Vote faster!

Remember, if the voting method in use at your polling station doesn’t dictate use of the equipment in the ballot booth (e.g. marking the ballot with a pen for optical scan), then you don’t have to wait in line to use a booth.

At my garage polling station this morning people were filling in ballots on car trunks, recycling bins, a clothes dryer & the floor. Much speedier!

Also remember that in California you have the right to request a paper ballot if you do not wish to touch screen vote.

Things you can do sick in bed the day before an election

Review all the political information you’ve received in the mail and decide how you’re going to vote.

Here’s my take on things in the United States, California, San Francisco, District 8.

President: John Kerry
Why? Because I think he’ll be a decent president. Also because Bush has got to go.

U.S. Senator: Barbara Boxer
Why? I think she’s done good work.

U.S. Representative: Nancy Pelosi
Why? Great work; I really want to see her continue it.

State Senator: Carole Migden
Why? Good local politician. Democratic candidate.

Member, State Assembly: Mark Leno
Why? Good local politician. Supports basic human rights causes which are important to me.

Member, Community College Board (vote for up to four): Natalie Berg, Milton Marks III, Rodel E. Rodis
Why? I liked their statements & endorsements in the Voter Information Pamphlet

Member, Board of Education (vote for up to four): Jane Kim, Eric Mar, Mark Sanchez, Norman Yee
Why? Jane: Like her platform, liked her in person, friends working hard on her campaign. The others: I liked their statements & endorsements in the Voter Information Pamphlet

State Propositions:
1A – Protection of Local Government Revenue: Yes
Why? This was a tough one. I’m dubious about some of the supporters – Governer Schwarzenegger especially – and Carole Migden’s opposing comments regarding the lack of fiscal accountability in the official voter information guide are worth noting. However, it is endorsed by both the California Democratic Party and the San Francisco Democratic Party. In the end, I’ll have to hope that increased local involvement will coincide with this increased local control to provide the needed accountability.

59 – Public Records, Open Meetings: Yes
Why? As the opponents to this measure say “it’s better than nothing”. I believe a step in the right direction is better than no step. Backed by League of Women Voters of California with whom I have tended to agree in the past.

60 – Election Rights of Political Parties: Yes
Why? As its opponents say “it does no harm”. Again, a step in the right direction and a good offset to Prop 62.

60A – Surplus Property: Yes
Why? Once again, a step in the right direction which its opponents admit does no harm.

61 – Children’s Hospital Projects, Grant Program, Bond Act: No
Why? I know there are some parents who will be angry about this, but I believe in this case the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Basic health care and education need to be a higher priority; the budget is already strained. More debt ($1.5 billion) is not in the best interest of the children of California who already have plenty to pay off.

62 – Elections, Primaries: No
Why? Limiting the general election to the top two vote-getters from the primary is bad for democracy. Fewer choices aren’t better, particularly when they’re based on who was able to garner the most votes 8 months previously. Facts change and it’s not flip-flopping to respond to current reality and choose the best candidate to deal with the current situation.

63 – Mental Health Services Expansion, Funding, Tax on Personal Incomes Above $1 Million: Yes
Why? Now this is how you fund good services. There is no justification other than greed for those earning more than a million dollars a year being allowed to hang on to that 1% of their excessive income which could be used to make a real difference in solving this major problem. I’d really like to find out if those people opposing this would be personally affected by that tax. And come on, think about it. If you can’t live on a million plus dollars a year, there is something seriously wrong with you and it ain’t mental illness. It’s called being a selfish asshole. You can earn personally 57 times the Federal Poverty Line figure for a family of four before being affected by this tax. Let’s say that again another way (and take into account that many folks feel that Federal Poverty Line figure is about half what it should be): one hundred and fourteen people could be sustained on your personal earnings before you are affected by this tax.

64 – Limits on Private Enforcement of Unfair Business Competition Laws: No
Why? Backed by the California Taxpayer Association (with whom I have disagreed many times over the last 25+ years), major contributors are companies like Bank of America and Microsoft, opposed by an impressive list of organizations from AARP to Sierra Club California.

65 – Local Government Funds, Revenues, State Mandates: No
Why? No supporting argument submitted, replaced by 1A.

