Monday, December 15, 2003

"Does Saddam's capture make Bush's re-election a sure thing?" This seems to be the question everybody is asking since we arrested the former Iraqi leader (looking very much like a drunken Santa Claus). The implication is that the answer is "yes" - may as well forget the election; Bush caught the bad guy, give him four more years to catch the other bad guy (remember Osama?)

I disagree. If the election were to be held next week, then this would guarantee four more years. But a lot can happen in 11 months. More importantly, there's a lot that probably won't happen. For example; the killing of American soldiers on a regular basis probably won't stop just because Saddam is gone. Another example; we probably won't have completely pulled out from Iraq.

Now that Saddam is out of the way - and because Bush put such an emphasis on the importance of that one man - the public is going to get more and more restless with each passing day that their sons and daughters are being fired upon in a foreign land, long after we've "freed" them. G.W. won't have Saddam Hussein to kick around anymore. So what excuse will he have to use to continue to justify our presence in Iraq?

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

From today's email - Just had to share.... (be sure to forward it to any geeks you may know)


At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney general John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

"Al-gebra is a fearsome cult," Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like "x" and "y" and refer to themselves as "unknowns," but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

"As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to every triangle," Ashcroft declared.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.

"I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence," the President said, adding: "Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line."

President Bush warned, "These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex."

Attorney General Ashcroft said, "As our Great Leader would say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is certain of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Big Al Gore has now officially endorsed Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination for President - if anybody cares what Big Al Gore has to say. So, does that help Dean or hurt him? It certainly doesn't help raise his stature in this household. Says Leslie, "You mean Dean isn't a Republican?" That's right - although everybody seems to be buying this new image of Howard Dean as the progressive choice, he's still a guy who can count on his 100% OK rating from the NRA.

Meanwhile, a few miles north of here in San Francisco, today is election day, with a run-off for mayor between a conservative Democrat and a Green. Big Al's old boss, Bad Bill, is in town today pulling for his party's boy. The national Democratic Party has been putting more of their attention on this election than the upcoming Presidential election, as if San Francisco were the last major battle ground for the hearts and minds of America. It isn't. It's a progressive city which should choose the more progressive candidate.

An article on the Common Dreams web site explores the question of partisanship over progressivism in relation to the SF race. In explanation of the above, the article states that, "Next year, Democrats will call on Greens and Green-leaning voters to abandon third-party politics in order to help beat George W. Bush. Many Green voters are likely to answer the call. But many others will ask why top Democrats always seem to demand concessions in the name of electing the more progressive major candidate at the national level but are not willing to make concessions in the name of electing the most progressive major candidate at the local level."

Sunday, November 30, 2003

If you're reading this posting past March 11, 2004, we've beaten the odds. It seems that the average lifespan of a web page is only 100 days. For "information" such as this useless blog that may well be fine, but what about pages which contain important research or scientific information? As a reference tool, 100 days doesn't hold up very well.

That's the problem uncovered in this Washington Post article on the ephemeral nature of web research. The authors were working on a two-year research project (on another subject) when they realized that their footnotes (referring to online sources) were becoming outdated almost as quick as they could type them. They then decided to do another research project to find out just how serious this problem was.

It turns out old-fashioned footnotes referring to print sources aren't all that much more reliable than web links. A high percentage have typos or other issues that make finding the original source impossible, not to mention books going out of print. (Or, the ever-popular just making the reference up to look smart - but we won't go there).

Maybe the temporary nature of information in the web age is a fitting footnote to our lack of regard for history or depth in our public and political discourse. Troubled by facts that show you're on the wrong course? Just wait 100 days and those facts will disappear, as will any public interest in finding those facts.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

And so, today is Thanksgiving. A month ago, even a few weeks ago, I was not particularly looking forward to the holiday, as I was obsessed with worrying about my employment situation - Not to mention that family occasions, such as this, always carry a certain amount of baggage with them that I just didn't feel like dealing with.

Let's recap the last month or two. Towards the end of September I learned that my job of two years would shortly run out of funding and that there was little chance of my continued employment. I left the job on a full-time basis at the end of last month (Halloween being my last happy day), although I still have a few part-time hours left through the end of the year.

The last month I've had to suddenly figure out that which I thought had already been settled: What am I going to do when I grow up? I obviously started looking for full-time work, but wasn't getting excited about any of the opportunities I was coming across, so I floated the possibility of my becoming an independent consultant to a few people even though I wasn't sure if I could find enough work to survive.

Since November 1, when I was supposed to be a semi-employed person of leisure, I've actually been remarkably busy; going from worried about losing my job, to being under-employed, to be being self-employed in an incredibly short time. By the end of next week I should have two signed contracts for consulting work, and I have meetings with three other organizations that may result in work as well - So, I guess I'm a consultant (and no longer looking for a "real job").

So, today I do have much to be thankful for after all - - - and I was so hoping for a depressing Thanksgiving! This is a hopeful new start on a new phase in my career, and I'm looking forward to a great year of learning and trying new things. Happy T-Day, everybody. It may not suck after all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Dust off the old converted school bus, paint it up in some wild colors, and let's hit the road once more!

Yep, it's all the rage these days. Here are just two recent examples:

* Ken Kesey's merry pranksters fire up their magic bus for a Bay Area book tour, and,

* VH1 puts the Partridge Family's bus on the road in search of America's next great Pop 'n' Roll family.

Me, I'm just looking forward to Thanksgiving later this week, when we'll load up the old VW micro-bus with garbage and set out to find a place to dump it in our annual recreation of the Alice's Restaurant Massacree.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The humble toilet gets its due

"The toilet, though a humble instrument, is a microcosm of society at large," or so begins an essay called "Toilet as a Social Space" on the World Toilet Organization Web site. Did you know that toilets "are not merely dung holes and are considered as a place for powdering, resting, conversations and even diaper changing for dainty, civilized, enlightened women"? Well, I know that now!

Also on site is "A Study of Japanese Toilets" and other fine toilet articles and studies. Some more tidbits... "Did You Know?"

1. "An average person visits the toilet 2500 times a year. About 6-8 times a day. You spend about 3 years of your life in the toilet.

2. "Poor toilet condition is a worldwide problem. More than half of the world population have no proper sanitation.

3. "Suppression of urination due to dirty toilets can lead to kidney and bladder diseases. In order to avoid visiting public toilets, Some people refrain from drinking and suffer dehydration.

4. "Most toilets are designed incorrectly.

5. "Female takes 3 times longer than male, yet both toilet sizes are often same.

6. "Toilet remains as a 'taboo' as people are shy to discuss the subject.

7. "There are toilet associations worldwide promoting toilet education and culture."

You too can be a toilet expert and laugh at all the wonderful toilet art cartoons. Just head on over to the World Toilet Organization and celebrate World Toilet Day today!

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in yesterday as California's new Governor. His speech was beautiful, hitting all the right notes. The guest speakers were well chosen, and representative of this great state. It was almost enough to give one hope. It was almost enough to make one say, "Hey, let's give this guy a chance. Maybe he can work a Sacramento Miracle after all."

And then he went to his new office and added another $4 billion to the state's deficit problem. I won't lie: I'll be happy to pay less on my car registration. I won't insist on paying the higher fee, just on principle. But when I have to pay out ten times that amount over the coming years to pay off the debt, I might regret it.

In a day filled with symbolism, repealing the repeal of the VLF cut was right up there. (Yes, "repealing the repeal." The "increase" in the Vehicle license Fee was actually a restoration to its previous level. When it was cut - during good economic times - the mechanism was put in place to return the VLF to the original higher rates in times of economic emergency).

The recall campaign, and the Governor's agenda yesterday, showed how out of touch Californians (Americans?) are with the consequences of their actions. They were simultaneously angry at the politicians for A) putting the state into debt, and B) actually trying to pay off the debt.

Again, I'm not wild about paying the higher VLF. But I'd rather do that than incur more debt that I'll be paying on my income taxes for the next generation.

There's a third element to yesterday's symbolism, and the disconnect between reality and our new prime-time series based in Sacramento. Arnold's third stop yesterday - after announcing that he was "beholden to no one except the people" - was to speak to a business lobbying group... and let them know that he'd require their financial support. It's not all special interests that we're against, after all; it's just other people's "special" interests.

