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.

Friday, August 22, 2003

It has often been joked that if you want to make a man disappear, you elect him to the Vice-Presidency. The same could be said of the statewide office of Lieutenant Governor. California's Lt. Gov., Cruz Bustamante, has largely flown under the radar these last five years, including one under-reported incident when he used the "N word" in a speech to an African-American group (causing 1/4 of them to walk out on him).

The incident happened two years ago, but I don't recall hearing about it until today. At first I wondered if it was just a smear tactic and part of a vast right-wing conspiracy, so I did a little research. It's true. You can check the references yourself.

That makes just as nervous as the Austrian candidate (Arnold something-or-other), whose father joined the Nazi party just after the German's took Vienna.

But that's not the most shocking thing I've seen today. Check out these new toys:
Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush Action Figure, and Military Forward Command Post with Action Figures.
Ask Jeeves search engine founder Garrett Gruener is a candidate in our recall election, but when you ask "Ask Jeeves" Why is Gruener running for governor of California? you don't get a link to his site - What you get are ads for the official sites of candidates Peter Ueberroth and Georgy Russell, and an un-official Arnold the Governator merchandise site.

In fact, when you do find Gruener's web site, you see that the guy who made his fortune with Ask Jeeves, and at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Alta Partners, has a big "Full Website Coming Soon" banner on his page and very little information. To his credit, at least he didn't start with a "Donate Now" button and no positions like a certain action figure did. Dig a little deeper and find Gruener's daily blog, and you'll discover a thoughtful guy who's on the correct side of several issues. I'll be checking back to see if more content, positions, and ideas are forthcoming. If anybody should be able to communicate to voters online, this is a guy who should be doing it.

Meanwhile, perhaps we can skip the whole costly election? Maybe we should just leave it up to the free market to decide who our Governor should be?

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Promising to "Clean House," Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to be governor AND chief janitor of California.

Refusing to come up with a specific economic plan before the October 7 recall election, the would-be Governator said, "The public doesn't care about facts and figures. They've heard figures for the past five years. What the people want to know is if you are tough enough to clean house."

Excuse me, but the Governor is supposed to be the chief executive of the state, not the chief janitor. I, for one, do care about facts, and I find figures to be fairly important as well. Tough is good. Has an idea of what he’s doing is even better. Let me repeat one thing: I care about facts. Very much.

Arnold has promised to reform the workers' compensation system "the day I'm sworn in." When pressed for details on this and his other priorities, he said, "It would be wrong for me to come up with all kinds of exact solutions . . . when I don't know the problem."

OK. He admits that he doesn’t know the problem. He refuses to think about specifics before the election. Yet, somehow, he knows how to reform the workers' compensation system in a single day.

Be afraid. Be very afraid . . . But wait! . . . It’s not all bad news!

Voter registration is on the rise as citizens are awakening to the excitement. As I've always maintained, more candidates will bring out more voters and enliven our democracy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Click here for the best photo of the day - California Gubernatorial candidates Gary Coleman and Mary Carey sharing a moment together.

Mary has a new incentive program to donate to her campaign: She'll go on a date with anybody who gives more than $5,000. Just a a nice chaste date, no sex. After all, this isn't the Howard Stern show; She's running for Governor!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The Understatement of the Month Award goes to Fred Eckhard, chief spokesman for the U.N. mission in Baghdad, who said that the bomb blast that ripped apart the their Headquarters was a "political set-back."

The blast prompted peace-loving Senator John McCain to call for more troops to be sent to Iraq. I'm so glad the war is over.

On the lighter side of things, I've updated my mother-in-law's web site. Order her new Bach and Chopin CDs...

Saturday, August 16, 2003

In previous postings (and other articles on my web site) I've run on about how the California recall election points out the need for IRV; Instant Run-off Voting.

If you'd like to see how IRV would work in October, visit Recall Sanity. (Warning: with 135 candidates, it takes a minute or two to load. Thanks to candidate Georgy Russell, who included that link in her newsletter.) For more non-California examples of IRV in action and an explanation of how it all works, visit DemoChoice, or try my IRV-style poll, "What's your favorite Hitchcock movie."

