Archive for the 'Politics' category

My 2010 Election Ballot

 | May 22, 2010 6:36 PM

Lieutenant Governor
Gavin Newsom

I have been impressed by what he has done as mayor of San Francisco.  Under his administration San Francisco became the first U.S. city to “provide quality health care for every single resident – regardless of pre-existing medical conditions.”  San Francisco has also led the way in green initiatives.  And in general he has struck me as a leader.

The other two candidates seem unremarkable.

Proposition 13
Limits on Property Tax Assessment
YES

No one opposes it.  It seems reasonable that doing construction to seismically retrofit buildings will not trigger reassessment of property tax value.

Update: Easily passed.

Proposition 14
Increases Right to Participate in Primary Elections
NO

Politicians wrote Proposition 14 to change the law so they can conceal their party affiliation on the election ballot.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California after he cast his vote in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Update: Unfortunately this proposition easily passed and I wonder if we California voters fully understand the ramifications.  All I know is Arnold is happy about it.

Proposition 15
California Fair Elections Act

YES

I was not sure about this one.  However in the end I voted yes because it’s a pilot program for only two election cycles and for only secretary of state.  It would be ideal if we could rid the election process of politicians being bought by big money.

Proposition 16
Imposes New Two-Thirds Voter Approval Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers

NO

The sponsor of this bill is PG&E.  They don’t want anything to threaten their monopoly.

Update: Failed thankfully even with all the money PG&E threw into promoting it.  Just learned that PG&E was portrayed as knowingly contaminating groundwater in the hit movie “Erin Brockovich.”

Proposition 17
Allows Auto Insurance Companies to Base Their Prices in Part on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage

NO

The sponsor of this bill is Mercury Insurance.  Consumers Union opposes it.

 

I did not vote for anything else because I did not have an opinion.

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My Special Election Ballot

 | May 16, 2009 1:51 PM

California has to have a special election because the budgeting process is so screwed up here.  Basically they had to go to the voters to allow for special funds and payment plans.  I am sure it will pass because otherwise it’s doom and gloom.  But I am going to vote against them because I think they are wrong and that the whole process is ludicrous.

Proposition 1A
“Rainy Day” Fund
NO

All the Republicans and a significant minority of the Democrats are against it.  I don’t really understand the point of it nor how it helps. I do see more taxes and more spending.

Proposition 1B
Education Funding
NO

If Proposition 1A fails then 1B fails so I might as well vote no for this too.

Proposition 1C
Lottery Modernization Act
NO

I have already expressed my preference that gambling be abolished. The lottery is a tax on the poor and modernizing is another way of saying let’s take more money from the poor.

Proposition 1D
Children’s Services Funding
NO

Taking money from local health and education programs and moving it to Sacramento sounds like a bad idea.

Proposition 1E
Mental Health Services Funding
NO

Diverting money from community mental health services to Sacramento sounds like another bad idea.

Proposition 1F
No Pay Increases During Budget Deficit Years
YES

If the politicians know they won’t get a raise when they overspend our money, maybe they won’t do it.

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Happy Inauguration Day

 | January 20, 2009 10:32 AM

Obama

A day of history, summed up well by Secret Asian Man.

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Bush’s Faith-Based Legacy

 | January 19, 2009 9:25 PM

On the last day of George W. Bush’s presidency I saw a link saying editors around the world “pilloried” Bush one last time.

Now I am not a George W. Bush fan.  In general I felt his foreign policies leaned too much towards military action, his economic policies favored the rich, his environmental policies were weak and his stance on torture (waterboarding) indefensible.

However being the contrarian that I am I cannot help but feel like coming to Bush’s defence as I read so much criticism of him.  I believe that George W. Bush shares my faith and I believe that he is a good man.

Here are some accomplishments of his that I appreciate in no particular order.

  1. Allowing faith based charities to receive government funding.
  2. Expanding the protected marine regions, especially near by in Monterey Bay.
  3. Fighting AIDS and malaria worldwide through PEPFAR and PMI.
  4. Fighting for immigrants, legal and illegal.
  5. Stopping embryo stem cell research and leading a pro-life agenda.