Welcome to Arnold's California. "It's a whole new hideous age."

Monday, November 10, 2003

Who wants to be First Lady? That's the question being asked by after Democratic Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich mused about his desires for a mate. This musing was not a private statement, or something that came out in an interview, but rather an answer to a question at a formal debate.

Was Kucinich just trying to prove that nobody was paying attention to the debates, or was he serious? Either way, here's what he said:

"As a bachelor, I get a chance to fantasize about my first lady. And you know maybe Fox will want to sponsor it as a national contest or something. But in any event I would want definitely want someone who would not just be there by my side, but be a working partner because I think we're in a day in age when partnerships are imperative to making anything happening in the world. And I certainly want a dynamic, out-spoken woman who was fearless in her desire for peace in the world and for universal single-payer health care and a full employment economy. If you are out there call me."

So - If you're a single lady, and geeky wonks are your type, head on over to the Who wants to be First Lady? page at and send in your profile. The winner will be flown out to have dinner with Kucinich (if the candidate agrees).

But why stop there? Is America really ready to trust a local political web site to pick the woman who just might be our next First Lady? Hardly seems democratic to me. I say we need an eight week prime-time television series! Just where is NBC when you really need them?

That would get enough people involved in the voting to make it a legitimate choice, and it would have one of two effects (either one of which would improve our nation). It would either finally interest people in the Democratic primary and learning about the candidates, or, it would finally put an end to shows that attempt to set people up with their mate. Either way, America wins.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Wesley Clark entered the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination as an anti-war general; the one person who had the credentials to say he knew what he was talking about, but still get away with opposing our unilateral action in Iraq and not look like an idiot. This was to be the Democrats savior, enabling them to re-capture the White House and end the war without looking weak.

And then there was this: Clark Says U.S. Must Resist Early Iraq Exit. Our hero is now counseling that "Early exit means retreat or defeat. There can be neither... Failure in Iraq will not only be a tragedy for Iraq, it will be a disaster for America and the world... It will give the terrorists of al Qaeda a new base of operations."

What happened to our anti-Hawk? Has he gone over to the other side? Has it all been a huge deception? Is he giving up on getting the progressive-pragmatist vote? Is he just plain crazy? He just completely blew his cover and given up on the nomination. There's only one problem with all this analysis. He's right.

I do not believe for one second the whopper that George W.'s been telling about Saddam having been a supporter of bin Laden. But... now that Saddam is out, if we pull out without first getting Iraq on the road to recovery and democracy, there will be a power vacuum. And nature abhors a vacuum. Who do we (the peaceniks) think will fill that vacuum? Radical right-wing groups - that's who. And they're not going to be an improvement for anybody.

Clark is talking about re-building a true international coalition for the future of Iraq, not the sham "Coalition of the Willing" that W's been offering. "First we must end the American monopoly on the occupation and reconstruction. Then we must develop the right force mix to fight and win guerrilla war," according to Clark. "Finally, we must give Iraqis a rising stake in our success."

This is not a change of policy that can be accomplished from Republican "leadership." And it's not likely to come from either a "pull out at any cost" liberal or a "follow-the-president" typical Democratic milquetoast. As much as this article initially turned me against Clark, on further thought I realize he's not only right, but he's the only one who can do it.

It's been a long day, I'm tired, and I'm typing this as I'm drinking a Bourbon and Coke. Ask me again when I'm awake and fully sober. But, I think I'm beginning to really like this Wesley Clark dude. The truth is not always easy to accept, but it's the truth never-the-less, and the man's got a point.

Will that win the election? My cynicism level is such that I'd say he just lost it. It's too hawk-ish to get the vote of the left, and too dove-ish to get the vote of the right. But I've never been one to vote with the crowd.

On another [lighter] topic: On the first day of any Introduction to Journalism class they teach you that "Dog Bites Man" is not news, but "Man Bites Dog" is. Well, how about this: "Dog Shoots Man? It has a nice 21st century twist to it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

When is a lobbyist not a lobbyist? When is somebody who by definition represents a special interest not representing that special interest? When they're giving their money to hang out with somebody who "can't be bought" - that's when.

An invitation has gone out to Sacramento's lobbyists asking them to pay up to $21,200 to hob-nob with the new Governor at his first big fund-raiser as a professional politician, just two weeks after he's scheduled to take the oath of office. Yep; gotta get the cash while he's still popular. Can't let the PR go cold when there's money to be raised.

Californians, who thought they elected a political outsider who didn't need anybody else's money, reacted with a resounding, "Hey, did you see 'Eight Simple Rules' last night?"

(Outrage is nice and okay for some people, but the recall election is so, I don't know, it's like -- it's so October).

Schwarzenegger plans fund-raising event (

Monday, November 03, 2003

Day one of unemployment has been survived. I chose to not do any serious work, but rather fill the day with meaningless errands; an opportunity to fill up my to-do list with easily earned check marks. Leslie's principal is giving her a hard time, so she's not having the best of career days either. Still, I keep reminding her that we have no problems.

Read the news and find out what true suffering is. Parents burying their children. People being tortured and beaten. People living in filth.

We have a few economic concerns and annoyances, but these are passing troubles. Please, someone, in a few months, if I'm still looking for work and I start feeling sorry for myself, remind me of this posting.

"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression, and violence and enjoy it to the full."
- Leon Trotsky, Mexico, February 27th 1940, waiting for Stalin's assassins.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Halloween was pretty slow around here; only a handful of kids made it out in the rain, light as it was. The last group to come by lucked out, as rather than just giving them two or three chocolate bars each I just let them reach into the bowl and pull out handfuls of goodies.

Now it's a beautiful morning, with the sun cutting through the early morning fog and drying the leaves. I know I'm supposed to be feeling different or sad today -- feeling "unemployed" -- but I'm fine. It's a fresh day and I'm looking forward to getting out in it.

My staff took me to a nice long expensive lunch yesterday in downtown San Jose, and we said our goodbyes. It was sad, but I'll be seeing them all again soon. It's a new chapter, and although I'm nervous about how it will turn out, I'm sure it will be for the better.

Yesterday I was another worker being laid off. Today I'm an independent author and consultant. It feels good.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

One day left on the job... I had been talking earlier today with a friend and said that over the last six weeks I'd gone through all five of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' Five Stages of Dying over this: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Then, after lunch, I read an essay on Unemployment by Carla Herrera in which she says the same thing! At least I know; I'm not alone.

Of course, in Silicon Valley, nobody is unemployed. We're all just independent contractors and consultants with a very light client load. To that end, I'm now officially pursuing that track along with full-time employment. I hereby announce the official opening of Goldstein Consulting; nonprofit management and fundraising.

If I'm able to line up enough clients and projects to keep up the mortgage payments, before I find a full-time job, I will continue with the consulting. I would really prefer to go that route, but the state of the economy is telling me to keep looking for a "real job" along with trying to sell my services as a solo artist. We'll see which strategy wins...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Beating around the Bush

Buy my stuff at Lulu!
Now Available - Another New Book:

Beating Around the Bush

If the Democrats want to win in 2004, they'll need to stop whining and blaming Ralph Nader and hanging chads for their defeat. The most un-becoming thing about the "Blame Nader" bandwagon is that it simply isn't true. Through a thorough examination of the exit polls from the 2000 presidential election, this report shows that Ralph Nader not only didn't harm Al Gore's campaign; it may have actually helped Gore. This is information that neither party wants you to know. The Democrats don't want to loose their whipping boy and face defeat, and the Greens don't want to admit that their campaign actually helped the Democrats.

$5.89 in print - or ebook for only $0.95

Monday, October 27, 2003

You may remember a horrifying case about two years ago in Texas, where a woman hit a man with her car, lodging him (still alive) in her windshield. Rather than drive directly to a hospital to get him some help, she drove home, parked the car in her garage, and let him die a slow, painful death, while she ignored his pleas for help.

Well, here's the happy ending:

The victim's son - who has publicly forgiven the killer - was just awarded a $10,000 scholarship to finish college. The scholarship fund is just for the families of murder victims, with the money being raised by... murderers on death row.