Am I the only one who's noticed this one? Two candidates with the same web site! Well, their platforms are very different, but they each used the same design template and didn't change a thing about it.
* Ed Beyer
* Eric Korevaar

And, for those who are sick of hearing about California politics, I leave you with a link to Comedy Notebook (blog).

Friday, August 15, 2003

Several people have asked me (some more seriously than others), "Hey, Ken. Are you running for Governor? Why not?" Here's the answer I just emailed to one such friend:

I am not running for Governor - and you are not the first to ask. For years and years, starting in the mid-seventies, I'd always said to folks (half joking), "I’m running for Governor in 2002." It always seemed far enough off that I could put off the decision. In 2001, I started seriously considering it, but changed my mind in early 2002 based on my work and the time commitment.

This year I suppose it could have been a possibility, would have been a lot of fun, and in some sense it could be seen as a missed opportunity. But I didn't feel that I had time to prepare as well as I would have liked - mostly because I refused to even think about it until the recall was a reality - as well as the time commitment is still a problem, I like better odds than 1:135, and, frankly, I've got better things I could do with $3,500.

I did once run for Mayor of Sacramento - in 1996. One of the other Mayoral candidates, who I got to know very well through that period, was Leonard Padilla: bounty hunter, bail bondsman, law school president, and current candidate for Governor. Leonard always runs for Mayor of Sacramento, and I'm loving watching him do his thing statewide now. At one of the Mayoral debates, back in 1996, he promised that if elected he'd appoint me to an advisory position in the Mayor's office. I wonder if that promise still holds, if he's in the Governor's office?

I must admit, though, while most people are calling this a circus, I'm enjoying every minute of it, and wondering if I do want to start preparing for another race in a year or two...

(BTW: In Sacramento, I came in 5th of 6 candidates, with 3.5% of the vote. I did that with a campaign budget of $500 and refusing to accept even a dime in outside donations. While the incumbent Mayor spent over $5.00/vote to be re-elected, I spent only $0.18/vote to get out an anti-corporate welfare message and expose some corrupt city contracting practices to the media. It was the best $500 I ever spent. Leonard came in 3rd or 4th.)

Today's recall news:
* Fringe candidates define themselves on recall ballot
* 'Pumping Iron' reveals young, brash, even scary Schwarzenegger
* Davis hits new low (poll numbers, not scandal)

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Finally, the number of candidates has moved down, rather than up. Out of 247 people who turned in paperwork, 76 (so far) have been found to be incomplete or invalid, leaving us with a maximum of 171 candidates for governor in California's recall election. The final list will be certified by the end of today.

Reminder: September 22 is the deadline to register to vote in this election (if you voted in the last election in your county, you are still registered).

Also, while the big focus is on the recall, don't forget that there will also be two initiatives (proposition 53 & proposition 54 "CRECNO") on the ballot. Be sure to read up and vote on those too!

Schwarzenegger has set up a campaign Web site,, but so far it's only taking campaign contributions. There are no policy statements.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Willie Brown prays for a miracle, and Ralph Nader gets a pie in the face.

More tomorrow...

Monday, August 11, 2003

And the numbers keep rising... The 155 number I posted below (and that was used in most of the press reports) is already out of date. Although that number came from the Secretary of State's office after the filing deadline, it now appears that some of the counties were slow in getting their numbers to Sacramento.

The state now reports 193 candidates filed, with 89 completed (the other 104 are still having signatures verified, or their checks haven't cleared yet).

So, with at least 100 or so candidates on the ballot, it may be possible for the "winning" candidate to be elected Governor of California with little more than 1% of the vote. More likely, it will be one of the big name candidates with somewhere between 25-35%, but the end is the same: a Governor with no mandate to govern. The winner enters office having been supported by a fraction of the people. Add to that the very real possibility that only 52% support the recall. That means the replacement governor will have gotten fewer votes than the recalled governor.

This whole situation could be avoided if California (and the US) would adopt IRV. IRV stands for Instant Run-off Voting. IRV systems allow for multiple candidate elections, while still guaranteeing that the winner will have at least 50% of the final vote, and that everybody's vote counts.

How IRV works is that rather than choosing a single candidate in a multiple candidate election, the voter selects their top three (or four, or whatever is allowed) and ranks them accordingly.

