonder if Mr. Jobs would have really approved.

Oh, but we could go on. Facebook? HA! They took "fiddling" to a whole new level - how many times have they made revisions based on all sorts of BS. Remember when the directive was a vague notion to "be more like Twitter!" a few years ago? No? Well then how about the endless ticky tacky settings regarding "privacy" users have faced since the beginning?

Don't get me wrong - not all companies do this and there are many mobile applications, online services and so on that actually do something useful and do continue to improve such products. Square comes to mind for its usefulness for independent merchants and those splitting the check at the restaurant, for example.

That said, it would be nice if we perhaps saw some of the Really Big Companies with Lots of Salaries tone down the fiddling, and get back to work making their products more useful.

For now, I'll continue to use only the ones that work (free or not) and avoid the fiddlers.

**Same goes for everyone on one of those GoogleYahooFacebookBauer bus things.

***This is really for another entire post, but I think we have to stop describing the majority of these companies that call themselves "tech" as such, and instead call them for what they are - advertising companies.

The "products" are not really the services they purport to provide (Google Mail, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc) - that's a secondary use. What they are really selling are their users who will look at said ads and supposedly click on them or whatever to buy something later on.

There's no shame in that at all - I used to work for a company that bought online ads all the time and there's many options for advertisers out there that didn't exist 10 years ago. However, let's not suggest these "tech" companies are on a par with those companies that built the US space program, create new medicines that cure disease, or build the many, many weapons that Americans like and seem to need.

February 6, 2013

Why The Decision to Cut Saturday Mail Is Not Only Stupid, But Also Makes No Sense

Why The Decision to Cut Saturday Mail Is Not Only Stupid, But Also Makes No Sense

If you haven't heard, the US Postal Service will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays. This is a stupid idea, but not for the reasons you might think. The cause is also a bit more complex than what your "friends" in Congress and on TV would have you believe.

First: why this is stupid. For many years I worked with the US Postal Service producing large direct mail projects for candidates and organizations around the country. During that time I got to learn a lot about how the USPS actually works, and learned a lot from executives at the USPS whose job was to work with high volume mail producers to expedite their projects as efficiently as possible.

One thing that was made abundantly clear was that the one day of the week that the USPS had the least to do was Tuesday. This was for a number of unrelated reasons, owing mostly to how people pay their bills (especially credit cards) and when businesses would mail out fliers and other such things for weekly sales specials. The point is, if the USPS must cut service, cutting Tuesday makes more sense for them, and for you, the customer.

Removing Saturday mail causes more problems than it solves. Many people are busy during the week and use Saturday to get caught up on chores and the like. Not everyone can, or will, pay all their bills online, and getting rid of Saturday service is just going to make things more miserable during the week than they need to be. If you have a US Post Office box, you may or may no longer have access to it on weekends like you do now.

Worse, when you consider that many jurisdictions are openly encouraging "vote-by-mail," and some states voting by mail only it doesn't take a genius to see how killing mail on Saturdays could be worse than killing it on Tuesday. (I know that doesn't seem to make sense, but if you spend enough time at huge mail facilities, trust me, it does).

There's more, however. In addition to competition from online services and the ongoing Great Depression "Recession," the USPS has been prohibited from providing additional services in your neighborhood, the USPS has an unprecedented mandate to fund a huge pension fund. They've been ordered to fund 75 years worth of pensions RIGHT NOW, something no other pension fund is required to do .

Needless to say, if you want to know where all the money is going , it isn't going to postal service - it's going to fund a pension fund in a way no other fund has to comply with. So far, few in Congress have spoken out, with the notable exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). have tried to speak out, but of course the chorus of the Know Nothing Party, and the Spineless Corporate Party tend to drown him out on the tv.

For those who sing the siren song of "privatize it," I'll simply leave you with how well that's worked overseas. If you've ever had the stalwart efficiency of private monopolized internet service and cable tv providers in the US, or their esteemed counterparts in the health care industry, then you already can guess how well that would work here.

For decades our postal service has served us fairly well. Yes, it's frustrating when there's a long line, and a service that has to serve everyone, regardless of where they live, isn't going to run perfectly. To see it get destroyed by the morons in Congress for the sake of a quasi-religious devotion to doctrine, however, is not only stupid, it makes no sense.






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