Thursday, November 27, 2003
Here is an letter from my friend Walt, and the replies of both myself and friend John, regarding the possibility of the Democrats winning his vote in 2004, principly on the issue of terrorism. What is interesting is that Walt may move leftward even as John may move rightward - maybe there's a consensus developing here:
Subject: I may vote Democratic in 2004
I MAY VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE IN 2004!
For the first time in over twenty years, I am willing to seriously consider voting for the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004. This is a new development in my political awareness.
MY PERSONAL POLITICAL JOURNEY
I first became politically aligned in 9th grade, during the 1970-71 school year. This was the time of Earth Day, the Clean Water Act, and the Kent State Massacre. The single event which helped most to awaken my political mind was the December 1970 cover of National Geographic Magazine, which featured a duck swimming through an oil spill, and which signaled a conscious commitment by that magazine to join the environmentalist movement. From that time through High School and college, I basically had a liberal world view, and hence I voted Democratic in 1974, '76, '78, and 1980.
Beginning in 1978 and lasting until 1981, I re-examined this world view. This was the era of the snail darter, the establishment of affirmative action, the Vietnamese Boat People, and communist expansion into Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Angola, Ethiopia, South Yemen, and Afghanistan. After a 3-year period of questioning my own beliefs, I finally settled on a mainstream Republican world view, characterized by a foreign policy of defense against communist expansionism, and a domestic policy promoting capitalism. Although I was (and still am) somewhat sympathetic to liberal positions on the environment, sexual behavior, and separation of church & state, in a two-party system there are only two choices, and I have been voting a straight Republican ticket since 1982.
RE-ALIGNMENT OF IMPORTANT ISSUES BY 2003
By now it should be clear that the Democratic Party was on the wrong side of history vis-à-vis its acceptance of Soviet imperialism from 1968 to 1990. That's OK - the Republican Party was on the wrong side of history vis-à-vis black civil rights from 1945 to 1970. The world goes around for everybody, and we all have a turn in the sun, followed and preceded by a turn in the dark. The Cold War is over now, decisively won by Reagan, Thatcher, and their supporters, and it is time to move on. I do not judge the Democratic Party in 2003 by its Soviet policy in the 70s and 80s.
We all know what the big foreign policy issue is today: how to protect our land from terrorist attacks. My position on this is that I want to protect US soil from destruction, and US citizens from mass murder. I want this very much, and I am willing to re-examine old paradigms and change them if necessary, in order to protect ourselves.
President Bush has done much about this. He has attacked terrorists and military dictators in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has increased diplomatic cooperation with and/or pressure on many countries, he has made it difficult for foreigners to get visas, he has authorized the Patriot Act, and he has improved airport security. However, there is arguably much he hasn't done. He hasn't caught or killed Bin Laden or Saddam, he hasn't deported many illegal aliens, and he hasn't made it more difficult for foreigners to enter the country illegally. Are we now safe from terrorist attack? I don't think so.
THE 2004 ELECTION
For me, the Cold War is ancient history, and although I still prefer Republican capitalism to Democratic socialism, domestic policy is on the back burner this year. I am willing to let the Democratic Party govern for 4 or 8 years, if they can fight terrorism more effectively than Bush has. In other words, I am willing to consider voting Democratic, for the first time in over 20 years. I will listen to Democratic hopefuls, and judge them by the following tests:
Is fighting terrorism a priority for the Democrats, or not?
What do they propose to do in Iraq? In Afghanistan?
What do they propose to do about visa applications?
What about foreign Muslims currently in the US?
What about illegal aliens entering the US?
Do they wish to repeal the Patriot Act? If so, will they monitor foreigners or US citizens sympathetic to fundamentalist Islam, or will they allow them to act freely?
Is fighting terrorism a priority for the Democrats, or not?
I am not much interested in "Bush shoulda done X or Y". Monday morning quarterbacks make good couch potatoes; but in national leaders, I look for something more. Specifically, I wish to hear candidates tell us how they plan to fight terrorism in 2005, and whether they are able to "think outside the box".
So: will I change my vote for the first time since 1982, or will I vote Republican one more time? It depends. I already know how Bush handles the terrorist threat; now I'd like to hear what Democrats have in mind. Unfortunately, I haven't yet heard much Democratic talk along the lines I've indicated, and that worries me; but it's still early.
So far the Democratic candidates haven't offered much in the way of realistic terrorism defense measures, but if there's any hope in the matter, it's that Bush hasn't either, and so there's room for improvement everywhere. The trouble with terrorism is that it can be very flexible, relying sometimes on state sponsorship, sometimes on non-state actors like Al Qaeda, and it can be based on religious, tribal or clan loyalties. Terrorism based on conspiracies within alien host countries might well be impossible for the U.S. to eradicate short of internal revolution. An appropriate containment strategy is required.
Bush acted decisively against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and paradoxically against Iraq (whose closed society and inward-looking nature actually served to quell most Iraqi-based terrorism against the West, even if only temporarily), but by failing to commit sufficient resources to the struggle, Bush may have only heightened the threat. The Taliban and Saddam may yet return to power, and Al Qaeda has many new recruits if it can regain its balance (and since many of its homelands, like Saudi Arabia, are off-limits to our forces, it will find its balance).
Al Qaeda's center of gravity is very hard to locate, based partly in small villages in Yemen, crowded cities in Egypt, and wherever Saudi Wahhabi schools have taken root - Sudan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, among other places. We need the cooperation of people all over the world to stop terrorism, but some of our other actions, like our farm policy and tariffs tend to get in the way. When we do commit our armed forces, if terrorism is what we want to attack, we should go after these places - not Iraq. Iraq is a distraction in the war against Sept. 11th style-terrorism. In particular, we have to stop coddling the Saudis.