The inmates, with help from the Catholic church's peace and justice committee and Amnesty International USA, publish a bi-monthly magazine called Compassion. The proceeds from the magazine go into the scholarship fund.

Read the SF Chronicle story about this case

Sunday, October 26, 2003

In the previous post, going back to last Sunday, I was kidding about joining Arnold and applying for a job in his administration. Well, now I can get to the truth behind my job search: after next Friday, I will be once again looking for work in this lousy economy.

It's a long story, that I'd rather not get into at this time, but it's essentially a lay-off to allow a restructuring of the position and the office. I've known it was coming for a little over a month, and have been working with my boss to set the timeframe for the transition, etc. We announced it this week, and my staff (or, former staff) are really pissed-off, as are some key constituents.

Anyway, that's why I've been a bit pre-occupied and stressed-out, and not posting here much. Once November 3 hits, and I don't have somewhere to head everyday, I'll be posting a lot more.

Hey - So how about some good news? I've come across (from one of my many Yahoo! Groups writer lists) a new Print-on-Demand publisher called

The positive part of Lulu: There are no set-up fees involved, and publishing is nearly instantaneously. You can upload your documents, type in the description, and have it available for sale within minutes, with absolutely no up-front investment.

The negative part of Lulu: Although you can purchase an ISBN (bringing in extra fees and set-up costs), it's unlikely that you'll have even the same distribution possibilities of an iUniverse. What you'll sell is what you can sell off of the Lulu site.

What this could be good for: I wouldn't use Lulu for another full-length work of fiction, but I think it has great promise for smaller projects. I'm planning a series of booklets (about 24 pages each) on political topics to test this out, and posted the first one last night...

The Conservative Roots of Business Affirmative Action by Ken Goldstein. Richard Nixon a liberal? Nixon's "Black Capitalism" initiative did more to bring about the development of minority business enterprises than all the Democrats from FDR to LBJ. Learn about it in this informative 23-page booklet.

"A review of the development of minority business enterprises, from the Civil War to the present, shows that it was Republican President, Richard Nixon, who brought about some of the greatest gains. How is it that only thirty years ago both major parties agreed on the reasoning and need behind Affirmative Action policies, and only differed in the approach they took? This booklet, adapted from the author's Master's thesis, is an attempt at bringing the public discourse back to a place where we can look objectively at programs, goals, and methods and rationally discuss what race-based remedies are still required (if any), without the vitriol and animosity that has marked previous debates."

The printed booklet is $5.93 and the ebook is only $0.95. How could you resist one? Buy it today!.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

As they say, "If you can't beat 'em; join 'em."

So I headed on down to to apply for a position with his administration. There are hundreds (thousands?) of jobs that he'll need to fill over the next couple of weeks, and I figure I'm as qualified as the next guy, so why not?

I looked over the list and decided that I'd go for Poet Laureate. Yes, that's on the list. You might think that Poet Laureate is a non-political post that could carry over from one governor to another, but you'd be wrong. This is a very sensitive position, in more ways that one.

Having decided on what my job should be, I clicked on over to the online job application form and started filling it out.

Other than "Party Affiliation" the first part is pretty standard job application stuff. Then comes the conflict of interest and lobbyist questions, and you realize that Arnold is serious about cleaning up Sacramento. He's certainly going to be weeding out anybody who's been having secret meetings with energy companies that the state is currently suing. (Oops - didn't Arnie do that?)

He also wants people of character in his administration. One question asks if you are under investigation for any kind of criminal activity, and another asks about anything embarrassing that might come up in your background check. Excellent questions; wouldn't want anybody who gropes or sexually harasses their co-workers getting in.

Then there's this one, "Have you ever had any association with any person or group or business venture which could be used, even unfairly, to impugn or question your character and qualifications for the requested appointment?" Do you think making a movie with Tom Arnold fits in here?

I was just about done with the application when it hit me: If I actually get a job with the administration, I'll have to move to Sacramento! I've lived in Sacramento before, and I felt damn lucky to have gotten out. No, that was the deal breaker. You don't apply for a job in a city you have no intention of living in.

Thursday, October 16, 2003 has a 2004 Presidential Candidate Selector that's kind of interesting. You give your answers to 16 issue related questions, and it comes back with its recommendation of who you should be supporting.

There were some surprises in how they ranked the candidates for me, but overall, I'd say it's fairly accurate. According to SelectSmart, the order in which I should prefer the various candidates are:

1. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (100%)
2. Kucinich, Cong. Dennis, OH - Democrat (93%)
3. Green Party Candidate (90%)
4. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (90%)
5. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol IL - Democrat (86%)
6. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (85%)
7. Clinton, Senator Hillary Rodham, NY - Democrat (83%)
8. Gephardt, Cong. Dick, MO - Democrat (83%)
9. Jackson, Cong. Jesse Jr., IL - Democrat (82%)
10. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (81%)
11. Lieberman Senator Joe CT - Democrat (81%)
12. Biden, Senator Joe, DE - Democrat (78%)
13. Socialist Candidate (76%)
14. Graham, Senator Bob, FL - Democrat (76%)
15. Daschle, Senate Minority Leader Tom, SD - Democrat (75%)
16. Leahy, Patrick Senator, Vermont - Democrat (74%)
17. Kaptur, Cong. Marcy, OH - Democrat (67%)
18. Feingold, Senator Russ, WI - Democrat (67%)
19. Dodd, Senator Chris, CT - Democrat (66%)
20. Clark, Retired Army General Wesley K "Wes" Arkansas - Democrat (63%)
21. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (63%)
22. Bayh, Senator Evan, IN - Democrat (59%)
23. Feinstein, Senator Dianne, CA - Democrat (58%)
24. Gore, Former Vice-President Al - Democrat (49%)
25. Bradley, Former Senator Bill NJ - Democrat (46%)
26. Libertarian Candidate (30%)
27. McCain, Senator John, AZ- Republican (24%)
28. Buchanan, Patrick J. – Reform/Republican (14%)
29. Hagelin, John - Natural Law (10%)
30. Bush, George W. - US President (10%)
31. Hart, Former Senator Gary, CO - Democrat (10%)
32. Vilsack, Governor. Tom IA - Democrat (7%)
33. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (3%)

Take the test yourself at

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

An inspirational story of courage finally recognized, from the sports page (of all places):
Two Olympians involved in '68 protest get a statue at San Jose State.

And a story of the triumph of irrational homophobia, from the White House (where else?):
October 13-18 has been decreed "Marriage Protection Week" by Bush & Co.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I don't know why - I didn't ask for this job - but people are sending me all sorts of anti-Arnold articles. Frankly, I'm trying to give the guy a chance to at least take the oath of office before I blast him, but here are a couple of links to read up on anyway:

Arnold's Enron Connection & Dirty Little Secret - It seems there is a reason behind the vast right-wing conspiracy after all.
The "other candidates" aren't done with Arnold yet - Gene Forte (the guy who looks like Gorbachev) is suing the big guy's bodyguards.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Today's the day of our big charity book signing event. Six other authors and I will be at the Learning Game store in Cupertino, from 2:00-4:00, doing a reading and selling signed copies of our books. Our royalties for the day will all be donated to Future Families - a foster family and adoption agency that specializes in abused and hard-to-place children.

If you're in the South Bay Area, and would like to come by, the program starts right at 2:00, with a brief intro about Future Families, then readings from each of the participating authors. Then we'll be available to sign your books until 4:00. The Learning Game is at the corner of Stevens Creek and De Anza boulevards in Cupertino.

For more information, see my "Authors for Charity" page.

Read our press release about the event.

Find out more about Future Families on their web site.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

"I think the people are believing he's going to be some anti-politician. He's a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, being guided by the Republican Party. So the only thing California is going to get is a Republican governor."
-- Jesse Ventura

Here's a sample from my overnight email of what people thought of yesterday's post:

From: on Wednesday, October 8, 2003 at 22:40:54
> fuck you

Scott, could you be a little more specific? It's hard to respond to such a general comment. However, I'm going to take a guess and say you must be a fan of our new governor.

