Archive for the ‘Election Politics’ Category

What, CCPOA, no opposition?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

California prison guard union’s silence on Prop 47 smells funky…

Apocalypse Hoosegow 9_CCPOA EDITION_Where Excuses Go to DieIn 2011, the CCPOA claimed it had “played a decisive role” in electing Governor Jerry Brown after dropping $2 million on his campaign alone. The characteristic boast came in the form of a video called “The Winners,” griped about at the time by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez.

That year, the union endorsed candidates it favored to the tune of $7 million and received plenty in exchange. Of 107 candidates it backed in California, 104 were elected.

It’s no secret that the CCPOA is one of the most influential unions in American history: it’s been building that power in earnest since the ‘80s, when CCPOA-sponsored legislation began to be successful about 80% of the time. Not surprisingly, this period includes some of California’s most intractable laws, such as 1984’s infamous Three Strikes legislation. “The formula is simple,” writes Joan Petersilia in Volume 37 of Crime and Justice: A Review of Research. “More prisoners lead to more prisons; more prisons require more guards; more guards means more dues-paying members and fund-raising capability; and fund-raising, of course, translates into political influence.” Naturally, the CCPOA has a vested interest in keeping incarceration and recidivism rates high. (more…)

Ever George Washington Bridge Someone?

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Have YOU ever deliberately “inconvenienced” co-workers or enemies?

Symbol of Political Bullying_Where Excuses Go to DieA mayor declined to endorse his state’s governor during an election, so the governor’s top aides ordered a shutdown of lanes on a heavily used bridge. Delivery, maintenance, and fire trucks, as well as school buses, ambulances, and commuters, were mired in gridlock for days, causing outrage, scandal, and backlash. The perpetrators, who joked about the resulting chaos in emails, have since been found out. Check your local internet.

So what are your excuses for inconveniencing adversaries on purpose?

Oh, come on. Payback? You’ve never done that? No, I don’t mean shut down a bridge – I mean, impeded someone intentionally. Haven’t you ever waited to send your print job to the office copier until right when a co-worker needs it to prep for a meeting? Ever put off booking your boss’s flight ’til only middle seats at the back of the plane were available? How about crankin’ the thermostat? If any of this sounds familiar, you’ve George Washington Bridged someone. (Now let’s abbreviate that down to “you’ve GWB’d some fool,” or “you pulled a GWB.”) (more…)

Why Go Easy on Junkies?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Reforming mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders.

RYAN SHULTZQ: What’s in it for you?

Q: Why should you care?

Q: Nonviolent criminals are still criminals, so why go easy on junkies?

A: Mandatory minimum sentencing reform for nonviolent drug offenders is not “going easy on junkies.”

In fact, nobody’s going easy on the junkies, especially junkies themselves. Addiction is a prison in its own right, and when our laws dictate that we actually imprison as many as we can for as long as we can, we perpetuate a cycle of inmates returning to their communities as maladapted as when they were prosecuted.

Still, does helping to change the life of an imprisoned drug addict sound wrong to you? Then think of it this way: Why should taxpayers like you and me spend upwards of $50,000 a year to simply house an addict? We’re not actually helping them become productive citizens, after all; a recent LA Times editorial on California’s incarceration woes reminds us that “prisons have been notoriously ineffective at purging inmates of their addictions, illnesses, gang ties or antisocial attitudes.”

Besides, junkies usually commit crimes the way lab rats run in circles or jump through hoops – because they’ve either been stimulated or manipulated into doing so. On the other hand, lawbreakers like me – convicted and sentenced to prison for robbery – are deliberate. We have getaway cars and backup plans. I’ve never seen a junkie or a lab rat with an escape route. (more…)

Nobody Votes in L.A.

Friday, March 8th, 2013

There are many excuses not to vote. These are mine.