Gephardt, Liebermann, and Edwards supported the intervention in Iraq, but Edwards has since tried to backtrack. Because Dean did not support intervention, he actually has the widest room to maneuver on the question: it wouldn't surprise me if Dean, in office, flipped and committed even more troops to the battle, or came up with a different approach. Kucinich, Sharpton and Braun all have (probably impractical) neo-isolationist impulses regarding Iraq, and Kerry and Clark are all over the map. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
The left-wing intelligentsia in the U.S., who actually don't have that much influence on the Democratic party, really disgraced itself on Sept. 11th, an error which I interpret to class distinctions. The folks at 'The Nation' didn't know any bond traders or firemen or police officers (even though they shared the same city with them) and so they took far too lackadaisical an attitude regarding the potential of large-scale terrorism even after a full demonstration of the concept right in front of them. Even though many of them now support Dean, I think they would be surprised how little Dean will reciprocate that support.
I'm worried that our actions against terrorism have been ineffective. We're using Guantanamo to hold indefinitely, and in incommunicado, a variety of combatants. We should start processing them - release some, imprison others, and shoot the rest. We need to stop giving carte blanche to Saudi authorities who have been implicated in supporting Al Qaeda, people like Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar bin Sultan. We have a new Dept. of Homeland Security, but how effective is it, really? We have struck at Al Qaeda, but it's likely to strike back. We have to remain focused on the real sources of danger, and stop trying to run everything in the world - for example, stop terrorists from entering the country, but not stop even illegal aliens from entering the country - FOCUS.
By the way, I disagree with your statement that "by now it should be clear that the Democratic Party was on the wrong side of history vis-à-vis its acceptance of Soviet imperialism from 1968 to 1990". After 1945, both Democratic and Republican parties worked together against the Soviets (Truman's containment doctrine), and both parties accepted Soviet imperialism from 1968 to 1990 (Nixon's detente strategy). The left wing of the Democratic Party did not accept Soviet imperialism for the most part: rather, it objected strenuously to imperialism of all kinds, especially with regard to U.S. intervention in SE Asia, which could be (and was) interpreted as a neo-imperial enterprise. Of course, one can argue whether efforts against U.S. efforts meant tacit support for Soviet imperialism - I would maintain not.
The Soviet Union eventually collapsed of its own internal rot, exacerbated by revived nationalism in the Caucasus, the Baltics, and elsewhere. Once Gorbachev released internal terror, collapse raced ahead: the Soviet Union never reformed to become a more-or-less 'normal' society, like the one Gorbachev envisioned. Reagan's new arms race had only glancing effect on the process of collapse: the Soviets never made a serious effort to keep up with the increased pace of the arms race.
Thanks for sending your thoughts on the upcoming election. I can fully understand your concern about terrorism in view of the nature of the work you do. The prospect of some lunatic crashing a plane into a nuclear facility is mind-boggling and seems to be the proverbial "worst-case scenario" of an attack on any nation. Close monitoring of air traffic by the FAA is the last line of defense and certainly needs to be as strong as possible but the preceding lines of defense are trickier to figure out. The September 11 attacks were possible because of lax security at airports and childish inter-agency rivalries between the FBI, CIA and other organizations. It seems to me that after the ruinous espionage conducted by the Walker family, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen there should have been major changes in procedures and monitoring of employees. And perhaps there should have been an effort to combine federal law enforcement agencies into a single unit. That might have allowed federal agents to pick up on the numerous clues that something major was about to take place. One can hope that a positive effect of that attack will be to develop a system for effectively preventing such terrorism in the future.
Clearly removing the Taliban and hitting the heart of Al Qaida in Afghanistan was a proper and response to the September 11 attacks. Using military force to overthrow Saddam was more problematical. It's good that he is no longer in control of Iraq but the price for the US, both in terms of lives that continue to be lost and our standing in the international community, is higher than we were led to believe. I'm concerned that we may be looking at a decade or more of US presence in Iraq and I would vote for a candidate for president who has a clear plan to stabilize that nation and remove American forces within a reasonable length of time, even if it involved initially sending in a larger military force in the short term. It may be many years before it becomes clear whether overthrowing Saddam in the manner we did was the right thing to do but in the meantime the president should do everything possible to try to mend fences with other nations which opposed the war.
Aside from terrorism, I have a list of several other topics which I feel must be addressed by the powers that be in Washington and any candidate who can address them honestly and forcefully will have my vote regardless of his or her political affiliation. They are:
1) Deficit spending MUST be halted. As it stands our nation is effectively bankrupt. The entire federal revenue for 4 years would be required to pay off the current debt. The fact that a character like Ross Perot could have a good shot at the White House purely on that issue alone demonstrates that the American people want to see it addressed. And, for all the talk to the contrary during the last 25 years, the republicans have been the worst offenders there. That makes it very hard for me to trust them.
2) Tort reform MUST be enacted. Every aspect of the American economy has been ravaged by having to defend itself against frivolous lawsuits. Personally I would like to see a loser pays civil tort system as exists in all of western Europe. Any candidate who would propose that would have my vote.
3) The manufacturing base of the US economy must be rebuilt. It has been altogether too easy for us to buy imported products and overlook the US manufacturing jobs that have been lost in the process. China has somewhere round a $100 billion trade surplus with the US. There is no excuse for that. It won't be an easy problem to solve but we must start moving to cut that figure.
4) Health care costs must be controlled. The much-vaunted health care system and the absurd health insurance system that funds it have been out of control for at least a decade. People who need insurance cannot afford it and even a minor illness can financially destroy a family. This is inexcusable and a disgrace to the nation. Is national health care the answer? I don't know, but I do know that the current system must be changed and I'm waiting to hear of a workable plan from any candidate. Of course this point and the previous one are DIRECTLY related to my second point (tort reform).