In many conversations with co-workers and associates yesterday I found that many of them were scared of the governator, and for the future of our state. For my part in those conversations, I just kept saying, at least he can't start any wars or kill anybody. I'm considered a moderate around here.

Today, I'll update my stance and say, I'm less afraid of our new governor than I am of his core supporters. These are the people who attacked, verbally and physically, candidates Georgy Russell and Dan Feinstein at various rallies over the last 75 days.

Anybody who's read my ramblings over the years knows that my top priority politically is the opening up of the process, involving more citizen candidates, and increasing the number of active voters. I'm thrilled that when the dust settles, and all the abentee ballots are counted, we could possibly top 70% participation in Tuesday's election. But now I'm also a little nervous at what this participation has wrought.

First time voters who think it's perfectly acceptible to bully other voters for their views; not a good sign for continued democracy. H.L. Menkin wrote that "the masses are asses." Was he right?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

All eyes to Cahleephoneya. Cahleephoneya uber alles. We've got a bigger problem now.

Congratulations to our new governator. Yes, I'm stunned by the size of his victory, but not that he won. And, yes, I truly wish him (and All of Us) the best.

So - what happened here yesterday? Was it a great victory for the Republicans? A great defeat for the Democrats? A blow against the system? Most of the pundits I heard last night or read this morning are saying that it's a Republican upset against the Democrats - And they are all wrong.

Oh, it was a defeat for the Democrats alright. But I'd caution Republican leaders from taking too much credit for it. Arnold's victory was not a Republican victory, and it was not a conservative victory, it was a personal one. People voted for a man, not a party. More importantly, they voted for him as a (perceived) outsider.

I believe this by contrasting the gubernatorial vote with the vote on proposition 54, the "racial privacy" initiative. Had this been a conservative victory, had the typical Republican voter in this state been the one to create change yesterday, prop 54 would have passed. Instead it went down to a decisive defeat (62% no, with most districts reporting).

Watching his victory speech last night, on a stage filled with Democrats as well as Republicans, I came to realize a few things. At first I was disgusted as Jay Leno introduced the governor-elect (I think using the Tonight Show to promote your favorite candidate is a bit unfair). Then I stared in disbelief as Eunice Kennedy and Sargeant Shriver stood smiling at a Republican victory. Then it hit me:

Here in the Bay Area, we saw things differently than the rest of the state, and voted accordingly. In the Bay Area we saw the recall as a right-wing political power-grab and voted against it. The rest of the state saw it as a means to shout, "We're mad as Hell and we're not going to take it anymore." In the Bay Area we saw Arnold as a Republican tool and voted for others. The rest of the state saw him as an outsider and potential leader who could get things done by rising above the political din.

About Arnold's margin of victory: First, it's amazing that in a 135 candidate race anybody could garner nearly 49% of the vote. Yes, it's a mandate, and there's no reason to challenge the results. Let's certify the election, start the transition, and get on with the business of the state.

But, I do have to question whether that commanding lead was all Arnold's doing. I believe the media had a lot to do with it (even beyond buddy Jay's politicizing his little show).

I feel that democracy was the real loser yesterday. We had an opportunity to see a multi-candidate, multi-idea race, and the media couldn't handle it. In the last week they determined to make it a two-man race, and they succeeded. Multiple headlines in each of the papers declared that the recall was now a "referendum on Arnold."

To read any of the final week's coverage would lead a voter to believe that this was a one question race, choosing between a failed governor and a "randy" outsider. If that were the only issue here, I'd have voted for Arnold myself. But the questions, and the issues, were much larger than that.

I'm sure I'll write more about the failings of the press, and the need to open up our democracy to more citizen candidates, later. This morning, however, I'm pleased that proposition 54 failed, and I'm trying to look on the positive sides of Arnold's victory.

And if you still need to have a drink to handle the news, check out the Webtender:

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

So here we are, with twelve hours to go in the race to destroy California. I see hits to this page are going up again as voters hunt for some information about the candidates - any candidate but Ahnold.

For those who care (and even those who don't), here are my recomendations:

Question 1 - The Recall - Vote NO. There is no great love for Gray Davis in this household. We know that he's a political weasel of the highest order, but he was fairly elected - twice. Since that re-election he has committed no crimes that would warrent a removal from office. The recall is motivated by spite politics only. Passing the recall will not help our state's financial situation, it will only further plunge us into a world of politics over policy.

Both major parties are responsible for our current crisis by pretending the tech bubble would never burst. They must now work together (along with the non-aligned) to fix what they've done to us. Giving them fodder to continue bickering and playing recall games only puts off the inevitable, and digs the hole deeper. Put an end to this BS now, vote NO on the recall.

Question 2 - Who should be governor, should the recall pass? - My vote is for Peter Miguel Camejo, the same as it was eleven months ago when Davis was re-elected. Of the five or six "major" candidates (so dubbed by the lazy media), there were only two who were honest, principled, decent people, who put their beliefs above political expediency. Of those two, Camejo is the one who is not a right-wing reactionary.

Of the "minor" candidates there were several that impressed me over the last few months, and for whom I considered voting. They include (but are not limited to) Dan Feinstein, Christopher Sproul, Georgy Russell, and Garrett Gruener (now out of the race). If we had instant run-off voting in this election, I would put a mark by each of their names. They had new, fresh ideas and handled themselves in an honerable manner, and ran great campaigns. I hope to see them each run for office again sometime.

Proposition 53 - Dictates 3% of General Fund revenue to fund state and local infrastructure - No. In a quick read, it sounds like a "why not?" situation, but there are a few problems. The first is simply, there's so little of the state budget that is discretionary already - and this is a huge source of the budget problems we have - that locking in amounts for certain projects limits the flexibility we need to manage in lean times, such as these. Also, infrastructure projects are typically bond financed, not General Fund. It may make sense to stop building with debt, but again, is this the right time? My third question is simply about what the funds can and cannot be used for. I don't think this is a tragedy should it pass, but my recommendation is that we vote no.

Proposition 54 - CRECNO, ban the gathering of race data by the state - HELL NO! Don't be fooled into thinking this is a vote about creating a "color blind" society. This is simply about destroying the data gathering to say whether or not racism exists. Without this data we have no way of knowing whether crimes are hate motivated, if housing, employment, or educational discrimination exists, or even whether or not certain health problems are related to race.

The need to collect this data for a variety of reasons - not just to support affirmative action - is legitimate, and plays a vital role in much of our public policy. This is not about us all getting along without regard for race; it is about being willfully blind to real problems, and blocking possible solutions from being developed. CRECNO is a dangerous public policy, and we must all vote NO.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Alright - For those last minute surfers looking for candidate information for Tuesday's California gubernatorial recall election, here are three more links:

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Friday, October 03, 2003

Who are the "other" candidates for California governor in the recall election? Well, there are two ways of looking at the 130 also-rans.

One would be to seriously look at the proposals that make up their platforms. One partial attempt at this was done by the Oakland Tribune. "Unknown hopefuls' ideas ever a mystery" actually looked at a few key proposals by each of six candidates. Not many, but a start. The saddest part may be that his is one of the most complete lists of "minor" candidate statements available to voters.

More typical is the approach chosen this morning by the SF Chronicle. "From wildest date, to guilty pleasures, to who makes their beds, some of the 'other' recall hopefuls tell all" got right down to what's really important: wildest dates and who makes their own bed.

During this final weekend before the election, why don't you take a little time to visit the web sites of at least 12 candidates and learn a little something about them. I've got the links right here - give it a shot.

(BTW, as a follow-up to my last post, the most popular stupid search that's led to this page during the recall campaign was "georgy russell nude pics." That was toward the start of the campaign when I was mentioning her a lot more. Since I no longer show up in that search my hits have fallen drastically.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

I know why you're here. Or, at least, I will know why you were here. I check my site stats regularly and see what links people followed to get to this page, and it also shows me what search terms people used when linking here from Yahoo! or Google. Occasionally, I find some odd searches have led to this blog.