All the first-choice votes are tallied first. If no candidate manages to garner more than 50% of the vote, IRV eliminates the votes for the last place candidate and looks at the second choices on those ballots, adding them to the original totals. If there is still no clear winner, IRV does this again with each losing candidate, until one candidate hits the magic number for victory.

Of course, all this is done automatically on the first pass through the vote counting machines. No need for recounts, IRV guarantees a clear winner every time.

For example, if the election were held today, and if we had IRV, I might select Georgy Russell as my first choice candidate, Peter Miguel Camejo as my second choice, and Cruz Bustamante only third. (For the sake of this example, let's assume I'm a typical Californian, and not just a lone nut).

Assuming Georgy clearly lost, my vote would then be given to Camejo. If he failed to gather enough votes to be in the running, my vote would only then be given to Bustamante. My vote may, in the end, help elect the "mainstream" Democrat (who would then have at least 50% of the vote), but my preference for something more progressive would be noted, and Bustamante (if he wanted a second term) would have a mandate to govern from the left.

For more on IRV (from which the above was taken), please see "IRV to the Rescue."

A word or two about the polls: In this election they will be entirely useless. First of all, because this election is so unlike anything we have seen, there is no precedent to how to evaluate the information.

More importantly, they poll "likely voters", meaning those that records show voted in the last two elections. This is going to overcount some, and undercount others.

It will overcount the usual voters, because many are likely to be so put off by this circus that they choose not to vote. It will undercount those that have never voted before but will be energized by an actual choice of who to vote for besides the usual two idiots.

My prediction is that the second group (1st time voters) is going to outnumber the first group (disgusted voters). I still think the end result will be the same, Governator Arnold, but it's not based on the polls, it's based on the Minnesota experience with Jesse "The Mind" Ventura. That, and my sick sense of humor.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Here's the low-down on how may potential candidates there are for Governor of California, if the recall of Gray Davis passes:
PartyCandidates FiledUnder Review Complete
Democratic 59 36 23
Republican 48 30 18
American Independent 2 11
Green 4 3 1
Libertarian 3 2 1
Natural Law 2 1 1
Peace and Freedom 2 1 1
Independent 35 26 9
Total 155 100 55

What those numbers mean: 55 of the candidates have already been "qualified", their checks have been deposited and the signatures on their petitions have been verified. The Secretary of State's office still has till the 13th to review the petitions of the 100 remaining. On Monday, August 9, the Secretary will hold the random alphabet drawing, which will determine the order of the names on the ballot.

"Hey, Ken," I hear you ask. "There were 522 candidates the other day, what happened to the other 367?" The other 367 took out the papers, but didn't turn them in for various reasons (didn't get enough signatures; couldn't come up with $3,500; came to their senses; or, those damn midnight phone calls from Gray Davis and Art Torres warning that if they ran they'd never hold office as a Democrat again in their lives).

The recall ballot will have two questions:
1 - Should we remove Gray Davis from office? Yes or No
2 - If Davis is removed, who should replace him? (with the list of candidates).

Important: Even if a voter says "No" to the recall (or abstains, leaving that question blank), the should still select a candidate in the second question!

Because of the number of candidates, the second question is likely to run at least two, probably three, and possibly four pages long. How many voters will select a different candidate on each page? How many will give up trying to find their candidate and select a box at random or not vote at all (remember, it won't be in alphabetical order)?

So, who will emerge as the "major" candidates in this crowded field:

Republicans: Arnold Schwarzenegger and millionaire businessman Bill Simon (who lost to Davis just 10 months ago) will lead the Republican pack, with Congressman Tom McClintock just behind. Darrell Issa, who financed the recall petitions, bowed out when Arnold got in, as did former LA Mayor Dick Riordan.

Democrats: Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is the only prominent, well-known Democrat in the race. John Garamendi bowed to the party pressure and withdrew at the last minute.

Greens: Peter Miguel Camejo will once again carry the Green banner in this election.

Independents: Former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, who led the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, is running as an independent, as is columnist Arianna Huffington. Each of them could attract enough attention to make this a complicated race.