5) Tighten up bankruptcy law. It has become almost a routine matter for people and corporations to shrug their shoulders at their irresponsible--or criminal--conduct and file bankruptcy. It will take a national change in attitude but we need a leader who will at least try to address the problem.
I could add a few more such as crime control (making the death penalty a real tool in fighting crime instead of the rare event it now is) and taxation of internet and mail order retail purchases (a pet peeve of mine since I get wealthy customers--the people most able to pay taxes--asking me to ship multi-thousand dollar bikes to their out -of-state vacation condos so they can cheat the local economy out of sales tax revenue. It's legal and a totally obscene tax subsidy for the rich--a single mother can't ask the local grocery store to have her stuff shipped to her vacation home in another state.) but I'll leave it at that. The nation as a whole needs to address the breakdown of the family unit which has come about in the last 40 years and no president can do much about that.
I've voted for democrats exclusively since 1984 (in 1980, I cast what I feel was my worst vote--for John Anderson). In general I have been greatly concerned about the way republicans have allied themselves with religious extremists. The democrats have made their share of mistakes but they have not tried to erode the separation of church and state. I've seen the power of churches in small towns and large cities and it frankly scares me. Fundamentalist Christians are closer to fundamentalist Islamists than most people think and the main thing that separates them are the constitutional limits that define our nation.
Bill Clinton, despite his personal shortcomings, worked to reform welfare, reversed deficit spending and made an effort--imperfect to be sure--to improve an unfair and ruinously expensive health care system. He had international support and was addressing terrorism quietly, although in retrospect not nearly to the degree that was needed. Had his personal life not been such an embarrassment to the nation I think he might have had a real shot at greatness. I see the record deficit spending of George Bush and legislation being quietly passed to help big business, all done with plenty of pomp and flag-waving and feel like we're on the wrong track. I don't know who among the democrats I will vote for. Lieberman impresses me but I don't think his campaign will last. Clark has a background that would make him electable; I don't agree with him on everything but he seems honest and sincere. Dean is good but probably does not have the support he would need to win. If John McCain could get the republican nomination I would probably vote for him.
So that's my long-winded take on the election. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Bush Practices Shock and Awe on the Queen's Gardens.
Maybe next time with low-level nukes.
Meanwhile, the Bush Administration wants to abandon nation-building in Iraq.
Andrew Sullivan appreciates Howard Dean's fundraising (even if he looks askance at Dean otherwise).
Germans worry about Guantanamo.
And where did the caffeine in the sea come from (as if we didn't know).
Last night I went to see the British import "Love, Actually", with Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson. What an incredibly dumb and stupid movie it is! Hugh Grant was OK - there is a nice moment when he, as the British Prime Minister, basically tells the American President to go to hell (a very popular position in Britain these days) - but the movie's concept is so idiotic that nothing can save it.
Apparently the screenwriter had noticed how pleasant the scene is at London's Heathrow Airport, when long-separated people see each other again, and hug and kiss. That's OK, for a 15-second movie. Then introduce lots of first and second-rate British actors, many of them gorgeous but vapid, and link all these people we don't care about with many, many, various inane love stories, and have "I Love You" romantic moments, over and over and over again, like an endless Heathrow Airport receiving line gone haywire, or a Paul McCartney inspired "All You Need Is Love" computer virus (or its sister virus "Silly Love Songs") replicating itself in a Darwinian frenzy across the Internet, for 2 1/2 excruciating hours. Awful doesn't even begin to describe the experience.
It didn't help that we had come into the theater halfway through the movie. At the movie's end, I thought it was the worst movie I had ever seen in my life, but then we stayed to see the beginning of the movie, and I saw that Hugh Grant had actually had some nice moments. So, among the worst ever, probably better than "Last House on the Left", or various Wes Craven nightmares, but not much better.
Computers and romance - a bad combination!
DO 10 I=1, 5000000000
WRITE(6,*, ERR=999)"I LOVE YOU!"
GO TO 1000
999 WRITE(6,*)"YOU JERK!"
There, don't you now feel ever so much more loved?
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Friday, October 24, 2003
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Monday, October 20, 2003
Sunday was enjoyable. I met Alison Roest (formerly Lorenz), her husband Daniel, and their son Craig at their home in Folsom, and we all went to the Folsom Renaissance Fair. The Fair featured some jousting, many booths, a colorful itinerant band of merchants and ne'er-do-wells, and low sword prices (tempted there with the sword prices!)
I last saw Alison about ten years ago, when she used to attend Pam Kay Lourentzos' ballet class on Sunday morning (a class which still meets and which I attend faithfully!) They were the most gracious hosts, and their home is beautiful. Still, I felt a tinge of sadness for the passage of time - irrecoverable time - that we all experience as life goes on. Ten years! Hard to believe!
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
I just got back from a 36-hour whirlwind visit to Las Vegas. Almost no sleep at all, and none last night!
On Monday, I met with John Wright, my good college friend from New Mexico Tech, and together we went to the Interbike Convention at the Sands Convention Center. John runs Pro-bike Bicycle Shop in Oklahoma City, and he was in Las Vegas Saturday through Monday to order bicycles and parts and products from various wholesalers and dealers. Acres and acres of bicycles and bicycle parts and doo-dads were on display at the Convention Center! We had a wonderful time looking at all the applied technology! Since I had a rent-a-car, I took John to the airport for his trip back home.
Then Monday night, I ventured on crazy blackjack gambling of course (probably lost about $400 total for the trip, but if not for the most magnificent winning streak in my life - a $2000 win in half an hour at Mandalay Bay - it would have been much, much worse).
Then somehow I got invited to a more-or-less exclusive party on the penthouse floor of the Mandalay Bay casino. A fun Australian named Paul D. sat down at our table, and began winning. We hit it off, and so at 11 p.m., he invited me to accompany him to the Foundation Sin party on the top floor of the Mandalay Bay casino and resort.