I also learned recently that Bush reads the Bible cover to cover every year though I have not been able to verify that.

Christianity Today has gone against the tide and published an article called “Bush’s Faith-Based Legacy.”

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Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao

As many of you know, I have been astonished and moved by Obama’s surge to the presidency.  But Anh “Joseph” Cao’s becoming a congressman is equally amazing.  Who would expect a refugee who grew up without his parents in a state that is known for its racism against Vietnamese would end up becoming a U.S. Representative for that state?  It boggles the mind and I wish him all the best.

I love how on the first day of congress when Rep. Cao was sworn in he brought his two little daughters in beautiful Vietnamese clothing.

Interestingly enough Rep. Cao originally wanted to be a missionary but it seems God has called him to this.

Mr. Cao said that while he was studying to be a priest in the 1990s, he had “the great opportunity to work with the poor in conditions of extreme poverty” in Mexico and in Vietnamese refugee camps in Hong Kong — children playing in the slums, children behind bars. He wanted to be a missionary.

History and Amazement in House Race Outcome

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Glory Hallelujah! Glory Hallelujah!

 | November 5, 2008 10:03 PM

Last night what happened was something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, an African-American becoming President of the United States of America.  Barack Obama’s victory speech was good though I must admit, I probably would have been more affected if I had watched it live instead of on the internet.  I am ashamed to admit I was so busy looking over how my fantasy basketball draft went that I forgot that Obama would be giving a victory speech.

Today I caught up on the emotion of the victory and I must admit I found it overwhelming.

In the newspaper I read quotes like this:

I called my mom – black woman born in the segregated South.  She is 76 years old.  She was born at a time in this country when it would’ve been dangerous for her to look a white woman in the eye.  I said “Mama, what do you think?”  She said, “Baby, I just got four words for you.  Glory Hallelujah!  Glory Hallelujah!”
– Bryon Pitts, CBS

I can’t think of another country in the world where you could have a significant minority that was once so maligned and so oppressed finally have one of its sons rise to this level. “I don’t care how you feel about him politically, on some level you have to say this is America at its grandest, the potential, the possibility, and what it says for our children.  Black and white, the image of Barack Obama and those little girls in the Rose Garden in these years to come.  I think it’s just stunning.
– Juan Williams, Fox News analyst, NPR

This is a man-on-the-moon moment.
– Keith Olberman, MSNBC

This is more than election night in America, this is a momentous night in the history of our people.
– Bob Schieffer, CBC

Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of watning to change the world for a better place.
– Nelson Mandela, South Africa

I found myself praising God for what he did.  He looked down and saw the plight of the African-Americans living in the United States.  He sent a modern day Moses, Martin Luther King Jr., who led the people out of their oppression and towards the promised land.  Like Moses, Martin Luther King never entered the promised land but today so many of his dreams are being realized in God’s time.

What made me most emotional, literally caused me to weep so much, were the photos of African-Americans crying, overwhelmed, amazed at what had happened.  I suddenly felt so much empathy for these people, all they had suffered.  I literally had to stop looking to stop crying.

Glory Hallelujah!  Glory Hallelujah!

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Election Eve

 | November 3, 2008 4:30 PM

It’s the night before one of the biggest election in this country’s history, certainly the biggest in my relatively short forty year life.  All the polls show Obama winning decisively yet.  McCain is forced to do his last-minute campaigning in former Republican strongholds.  On the other hand Obama has even campaigned in Arizona!  Yet I am still scared that it won’t happen, that when people are in the polling booths, they will say to themselves “I’m not voting for a black person for President!”

There have been some reports that Kerry enjoyed a similiar lead over Bush just days before the election.  But the data I see all shows that Bush led Kerry in almost all the polls leading up to the election.

It seems like this is the perfect storm for an African-American to become President.