And the rest: OK, those were the name candidates under each heading. Of course, there's a lot more in the "unknown" category, several of whom have been very good at attracting attention. Among them are Democrats Larry Flynt and Georgy Russell, and independent Leonard Padilla. Just to confuse folks more, Dan Feinstein of San Francisco (not Dianne) is also running as a Democrat.

Meanwhile, Christian conservative group, the Traditional Values Coalition, has organized a campaign committee against Arnold, who has spoken in favor of abortion and gay rights. Its leader, the Rev. Lou Sheldon, told the San Jose Mercury News, "As governor, Mr. Schwarzenegger would be a darker villain than any he has faced in his movies."

Web sites:
Arianna Huffington
Peter Miguel Camejo
Cruz Bustamante
Georgy Russell
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Friday, August 08, 2003

Last chance to sign online petitions to qualify candidates for the recall election:
* Bernie Ward
* Patrick Evans-Iachetta

And a few more candidate websites:
* Monkey - yes, a monkey
* Michael J. Wozniak - no, not THAT Woz
* Ron Gulke - "Let's poke 'em in the eye!" Huh???
* Derek Teslik - not the most motivated of the bunch, but at least he has a web site

And the final link for the day:
* Republican Resistance - Resist the Davis Recall & Recall Arnold, all on one site!
Here's the question that I've not heard addressed regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy for California Governor: How will equal time provisions effect Terminator 3? What about his other pictures?

This sounds silly, but is actually a serious question. Will TV and radio shy away from accepting advertising for the new movie because they may end up owing other candidates access to the same amount of airtime? What about stations that may have scheduled an older Arnold movie for air between now and October 7? (Make your own joke about Total Recall here). Will they have to change their schedules?

I believe the story goes that when Ronald Reagan ran for governor (1966), he had to be replaced as host of TV's Death Valley Days (was that the show?) because of these concerns. I was just a little kid at the time, and have no first-hand memory of this. Anybody out there remember that election and how this was handled?

Meanwhile, Georgy Russell, California's favorite 26-year-old hottie for Governor, is only $224 away from the filing fee. Care to donate for "Beauty, Brains, & Leadership"? She's actually a breath of fresh political air compared to most of the others.

All candidates must have their money and their petitions in tomorrow. On Monday, the Secretary of State's office will begin verifying signatures (and depositing checks), and will issue a "certified list" of candidates by the close of business on August 13.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

New developments every hour...

Darrell Issa, the Congressman who spent $1.7 million of his own fortune getting the recall of Gray Davis on the ballot, has now dropped out of the race. Did big Ahnold scare poor little Darrell? More likely he didn't want to split the vote with him and dropped out to help guarantee an Arnold victory.
The California Supreme Court has tossed out all five legal challenges to the recall election. That, of course, includes Gray Davis' own two-part complaint.

And the race is on... with porn star Mary Carey promising to make lap dances tax deductible if elected. "If more guys had orgasms, they'd be less violent," said Carey.
OK - By now it's well known that Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to be the Governator of California. "Vote me now, recall me later." I would have taken his press conference last night a little more seriously if he hadn't ended it with "I'll be back." Seriously, that one is no joke. While walking away from the reporters he actually said, "I'll be back."

Meanwhile, there will be at least one prominant, officially annointed Democrat on the recall ballot. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has filed his papers as an option to Governor Gray Davis. The list of potential candidates has now grown to over 500 (a ten page ballot for just one office). If they all complete their papers (65 signatures) and pay the $3,500, the next Governor of California could be elected with 0.3% of the vote. But, not to fear, so far only 30 or so candidates have completed the process and qualified.

Among them, an old acquaintance of mine from Sacramento, bounty hunter Leonard Padilla. Padilla told the Sacramento Bee, "If elected, I promise to disconnect every answering machine in state government. All phones will be answered by people. If workers say they are too busy to answer the phone, fire them." Back on July 25 Leonard predicted that Bustamante would take over, "Then Cruz will appoint Gray as lieutenant governor." (Regarding that paper, Leonard once gave me the excellent advice to "pay attention to what the Bee don't print.")

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The candidate count to replace California Governor Gray Davis is now approaching 400. The Secretary of State's office reports 234 who have given "official" notice of their candidacy and another 155 "unofficial" candidates (as of the time stamp above).