Foundation Sin apparently refers to the International House of Blues (HOB) Foundation Service Industry (Sin) party, the only 'public' event held on the lavish top floor, weekly, on Monday's. HOB is one of the most important tenants of the Mandalay Bay casino. The atmosphere is very heady. Here is an excerpt of an article from the NY Times:
But sometimes this city's democratic approach can be more fun than New York elitism. "Las Vegas is so good at imitating reality that it's often better than the real thing," said Hal Rothman, author of "Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the 21st Century." "If you go to the Venetian, you don't have to worry about pigeon droppings, and when you go to the New York-style clubs, they're not pretentious and there aren't as many rules."
Over at Foundation, a Moroccan theme lounge with tapestries and daybeds on the 43rd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, a group of executives from Bear Stearns were drinking in a private room that runs $250 a night. "They treat yuppies like rock stars here," said one executive, Matt, who declined to give his last name. "It blows New York away."
Large numbers of people were already trying to get past the guards at the elevator - due to Paul's membership, we were able to just breeze our way past the velvet ropes (oooh, so elitist, and yet, so generous of Paul)! Loud music, the best scenic vistas of the city, and of what the city has to offer. A wonderful place, the best place! Here is a photo of the magnificent view of the Strip, originally posted at this Web Site.
No better view in Vegas!
Paul D. introduced me to his boss, Ron B., and Ron's guests, former wrestler turned Bronx-bakery-owner John, and John's brother-in-law (Joe?). John and I became fast companions, and for a time we moved around together. Due to Ron's membership, he was able to reserve the central section of the Foundation Room, the favored portion in front of the fireplace and delimited by couches, for just his guests, which now apparently included myself.
As the room filled up with acres of beautiful people, they increasingly tried to move into the couch area, but guards kept them away - I felt awkward at being one of the few people in the room with full range of motion. A few beautiful women lingered for conversation, including a student from Florida and a helicopter pilot from North Carolina.
Ron B. was very considerate of his guests - he lectured me on the importance of treating celebrities just like anyone else, since it was clear this was something of a Hollywoodish crowd, and anyone could be there. Ron B. loved explaining his philosophy of generosity and joie de vivre.
Later, Paul showed me various VIP lounges, with their florid Hindu/Buddhist jungle decor. Then Paul abruptly disappeared. At 12:45 a.m., for unknown reasons, we lost our claim to the fireplace area - Ron B. retreated to a VIP lounge with a big-screen TV showing time-lapse pictures of cumulonimbus clouds, and Utah arroyos. I skittered about the premises, checking out the two dance rooms, including the hip-hop room, and intruding over the velvet ropes there ("Sir! The ropes are there for a reason, sir!") Expansive, yet private, the club has many attractive features, and I'm sure a membership is highly-prized.
In the Foundation room, another DJ spun house. There was a funny moment: in the loud environment, I asked the DJ to play Angie Stone's "Bottles and Cans", the wonderful mix by Guido Osorio that is unavailable commercially. Misunderstanding, the DJ dutifully produced an empty can of Red Bull and an empty cocktail glass. I laughed, he was embarrassed, but it was OK - he never did play that tune, though, just other interesting ones.
Ron B. had promised that the party would push the limits of decadence, mentioning a provocatively dressed (or undressed) woman who walked on her hands at a previous party. I waited, but the limits were never pushed that hard, at least by 2:30 a.m. After a while, I retreated downstairs to the casino, had my big winning streak, met a few other fun characters (like Simone D.), left to go to the MGM Grand, lost big there, unfortunately, and then got ready to return to Sacramento in the dawn's early light.
Friday, October 10, 2003
Pre-election media first
The BBC gets Mary Carey confused with Reva Renee Renz (since corrected). And the San Jose Mercury News babbles about fringe ideas.
What Arnold and the celebrities were up to.
First AP article out.
Some of the Sacramento Bee's lame coverage.
From the San Jose Mercury News: first, then second.
Here's what we are really waiting for - the documentaries!
Here are some of Pauline Luben's great photos of the minor recall candidates.
Why Davis cratered.
Of course, and more Mickey Kaus' detailed blog coverage!
Joel Kotkin and Josh Benson form the New Republic.
And, of course, Mark Fiore!
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Had a good time yesterday, on my victory lap around the state. I started in Sacramento, went to the "Purple Cow" in San Francisco, travelled to San Jose in the evening for the party at AP Stumps, and then, very late, back to Sacramento.
I voted at the River Life Covenant Church in Sacramento (19th and Broadway) about 10 a.m., and then spent about half an hour importuning voters to please, please vote for me. The voters seemed to be an unusually cranky lot - they wondered whether I was breaking the law just by being there (it's OK as long as I stay more than 100 feet from the door). Then I went to work and answered a few E-Mails, before driving off to San Francisco.
Fortunately the KMTP Channel 32 studio was easy to find in San Francisco. When I arrived, hand-held cameras in the lobby were focused on Candidate Georgy Russell: in a few minutes Candidate Christopher Sproul arrived with his surfboard. After various effusive greetings, we went upstairs to the third floor, to a big room where about ten break dancers did the MOST AMAZING moves on a checkered plastic surface (e.g. spinning upside down on the crown of one's head). Just the most wonderfully-skilled people!
As we candidates sat side-by-side on an avocado green vinyl couch, hosts Jay and SheShe asked how our experiences had changed us both personally and politically. I stated how I had gained a renewed appreciation for the virtues of acting out and making a loud noise. After two takes of the interview, the break dancers showed us a few moves, which we got imperfectly. Georgy and I then made a feeble effort to teach the break dancers ballet steps (of course, many, if not all, of the break dancers already have classical training, but we were hamming it up for the camera). Georgy couldn't easily turn barefoot on the checkered plastic surface, so mostly it was an unprofitable wrestle of arms and legs, but we did squeeze out a reasonable fish. Christopher got better pictures on his surf board - Georgy looked especially cute on the surf board. Then after a few pictures with SheShe and Break Dancer Rosa, it was back downstairs to catch a portion of my interview on "Purple Cow" (all the interviews were running on a continuous loop, and mine happened to come up when I was there). Laughed my head off! Then, after getting an autographed copy of Georgy's famous thong, it was off to San Jose.