Today, one of you found this page by going to Google and typing, "garrett gruener a jew." I take it this was supposed to be a question, not a statement. Perhaps the searcher was considering voting for Mr. Gruener in the upcoming gubernatorial recall election here in California, and for some reason his religion was going to be the deciding factor. Was the voter trying to confirm that Garrett is a Jew as a good thing or as a bad thing?

One of my first thoughts on seeing this search was that the visitor had used the wrong search engine. Yes, I love Google and it's usually my first choice. But, when asking a question as a search, you should go to Ask Jeeves, which, after all, was founded by the Jew - er - I mean, candidate in question. So, that's what I did. But Jeeves is a sly devil. I asked, but he said next to nothing. Is Garrett (and his company) trying to hide something? I began to get suspicious.

Next, I went to his blog - no mention of his religion. Then to his main web site, still nothing. Sure, there's a page called "Ask Garrett", but it's just his answers to the debate questions; there's no way to really ask him about something as important as whether or not he attended Rosh Hashanah services last week, or whether he'll be fasting on Yom Kippur the day before the big election.

I guess we just may never know if Garrett Gruener is a Jew in time to incorporate that into our decision next Tuesday. All we do know is that he'll create jobs through investment in new green technology, that he'll put computers into the hands of all school kids, that he'll raise the emission standards on SUVs to the same as regular passenger cars, he'll direct state resources toward renewable energy, that he'll close the commercial property loophole in prop 13, and few other things. But is that really enough to base a decision on? I really wish he'd just answer the Jew question already.

For the record: I'm a Jew, and I vote. How my site came up in such a bizarre search is a topic for another posting.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Where the hell have I been? So much has been happening, and I haven't posted a thing. A big thank you to Verizon DSL for keeping me offline for nearly two weeks. I have no idea how I'm online right now. I have a service appointment for Thursday, but I thought, what the heck, I'll try to log on just to see what happens... and it worked. I'll wait to see if I can get on again tomorrow before I cancel that appointment...

So, the magniminous Jay Leno gave all the candidates for California governor the same opportunity for exposure that he's given to buddy Arnold (the big candidate Arnold, not the little candidate who played Arnold on TV), or did he? Candidate Dan Feinstein explains what went on bette than I ever could, but basically, Jay assembled about 90 of the "others" in his audience one night for the sole purpose of making them all look like idiots. And then to complain the election is a "circus."

If I hear one more damn pundit say this is a circus, I'm going to have to kill them. Can't these "professional" broadcasters come up with something more original, or newsworthy, to say? I don't blame my fellow civilians who use the circus metaphor - it's been forced on them so many times by the opinion setters that they may actually think that this is an insite. Lower standards for a dumber America.

The "big five" had a wonderful bash of a debate last week, with scripted answers to pre-announced questions, including scripted insults being flown across the table. Only Camejo and McClintock rose above the "circus-like" atmosphere (I read somewhere that circus' are like that) and refused to get into the name-calling. The candidates on the furthest right and the furthest left stood by their principles, while those in the middle (including the pretendo-populist millionaire pundit) duked it out publicly. Good point of the debate: at least the scripted questions forced them to comment on a few issues of substance, such as proposition 54.

Did I insult Ms. Huffington in that last paragraph? I'm sorry if I did. I wouldn't want her mad at me. Let me just be clear my less than praising comments for her are not meant in a condecending manner (unlike the rude comments made to her in the debate by Arnie and Cruz). I'm only referring to her current change of position regarding the need for an independent progressive candidate in the race.

She formerly insisted that the Democrats and Republicans were equally guilty in our state's current crisis. At the start of her campaign she said that if it got down to the wire, and it looked like she couldn't win, she'd get out and throw her support to Camejo, the Green party candidate. Camejo, for his part, made a similar pledge to support Arriana. Now, when the excrement is hitting the fan, she's ready to drop out of the race and put her (limited) support behind Cruz B., who a week ago she considered the enemy.

A candidate who claims to stand for independence and principles, who then chooses political expediency and dealmaking, is not a true progressive. Cruz promised to back her campaign finance reform initiative, so she'll give him her (few) voters. Probably also on her mind is her ability to still get access to big-name Demos for her punditry once this is all over. I hate to say it, but I never fully trusted her campaign to begin with.

Ahh, but that's all old news already. I'm sorry if this post has lots of typos and spelling errors, but I don't know how long I'll be able to stay online before Verizon screws me again - so - without any proofing, I'm hitting the post button - I hope to see you again soon....

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

"These investments of time, money, and the exercise of citizenship rights cannot be returned."

The recall election is back on, and wisely so. I've thought much about the challenges during the week it was in question and I've come to believe that the postponing of a scheduled election is a far different question than demanding a recount in a disputed election. This isn't Florida. We should be aware of the potential problems in those counties which will use punch cards on October 7, and be prepared to do hand counts if the margin of victory is smaller than the potential error rate (3%), but the election should go on.

For once people are excited about an election. The last minute rush to register before the deadline (yesterday) showed that. I think we'll see a higher-than-usual turnout at the polls on October 7. To have put off the election would have destroyed this wonderful rebirth of democracy in this state and returned the populace to frustration, apathy, and inaction. I'm shocked that the ACLU doesn't seem to care about that. No more appeals! Let's go on with the election!

(BTW: I've not been posting lately because my DSL service from home is not working. I'm at work right now taking a short break - don't tell my boss.)

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Who is Ken Goldstein? We all occasionally come to places in our lives where we ask ourselves these question of who we are, are we on the right track, etc., etc. The other day I figured, what better way to find out who I am, than to do a little Google search? Here's what I learned about myself:

- I'm executive vice president and managing director of Disney Online

- I'm also a professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

- I'm a copywriter and technical writer living in Jersey City

- I'm in charge of Cleanrooms and Ultra High Purity Systems for Microelectronics Applications at Intota in Arizona

- I'm on the board of directors of Northern Great Plains, Inc., and the Chief Strategy Officer for CanWest Global in Winnipeg (only natural, since I'm one of Canada’s leading authorities on media economics and media trends, and on the impact of new technology on the media)

- I'm a real estate broker in San Marcos, CA

- and I founded Computer-Aided Technologies International, Inc. (CATII), in Hawaii, with my lovely wife, Linda .

- I've got a few other jobs as well (president of a Jewish Study Center, an economist with the Conference Board, etc.), and before I died I was a noted folklorist/enthomusicologist, but I don't have links to these identities.

Of course, none of these are really me (although some of them are pretty cool). Who I actually am is . . . Oops, 7:30; time to get going to work. . . I'll have to finish this later. . .

Monday, September 15, 2003

Breaking news: October 7 Recall [may be] Postponed!

Story from Sacramento Bee - Story on Yahoo! News

The appeal of the appeal may still be appealed, but at this moment the campaign has been extended until March.

Why this is good:
  • The punch-card system used by much of the state is out-dated and leads to mis-counts. We all remember the problems that "hanging chad" caused in the presidential election, and that's just one of the problems with this system. Add to that the confusion of 135 candidates and the potential for voter error, and you realize why we need modern voting systems.
  • In the rush to get the election prepared in a time of budget cuts, poling places have been cut drastically in some areas. People will be going to their usual poling place, only to find that there's no election happening there.
  • Each of the above will lead to many Californians being dis-enfranchised, a violation of their basic civil rights.

Why this is bad:
  • A delay only favors those few major candidates with the resources to keep campaigning for another five or six months. The press will tire of, and the public will be bored with, learning about the other 130 candidates. Citizens who were excited about politics for the first time in years will be further dis-enchanted with the process and become more convinced of the futility of getting involved.
  • At the core of this election is a question of whether or not Gray Davis is fit to govern this state. Personally, I think the recall question is a sham; Davis may be a weasel, but his biggest crime is being unpopular. Fine. But, the point of a recall is that the public has lost confidence in the government, and that requires swift movement. It's not the type of question you put off until the next regularly scheduled election; it is deserving a special election ASAP.
  • While a delay will help ensure that every vote is counted, it will also ensure that far fewer votes are cast.