389 applicants for one thankless job. I guess that's not too surprising, considering the current state of the economy.

The SF Chronicle reports on some possible big-name Democrats (John Garamendi and March Fong Eu) entering the competition. Meanwhile, Di Fi is out, Arianna is in, and only a couple of hours left till Arnold makes his big decision....
Guess who's turned out to be an anti-semite and right-wing religious nut? None other than Mel Gibson has decided he's a martyr for big guy. Very disappointing news. Seems he's a member of some "traditionalist" Catholic church that rejects everything Rome has done since at least 1965. That was when the Vatican officially came out and said it was time to stop blaming "the Jews" for killing Jesus.

But young Melly likes the blood libel, and has just privately produced a new movie called The Passion to tell the truth about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life, and the part played in that drama by blood-thirsty, money-hungry Jews. But I, perhaps, overstate the film's point-of-view. After all, how would I know? How would any Jew know? Mel is only screening the picture for like-minded evenagelicals; no Jews invited. Turns out Mel's daddy is a Holocaust denying author as well.

Many thanks to for that link. Now, if you really want to know what happened during Jesus' final days, you have to check out Jesus' Kid Brother to learn about Larry Christ, the kid with an inferiority complex of biblical proportions.

Speaking of morons, the other day I was at a "Mid-Year Economic Update" breakfast meeting sponsored by the local business paper and one of the speakers was local big-time developer Barry Swenson. Barry's an amusing dude, who's not afraid to tell it as he sees it and can be a very entertaining speaker. But he's also a political shil when it comes to apologizing for the Republicans. Barry stated that Clinton deserved no credit for the economic boom of nineties and that Bush deserved no credit for the subsequent crash. I'll partially agree with that; much of what happened in this cycle was beyond Washington's control. (Keyword: partially).

Barry then went on to say that Bush was "doing everything he could, short of dropping money out of an airplane" to get the economy rolling again. Okay, Barry, which is it? Does the president (any president) have the ability to control the economy or not? You can't have it both ways. But he did get me to thinking...

If it's true (as Barry said) that the president and Congress don't have that much to do with the economy, but we had this great boom under Democrats and this never-ending recession under Republicans, then we ought to vote out all the Republicans. If Republicans are so good at fixing the economy, but everybody is ineffective in government, we should set the Republicans free to return to the private sector and do their magic. Get the Democrats out of companies and into office where they can't hurt anything important.

But enough of morons already! Checking in with somebody really cool, Georgy Russell only needs another $672 to make it onto California's gubernatorial recall ballot. Finally a Democrat I can believe in. Visit her site and help out democracy!

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Yesterday's big (recall) news, of course, was Gray Davis' lawsuit to a) delay the recall election until March 2004's primary election, and b) to have his name listed on the second part of the ballot. What a friggin' weasel!

Again - let me be sure I get this in at the start - I do not support the recall. This is all a political game of right-wing rich-boy Darrel Issa. It is a waste of the public's time and money. But that doesn't mean that Davis isn't a political weasel too.

The argument for delaying the recall is legitimate: to save tens of millions of dollars by consolidating it with an already scheduled election. However, nearly as much could be saved with a delay of only one month, to Novemeber 2003's special election, when several Counties already are scheduled to have their local elections. The point of scheduling a recall as soon as possible after the signatures qualify is that it is a vote of No Confidence! No Friggin' Confidence means we can't afford to wait six friggin' months to ask the question. A longer delay is purely a poltical tactic that will help Davis and one or two other well-funded "major" candidates, and will be beyond the public's attention span. Yes, he thinks that by delaying the election, we'll forget why we're mad at him, and Not Vote. Delay to November? Sure; legitimate. Delay to March? Weasel politics.

The second part of his suit is to have his name listed as a candidate on the second part of the ballot; where we'll choose a replacement Governor in case Davis gets the boot in the first question. It's an interesting idea, but does he really think people will vote for the recall, then select him as the Governor? Of course not! What Davis is banking on is a crowded Republican field splitting the conservative vote many ways, and the Democrats all staying in line behind him. If he's the only big-time Dem on a ballot filled with Republicans, he's betting he will win re-re-election, even with a small percentage of the votes. I would actually find it quite amusing if this did happen, and would find it a kind-of poetic justice, if a bit ironic. (Again, this election should prove why we need Instant Run-off Voting). "The voters need a choice"? Not that choice. Weasel politics? Right again.