Candidates Georgy Russell and Chris Sproul; Hosts SheShe, and Jay - the "Purple Cow" interview
Break Dancer Rosa and SheShe
In the Duncan Science Building at the campus of San Jose State University, after handing out my card to a group of women students in lab coats standing in the hall holding pieces of filter paper in the hall (for what, I don't know), I located my friend Jerry, who teaches meteorology there, and we got some pizza. After much amiable conversation, it was off to find the downtown restaurant AP Stumps, for Jon Zellhoefer's party.
Eight candidates were there on Election Night (Zellhoefer, Sproul, Miller, Dole, Valdez, Lane, Foss, and Cullenbine), plus the ever-helpful Cheryl Dietz, Jon Zellhoefer's campaign manager, who did more than anyone to make the Candidates' Forum a living entity, plus her family. Bay Area channels 2, 5, and 7 were also there, and some footage was taken by all three networks of me meandering around behind the various correspondents. It soon became clear that we were going make less of an impression on the vote totals than I expected, but we still had some fun (one of the photographers took a great picture of Diana Foss and I whooping it up, because Channel 2 reported she had 275 votes and I had 248 votes).
I drank a margarita and accidentally dropped the glass on the floor. I took some more pictures, and made my way, quite late, back to Sacramento.
Candidate Bob Cullenbine
Monday, October 06, 2003
On October 7th, I plan to spend the morning at or near my polling place in Sacramento, voting and campaigning. In the afternoon, I plan to visit "The Purple Cow", at KMTP Channel 32, at 1504 Bryant Street, San Francisco, between 2 and 5 p.m. (their program will air at 9 p.m.) Then it's off to San Jose for two events: Candidate Jon Zellhoefer's party at A.P. Stumps, and another event (location unknown as yet) put on by 'Yes on the Recall Democrats' and hosted by John Estrada. Don't know when I'll get back to Sacramento - maybe in time to be sworn in!
Saturday and Sunday were difficult days, mostly because of the Sisyphean effort to put together the Alternative Candidate's Pancake Breakfast at Fremont Park in downtown Sacramento (Between P & Q, 15th & 16th). Pam Van Kamp, President of the Fremont Park Neighborhood Association, found herself largely abandoned by her troops, just at the time her vehicle stopped running. So on Saturday, I was pressed into service, buying a tent and tables on sale at Costco (because the City of Sacramento inexplicably insists that when one cooks in parks, one should cook within flammable tents), buying pancake griddles at Target, helping with flyers, going to and fro, etc.
On Sunday, things went wrong, of course. The tent came without poles (explaining why it was on sale), there were repeated trips to bring supplies, and various items, like bowls and a spatula, had to be obtained. Fortunately, the Alternative candidates on Jim Vandeventer's big bus from southern California were game: Diana Foss manned the griddle, and Dick Lane whomped up the batter. Everyone had enough to eat, and we debated each other. Warren Farrell and Diane Beall Templin, in particular, took advantage of the speaking opportunity.
There were also a few candidates I haven't met before: Bill Chambers, Warren Farrell, and Darrin Price spring to mind. And the mysterious Christy Cassell.
Then of course, the effort to schlep all the stuff out of the park! Exhausting!
Candidate Diane Beall Templin and her partner John (Wadsworth?), in a characteristic pose
Candidates Jim Lane and Diana Foss save the day with pancake savvy
After lugging tons of stuff back home after the pancake breakfast, and after delivering last Monday's hard copy LA Times with our pictures in it to Pam Kay Lourentzos at the ballet class I was skipping that day, it was off to the State Capitol for the Alternative Candidates' rally. We had the north steps of the Capitol - Arnold had the south steps. Arnold had 'Twisted Sister', too much sunshine, circling helicopters, and a very large audience: we had about ten candidates, pleasant temperatures, circling pigeons, and whoever drifted past on their way to Arnold's rally. We did some nice debating, with Jon Zellhoefer posing questions to C.T. Weber, Gerold Gorman, and myself. Gerold and myself made a good tag team - maybe we should do radio together.
Christy Cassell set up a table to sell merchandise, and she spoke a little too. I find her presence to be a little mysterious, since she's not one of the 135 - I guess she's a write-in candidate. She's good-looking and apparently has a flair for merchandising. There have been a few other candidates too, including a Mr. Walton from San Diego, who also has a big bus, and a support staff too. I'm not sure if these folks are just people who barely missed qualifying for the ballot and decided to run write-in candidacies anyway, or whether they knew an opportunity when they saw it. In any case, they are another interesting wrinkle on the campaign.
Afterwards, I tried to encourage the candidates to follow me to Davis' Central Park for a meet-and-greet. Because I didn't ride Jim Vandeventer's big bus from southern California, I didn't realize that the bus wasn't going to San Francisco after all, but was instead returning empty to southern California. So if I was to get candidates to come to Davis, I would have to act fast. I agreed to meet Jon Zellhoefer at the Hyatt on L Street, but because I started talking to an Arnold supporter, I was slow getting over there.
Guess who I met in the lobby of the Hyatt in Sacramento? I strolled in, all sweaty, carrying my long, orange, utility-grade extension cord, and looking for Jon Zellhoefer. There was this familiar looking guy in the lobby talking to several young people, and saying something like "I didn't want to quit, I wanted to stay in, but (blah, blah, blah) soft money". It was Darrell Issa! I identified myself and thanked him for the recall! Then off I went to find my car....