Touch choice. Possibly disnfranchise a few who try to vote, or unintentionally disinfranchise many through discouraging involvement. My opinion at this moment (and it could change) is that the lesser evil is to go ahead with a flawed election. That punch cards need to be replaced is not in question. Frankly, the problems with punch cards call into question the validity of many elections over the years. But, it's what we have now. Let's use it one last time.
After yesterday's post, I think I need to point out that I am against the recall. I believe it was politically motivated. I believe that most of the state's problems are bigger than even Gray Davis, and that both major parties had a hand in thinking the economic bubble would never burst. I believe that the recall be only be used for more serious situations than a lack of popularity. Yes, Davis is a weasel, like all the rest. So is Senator Feinstein. She didn't list any legitimate reasons for opposing the recall in her ad, she only tried scare tactics. That's why I say she thinks we're idiots, and that she is mocking us.

Okay, back to the candidates. My link list is up to 93, that's more than 2/3 of the runners.

Yesterday I mentioned the blog of candidate Dan Feinstein. I also sent him an email in response to a question he posted there, in which I mentioned this blog. This morning he's included a link back here in a referencing the reference loop. Thanks, Dan!

Talking to my parents last night, my mothers said, "I wish you were running for Governor." Sorry, mom. I thougth I had better things to do with $3,500 at this time. But, damn, it would have been fun.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

The D. Feinstein Report: A Tale of Two Feinsteins

California's ever-terrifying Senator, Dianne Feinstein, is trying to scare us all with an apocalyptic vision of the Golden State, post-recall.

DiFi, with her best wig all powdered and glued into place, stares at the TV cameras and says (something like), "Did you know that with 135 candidates, somebody could win with as little as 15% of the vote! Who will that person be? And where will they stand on the issues? We just don't know!"

She goes on to explain that such uncertainty would cause financial markets to collapse, investments to fail, tidal waves to wipe out all ocean-front properties, and the San Andreas fault to open up and swallow us whole. (There's also a second anti-recall ad on now with the same message, but lacking DiFi's talking head - a slight improvement).

It's nice to be reminded of how little our ranking Senator thinks of us. It's very true that the winner will likely have a small percentage of the vote (probably in 25-30% range) and will lack any real mandate to govern. (I've written about this, and the need for Instant Run-off Voting, elsewhere). But I'm going to assume that when Californians go to the polls, they'll know where their candidate stands (at the very least).

If the Democratic establishment has to stoop to scare tactics to get us to vote against the recall, what does that say about Davis' reign? Couldn't DiFi have come on and said something to defend her buddy, Gray? Couldn't she have even softened the scare tactics and spoken from her own experience of facing a recall while mayor of San Francisco?

But, what about these hanging of questions of "Who will that person be? And where will they stand on the issues?" If DiFi wants to be helpful, should she be suggesting that we actually research the candidates? The information is out there, all you have to do is look. And this is where the other D. Feinstein comes in...

I know where recall candidate Dan Feinstein (a distant cousin of DiFi) stands on the issues - and I know that his positions are very closely aligned with mine. He also keeps an excellent blog chronicling the campaign with great insight and biting humor.

I've also exchanged a couple of emails with Hana Pederson, Dan's Campaign Manager and sister. They've been frustrated with the mainstream presses insistence on portraying the "lesser candidates" only as clowns, and the lack of outlets that will objectively evaluate each of the candidate's proposals.

Yes, they have proposals. And some damn good ones.

I haven't yet made a final decision on who to vote for on October 7, but I'm leaning toward Peter Miguel Camejo, the better-known of the Green party candidates. I'm a registered Green, I've voted for Peter before, I have little reason to abandon him now.

But here are a few of the Democratic "clowns" who have impressed me. If you haven't decided who to vote for yet, research these:And that's just a few that I would consider voting for.

So far, I've collected links to 87 of the candidates on my site. They've ALL got something to say. I don't agree with them all, obviously, but within the 87, I'm sure you'll find somebody who gets your interest.

As to DiFi; If you're not sure where the candidates stand, do some reading. If you're concerned about the validity of the election results, introduce IRV legislation in the Senate.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Letterman Bids Farewell to Zevon

The star of CBS's "Late Show" spent several minutes of Monday night's broadcast reminiscing about his friendship with Zevon and his admiration for his music. Soon after Zevon announced last year that he was dying, Letterman turned over an entire program for a visit with him, and he showed clips from that show Monday.

Zevon, known for songs including "Werewolves of London" and "Excitable Boy," died Sunday at 56.

"He was a poet and a storyteller and a good friend of ours," Letterman said.

"We all knew this was coming, hoping that it wouldn't, but yesterday afternoon in California the inevitable happened. So we're very sad about that."

He noted that Zevon had appeared as a guest on the program and Letterman's old NBC "Late Night" show more than a dozen times and had filled in for bandleader Paul Shaffer nearly two dozen times.

"People are always asking me what do I like about his music," Letterman said.

"It was just thundering and exciting and rhythmic and complicated and unusual rock 'n' roll," he continued. "It was not the kind of rock 'n' roll you would hear much of. And then the lyrics, oh my God, the lyrics were so vivid. Just very evocative and each song that you listened to was like watching a motion picture."

Shaffer and the band played Zevon's songs throughout the show, which ended with Letterman speaking to the camera, saying, "Goodnight, Warren, we'll see ya."

Warren Zevon Private Service/Ashes to be Scattered

Family and friends are planning a small private memorial service for singer-songwriter Warren Zevon.

His manager, Brigette Barr, says at that time Zevon's ashes will be scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

A public memorial service may occur at a later date. Zevon died Sunday in his sleep, a year after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He was 56

The head of Zevon's record company says Zevon "exited in a most extraordinary way." Danny Goldberg of Artemis Records, in New York, says it's amazing that Zevon was given three months to live, yet completed an album, released it and was able to see how well it sold. Goldberg says not only was Zevon a great musician, but "a very nice guy, with a curmudgeony exterior that masqueraded a very caring personality."

His final album, "The Wind," was released two weeks ago.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

And another one bites the dust... - Peter Ueberroth, "moderate" Republican has dropped out of Califiornia's gubernatorial recall election, leaving only 133 other chocies - Will democracy survive?

Petey dropped out because of poor showing in polls of "likely voters" - Only problem is, nobody knows for certain who the "likely voters" will be. This election is unlike any other, and the polsters don't have any insight or information that the rest of don't have. My expectation (my hope) is that there will be many new, formerly disaffected, voters who show up on October 7 who have never voted before (or not for many years). Bye-bye Uebey. So what.

A couple of plugs here: Right now I'm enjoying Warren Zevon's latest (and final) CD, "The Wind.' from the opening line ("Some days I feel like my shadow's casting me") you know that you're in for a great treat. His second best album of all time, this is the crowning achievement in a great career, and a fitting farewell to a man who's already beat the doctor's by a few months (Zevon has an untreatable cancer, and the doctors said he'd never finish, let alone see the release of, this CD).

What I'm reading: "Lies, and the lying liars who tell them" by Al Franken. A little too partisan for me to love 100%, but all true, all funny, and all brilliantly on target. Required reading for anybody who's still paying attention.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

I got my sample ballot in the mail yesterday (for Santa Clara County - other counties will have different ballot types). The candidates for governor take up seven pages, with a note at the top of each page saying, "REMINDER: VOTE FOR ONLY ONE CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR," and a note at the bottom saying, "CANDIDATE LISTINGS CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE." The ballot initiatives, however, only take half a page. Other than that it's so spread out, it's fairly straight forward. If the poll workers are trained well in some basic questions ("Choose only one candidate from the seven page." "Yes, you may still choose a candidate, even if you vote 'No' on the recall") hopefully there won't be too may problems.