66 – Limitations on the “Three Strikes” Law, Sex Crimes, Punishment: Yes
Why? Focuses our state investment in punishment (through expensive methods such as prisons) on those more deserving of such treatment. Given that I’m somewhat unconvinced of the efficacy of the prison system in reducing violent crime in society, I’m even less inclined for these costly measures to be used against petty offenders. Also, Arnie’s against it and the ACLU’s for it.

67 – Emergency Medical Services, Funding, Telephone Surcharge: Yes
Why? Emergency medical services need more funding, especially in times of far-from-universal health insurance, and this proposition seems to provide good oversight and intelligent limits. Funding it through minor increases in phone charges seems quite reasonable. Note also that this is opposed by the afore-mentioned California Taxpayers’ Association and the top 5 contributors against it were SBC, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T Wireless and Sprint, none of whom are particularly dear to my heart.

68 – Non-Tribal Commercial Gambling Expansion. Tribal Gaming Compact Amendments: No
Why? More and larger gambling facilities with less controls over their placement, fiscal handling and environmental & social impact are not good for the state. Yes, the Native American community deserves all sorts of compensation for the way their people were screwed over, but this is not the way to do it. Nor is it the way to help the state budget. I oppose both prop 68 and 70.

69 – DNA Samples, Collection, Database, Funding: No
Why? If you think its bad that your name can get on a no-fly list and you can’t find out why or get it off, then think about government access to your genetic information. Innocent people’s information would be mixed in a database with those actually found guilty of crimes. I’m firmly with the ACLU on this one; it is an attack on civil liberties and must be strongly opposed.

70 – Tribal Gaming Compacts, Exclusive Gaming Rights, Contribution to State: No
Why? As above, plus this one seems to have extremely poor oversight.

71 – Stem Cell Research, Funding, Bonds: No
Why? This was another tough one. I’m pro-choice, pro-scientific research, but I am not convinced that this proposition makes for good science. The arguments against in the official voter information guide raise very troubling questions. Is this a bid for state funding of an unproven approach over other research known to be productive? If so, who will benefit? Possibly some people who suffer from certain diseases, but most definitely certain corporations who will be conducting the research. I can’t see putting the state another $3 billion into debt in a costly hunt for cures which has poor accountability. The direct health benefits of restoring $3 billion to preventative services would be much greater.

72 – Health Care Coverage Requirements: Yes
Why? This one pretty much boiled down to which team I want to side with. The proposition itself seems fine and it’s supported by the California and San Francisco Democratic Parties and opposed by the governor.

Local Measures
A – Affordable Housing Bonds: Yes
Why? A good coalition of folks are supporting it and it includes consideration of environmental impact of projects. Plus it’s opposed by the Republicans which means it’s probably something good for anyone making less than $100,000 a year.

B – Historical Preservation Bonds: Yes
Why? Protects sites which are dear to me and which help define our fair city.

C – Health Service System: Yes
Why? Supported by the supervisors, opposed by the Chamber of Commerce. I know who I side with.

D – Changes to City Charter: Yes
Why? Matt Gonzalez’s arguments in the Voter Information Pamphlet are very clear.

E – Police & Fire Survivor Benefits: Yes
Why? How can you argue against equitable compensation for the family of killed firefighters and police? They have some of the hardest jobs out there, not just because of the risk of injury and death. (And how can I take your opposing arguments really seriously when your name is “Starchild”? I’m sorry, but you sound like a My Pretty Pony.)

F – Non-citizen Voting in School Board Elections: Yes
Why? The arguments against are inaccurate, small-minded and zenophobic. (I can’t say the Stonestown and Park Merced Residents Association is a particularly impressive ambassador for those neighborhoods.)

G – Health Plans for City Residents: Yes
Why? More health care at no extra cost except to the beneficiaries and their employers – yay!

H – Naming the Stadium at Candlestick Park: Yes
Why? I’d rather pay more taxes (even to support facilities for a sport I have no interest in) than see the pace of commercialization increase in San Francisco. (And can someone tell me what benefit the 49ers being located here brings to non-football fans?)

I – Economic Analysis of Legislation: No
Why? Because I trust Ammiano & Gonzalez more than Alioto-Pier & Ma.

J – Sales Tax Increase: Yes
Why? Because I think sales tax is a reasonable approach to address a shortfall. A quarter percent isn’t going to make people drive out of county to shop – not with the current price of gas!