  1. The economy is the worst since the Depression.
  2. The U.S. is in the midst of an unpopular war.
  3. The U.S. President is one of the more unpopular ever.
  4. The Republican candidate does not even have strong support from his own party, has a Vice-Presidential running mate who, for the first time that I can remember, is significantly costing her party votes (not even Quayle could do this), and in my opinion has run a poor, confusing campaign.
  5. Barack Obama is half-white and his ancestors were not slaves in the U.S.
  6. Barack Obama’s campaign has been near flawless and has used the internet to tremendous advantage.

In spite of all of this I am still worried that Obama will not win.  Whether it would be as extreme as voter intimidation and ballots being discarded or voters at the last minute turning away from Obama, if the result is a McCain victory I believe many people, especially African-Americans, will believe the election was stolen.  Already there are rumors in states where African-Americans have come out in droves to vote early that those ballots were discarded.

Tomorrow is going to be an incredibly exciting day!

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Barack Obama for President

 | October 31, 2008 11:59 PM

It is no surprise I am sure that I am voting for Barack Obama for President.  I wanted to enumerate though my reasons.

  1. I believe in his character.  I believe he is a brother in Christ.
  2. I believe he is incredibly intelligent but also a man who seeks counsel and is willing to listen.
  3. I believe he sees the United States as an incredible, wonderful nation but one that is part of a global community, not above or against.
  4. I believe his ideas for how to lead the country economically, a bottoms up approach, makes much more sense.  I also trust him to surround himself with much better economic advisers than we have seen in the past eight years.
  5. I believe his ideas for a foreign policy that is humane and not just for self-interest is right and ethical.  I appreciate how he was the first (excluding the wonderful Senator Brownback) Presidential candidate to support the North Korean human rights group.
  6. I believe he understands technology better and how to benefit from it.
  7. I believe that the symbolism of electing an African-American as President will help to heal wounds and will be an inspiration for African-Americans and minorities.
  8. I believe that Barack Obama will be able to inspire Americans in ways that we have not seen for a long time.
  9. I believe that Barack Obama will restore the honor of the Oval Office which was disgraced by Clinton’s infidelity and never redeemed by George Bush.

I can also add my many reasons for why I am not voting for John McCain but suffice it to say that a man I once respected more than almost any other politician now strikes me as someone who will say whatever he can to be elected.

These are my concerns about Barack Obama and which I hope to track during his Presidency.

  1. Barack Obama is extremely pro-choice.  This one reason almost makes me vote for John McCain.  However I believe John McCain is only mildly pro-life and I do not expect his Presidency will result in any new legislation or a dramatic drop in abortions.  Barack Obama has repeatedly said he will try to reduce the number of abortions and I plan to hold him to his word.
  2. Barack Obama is more big government than I prefer.  I don’t believe in government’s primary role as the solver of our problems.  However John McCain is also recently sounding pretty big government and we know George Bush was pretty big government.
  3. Barack Obama is very smooth so I am interested in exactly how he follows through with his election campaign promises.  I am expecting Barack Obama will not do the middle class tax cut that he promised because I expect a much larger Federal deficit.
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The controversial Proposition 8 has been grabbing headlines for many months.  It is the simplest proposition on the ballot; amend the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

A few years ago a similar controversy swept through Massachusetts when it became the first state to legalize gay marriage.  Evangelical Christians and other conservative religious groups publicly spoke strongly against the ruling.  However internally within the Evangelical Christian community there was not uniformity.

When I first heard of the ruling I spoke to a few people and said that this ruling is a symptom of our society moving further away from God and traditional Judeo-Christian values.  And my belief, based on my faith, is that such a move will inevitably result in a fall of that society, just as I believe societies where Judeo-Christian values are growing will experience a rise in their society.  When I mean rise and fall I am talking about the standard of living and general quality of life.

Since the United States was once an exporter of Judeo-Christian values I believe the Christians in this country are somewhat responsible for this decline.  And one of those failings has been continually over-reacting and demonizing the sin of homosexuality.  While one can come to church with many different failings, homosexuality was usually not one of them.  This divide has led to a polarization between the Christian community and the homosexual community that continues to become more contentious.

