Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Few Final Thoughts Before Election Day


I get if you don’t like the status quo.  Heck, I voted for Bernie Sanders.   However I still wonder how people can pull the lever for a man like Donald Trump.  The primary reasons I hear – that Hillary is corrupt, she is not trustworthy, that she will be bad for the economy – are the same things that can be said about Donald Trump.  

Trump happens to make his living by playing shell games with other people’s money and leaving small businesses and taxpayers holding the bag.  I’m unclear on why people think Trump will be “good for the economy” when he leaves a trail of bankruptcies and unpaid businesses in his wake.  And oh by the way Donald Trump has zero experience in governance.

Let’s not forget that it was a Barack Obama administration that spearheaded the rescue of the U.S. automotive industry and fended off an existential economic crisis, or that Bill Clinton’s economy ran a surplus.  Of course they’re far from perfect, but Democrats have proven they can govern.  I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton will be an equally, if not more capable chief executive than her predecessors.

And that’s before we get into Trump’s comments on anyone else who doesn’t share his worldview.  Donald Trump has overtly courted racist support, has demonized immigrants, used anti-Semitic themes and images in social media, and let’s not forget his treatment of women through his entire life.

Make no mistake - a vote for Donald Trump is a vote to legitimize all of these messages.  You can say to yourself that “well that’s not why I’M voting for him” but that doesn’t really matter because in fact a vote for Trump is a vote for this kind of leader. 

If you don’t like Hillary that much then you really need to ask yourself why that’s the case, and if that reason really overrides empowering a demagogue like Trump.  Each of us is responsible for how we exercise our vote.  And we are all collectively responsible for the governance of our country.  Our choices matter, and so do the consequences of those choices.  If you haven’t voted yet and are thinking about voting for Donald Trump, I would say think carefully about what your vote supports.  And if you choose to opt out of voting altogether, then you are opting out of our future and the direction of this country. 

For all these reasons and more, I support a vote for Hillary Clinton.  

As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.
 - Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, October 22, 2016

November 8, 2016 Election Endorsements

Greetings all.  The Valley Dude is back in the Valley.  It's great to be back in one of the greatest places in the world to chill, work, play and dine.  And of course that means it is time for the Valley Dude's ballot recommendations - a full rundown of the state ballot measures follows below after the candidate endorsements.

President of the United States:  Hillary Clinton
U.S. Senator:  Kamala Harris
U.S. Representative 30th District:  Brad Sherman
CA State Assembly 46th District:  Angela Rupert

CA statewide Propositions:  

You can look at the ballot summaries for the propositions here:

Proposition 51 - YES.  $9 billion bond for K-12 school consturction and improvement.  We have every reason to fund additional schools, improve existing ones, and help our innovative Charter schools.  This is EXACTLY the type of public investment bonds are designed to support.  A wholehearted YES endorsement for proposition 51.

Proposition 52 - YES.   13 million Californians rely on Medi-Cal for health benefits.  This is an astounding 33% - yes, 33% - of the population of California who need assistance with prevenative care visits, prescription drugs, surgery and ER visits.  Another remarkable statistic - 4 in 10, that is not a typo - 4 in 10 Californians live in or near poverty.  This proposition extends fees on hospitals that support Medi-Cal programs.

Proposition 53 - NO.  This is a ridiculous proposition.  This prohibits localities from issuing revenue bonds over $2 billion for infrastructure projects and requires statewinde voter approval for such. I really do believe in the importance of local governance, and not having to go to the voters for every single infrastructure project.  NO on 53. 

Proposition 54 - YES.  Requires legislative bills to be in print and online 72 hours before a vote.  Requires AV recordings of legislative proceedings, and access of such via the internet.  YES for transparency in governance!!

Proposition 55 - YES.  Extends current tax on income over $250,000 for single filers, $500,000 for joint filers, for funding of K-12 schools and community colleges.  Without this funding, up to $4 billion - yes, $4 billion - of cuts hit K-12 and community colleges.   If you value our children's public education, this is a must-pass measure.

Proposition 56 - YES.   $2 excise tax increase on cigarettes.  Anything that makes it harder to smoke cigarettes, including excise taxes on them, should pass.  Tobacco is a blight on our society - ravaging health effects, secondhand smoke, and pollutants, cigarette butts.  There is no reason cigs should be easy or cheap to obtain.