I've been updating my sites, and I now have web links for 84 candidates. Here, for your voting research, are your [web-enabled] choices:
  1. Iris Adam
  2. Brooke Adams
  3. Douglas Anderson
  4. Mohammad Arif
  5. Badi Badiozamani
  6. John Beard
  7. Ed Beyer
  8. Cheryl Bly-Chester
  9. Audie Bock
  10. Art Brown
  11. John Christopher Burton
  12. Cruz Bustamante
  13. Peter Miguel Camejo
  14. Bob Cullenbine
  15. Gray Davis
  16. Scott Davis
  17. Bob Lynn Edwards, Jr.
  18. Dr. Warren Farrell
  19. Dan Feinstein
  20. Larry Flynt
  21. Lorraine ("Abner Zurd") Fontanes
  22. Gene Forte
  23. Diana Foss
  24. Ronald J. Friedman, MD
  25. Gerold Lee Gorman
  26. Rich Gosse
  27. Jack Loyd Grisham
  28. Garrett Gruener
  29. Ivan Hall
  30. Ken Hamidi
  31. John "Jack" Hickey
  32. Arianna Huffington
  33. Trek Thunder Kelley
  34. Edward "Ed" Kennedy
  35. Eric Korevaar
  36. Jerry Kunzman
  37. Dick Lane
  38. Calvin Louie
  39. Dr. Frank Macaluso
  40. Robert C. Mannheim
  41. Paul Mariano
  42. Mike McCarthy
  43. Bob McClain
  44. Tom McClintock
  45. Dennis McMahon
  46. Jonathan Miller
  47. Darryl L. Mobley
  48. Paul Nave
  49. Robert C. Newman II
  50. Leonard Padilla
  51. Ronald Jason Palmieri
  52. Heather Peters
  53. Charles "Chuck" Pineda, Jr.
  54. Darin Price
  55. Bryan Quinn
  56. Jeff Rainforth
  57. Danny C. Ramirez
  58. Christopher Ranken
  59. Kevin Richter
  60. Ned Roscoe
  61. Georgy Russell
  62. David Sams
  63. Darrin Scheidle
  64. Mike Schmmier
  65. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  66. Richard J Simmons
  67. Randall D. Sprague
  68. Christopher Sproul
  69. Tim Sylvester
  70. A. Lavar Taylor
  71. Diane Beall Templin
  72. Brian Tracy
  73. William Tsangares
  74. Peter Ueberroth
  75. Marc Valdez
  76. Paul W. Vann
  77. Chuck Walker
  78. Nathan Whitecloud Walton
  79. Daniel Watts
  80. C.T. Weber
  81. Jim Weir
  82. Lingel H. Winters
  83. Michael J. Wozniak
  84. Jon W. Zellhoefer

If you know of any other official candidate sites, please let me know using the feedback link near the top-left of this page. I'm continuing to keep the list up-to-date (along with some other items) at my new California Demockracy page.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Yesterday was the first big gubernatorial debate in California's upcoming recall election. As refreshing as it was to finally see a debate with more than two candidates, five out of 135 was still a bit on the low side (less than 4%). Of course, six were invited, but Big A declined to show, deciding instead to give his one standard speech at CSULB, where he was egged.

The five at the debate (Camejo, Ueberroth, Huffington, McClintock, and Bustamante) had nothing terribly earth shattering to share, but it did help clarify some distinct differences between them. With the exception of all agreeing that the Federal government had no right to strike down California's medical marijuana laws, there were opinions all over the board on all topics.

Ueberroth made no attempt to hide his unfamiliarity with many of the issues of the day. Calling himself a "political neophyte" he said his one job was to come in and get the state's finances in order. Recalling his resume as Commissioner of Baseball, organizer of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and an advisor to the city of L.A. Following the riots of the early '90s, he said he's a problem solver and a fix-it guy. That's nice, and I believe him, but I need a whole lot more in a governor.

McClintock tries hard to say he's not an extremist, but then he opens his mouth and the charade is over. That's all I have to say about that.

Bustamante did his best to distinguish himself as not simply Gray's lap dog, and to position himself slightly to the left of Davis, but wasn't entirely convincing on either point. His closing statement (in which he mangled his main point and flustered himself beyond recovery) started with the Al Gore argument: "It's my turn. I've been training for five years to be the Governor if Gray Davis is ever unable to finish the job." That line of reasoning didn't work for Al, and it probably won't work for Cruz.

Huffington probably surprised me the most and was certainly the most comfortable with the situation - she's frankly had the most prep for what was essentially a panel talk-show. I was pleased with the clarifications she gave on a few positions where I wasn't sure how she stood before. She also gave the most memorable line in her closing statement, "The people of California don't want a recall; they want a revolution." She may be one of the few candidates with media access who truly gets it.

Camejo did me proud as a member of the Green party, and as somebody who voted for him last year, and may do so again next month. He articulated the progressive stance clearly, in a non-threatening way, and without apology. Going where no other candidate would dare, he explained how through loopholes and exemptions that the poorest Californians pay higher tax rates than the richest Californians, adding, "unless you're willing to go there, you can't balance the budget."

The format was basically a panel of journalists asking specific questions of each candidate with one-minute answers, followed by 30-second rebuttals from the other four. The thirty-second rebuttals added nothing to the program or the depth of the subjects covered. I would have rather had no rebuttal time, and brought in another five candidates (at least).

The more exciting action was going on outside of the auditorium, where many of the un-invited candidates gathered in protest. The few sound-bites from that scene that made it on air made me hungry for more. Arianna was right, this is a revolution. The question is whether or not Gil Scott-Heron was also right, "The revolution will not be televised."

We'll be right back after this commercial message:
You saw them in Iraq. Now comes a deck of cards commemorating California's recall. This 52-card deck offers voters a piece of political history and a glimpse at a handful of the 135 candidates. They're coming to 7-Eleven stores in California and available online at:
More on the debate:
* Full Transcript
* Highlight Quotes

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The "Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act" (H.R.235) would allow religious organizations to support or oppose candidates for public office without losing their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Sounds like a good idea? Why shouldn't they be allowed to endorse and work for candidates?

It may well be a good idea - but not the way it's presented. By allowing religious organizations an exemption that other nonprofits and charities are not allowed, we bring up basic issues of fairness. Basically, the backers of this bill are banking on religious organizations supporting more conservative candidates than the local food bank or children's shelter might.

If we're really going to "restore free speech" to community organizations, let's do it across the board, for all 501(c)(3) organizations. Don't leave the gag on for one group of tax-exempt organizations and leave it on for others.

Take action on HR 235 by writing to your Congressperson today.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Over the weekend Big Arnold said something to the effect of, "I don't take any contributions from labor or other special interests, so I'm not beholden to them like the rest. All of my donations come from businesses and individuals." (Sorry, I read it in the paper while out of the house, so I have to paraphrase here).

Can somebody explain to Mr. Schwarzenegger that business is also a special interest? How is he less beholden to their interests than any other candidate would be to union interests?

Lets take a look at the difference:
* The Special Interests of Business: weaker environmental laws, lack of regulation, low minimum wages, shifting the tax burden to individuals.
* The Special Interests of Unions: job security, higher wages, on-the-job safety, health coverage, shifting the tax burden to businesses.

It seems to me that if he truly wants to be the "candidate of the people," as he keeps claiming, that union interests would be fairly important. These are things that most individual Californians (those of us who are not millionairs) worry about.

Another shining example of how out of touch this particual man of the people really is.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Don't be surprised if sometime, somewhere, when you least expect it, somebody walks up to you and says, "Smile! You're a candidate for Governor of California!"

Here's a little project I'm not quite sure what to make of yet. Candidate Camera is compiling an online photo album of the recall election from the 135 candidate's point-of-view. So far, that sounds great. I appreciate how all 135 are treated equally on this site and given equal access to share their photos.

What's a little questionable about it is the motive. Are they really trying to give us a peak at democracy in action? Or are they just trying to sell digital cameras? I think it's a little bit of each. The editor of the site is a respected photographer, and seems hot on the first idea. But to get it to work required getting a sponsor, and that's where Gateway comes in.

You can't visit the site without being reminded that Gateway supplied the digital cameras to each candidate (does this count as a campaign donation?). Who knew that Gateway made cameras, as well as computers? I didn't, but I sure do now.

Advertising campaign for digital cameras... democracy in the works... it's all the same and blended seamlessly into this thing called California Demockracy.

Friday, August 29, 2003

I had a bit too much time on my hands yesterday while waiting for the guy to come replace the water heater (long story), so I created a new web site...

I've taken some of my more significant posts regarding the recall election and collected them under the title of California Demockracy. "Welcome to California: Putting the 'Mock' in Democracy since 2003." I'll keep that site as a permanent archive of this recall madness, so future generations don't have to go through what we have...

