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: www.californiatotalrecall.com.
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.

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