Proposition 57 - YES.  Authorizes parole consideration for nonviolent inmates, expands rehab and education, and gives judges, not prosecutors, the power on whether juveniles should be tried as adults.

Proposition 58 - YES.  I can't say I'm an expert in bi-lingual education.  What this measure appears to do is remove requirements that kids are taught in English only classrooms unless parents object.  Rather, it reverses that paradigm - it permits schools to offer bi-lingual classes, and provides for parental input.  This seems like a good idea.

Proposition 59 - YES.  Proposes that California's elected officials use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution overterning the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.  The Citizens United decision has had a direct and negative effect on the insane amount of political money and the increased influence such dollars bring.  We should do everything in our power to overturn this decision.  Corporations are not people -- people are people.  We need to get corrosive big money out of politics.  YES on 59.

Proposition 60 - NO.  This is an odd proposition - it gives any California resident the right to sue adult film producers or those with a fiancial interest in the film for alleged workplace violations.  Huh???  This seems like a kooky measure.

Proposition 61 - NO but I don't blame you if you vote YES.  This measure says the state won't pay more for drungs than the VA pays.  This one seems like a good idea, but this is exactly the kind of thing the legislature should be overseeing.  There's a couple things that ultimately bring me to the NO position - 1) the cap doesn't apply to 75% of Medi-Cal enrollees for some reason and 2) drug companies can figure out strategies to work around these caps.  For instance, they may raise prices on the VA.    The measure also doesn't require manufacturers to offer the state VA pricing - in which case the state would not be able to purchase the drug.  This measure is just more evidence of the need for a single payor health care system, and I don't think this will fix it.

Proposition 62 - YES.  Repeals the death penalty in California.  I am a steadfast opponent of the death penalty - it is wrong, brutal, disproportionately impacts non-whites, and subject to wrongful conviction.  Vote YES on bringing California back to the Age of Enlightenment.

Proposition 63 - YES.  Requires background checks to purchase ammunition.  Prohibits large capacity ammunition magazines and requires their disposal.  Ammo sales must be made through licensed vendors.  People convicted of stealing firearms may not possess them.  Vote YES on making California a leader in sensible gun safety laws.

Proposition 64 - YES.  Legalizes marijuana under state law for adults 21 or older.  Establishes excise tax of 15% on retail sales, and additional taxes on cultivation of marijuana.  Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products.  Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana.  Enough is enough.  It's time to stop wasting law enforcement resources, dollars and prisons on smoking pot.  Colorado and Washington are doing just fine.  Some things - such as heroin, meth, cocaine, speed - are truly public health threats.  Pot is not.  Now, let's be clear - pot, like alcohol, is not good for developing brains in children and teens.  But throwing everyone in jail for some weed is an overreaction.  If anything, pot is less corrosive than alcohol and just about every other vice.   Except maybe coffee.   Vote yes on Prop 64 and then put on some Bob Marley.  Everyone will be just fine.    

Proposition 65 - NO.    May void existing plastic bag ban.  Why mess with a good thing - vote no.

Proposition 66 - NO.  Changes existing state death penalty procedures.  I have no idea whether this will be ok or not - however, I support the total repeal of the death penalty, and strongly urge a yes vote on Proposition 62.

Proposition 67 - YES.  Affirms ban on single use plastic bags.

City of LA and LA County ballot measures - my friends at the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club have a rundown here, and I agree with those recommendations.  In fact, my recommendations generally match theirs overall but we differ a bit on Prop 61.  Link to their analysis is here

Above all else, please excercise our civic duty to participate in our great American experiment of representative democracy.  We still, with all the problems affecting the United States, have the power of the vote.  Use it.  Let's all take steps to reach the ideals that our country strives to achieve. 


Sunday, August 2, 2015

The U.S. Economy

In the category of things most of us probably already know, I'm still amazed by just how much of the U.S. economy is driven by housing, financial services, health care and something called "other services".  These categories dwarf the durable goods sector.  NPR's planet money has a good overview & breakdown of the various components of the U.S. economy here, and the graphic chart is more readable here.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

NYC springtime

View from the George Washington Bridge

Headed West on the GW Bridge

Virginia St., Tenafly, NJ

Gorgeous afternoon at Yankee Stadium

51st Street, around 9th-10th Ave.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

L.A. historical transit system

Via Curbed LA, the attached link shows a map of the transit system L.A. abandoned in favor of freeways.  That turned out well....