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Like many personal blogs of its era, this blog is moribund, a casualty of what we might call "the Facebook effect." However, as of late 2015, two things are clear: (1) The Indie Web is a thing, and (2) the re-decentralization of the web is a thing. So who knows? 2016 2017 2018 (!) could be the year this blog rises from its own ashes. Stay tuned!

Monday, 13 October 2008
It’s election season, which means the people of California once again have the chance to inflict grievous harm upon their beloved state via the initiative process. As I explained in the first edition of Mad Props, as a native Californian and lifelong student of politics, I’ve come to view statewide ballot measures as something of a menace. In several elections, I’ve voted NO on every single proposition; any given measure has a very steep uphill climb to convince me it’s worth a YES.

This time around, there are five propositions worth voting for. Here, then, are my recommendations, and remember, by “recommendations,” I mean, “vote this way or you’re part of the problem”:

  • Proposition 1A: High-Speed Rail. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: YES
    Make no mistake, this proposition represents California’s last chance at building a high-speed rail link between the Bay Area and Southern California. If 1A fails, transit backers say they won’t be able to try again for a decade or so, and by then, the opportunity is likely to have been lost forever. So, if you, like me, are a Bay Arean sick of either hopping on a plane or spending an entire day driving just to visit friends or family down south, this is your one and only chance at establishing sleek Euro/Asian-style bullet trains as an alternative.

    In your voter information guide, you’ll see that the arguments against this proposition basically amount to “we can’t afford this.” This is the only coherent argument there’s ever been against this project. Note that I said “coherent” — not “strong.” As the LA Times notes:
    The measure isn’t as big a risk as it would be if the state were footing the entire bill. The “backbone” segment from Los Angeles to San Francisco is projected to cost $33 billion, with about 75% from federal and private sources. Until those funds are secured, the state won’t issue most of its bonds. If the line never gets built, the state’s losses will be well under $2 billion. That’s not too much to wager on a visionary leap that would cement California’s place as the nation’s most forward-thinking state.
    Still not convinced? Then hear this: the cost of not building high-speed rail is not zero. This is a project California truly needs. It is worth a visionary level of investment, even during these tough economic times. Vote YES on 1A.

  • Proposition 2: Farm Animal Confinement. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: YES
    As many folks have become aware, the factory farming practices of the 21st century are largely abhorrent. This measure is one small step toward ending unimaginable miseries in the lives of millions of farm animals. The calf and pig cages outlawed by Prop 2 have already been outlawed by the voters in other states; the chicken cages Prop 2 eliminates by 2015 are already set to be phased out in Europe by 2012. Opponents to Prop 2 say California’s egg industry may move away and our eggs will end up costing more. I’m skeptical of the argument, but even if that comes to pass, I’m fine with more expensive eggs if it means we’ve got fewer stinking warehouses of animals in unthinkable conditions. A YES vote here is a vote of compassion.

  • Proposition 3: Bonds for Children’s Hospitals. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: NO
    Look, only psychopaths hate children. No one wants to hurt the kids. But this is a big fat wad of spending at a time when such spending has a much higher bar to pass than usual. No hospitals are going to close if this measure fails; they will find the money they absolutely need where they’ve always found it. The hospitals are using this initiative as a back way into the corral where they can feed at the public trough, and we can’t let them play the game that way. Hey, you wanna help make certain that every child in California gets the health care they need? Then vote NO on Prop 3 and help elect Barack Obama president.

  • Proposition 4: Abortion — Parental Notification. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: NO
    Since this is an abortion issue, you, like me, probably come to the table predisposed to vote a certain way. The arguments for and against this proposition are the same as they always are when parental notification comes up — and this is the third time that conservatives have put it on the ballot since 2005. One side points out that some young women really do put themselves in danger when they involve their family in this decision. The other side pretends to address that issue with approaches like the one provided for in Prop 4 — the frightened, emotionally distraught, oh-my-god-there’s-a-baby-in-me teen can go to court and get a judge to agree with her that her parents will stay out of the picture. Give me a fucking break. Supporters also try to make this an issue about sexual predators, or even women’s health. It’s neither. It’s part of a long-term strategy to whittle away at abortion rights in this country. Don’t buy into the fearmongering. Vote NO.

  • Proposition 5: Sentence Reform for Nonviolent Drug Offenses. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: YES
    This is another compassion vote, pure and simple. Nonviolent drug offenders deserve treatment; they don’t deserve to be held in cages. They, like any of us, deserve a chance at a fresh start, not a punitive sentence that will ultimately hurt their efforts to stay clean. Vote YES.

  • Proposition 6: Funding the Jail-Industrial Complex. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: NO
    This is probably the second-worst measure on the ballot. First, it’s evil because it saddles the legislature with mandatory spending levels — always a bad idea. But it’s even more evil because it’s about cops and prison guards ensuring that they will have more reasons to lock people up and more places to lock them up in. This measure means less money for schools and hospitals, and more for jails. It actually prevents counties from spending certain funds on anti-drug and mental health programs. Yuck. Read the LA Times’s take, and vote NO.

  • Proposition 7: Renewable Energy. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: NO
    I am leery of voting against a supposedly green proposal when Big Energy is paying for the commercials telling me to vote NO. But when it comes to environmental props, I always look to the Sierra Club to see where they stand. I trust those folks. Well, guess what? They’re against Prop 7. Read what they have to say. Californians are ahead of the national curve on green issues, and we will come up with comprehensive energy reform, perhaps within the larger context of an Obama energy policy. But Prop 7 is the wrong law at the wrong time. Vote NO.