As Christians we would agree that our goal is to create a society that reflects as much as possible God’s will.  But should the vehicle for that be legislation or outreach?  Is it better to legislate that homosexuals not become married and then go back to ignoring them?  Or is it better to recognize that we have not treated homosexuals fairly, that we have shunned them at a time when they may have most needed our love and instead found it within their community?  When the world sees us during these times of debate, do they see Christ?

I was watching a public debate between people on both sides of the gay marriage argument.  I was especially interested because a very prominent African-American pastor was in the audience.  He was eloquent, respectful and caring towards those that opposed him.  One woman, who was also gracious and respectful, asked him directly, does my marriage negatively affect you?  He said honestly “No it does not.”

I have realized that actively opposing gay marriage only hurts and does not bring any homosexuals closer to Christ.  In fact it repels them further.  From those days in Massachusetts I decided I would never actively oppose gay marriage.  And over the years I have also realized that the institution of gay marriage has not hurt traditional marriage, in fact it is no fault divorce and declining sexual morality that is destroying it.

When I first learned of Proposition 8 I assumed that I would vote YES because though I am against such efforts, I still agree that marriage should still be defined as between a man and woman.  But I changed my mind for several reasons.

  1. This is not a moral referendum.  This is a legislative act.  The government is choosing to define marriage and is entering unprecedented areas.  If the government can begin deciding on moral values that do not have clear societal protections, what will be next?  What if the government chooses to make illegal evangelism as has been done in Islamic countries?  What if the government chooses to make illegal the wearing of religious icons or clothing as has been done in France?  And why is the government defining marriage?  Is not marriage something between a man, woman and God?
  2. Gay marriage does not hurt traditional marriage, at least not as much as no fault divorce and growing sexual immorality does.  The church has to pull the log out of its eye and recognize that its divorce rate is as high as general society’s.
  3. Why do Christians insist on legislating against gay marriage but not for other Christian values?  Should all Americans be Christian?  Should divorce and adultery be illegal?  Should working on the Sabbath be illegal?
  4. If this Proposition fails, most people will continue on with their lives virtually the same.  But if this Proposition passes then many homosexuals will feel hated and homosexual couples that will want to marry will be deeply hurt.

The debate has brought out some ugliness on both sides.  The YES side has made several claims that I believe are misinformed at best and lies at worst.

  1. The YES side has said that churches will lose their tax-exempt status if they choose not to marry gay couples.  This is absolutely false.  Currently churches can choose for example not to marry formerly divorced people w/o any danger to the tax-exempt status.
  2. The YES side has tried to scare parents by telling them that schools will begin to teach about gay marriage in the school.  This is based on the fact that such material is taught in some parts of Massachusetts.  Being from Massachusetts I am pretty sure that this was taught in some very liberal suburbs before gay marriage became legal.  In California this could happen but it is not guaranteed and I imagine it will depend on the leanings of the areas.  I don’t imagine it happening in Sunnyvale anytime soon.

On the NO side there has been numerous reports of NO people stealing YES signs from lawns, vandalizing homes that have YES signs, etc.  In one case, two lesbians parked an SUV in front of a YES home with a message painted on the rear windshield that says: “Bigots live here.”

I fear that regardless of the outcome, the culture war will continue to become worse.  And the decline of American society will continue.

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Proposition IA
Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act
NO
A high-speed passenger train between SF and LA would be nice but honestly I would never ride it.  Because once you get to LA you will need a car again so might as well drive down yourself.  Proponents say Asia and Europe have it but those are old world cities with incredible population densities which makes public transportation efficient.  That kind of population density will probably never happen in California.  This bond could end up costing tax payers for decades without a high-speed line ever being built.

Proposition 2
Standards For Confining Farms Animals

YES
This measure is asking that “farm animals be allowed, for the majority of every day, to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around.”  This is not only ethical but also healthier since the animals will be healthier and living in more sanitary conditions.

Proposition 3
Children’s Hospital Bond Act

NO
California is in serious debt.  In 2004 $750 million was authorized for children’s hospitals and $403 million of that is still available.  I think we should wait to see how the rest is spent before taking on another loan of $980 million.