K – Business Tax: Yes
Why? This would be too much of a burden on small businesses who already pay a lot, but there is an ordinance before the board of supervisors to limit this to those businesses with gross receipts of $2 million or more.

L – Use of Hotel Tax to Preserve Movie Theaters: No
Why? This is a scam opposed by, as far as I can tell, the entire local film-loving community. Bottom-line: don’t hand $8 million to an unproven, unsupervised team.

N – Withdrawing U.S. Military Personnel from Iraq: Yes
Why? This statement needs to be made. San Francisco stood up against Vietnam; it’s time again.

O – Use of Sales Tax Funds: Yes
Why? Nice to have the funds collected through passage of Measure J above specially earmarked for good causes.

AA – BART Earthquake Safety Bond: Yes
Why? This is overdue. U.S. Geological Survey experts say there is a 62% chance of a 6.7 magnitude or greater quake hitting the Bay Area within the next 28 years. I want the BART system to help pull us through that the way it helped in 1989. Also, since I ride BART many times a week, I’d really like the Transbay Tube to be as safe as possible. This is a such a simple “ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure” proposal. I really hope it passes this time.


Eminem’s video “Mosh”

Imagine it pourin, its rainin down on us, mosh pits outside the oval office
Someone’s tryin to tell us something, maybe this is god, just sayin we responsible
For this monster, this coward, that we have empowered
This is Bin Laden, look at his head noddin, how can we allow something like this, without pumpin our fists
Now, this is our, final hour
Let me, be the voice, in your strength and your choice, let me simplify the rhyme, just to implify the noise
Tryin to amplify to times it, and multiply it by six-teen million people are equal at this high pitch
Maybe we can reach alqueda through my speech, let the president answer our high anarchy
Strap him with a AK-47, let him go fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our own soil, no more psychological warfare to trick us to thinking that we ain’t loyal

If we don’t serve our own country, we’re patronizing our hero
Look in his eyes, its all lies, the stars and stripes, have been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And replaced with his own face, mosh now or die, if I get sniped tonight, you’ll know why, cuz I told you to fight


Strongly Recommended

Please visit Internet Vets For Truth and watch some of the clips there. If you choose just one, please watch John Kerry’s testimony before a congressional committee at the age of 27. His statements about the attitude of the administration and the country toward the war in Vietnam ring very true to what could and should be said about the war in Iraq today.

If the honor of our nation matters to you, vote to get George W. Bush and his administration out of power. They are a black mark on our country.

If you believe “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, vote to get George W. Bush and his administration out of power. They have initiated a war to increase their personal political and economic power. Thousands are dying because of their unjustifiable tactics.

If you believe that this country should be a democracy rather than an oligarchy, vote to get George W. Bush and his administration out of power. The poor pay the price with their lives so that rich can get richer. The top 1% of U.S. citizens have more personal income than the bottom 90%. Does one person really deserve to have so much when so many Americans are out of work and below the poverty line? This disparity is getting worse under Bush economic policies.

John Kerry isn’t without flaws – no one is – but he is vastly more suited to lead our country. His administration would be a strong step in the right direction. If all Kerry can achieve in his first four years is to halt the damage that George W. Bush did in his first four, that would be wonderful.

There is too much at stake not to vote. Please do.

(Are you interested in teaching about economics? Reach and Teach looks like a fantastic resource. They have a lesson called Ten Chairs which teaches about the distribution of wealth in the United States. I think it is time for me to start taking my presentational skills out of the workplace and into some community rooms…)

Listen to your elders

My wise mother sent me this and I pass it along to you. Please read it all. It isn’t very long and it is very important.

Doris Haddock is the woman who walked across the U.S. from California to Washington D.C. at age 89 – 90 to dramatize the public demand for campaign finance reform. She is now running for the U.S. Senate in her home state of New Hampshire. See her biography and more at As you’ll see from the speech below, she remains an intelligent and highly concerned citizen. A motto of her campaign: “Think positive about our future and work like hell.” [From: Doris “Granny D” Haddock for U.S. Senate]

Doris “Granny D” Haddock Speaking at the Alliance for Democracy
Convention in Boston, Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Thank you.