  • Proposition 8: Enshrining Bigotry in the State Constitution. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
    I happen to know two people in same-sex marriages. Two people who are blessed to be in loving, committed relationships that threaten nobody. It is unconscionable that the people of California have the chance to amend the state constitution to discriminate against such relationships — to discriminate against our own fellow Californians, our own brothers and sisters.

    The backers of Proposition 8 are bigots, just like Orson Scott Card, the well-known science fiction author whose execrable writings against gay marriage (here’s one particularly tortured screed) always exhibit the deep fear and ignorance that his arguments are rooted in. It was only forty-one years ago that the Supreme Court gave us Loving v. Virginia, the decision that allowed a white man to marry a black woman. Now we look back in awe that it has not always been so. So shall it be with gay marriage before too long. Vote NO on 8.

    (Special note: This Eagle Scout notices with dismay that one of the signatories for the “Rebuttal To Argument Against Proposition 8” in the voter guide is the Council Commissioner for the Boy Scouts in San Diego. Sigh.)

  • Proposition 9: Criminal Justice “Reform” — Victims’ Rights. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: NO
    If this initiative were really about victims’ rights, you’d think the ACLU would be behind it. But they advise a NO vote. This measure, paired with Prop 6, is really about strengthening the position of cops and prison guards in our state. It ends certain rehabilitation programs for prisoners. It emphasizes the punitive. Its most important components are already enshrined in law, due to 1982’s Prop 8. Vote NO.

  • Proposition 10: Alternative Fuels & a Windfall For a Jerk. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: NO
    Have you seen those commercials on TV lately with an old coot named T. Boone Pickens telling you about his energy plan for America? I wasn’t familiar with this guy, so I read up on him. He’s a rich old Texas oilman, and he’s an asshole. In 2004, he gave $3 million to the Swift Boat Veterans campaign that derailed John Kerry’s virtuous run for the presidency. In 2007, he offered a million dollars to any individual who could disprove the Swift Boat claims. He has since twice refused to stick to his word and pay up. (See the Wikipedia for more.) It is Pickens’s company that has funded Proposition 10, and it is his company that stands to gain from Prop 10’s affinity for natural gas. This is exactly the sort of legislation-by-the-rich-and-powerful that our broken initiative process encourages; it’s exactly the sort of proposition we must defeat by voting NO.

  • Proposition 11: Redistricting. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: YES
    This is by no means a perfect redistricting plan, but it would represent an enormous improvement over the current situation. Redistricting is a pretty complex issue that makes most voters’ eyes glaze over, so I won’t bore you. I will just point you to a good editorial at the SF Chronicle, and suggest that you vote YES.

  • Proposition 12: Homes For Vets. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: YES
    We owe our veterans an enormous debt, and as a country, we usually shortchange them terribly. Since 1922, the Cal-Vet program has been a happy exception, providing low-interest home and farm loans to veterans. Veterans tend to be upstanding types who pay back their loans, so the state does not lose out here. This proposition provides bonds to keep the program afloat. It’s no skin off your nose, so be kindhearted towards the fine men and women who’ve been to hell and back several times apiece over the last seven years, and vote YES.

posted to /politics/madprops at 2:13pm :: 8 responses

Arin had this to say (10/13/2008 15:05:10):
I vote YES on annual editions of Mad Props! Thanks for offering a thoughtful voice amid all the rhetoric and political mumbo-jumbo.
anna saccheri had this to say (10/13/2008 16:14:14):
thanks for posting this! :) i was wondering what was up with prop 10. i got all these glossy color ads in the mail urging me to vote yes, which naturally made me skeptical. i also had seen those ads with the old dude and was like "wtf?" i remembered something in the back of my mind about him being a jerk, but i didn't remember what it was. then i read the voter information guide about the propositions and saw that the argument for 10 had lots of stuff written in ALL CAPS which is always something to be skeptical about. :P
katya had this to say (10/15/2008 12:27:17):
I'm actually printing this out as a voting guide. I listen in the shower and car every morning to Forum with Michael Krasny on NPR and they've had a lot of the propositions discussed with representatives from both sides so your arguments were all familiar to me - I just didn't remember which prop was which. (If you don't already listen I think you'd like the show.)
Byrne had this to say (10/19/2008 17:59:44):
I am with @katya, this is my voting guide. Thank you so much for this - I wish more people would read this because like me, I can think of a lot of people who will vote based solely upon the name of the bill or proposition, and in many cases, that will be misleading. Thank you Matthew!
majordojo had this to say (10/19/2008 18:12:04):
"It's election season, which means the people of California once again have the chance to inflict grievous harm upon their beloved state via the initiative process." That is how my close friend Matthew begins his blog post about upcoming ballot... had this to say (10/22/2008 22:47:01):
With election time almost upon us, I wanted to do a quick survey of useful voting guides, with a focus on California’s collection of propositions. The California Official Voter Information Guide comes in at a smooth 143 pages, too much for most people to read, so guides like these become essential. Neutral or non-partisan Ballotpedia has a detail proposition...
katya had this to say (11/04/2008 15:45:06):
We brought your "guide" to the polling place today. We half-joked that next year you should make a cheat sheet version (with the Prop numbers and how to vote) for the voting booth. Could we be any lazier?
brian jacobs had this to say (06/28/2009 14:55:24):
calif is fucking up epa. california can not do any thang right at least not for 20 yr. thank god i am leaven. california keep doing what you are doing so i dont half to do bussinse here no more thank you calif

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