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…and some local ones. I received my absentee ballot the other day and was a little intimidated to see that it’s 5 separate slips, front and back. Besides the obvious national debate, there are a host of local offices up for grabs (we live in Richmond, Contra Costa County), as well as a slew of state-wide initiatives: 16 state-wide, 4 county-ish, and 2 city. “Democracy is hard, let’s go shopping!”

I spent a few hours today (mostly during the Presidential debates) going through the voter information documents, reading opinions of sources I trust, and discussing with a few friends a number of these. I’ve filled out my sample ballot and think I’ve got votes I’m happy with for the measures that really will have an effect on us (and that we can have and effect on the en-action of). I’m not going to get in to discussion of individual office candidates (people) here, there’s too much of that already (and there’s not a lot of information about the local races to make it really interesting). I’m posting my intentions here because I’m very interested in what other people may have to say. Any questions/comments/insights, please post a note below or trackback to your own entry. There’s a lot on the ballot to critically look at.

State Measures

1A – Yes I think we should keep property and sales taxes local. Living in Richmond, I see a lot of impact due to lack of local revenue (as well as many other issues, but that would require even broader change…), but I don’t like the idea of the state having mandate over both my payroll taxes and my local taxes.

59 – Yes – Government sunshine initiative, always a good thing to have transparency in the local process.

60 – Yes Counter to Prop 62, which could lock out third parties from state-wide elections.

60A – No – Ties the states hands to use one source of income (from the state-wide yard sales) to pay off one source of debt (from the state-wide bond restructuring).

61 – Yes – Bonds for children hospitals.

62 – No – Restructures the election system in a way that could lock out third party candidates and regulate a two-party-only system. No, no, no.

63 – No – Good cause, but this feels like a bad case of class tax warfare. I don’t like the idea of specialized taxes on only certain groups of people.

64 – No – I’m worried that the big backers of this bill are major corporations which have suffered some major anti-trust losses recently (and for good reason, IMHO). I don’t want to limit the people’s right to seek grievances, and leave it solely in the hands of a politically motivated Attorneys General office.

65 – No – No-one wants this bill at all anymore, they want you to vote on 1A instead (which I’m thinking “yes” for).

66 – Yes – I’ve long thought that “Three Strikes” was much too harsh.

67 – No(?) – I’m torn on this one. While I don’t like the idea of a regressive tax on a specific utility (the phone system), I live in an area where our Emergency Rooms are under constant threat of closure.

68 – No – I can’t find anyone whose actually for this who doesn’t run a racetrack…

69 – (???) – I’m really torn on this one. Building a DNA database for criminal detection does sound like a very good thing, but I’m worried that this bill doesn’t have enough privacy protections…thoughts???

70 – No – Severely limits what we could get from the tribal casinos for almost a century, and is only supported by one of them, so this one isn’t very popular. Lets see how the Govinator’s negotiations come out.

71 – No – As promising as it sounds like stem cell research is, I don’t want this state in the business of funding it. (Federal government, that would be a different case…I think).

72 – No(?) – I’m skeptical of a state-mandated health system, but I’m in a pretty good position WRT health care, so I could be looking at this through rose-colored glasses. Anyone have a solid argument for a “yes” vote?

County Measures

AA – Yes – BART is heavily over-subsidized anyways, and I would much rather see this come out of road or gas taxes, but my wife rides the Transbay tube every day, so I want it as safe as possible.

BB – Yes – Even though AC Transit drivers keep trying to kill me on my bike, they’ve made some excellent local improvements to the buses and stops recently with well-placed funding. Since no-one seems to be against this one, and even though its a (minor) tax on me as a home-owner, I think it would be a good investment.

CC – No(?) – I can’t get a good read on what this tax is supposed to actually fund in the parks, but I use them quite a bit so I could be easily swayed…

J – No(?) – Torn again. At first I didn’t like what I read out of this bill because it seemed extremely broad and focused too much on roads (which I really don’t want a whole lot more of). Reading the arguments against this measure I see that more than half of it is actually dedicated to non-automotive enhancements, so I’m not sure…Again, though, I would like to see this as a fuel tax (which it somewhat is coming out of sales taxes).

City Measures

Q & R – Yes – Very little description or discussion of these measures, but they seem sane and there’s no-one arguing against them…even the sales tax increase.

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Florida 2004

billmon has some interesting information that was dug up by the NYTimes and by CNN about continuing issues in the Florida election process. Crooks, every single one of them:

Whiskey Bar: Caught Jeb Handed

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Driving Votes

I’ve been cultivating ways to materially help out in the next presidential election (if we actually have one). A friend in New York suggested going out to places like Florida and doing poll monitoring. Here was an interesting site I came across recently as well:

Driving Votes – Visit a Swing State

Registering voters in swing states is the single most effective way to defeat Bush. Driving Votes provides you with everything you need to register voters in swing states. If you don’t live in a swing state, get your friends together for a road trip on the Democracy tip. You’ll have an unforgettable time while helping to put the brakes on Bush.