I went to Davis, just to be sure if any candidates were there, but no one was there. I picked up the Sunday Davis Enterprise and saw Corey Golden's fine interview regarding myself, returned home for a shower, and then back to Davis again for DMTC's Sunday evening "Music Man" at the Varsity Theater in downtown Davis. What a day!
North steps of the State Capitol, with Jon Zellhoefer, C.T. Weber, Gerold Gorman, and the mysterious Chris Cassell
Saturday, October 04, 2003
The California Recall Election seems all-encompassing right now. When watching the television news, I'm annoyed if the topic drifts to next year's presidential election, or any other topic. I've lost interest in even the existence of Europe, except, of course, for Portugal: the New York correspondent for Lisbon's Publico startled me yesterday with a surprise interview.
Last night, Turner Classic Movies presented 'Ivan the Terrible - Part I', by Sergei Eisenstein. The sumptuous movie was a delight - it must have been a monstrous undertaking in 1943, when the Great Patriotic War was raging. I soon began seeing the movie through my particular set of recall-election lenses. They say that history always repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Why not here?
The conflicted, but opportunistic, Prince Kurbsky (Cruz Bustamante) is forced to choose between loyalty to his stricken Tsar, Ivan the Terrible (Gray Davis), and loyalty to the ambitious boyars (Darrell Issa, Ted Costa, and others), who have their own favorite candidate for Tsar, young, feeble-minded Prince Vladimir (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Swayed by his love/lust for Tsarina Anastacia (Sharon Davis), Prince Kurbsky decides to remain loyal to his chief, Tsar Ivan, to oppose the ascendant boyars, and surprisingly, that proves to be the correct decision.
Hmmm.... The analogy is strained. Well, whoever said history has to repeat itself EXACTLY anyway. Next week, Turner Classic Movies will present 'Ivan the Terrible - Part II', the movie that got Sergei Eisenstein into so much trouble with Josef Stalin.
Thursday, October 02, 2003
The Student Association at American River College hosted a candidate debate early this afternoon. Five candidates were present (Charles "Chuck" Pineda, Diana Beale Templin, Randall Sprague, Marc Valdez, and Jeff Rainforth). I think my delivery suffered a bit, but the crowd was friendly and supportive - one of the largest crowds I've seen yet in this campaign! Diana and her partner did the upside-down swing pose again - they make me laugh so hard!
American River College Student Association leaders welcome the candidates!
Excellent day yesterday on the first of October, starting off with a Talk Radio interview with host Ken Murray and fellow candidate Robert C. Newman II on Redding's KQMS radio. After riling up the entire north state's elder community with my anti-Proposition 13 statements (final quote: "Proposition 13 afflicts the young and coddles the old"), and a quick check of E-Mail, it was off to talk to the students at Kennedy High School, together with fellow candidates C.T. Weber and Chuck Pineda. A pleasant visit with teacher Kim Ngo and students (and the big food fair at the high school wasn't bad either!)
Then, after a rapid (meaning dangerous) auto trip through the Delta to Pittsburg, it was time for the Los Medanos College Debate (with fellow candidates Jeff Rainforth, Diane Templin, Dick Lane, Christopher Sproul, Ralph Hernandez, William Vaughn, Ned Roscoe, and Gerold Gorman). The debate was hosted by B.J. Wagener. Last I saw of Mr. Wagener and Gerold Gorman, they were headed off to edit their tape of the debate, in order to make it available for Antioch/Pittsburg cable TV, then to public access cable TV stations all over the state.
After the debate, an interview with a harried New York Times reporter named Carolyn Marshall. A fun and busy day!
Candidate Gerold Gorman at the Los Medanos Community College Debate
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Just had a fine interview with Justin Barker and friend with the San Francisco-based "Purple Cow". I sang "Baby's Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot on karaoke at the Distillery here in Sacramento, drank some beer, tried to skateboard for the first time, and had some fun - all on camera. I wonder how it will all turn out once it gets televised?
Monday, September 29, 2003
On Saturday, the Candidates' Forum made its stately way to Sacramento. Fifteen candidates came to either the Hyatt Regency Hotel across from the State Capitol, or later, on our walk around the State Capitol (Jim Weir, Gerold Gorman, B.E. Smith, Frank Macaluso, Jr., William Vaughn, Jerry Kunzman, Ned Roscoe, Darrin Scheidle, Chris Sproul, Cheryl Bly-Chester, Jon Zellhoefer, Dick Lane, Dennis McMahon, Jonathan Miller, and myself).
I posted a photo of our activities at Candidate Camera (under Campaign Albums, under my name).
On this last of the Candidates' Forum meetings prior to the election, no new resolutions were passed. We basked in each others company, and got a little TV News coverage from Sacramento's KCRA TV Channel 3. Mostly, we planned for the final week of the election, with our focus on what I think was Ned Roscoe's idea: dogging Arnold Schwarzenegger's bus tour from San Diego to Sacramento with a school bus tour of our own. It's a brilliant idea, with lots of potential for press coverage. I'm not sure I can make most of it, but I'll try to arrange some musicians for the end of the trip.
Arguing the merits of Proposition 54 - Candidates Darrin Scheidle, (obscured) Ned Roscoe and William Vaughn, Cheryl Bly-Chester, Dr. Frank Macaluso Jr., Dick Lane, Jim Weir, and Jerry Kunzman; Sacramento meeting of the Candidates' Forum
Friday, September 26, 2003
On Tuesday, I received a flurry of E-Mails from David Crockett Williams in Berkeley regarding an Emergency Climate Stabilization meeting to be held at the Berkeley City Council Chambers on Wednesday. Since these concerns are not that far from my daily concerns as an air quality meteorologist, I decided to attend. The meeting was actually pretty quiet, but it was a genuine pleasure talking to Alden Bryant and Chris Conrad. I was able to emphasize the distinct difference between air quality management (which is what I do at my day job, where regulation of trace gas emissions can be tackled comparatively easily), and climate stabilization management (which deals more with bulk CO2 emissions, and is much, much harder to implement (because of the necessary worldwide scope of the effort, combined with the ill-defined, hard-to-enumerate nature of some of the carbon sinks, like rock weathering).