I doubt Davis will be successful with the first part of this lawsuit (the delay), but he might get away with the second part (getting on the ballot). The biggest problem is this; somebody else should have brought the suit. It would look a lot more like "for the good of the people of California" if it didn't have "Self Interest" painted all over the weasel-like body.

Vote against the recall, but select a second-choice candidate in the second part, just to be safe.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Web site update time:

After yesterday's post here, I realized I needed a section on my Politics page to keep track of all the recall information, so my new California Gubernatorial Recall Information & Opinion Page is now posted.

Also, on the page for my book, Aaron's Intifada and Other Short Stories, I've posted information about my upcoming book signing, and a very special offer (you'll have to visit the page to see what happens if you buy the book before October 31).

Saturday, August 02, 2003

"Programs! Get your programs here! Can't tell who's running for Governor without yer programs!"

According to the California Secretary of State's office, there are now 76 candidates recognized by them, and another 180 who have requested papers from the County elections offices, for a possible total of 256 names on our ballot, assuming they all follow through and file by the deadline. LA County has been kind enough to post their list of folks they've given papers to online.

Just for fun, I did a little Googling, and came up with only seven candidates who have their web site set up so far:Camejo, who was the Green Party nominee in the 2002 election that's being overturned, is the only candidate I had ever heard of more than 24 hours ago. Of the other six long shots above, I'm really taken by the information on Georgy Russell's site. She and I actually share common viewpoints on many key subjects.

But what is a long shot? Does such a concept exist in this mess of an election? Here's how it's going to work: There are two questions on the recall portion of the ballot.
  1. Should we recall Governor Gray Davis, yes or no?, and
  2. Who should be Governor, if Gray Davis is recalled (with a list of qualified candidates)?
All it takes to qualify is 65 signatures from voters registered in your party and $3,500 (additional signatures can be submitted in leiu of the cash, the number based on registered voters in your party). If the recall passes, then the candidate with the most votes wins. Not a majority, simply the most votes. There is no provision for a run-off election.

That bears repeating: There is no provision for a run-off election. Currently there are 256 people who have made public their intentions to run in the election, 76 of whom are far enough in the process to be recognized by the Secretary of State's office. If only 50 complete the process (65 names + $3,500) that means that the new Governor may "win" with only 2.1% of the vote. If over 100 candidates appear on the ballot (which may happen), the "winner" may only have 1% of the vote. "Of the vote." Remember, in a special election like this, we may get less than 50% voter turn-out.

This is going to be a very interesting election indeed.

Friday, August 01, 2003

This just gets better every day! Word is that Arnold "The Governator" Schwarzenegger has pretty much decided not to challenge California governor Gray Davis in the upcoming recall election, but that doesn't mean we will be without a celebrity to vote for.

Larry "I took a bullet for the First Amendment" Flynt, pornographer and free speech activist, is throwing his hat into the ring as a Democratic alternative to holding onto the damaged (and damaging) Davis. The Hustler publisher plans to solve the state's budget woes through an increase in legal casino gambling. Crazy as that may seem, it's a more concrete idea, with a better chance of working, than anything any other candidates have offered so far.

Of course, if Flynt's campaign gathers any steam, it will bring in a lot of Nevada gaming money to the Republican challengers. Nevada likes to be the gambling destination of Californians and they won't take kindly to any major expansion beyond the occasional Indian Casino or card room here in California.

I'll have to rent The People Vs. Larry Flynt again this weekend. I remember loving the movie, but will pay closer attention to his politics this time around.

Meanwhile, what happens when you run a costly special recall election in a state that's already strapped for cash? You cut the number of polling places in half, of course! And where do you eliminate those extra burdens of democracy? In the urban areas populated mostly by the poor or minorities, of course! No, it's just a coincidence. We're not trying to emulate Florida's contribution to the 2000 presidential election, it's just sort of working out that way. Of course, that there may be over 50 candidates on the ballot isn't going to help much, either.

This just keeps getting better every day.

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