Where Excuses Go to Die DO NOTHINGThe City of Los Angeles saw absurdly low voter turnout on Tuesday — they say it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 16%-to-20% of those registered. It’s the same sad song we always hear, but about which I’m finally free to ask: If the Mayans were wrong with their obnoxious predictions, how are we to trust iffy polls that tell us we’re doomed if we don’t vote? Aren’t we all still walking around, microwaving the earth the Mayans left us?

In addition to that (perfectly reasonable) rationalization, here are some of the excuses that went through my head on voting day:

  1. You have to be some kind of ballot language specialist to understand the propositions, which are written so that only people living in Opposite World will get what voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ means. That’s just cruel.
  2. I don’t know what a city controller does.
  3. My friends don’t want to go.
  4. When asked, “Shall the City of Los Angeles enact a one-half cent transactions and use (generally referred to as sales) tax, with required independent audits, public review of expenditures, and all funds used locally,” I need to pull out my trusty 新選民資訊 guide in order to answer. I’ll be right back never.
  5. Law and Order already started. They’re just going to raise taxes anyway.
  6. Polling places remind me of things I don’t want to touch, like decomposing, school district wood and volunteers.
  7. I already took my shoes off; you know the rule.
  8. Standing in line for a ballot’s like being at the DMV, ‘cept the people behind the counter are smarter than you are, and they know you last read a book when Bush was still president.
  9. Never mind the sticker, shouldn’t we be issued some sort of code when we vote, so when we encounter grocery store petition weirdos we can pronounce it and walk off guilt free, like one of the good people? Do that and I’ll vote in every election.
  10. I can’t break away from what I’m doing just ’cause it’s time to vote. Voting needs to be rolled into my other errands, so I can manufacture the illusion of profit and check something off my to-do list.
  11. There was an election this week, and there’s another one in two months. See what I’m saying? This is impossible.
  12. All I’ve heard is that both frontrunners have funded Muslim kitten burning operations and that they’d sell their souls to the devil if they knew the devil could be litigated against. It’ll take a candidate who deserves my vote for me to just all of a sudden –snap!– log out of Call of Duty.
  13. Psh!

And yet…I did log out, put my shoes back on, and turn away from the Law and Order rerun. I found out what a city controller does. I took a very nice evening stroll with a good friend up to the neighborhood elementary school, where we found more volunteers than voters. “Been like this all day,” one told us. But we figured, at least we’re not talkers. See, we love Los Angeles, warts ‘n all. Not the champagne and spray-tan bullshit, I mean the people and places.

L.A. natives often hear how much we have in common with hard-bitten New Yorkers and I dig that. I relate to the cynicism, but also to the abundant civic pride. And really, how different is this from folks in the heartland who love their hometowns too? I fight my excuses because voting means it’s time for me give something to my city, ’cause my city is better than the people running it.

Bad Winners, Bad Losers: There’s No Excuse for Either

Friday, November 9th, 2012

I admit it crossed my mind to worry over what we might do with America’s sudden realization that white dominance is no longer the rule in our “united” states. I got a little nervous that some bad winners might try to remind the wrong people that they were just given a wake-up call (’cause they were).

And who are the wrong people? Let me put it this way: most of the time it’s not gonna be your colleague or neighbor who leans in another political direction or who happens to be white. If you’re not pointing your finger directly at a pundit, podium, or politician, you’re just surfing an excuse. 



Monday, November 5th, 2012

Voting is what you make of it, just like anything else. For a quick and easy way to understand the ballot propositions in your state, spend a few minutes with Ballotpedia. Check out its Regional Ballot Measure Breakdown and replace campaign noise for “actionable intelligence.” Find out who is endorsing what and why. Learn for yourself who stands to gain with each ballot proposition.

Californians – follow the money to see who’s funding both sides of each ballot proposition.

 Look, whatever direction you think is best for the United States, if the Mayan calendar’s right, this is America’s last election! Go vote just to spite those little turds.

Vote – because they couldn’t!