We found a useful point of unanimous agreement - the world doesn't need new, badly-done regulatory schemes. Good schemes - OK: bad ones, no. My view is that we actually know enough to start climate stabilization management anyway, no matter what political obstacles exist, and that's actually been the case since the 1880's, when a German scientist (I believe by the name of Heinz) first noticed that fossil fuel consumption could lead to global warming. The longer we wait to get effective management in place, of course, the worse the consequences of global climate change are likely to be.
It's also important to note that the industrial world is seriously addicted to petroleum, and regulation by itself, like prohibition laws for an alcoholic, is a feeble antidote. Something stronger, like intervention, is required to break an addiction, but we need tools first for an effective intervention: savvier cars (like hybrids) might be a start. I'm also convinced that the petroleum industry is more than aware of the problem, and that they aren't automatic opponents of our efforts - the engineers among them love new gadgets anyway, and would prefer to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
After the Berkeley meeting, I travelled to San Jose to visit my old friend from graduate student days, Jerry Steffens, who teaches meteorology at San Jose State University. I stumbled across a student journalist with a camera interviewing two frat brothers about a recent student death, and I horned in, thereby getting an unexpected interview with San Jose State Student News, which is apparently televised on Cable TV over a 10-county or so area on Sundays at 6 a.m.
After surprising Jerry, I left for a 12-candidate debate sponsored by a student branch of "Democracy Matters" at Saratoga High School (even as the 'big' debate between the top five candidates was going on simultaneously back in Sacramento). What a great time, although I wish there had been more than 80 or so people there. There were 12 campaigns there (a representative of John Burton's campaign, plus candidates Roscoe, Scheidle, Laughing Horse Robinson, Vaughn, Fontanes, Zellhoefer, Sproul, Foss, Miller, Richtmyer, and Valdez). There were many verbal tussles in the colorful group. I remember expressing disdain for the concept of a "Zero Emission Vehicle" even as Darrin Scheidle (who owns one) defended the concept, and David Laughing Horse Robinson expressed disdain for my idea that the closer the margin of victory, the harder the victor will have to work to get a mandate to govern while in office, and the better for the people of California. One student asked a very penetrating question regarding my anti-Proposition 13 stance, homing in on the weakness that unemployed people sitting on expensive properties (not than unusual a problem these days in Silicon Valley) could lose their homes due to property taxes, and thus I had to elaborate on my fail-safe mechanisms to prevent that from ever happening. We had a great time!
After the debate, I visited my friend Jerry at his apartment, before travelling very late back to Sacramento, in my non-ZEV 2002 Saturn SC coupe.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Monday was an eventful day, as 90 or so California gubernatorial candidates gathered in Burbank for Jay Leno's Recall Candidate Night. I had little sleep the night before, and a cold settled into my chest and head during the day, so I'm pretty beat today, but, boy, it was fun!
The day started inauspiciously. I was late getting to the Sacramento airport, and the economy-parking-lot bus was slow getting people to Terminal A, which houses Southwest Airlines. Instead of finding an empty late-morning airport terminal, I was alarmed to see a very long line of people waiting to get their belongings X-rayed. The line was moving reasonably fast, but it was so outrageously long there was no way to possibly make the 9:45 a.m. flight without doing something drastic. So, I broke every rule of etiquette to get through the line, repeatedly cutting up to the front of the line, aggravating people along the way ('you should have arrived at the airport sooner!'), but there was no choice by this point. After getting my shoes X-rayed, I practically reached inside the machine to get them, before running off in my socks to (barely) make the flight. On the flight, entrepreneur and fellow candidate Ned Roscoe (plus friends and family) said hello.
I arrived at Burbank, and saw two other candidates (Lingel Winters and Pat Tilley) who had also just arrived at the terminal. My two cousins from Oceanside, Fred and Gloria, picked me up at the terminal, and then off we went to the candidate gathering at Johnny Carson Park, across from NBC Studios. Fred and Gloria mostly just watched as I began networking at the park with the other candidates. Met some candidates for the first time (Dorene Musilli, Randall Sprague, Reva Renee Renz, Bob Cullenbine with his clown makeup, plus Richard J. Simmons).
Dennis McMahon, candidate from San Francisco, noticed me talking to my cousins at the edge of the gathering, and asked who they were. When I explained that Fred was going to be my guest for the show, but Gloria couldn't come because we all had only one guest ticket each, he kindly offered to escort Gloria into the show (his own daughter was at the university in class, and couldn't come). That was wonderful show of generosity on Dennis' part!
After a big group picture in the park, featuring 49 candidates, we were off to NBC! We were screened by security, and then we entered the studio. I missed a TV opportunity (Channel 9) at the studio's door because the interviewer saw Mike McCarthy arriving (dressed as a boxer), and dropped me for the more-colorful McCarthy. We were led to a big room where plenty of food was provided by NBC (we were pretty famished by this time). We ate lunch and much more gabbing ensued, between my cousins, McMahon, Iris Adam, Jon Zellhoeffer, plus new candidates met for the first time (Brooke Adams, C.T. Weber, A. Lavar Taylor).