Anyone have any experience with this group?

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Very good post from Mr. Barlow echoing a fear he voiced just earlier this year that the Bush administration would try to postpone the upcoming elections due to “terrorist actions”:

BarlowFriendz: Postponing Democracy

My friends had some funny comments on the possibility as well:

– oh good, Bush is looking for a way to postpone the Nov election…
– just tell me, after postponing an election in such a way, how does
+the gov’t decide when the people are ready to vote again?
– knowing bush, it will be when the war on terrorism is over

Boredcast Message from soda!*** (ttyDW) at 15:44 …

if we have the election in november, the terrorists will have won

Boredcast Message from soda!*** (ttyFk) at 15:54 …

“terrorists are planning a major attack on the coasts on election day. only
people in the south and midwest should leave their homes and vote”

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I came across this article today linked through Joi’s blog and I was immediately filled with rage:

Published on June 16 in the Federal Register, the censorious new CDC guidelines will be mandatory for any organization that does HIV-prevention work and also receives federal funds — whether or not any federal money is directly spent on their programs designed to fight the spread of the epidemic. (The CDC is the principal federal funder of prevention education about HIV and AIDS, and its head is a Bush appointee).

These new regs require the censoring of any “content” — including “pamphlets, brochures, fliers, curricula,” “audiovisual materials” and “pictorials (for example, posters and similar educational materials using photographs, slides, drawings or paintings),” as well as “advertising” and Web-based info. They require all such “content” to eliminate anything even vaguely “sexually suggestive” or “obscene” — like teaching how to use a condom correctly by putting it on a dildo, or even a cucumber.

And they demand that all such materials include information on the “lack of effectiveness of condom use” in preventing the spread of HIV and other STDs — in other words, the Bush administration wants AIDS fighters to tell people: Condoms don’t work. This demented exigency flies in the face of every competent medical body’s judgment that, in the absence of an HIV-preventing vaccine, the condom is the single most effective tool available to protect someone from getting or spreading the AIDS virus.

Always wanting to see both sides of the coin before trying to spend it I searched Google News and found a matching article from the regularly conservative Washington Times:

Proposed changes to the guidelines for giving federal money to AIDS-prevention programs would require approval of educational materials before they are posted on the Internet.

The revisions, issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also would increase accountability for AIDS-prevention grant recipients and ensure their compliance with a federal law requiring education materials to “contain medically accurate information” about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

(I’ll come back to that last bit about condoms in a moment)

It appears that the right is saying these restrictions are necessary so that “the CDC demanded more accountability from HIV prevention groups receiving taxpayer dollars”. In particular, they site the San Francisco’s Stop AIDS Project and other groups for having sexually explicit workshops. The funny thing though is that “Stop AIDS Project lost its CDC funding last month”, so these regulations do nothing in that case!!!

(I’d like to put a few of these people through explicit workshops to sit with AIDS victims and their families and see how disturbing they think that is)

What really worries me is the sledge-hammer approach to this policy where a group can have all of it’s federal funding pulled for offering any AIDS-prevention programs, even if those programs are funded through completely different sources. This is very similar to one of Bush’s earliest executive orders that pulled federal funding from any family planning organization that even mentioned abortion.

But back to the condoms. For a while several of my friends have been noticing an interesting trend coming from the Bush administration that is very similar to double-think. For example, statements like “the occupation of Iraq will end on June 30th, the troops will remain indefinitely” seem a little oxy-moronic (more-so if you recall that they specifically said this wasn’t an occupation at the beginning of the war).

What really worries me about this new policy is the mandate for all materials to include information on the “lack of effectiveness of condom use” (this is about the only quote that the two articles have in common). To be sure, abstinence is truly the only way to completely avoid transmission, BUT IT IS A COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC APPROACH. Barring abstinence, condoms and other barrier devices are the single most effective way to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted HIV…but since “condom education encourages promiscuity,” the Bush administration wants their use and effectiveness to be put in to question by the people who this information can help the most!

Filled…with…rage…

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MoveOn.org: Democracy in Action

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ob.blog on DRM

Chris has posted a good article on DRM. Instead of pontificating about it on my own I’m just going to point you to it…please go read: ob.blog: DRM and you: this is important

Practically-speaking DRM is a concerted, aggressive attempt to prevent you from watching and listening to all the media you’ve rightfully purchased in the manner you want to enjoy it. In other words: no matter how much you pay for that DVD, DRM ensures that the media companies own it anyway and you’re just renting it. Its a concerted, aggressive attempt to steal your property from you.

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