04 November 2012

Mr Monika's 2012 Election Guide

The United States' winner-take-all elections tend to make this voter schizophrenic. In nearly every election I'm torn between voting my conscience and voting pragmatically. And this campaign season is no exception.

A Romney win would be an unmitigated disaster for not only the U.S. but the planet in general. Yet an Obama win would be but a mitigated disaster - We'd only slow but not stop the continued rape of the environment ("clean coal," anyone?), we'd continue the march toward the militarization of domestic police and the liberties lost under the PATRIOT Act will still be lost, we'd continue to let the financial sector dictate how our economy is run, and we'd continue to operate under the delusion that American can control the planet for its benefit (an impossibility, even if it were morally justifiable). With Obama, though, we can win marginal victories. When Occupy erupted in 2010, the conversation moved away from the deficit and toward figuring out how to change things so that the collapse of 2008 wouldn't happen again (the conversation has moved back, alas, toward deficit reduction and austerity). When more than a 1,000 people protested in front of the White House, we managed to delay (though, again, not stop) the Keystone X-L pipeline. Perhaps too slowly, a movement is growing to stop fracking and mountain-top removal schemes have been slowed down as well. Tiny, dispiriting, often Pyrrhic victories but victories that would be unthinkable if Romney were president.

And let's not forget the Supreme Court. It's already locked into a 19th century, Gilded-Age mode for the next decade if not longer. Under Romney, we can basically forget any limits placed on corporations or government power to spy and oppress its own citizenry.

So I've decided to assuage the idealist and the pragmatist in me thus:

President/vice president: Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala (Green)
US Senator: Dianne Feinstein (Democrat)
US Representative: Grace Napolitano (Democrat)

Even if I were in a so-called swing state, I couldn't bring myself to vote for Obama so I will cast my presidential vote for the most intelligent, far-sighted and humane candidate on the ticket. Regardless of who becomes president, he's going to need a Congress that he can work with (Obama) or one that will block him at every turn (Romney). In either case, that means we need to send as many Democrats back as possible and depose as many Republicans as we can. So, though I loathe Feinstein, I choose her over the Republican Elizabeth Emken; and Napolitano over David Miller.

State Assembly: Roger Hernandez (Democrat)

This is an interesting race. Hernandez is under investigation for domestic abuse (just today I got a flyer - presumably from the opposition - explaining this in great detail). Now, I'm not in favor of electing men who beat up their partners to any elected office but when Hernandez resigns in disgrace and/or is indicted, his replacement will be a Democrat and we won't have lost anything.

District Attorney (LA County): Jackie Lacey

I heard an interview with Lacey on KPFK several weeks ago and she impressed me with her opinions and intentions as DA. I haven't heard much from her opponent, Alan Jackson, but from what I've read on his site and in the various voter guides, he doesn't sound like someone I can support.

State Ballot Measures - 

30: Yes. A mixed bag since it makes the state tax structure marginally more progressive but also raises the viciously regressive sales tax by 0.25 cents but without it, draconian cuts are going to gut school funding and a whole bunch of other programs.

31: No. The big change this proposition would impose is a two-year budgeting cycle. I was on the fence with this one until I heard a debate between a proponent and an opponent (again on KPFK). The anti didn't impress me too much but the pro refused to answer the radio host's questions directly, which always should raise a red flag. For example, the pro claimed that several states had successfully implemented similar measures but when asked to name these states he obfuscated. I still don't know which states are operating happily under two-year budgets. (The only state I know of that has a multi-year budget cycle is Texas, which is an economic basket case and certainly nothing to emulate.)

32: No. A union-smashing measure.

33: No. A measure funded by the insurance companies (primarily Mercury) to screw the consumer for more money.

34: Yes. Repeals the death penalty in California. The alternative - life without parole - is not a perfect solution but it's a step toward creating a more humane, effective criminal justice system.

35: No. No sane person can be for human trafficking or child pornography but this measure to increase penalties and other measures to curb such practices sounds well meaning but ill conceived. It's another measure that would be better taken up by the legislature because the details are simply too complex to distill into a popular referendum. It seems to me that if you think the current law is too lenient, then you should organize and tell your representatives.

36: Yes. This measure would modify the current Three-Strikes Law so that only serious, violent felonies would be considered. The original law is pretty stupid (in my opinion) and should be fully repealed but (like Prop 34 re the death penalty) this is a step in the right direction (a "small victory," as I mentioned in my discussion of why Obama needs to be re-elected above).

37: Yes. This would label foods made with GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

38: No. This measure is similar to Prop 30 but it would raise taxes on every income level (because - you know - the middle class and working poor haven't been bearing a fair share of the burden), wouldn't raise the sales tax, and all funds would go toward education.

39: Yes. Thirty-nine would close a loop hole in the corporate tax structure.

40: Yes. Forty is an obscure ballot that would approve the commission-delineated redistricting plan. At this point it's moot as the state courts upheld the commission's legitimacy but as an expression of the electorate's opinion, you should still make your voice heard.

County Ballot Measures -

A: Yes. This measure is a sense-of-the-electorate, nonbinding resolution that asks the legislature and the city council to change the constitution and charter, respectively, so that the County Assessor becomes an appointed position. I looked into the recent history of the office. The last Assessor is being tried for corruption, and the history of his predecessors is little better. It seems to be a post that attracts the worst, most easily corrupted politicians. Not surprising since the Assessor controls how much businesses and developers pay for their properties. I'm not saying an appointed Assessor would do much better but I'm not opposed to trying it.

B: Yes. Another case of schizophrenia: Measure B would require porn actors wear condoms. The libertarian anarchist in me says this is an unwarranted invasion. Porn actors are reasoning individuals and they should make the decision to work with or without a net (so to speak). The person who lives in the real world, however, recognizes the enormous pressure porn actors are under to not wear condoms, and there's the very real health danger. (I saw a story recently that porn actors have a much higher incidence of STDs than brothel workers in Nevada. The difference? Brothel workers (or their customers) are required to wear condoms and they're tested on a weekly basis.)

J: Yes. This would extend a tax we're already paying for upgrading our traffic infrastructure to 2069 (from 2039).

CC: Yes. Raises money for upgrading our schools.

District Offices -

Just one this cycle - Member, MWD board: William Brown.

If you can't trust me about any of these measures, I'd recommend checking out Tara Lohan's article at

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