Proposition 4
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy

YES
A daughter under the age of 18 cannot get an aspirin from a school nurse, a flu shot, teeth pulled, or see a rated “R” movie without their parent’s permission.  For something that is much more important as an abortion parents should definitely be notified.  The horror stories that the opponents are trotting out are without any basis.  Over 30 states require notification including Massachusetts and I never heard of any horror stories while in Massachusetts.

Proposition 5
Nonviolent Drug Offenses.
Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation
YES
I was inclined to vote yes immediately because I disagree with today’s legal system that jails so many people.  The U.S. has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world and I think it is a symptom of our not wanting to deal with parts of our society.  I think incarceration in many cases is just sweeping a problem under the rug.  In my opinion I think that only legitimate threats to society should be jailed, not for example people who are caught using drugs.  However saying all that I wanted to be a little certain so I read the Yes and No sides.  I appreciated the Yes side’s rebuttal to the No side in their Myths page and that cemented my Yes vote.

Proposition 6
Police and Law Enforcement Funding.  Criminal Penalties And Laws.
NO
If I am going to vote YES on Proposition 5 then it does not make a lot of sense to vote YES to vote on Proposition 6 which wants to increase prison terms, put more people in jail, deny illegal immigrants parole, etc.

Proposition 7
Renewable Energy Generation
NO
Being an environmentalist one would assume that I would vote YES on Proposition 7.  But because of all the commercials I saw on TV from the NO side I was inclined to vote NO.  But after perusing the NO and YES sites, reading each side’s arguments, and because of my distrust of the big utility companies which are on the NO side I was going to vote YES.  However I finally started changing my mind because of my concern about the large the list is of small renewable energy companies that are against the proposition as well as so many other group.  I then read a few articles against Proposition 7 including this one by the Union of Concerned Scientists and this one in the LA Times.

Proposition 8
Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.
Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
NO
This Proposition is quite controversial and getting the most press and dollars next to the Presidential election.  I will write about why I am voting NO in a separate post.

Proposition 9
Criminal Justice System.  Victims’ Rights.  Parole.  Initiative Constitutional Amendment And Statute.
NO
This is proposed by the billionaire founder of Broadcom who was indicted on federal narcotics charges that include allegations he slipped ecstasy into the drinks of business associates, maintained a drug warehouse and concealed his illegal conduct with bribes and death threats.  It is expensive and does not necessarily do anything.

Proposition 10
Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy
NO
Again being an environmentalist one would assume that I would vote YES on Proposition 10.  But I am suspicious of the fact this Proposition was put on the ballot by a Texas billionaire oilman and is for subsidizing vehicles powered by natural gas.

Proposition 11
Redistricting
.  Initiative Constitutional Amendment And Statute.
NO
Sounds to me like just more bureaucracy, more government waste and no guarantee that the redistricting process will be fairer.

Proposition 12
Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008

NO
At first I was going to vote YES but I learned there is already a Cal-Vet loans program.  And while this program is only for people who actually fought, this new program is basically for anyone in the military.  I think the current program sounds good enough.

Measure A
Hospital Seismic Safety and Medical Facilities

YES
There is no opposition to it so who am I to oppose it?  However it does annoy me how much advertising the YES campaign has done, more than almost any other campaign.  It signals to me that a lot of money is being wasted now and will be wasted later.

Measure B
BART Extension in Santa Clara

NO
A 1/8 cent sales tax increase for the next 30 years to bring BART to Santa Clara does not seem like a bad idea.  However the question is is it still a wise use of money?  BART and VTA seem to be poorly administered.  VTA trains in this area always seem to run empty.  People love their cars, that’s why they are in Santa Clara and not in San Francisco.  It also bothers me that Measure A, which passed in 2001, did not result in bringing BART to Santa Clara.  If Measure B passed construction wouldn’t start until 2017 at the earliest though the tax wouldn’t start until ground is broken.  I have gone back and forth on this and right now I am on the NO side.

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