Well, Friends, here we are in a city that has known the struggle of free people against tyranny, their rise above personal self-interest, their rise during the occasions of human emergency to move forward with courage, with intelligence and a long view to the future of the people, and with great energy and a perfect concentration on victory. “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately” is a phrase spoken in Philadelphia by a man of this city–a phrase that again has personal meaning to us.

We are not so far in time from 1776. My own life extends over 40% the way there.

There is a man working in my campaign office whose distant grandfather planned Revere’s ride and roused him to it that fateful night. This descendent planned my trip here, in fact.

All of us have not so much come to this city, but come back to it. Our forefathers and mothers, whether they were free or slave, elite or servant, newcomer or native, whether they fought for human freedom at Lexington or Omaha Beach, or at a segregated lunch counter, have given us something to defend, and we now have our moment to take our part in the continuing joyful struggle that is America in its ongoing revolution against oppression and unfairness and cruelty. We rise up–the human spirit defends itself. We rise up to defend each other. It is in our genes.

So we are in Boston again–our noble and rebellious blood mixed through the generations, but still easy to boil at any danger to our independence. And we are here together, as civic friends, as true friends, and, history will record, as patriots kin to generations of patriots before us, who care nothing for safety nor for comfort when truth, love and the Constitution are at stake.

What sacrifices are we willing to make? This morning, I will speak of several necessary sacrifices. For some of you, these will be easy or no sacrifice at all. For others, they will be hard but necessary.

I come this morning to talk about John Kerry and the coming demonstrations during the two conventions.

Four years ago I looked at the poison of big business support for the major candidates and I advised my friends to vote their hearts, to let the chips fall where they might, on the theory that, even if their third party candidate lost, they would be building a constituency for such candidates in the future.

I was very wrong to suggest that party building was more important than the risks of a Bush presidency. While none of us knew how bad it would be, those of us who spoke out on the issue had an obligation to do our homework–to know more about the hidden agendas of the candidates.

I still believe we must vote our hearts, but we must inform our hearts.

I have done my homework. We all have done our homework–we know who Bush is and what he represents. We know the danger of another Bush term. We know the danger of splitting our vote.

I am for Kerry. My heart is completely dedicated to this victory.

If that is hard for some people, let me ask them to think about it this way. Imagine you knew John Kerry since the Vietnam War days. Maybe you were a fellow soldier or a nurse or a friend back home. Over the years, you have stayed in touch, exchanged long phone calls and birthday cards and kidded him about marrying well. You’ve ridden on the back of his motorcycle and shouted for him to slow down.

We forgive all sorts of things of our friends, so, when you argued with him about his vote on a big issue close to your heart, you were angry, but you knew him well enough to be willing to stick with your friendship.

And you might defend him in his absence, say at a dinner party. John Kerry bad on the environment? No way, you would defend. He has one of the best environmental voting records in Congress. As President, you assure them, he would be addressing the critical issues of our day, such as global climate change and the myriad issues that connect with that crisis.

Further, you might assert that his political skills would mean that his strong position on the environment would enable him to move an agenda forward, while a president like Ralph Nader might rail against Congress like an Old Testament prophet, but get nothing through. Yes, you would assure any doubter, though you have problems with some of John’s votes, he would be better for the environment and better in the necessary political work ahead than Nader or anyone you can think of.

And you might say the same for John Kerry regarding health care and civil liberties and justice issues, and on, and on.

Now, our problem in America today is that not enough of us have been on the back of his motorcycle and on the receiving end of his personal friendship and loyalty.

But in this American crisis, he is indeed our best friend, and we had better be his, and do everything we can for this friend. Will I be among those who put pressure on him to take bold steps after his election? Indeed–inside or outside the Senate I will, and I will be protected in those protests and in those walks and in those utterances by the document we will have saved so that it might continue to save us: The U.S. Constitution. That will not be the case if we must protest against another Bush Administration.

Can we hang together long enough to protect our freedom?

Some people will continue to say that, yes, four more years of Bush would be a disaster for the entire earth, its people and its environment, but they just don’t have it in them to vote for John Kerry for one reason or another. I do not see Mr. Kerry as the lesser of two evils, but some people do. For them, I say that the very definition of the mature mind, the responsible mind, is not only being able to accept the lesser evil, but to embrace it will all your heart and energy.