Meanwhile, here's a fun little item that came in today's email:


1. Cabal of oldsters who won't listen to outside advice? Check.
2. No understanding of ethnicity's of the many locals? Check.
3. National boundaries drawn in Europe, not by the locals? Check.
4. Unshakable faith in our superior technology? Check.
5. France secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
6. Russia secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
7. China secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
8. Enemy supply lines unknown? Check.
9. Sec of Def pushing a conflict the Joint Chiefs never wanted? Check.
10. Fear we'll look bad if we back down now? Check.
11. Corrupt corporate Texan in the White House? Check.
12. Land war in Asia? Check.
13. Right-wing unhappy with outcome of previous war? Check.
14. Enemy easily moves in/out of neighboring countries? Check.
15. Soldiers about to be exposed to our own chemicals? Check.
16. Daily guerrilla attacks that cannot be stopped? Check.
17. Anti-Americanism up sharply in Europe? Check.
18. B-52 bombers? Check.
19. Helicopters that clog up on the local dust? Check.
20. Infighting among the branches of the military? Check.
21. Locals that cheer us by day, hate us by night? Check.
22. Local experts ignored? Check.
23. Local politicians ignored? Check.
24. Local conflicts since before the USA has been a country? Check.
25. Much confusion over who and where the enemy is? Check.
26. Against advice, Prez won't use taxes to pay for war? Check.
27. Blue water navy ships operating in brown water? Check.
28. Use of nukes hinted at if things don't go our way? Check.
29. War unpopular at home? Check.
30. No plan in place to end involvement? Check.

Vietnam II, you are cleared to taxi.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

When is it legal to break the law? When lawmaker leaves the back door open to invite the criminal in.

California's Lieutenant Governor, Cruz Bustamante, who also happens to be running for Governor in the recall election, has been in a little hot water this week for accepting a $300,000 campaign donation - far above the limits set by our campaign finance reform law, Proposition 34.

It's legal! He loudly maintains. Or, rather, has his apparatchiks maintain. Says an aide, "We're abiding by the way they wrote it, we didn't write Proposition 34. If they want to change it, they need to change it."

How this manages to be legal is that prop 34 only applied to campaign funds established after a certain date. What Cruz has done is leave an old campaign fund open, accepts over-sized gifts into it (perfectly legal), then transfers the money to his 2003 campaign fund (also perfectly legal).

He's done nothing legally wrong, as he claims. But has he violated the spirit of the law? Has he gone against the intent of the people as expressed in a ballot initiative? Of course he has. In his defense (and only slightly), how else is he to compete with the self-financed Arnold machine?

Even so, how can you run to govern "by the will of the people" when you make such a mockery of their will? Yes, prop 34 left huge gaps to drive trucks full of money through. Let's not let any politicians get those trucks through; let's close those holes (including limits on self-financing).

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

on 8/24/03 11:27 PM, Cheryl Bly-Chester wrote:

> Ken, I like your coverage of the California Gubernatorial special
> election. I am the only candidate who is putting forth an actual proposal to
> de-polarize Californians, alleviate the budget and spending problems and bring
> personal power back to taxpayers. I would appreciate your opinion of the
> proposal as it appears on my Website at - click on
> "Closing the Budget Gap" on the "read more"
> I want to know if you understand the proposal and can see the possibilities.
> Please give me your take on this proposal - Thanks, Cheryl Bly-Chester,
> Candidate for California Governor

Hi Cheryl,

Thank you for writing. It's not often that the candidate contacts the constituent with questions. That's a refreshing switch that has resulted from our multi-candidate election.

You asked specifically about my opinion on your "Closing the Budget Gap" proposal, and whether or not it could be understood and the possibilities seen. I've taken a couple of looks at it, and think it is fairly well understood, has direct-democracy implications that are exciting, but is (ultimately and sadly) not entirely workable.

To give a quick overview of what I think you were saying, you would allow those Californians who itemize their deductions to contribute directly to their "pet state project" while filing their taxes for an immediate 150% deduction on the income side. In theory, that's beautiful. As you point out, farmers could choose to support farm subsidies, artists could support the arts (what artists earn enough to itemize?), etc.

The implication is that this would draw in additional income to the state (more than enough to balance the 150% deduction), and give legislators a view into citizen priorities. (But, only the priorities of those whose incomes and lifestyles lead them to itemize deductions; richer citizens). Another well-meaning idea. But how is this going to work in the real world?

You say that tax payers would earmark these additional donations to specific line items in the budget. But with the thousands of line items that exist, who will be responsible for tracking this? Or deciding which of the hundreds of line items having to do with education a vague reference to "schools" would go to? The bureaucracy in tracking this alone would cost more than the additional revenue realized.

While you wisely point out that the contributions should serve as pointers to legislators to tell them about voter priorities, you also say that those line items that get no donations should lead legislators to reduce that line from the general fund. Dangerous idea. Sure, lots of people will earmark dollars to education, roads, public transportation, and environment. But who will remember to donate to "Mosquito Abatement District 5" until California becomes the malaria capital of the west?

You also say that to not put the state in competition with nonprofits, you would cap these donations at 50% of all charitable deductions. This is more a matter of opinion than analysis, but as a nonprofit guy, I'd still be worried about the attraction of the 150% deduction taking money away from the sector.

So what variation of your plan do I think would work? Maybe checkboxes for general funding areas (education, health, safety, roads/transportation, environment) to which folks could donate for an immediate 100% deduction. In other words, just a better implementation (and deductibility) of the additional donation box that's already on the California tax form. This would be easier and cheaper to implement, and could be used to encourage voluntary "donations" to the state to fix the deficit, but should not be used as a type of initiative process to set priorities.

I hope you don't regret asking me my opinion now, but as I said before, candidates don't often ask constituents to review their proposals, so I wasn't going to waste the opportunity by being anything less than totally honest.

Best wishes, and thank you,

- Ken Goldstein

Monday, August 25, 2003

California Gubernatorial candidate Tom McClintock recently said, referring to the popular movie biography Seabiscuit, "They said that War Admiral couldn't be beat and shouldn't have to run a race against the likes of Seabiscuit. Let me assure everyone that I am one horse that is in this race to the finish line."

Reading that, I had a strange sensation of deja vu. Clicking through a couple of links, I found the following (edited) on Garrett Gruener's web log: "... At one point in the movie, Charles Howard, Seabiscuit's owner, says: "The jockey's too big, the horse is too small, the trainer is too old and the owner is too dumb to notice" ... here's my version of Charles Howard's line: "The campaign is too short, the issues are too big, the opponents are too well known and the candidate is going for it anyway."

(Gruener's latest blog entry compares the state budget to a scene in the movie "Dave" - Warning to Garrett: One more movie metaphor and you're out! That's the sort of simple pandering we expect from the Arnold, not from an entrepreneur like you.)

Wondering if the Seabiscuit reference was a trend*, I did a little more clicking and came up with the following:But, actually, none of these was the first political Seabiscuit reference this year. Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich tied his long-shot campaign into the opening of Seabiscuit last month. Did the public buy the tie-in? Let's see:

"Seabiscuit's story is a perfect reflection of Dennis Kucinich's campaign. Seabiscuit was a long-shot and many people said he had no chance to win. But he inspired the nation... and he did win! So can Dennis Kucinich!" said Ethel Orr, 82 year old supporter of Kucinich.

Meanwhile, this morning I received an email from candidate Cheryl Bly-Chester asking me to review her site and give her my take on her proposals. (She must have found this page by doing a Google search for her own name.) I'll be taking a closer look at her site and posting the results here later this week.

* One difference between the recall election and a horse race: There are only eight horses in a race.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Simon is out! Bowing to Republican pressure to only have one big-name candidate in the race. Bill Simon (who lost to Davis last year) has stepped aside to let Arnie go for it.

I've updated my recall election page with another dozen (or so) candidate home pages. The new additions are:In that list you'll see the link to Dan Feinstein's main election page, but I also recommend that you click through to his daily blog. Dan's an amusing (and bright) fellow.

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