The disengaged and haughty intellectual who will not take part in the defense of his own city from the barbarian attack, perhaps because he never really liked the mayor, stands by as the enemy enters and ravages his fellow citizens. Is he rather like the haughty liberal who is willing to enable another Bush Administration to kill innocents abroad and imprison innocents at home so that one doesn’t have to have the soil of real politics under one’s manicured fingernails? Such people need to grow up emotionally, and become real men and women who will fight for justice and for their fellow human beings and for nature itself on the battleground at hand, not the ideal battleground of their musings. Such people get in the way, take up space, and hinder those who will make the hundred leaps of faith necessary to be engaged in the real world and do battle in the war between the forces of dark and light, between fear and love.

John Kerry has a long record of supporting women’s and minority’ rights, and of opposing discrimination based on sexual orientation. He has worked to boost fuel standards, worked to limit pollution, worked to boost alternative energy, worked to stop drilling in the Arctic Preserve, worked to protect public schools and the social security program, worked to oppose the flood of guns in our society, worked to oppose tax windfalls to the wealthy, worked against Star Wars funding, worked to provide resources to the poor. The list of what he has done is a long one, and the list of the things you might argue with him about is a short one.

Two centuries ago, there were probably Americans who didn’t quite like part of the Declaration of Independence or who did think George Washington was just the right man to lead the Continental Army, or who thought there should be a few more articles to the Bill of Rights before they would sign on. They were barnacles on that Yankee Clipper that sped despite them toward liberty, and they are now less than footnotes. This is a time for action, and our man is John Kerry.

We ask our favorite leaders, as I will ask Dennis Kucinich, to serve with all their hearts, too, when the flags and banners of the Democratic Convention come down in this city next week.

With good men like him beside me, I shall be voting my heart, my whole heart, when I vote for John Kerry.

And I shall vote for him on October 12th. I think all Democrats should vote three weeks early by mailed ballots. That way, there will be a paper record of our votes. You may have suspicions about the voting machines, but I assure you that the Secretaries of State and the town and county clerks of this nation take their jobs very seriously and our paper ballots in their hands will be our best defense against any secretly rigged or otherwise malfunctioning or sabotaged machines–and the Bush Administration can stop talking about putting off the election[*], for that issue may not be as dead as we hope.

Besides, if we vote three weeks in advance, we will all be free to volunteer on the Get Out the Vote projects in the swing areas.

Now, let me say a word about one other thing we must do, which may be a sacrifice for some people and time off for good behavior for others.

Many, many Americans will decide which side they are on as they watch the national conventions on television and as they read and hear about the events.

They will look at the pretty politicians and delegates, and they will look at the people on the street. They will identify with one group or another.

Every roudy, rude, pushy person in a demonstration, whether in Boston or New York, is a vote for George Bush. Every clash with the police is another swarm of votes for Bush, and therefore clashes will be provoked.

Should we demonstrate? Yes. We should demonstrate respectfully in Boston in support of regime change. We should cheer on the Democratic Party and its candidates, for they are our best friends in this American crisis.

In New York, we should have signs that speak the truth respectfully, and signs that say why we are for Kerry and Edwards. We should look like and sound like people one would want to know, not one would want to run from.

Some people will think they have a right to express their anger and their creativity and they are right. But, is their need to express themselves a higher value to them than saving our Constitution or the environment of the earth or the lives of thousands of people?

This is a moment when people on our side are going to be fully tested for unselfishness and maturity.

If they want to move history, they have to persuade their fellow citizens. Ranting and raving will not help, and will in fact do harm. If you want to persuade your fellow citizens to follow you, you must speak and act and even dress the part of a thoughtful, respectable citizen.

“That’s not who I am, Granny. I have to tell it like it is.”

Yes, I hear you. It is the sound of children playing while people are dying. We are a little spoiled in this country, and we do not take seriously enough our responsible role in the world.

Our individual actions as citizens, even as non-voting age young people, have important effects in the world. People live and die, the environment thrives or dies, people are tortured or tutored, according to how we vote, and how we influence the votes of our fellow citizens.

In this moment, we must shed our differences and act as one people, one voice, one voting block. We will save our nation in these next few months, and then we will resume the hard work of fighting out our differences and moving our own issues forward. But for now, we are for Democracy, we are for justice, we are for liberty, we are for a peaceful and sustainable future, we are for the Constitution, and we are for John Kerry. [emphasis added by Dinah]