After a long time (1.5 hours or so), we were led into the theater. Since I was towards the end, I sat high up in the seating tiers (the theater holds only 300 or so people), between candidates Joe Guzzardi and Van Vo. There was a pre-show warmup, featuring a comic, who explained the rules (tonight would begin with a 'cold start'), and Jay Leno himself came out in his denims 15 minutes before showtime to do a bit more explaining (the most important admonition was to laugh at his monologue). Several of our pretty women candidates were brought onto the stage to do brief dances, along with various other, overweight guests. Reva Renee Renz and Georgy Russell danced well, but Mary Carey stole the show with an athletic exhibition of lascivious abandon. Wow!
Then: Showtime! After the opening monologue, a half-dozen candidates were displayed in a lightly-mocking way than settled well with only some (Dr. Ronald Friedman especially looked like he was taken by surprise). Ross the Intern came along to explain backstage at the Emmies, and candidate Ronald Palmieri (the first openly gay candidate to ever run for governor, as he tiresomely reminds us) pushed the envelope far enough to shout over the second-level railing and ask Ross the Intern out on a date! Very daring, but it worked!
Then young (approx. age 23) entrepreneur and performance-art Republican candidate William Tsangares, dressed with a Terminator rubber head mask, broke the envelope. He started throwing numerous $2 bills in the air and chanted 'Equal Time', apparently in reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearance on the Tonight Show several weeks earlier, when he announced his candidacy for the California governorship. Robert Downey Jr., who was supposed to be introduced just at that moment, appeared from behind the guest's entrance wall, stared at Tsangares, and twice said, "Sir, do you mind?" Tsangares wouldn't budge. So NBC security escorted him out of the theater. Henceforth, Leno referred to Tsangares as the 'PCP candidate'.
Robert Downey Jr., comedienne Tess, and Blue Man Group then performed. I've loved Blue Man Group since I saw them in Las Vegas 2 years ago, and I thought they did well with their limited time with the gubernatorial candidates. Today, there is much E-Mail traffic among the candidates insisting that we were demeaned, because Blue Man Group issued commands, and we, the candidates, had to follow. I didn't feel demeaned by Blue Man Group. Their 'commands' were in line with the kind of audience involvement they've always featured. The only problem was they didn't perform long enough, to get more personal candidate involvement.
Then, the end of the show! Leno and the other stars taped several trailers for the evenings show, then off we went for the exits!
On the way out of the theater, I found myself walking beside Mary Carey. I took an insultingly patronizing tone with her:
MV: "Mary, I saw your show when you came to Sacramento."
MC: "How did you like it?"
MV: "Oh, it was good. Say, I had this wacky idea that if Arianna Huffington and Peter Camejo can campaign together, we could do the same - a 'beauty and brains' platform."
MC: "Well, I have the brains - do you have any beauty?"
Yeowww! Then she was off, to lavish attention on the fawning media. I don't know where life will take her, but she'll go far (some would say she's already gone too far!) Today, one of the candidates E-Mailed everyone with a link for a Mary Carey look-alike amateur porn star. Oh, that's great! Like an series of Russian dolls, each with a smaller doll inside. Singer Mariah Carey, porn star Mary Carey, amateur porn star Mary Caray.....there's no end in sight!
Outside NBC Studios, a big media meet-and-greet had been arranged. Some candidates were interviewed, but the focus was on Mary Carey, and the ever-amiable Gary Coleman. The candidates were tired - for some reason, Trek Thunder Kelley looked especially stressed. I talked to candidate Christopher Ranken, and hugged the other Candidate Forum candidates as Cheryl Bly-Chester gave us an enconmium for our good-citizenship to the media.
After some final photos and good wishes (Ned Roscoe drove by shouting 'Marc Valdez for Governor!), and listening to the chants of William Tsangares' supporters already protesting his removal (using pre-printed protest signs), we all dispersed. After a fine Mexican dinner at Alfredo's Granada Restaurant in Burbank, it was back to the airport, where I ran into Dan Feinstein, and conversed with candidates Diana Foss and Lingel Winters, before returning in time to catch the 'Tonight Show' on Sacramento's KOVR Channel 3 TV.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
This was a fun, but strange weekend (Sept. 13 - 14). I don't think I garnered a single vote from all the activity, but I did participate in some interesting events.
Saturday morning, I flew from Sacramento down to John Wayne Airport, Orange County. Fellow candidate Cheryl Bly-Chester was also riding the same flight, so we talked all the way down. Discovered she has travelled the world (e.g., South Africa) on various kayak adventures. Interesting!
At the airport, we rented separate cars, and made the long journey on the freeways into downtown LA. We parked the cars and entered the Standard Hotel, a jewel of Standard Oil's real estate empire. We went to a roof terrace where photo-taking is prohibited because of the upscale clientele (didn't see anyone famous, though). We gathered with the other Candidate Forum candidates (James Vandeventer, Jr., Jon Zellhoefer, D.E. Kessenger, Jonathan Miller, Lawrence Strauss, Sara Ann Hanlon, plus a smattering of friends and two of the documentary crews that have been following us around this campaign). Sadly, our organizing host, the colorful Thunder Trek Kelley, had another committment and couldn't attend.
We discussed various Forum activities, such as approaching the major candidates to join with us in a unified appeal to the electorate. But we soon had to break for the afternoon activities. Cheryl and one documentary crew headed off to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, where a pro-recall rally was going to be held. Afterwards, they were going to go over to the Republican Endorsement convention. Jonathan left a bit early to go to the Democratic Endorsement convention, in the LA Convention Center adjacent to Staples Center, and I followed a short time later.
The Democratic Endorsement convention was in full swing when I arrived. I was pleased I got the last candidate ID badge, which was supposed to go Cruz Bustamante, but he hadn't appeared yet. Art Torres (state Democratic chairman, retired) regaled the audience, and he had things well in hand. Candidate Jonathan Miller was there, as was Dick Lane. I saw Kirsten Zadekia Xanthippe (who did 'Evita' with us at DMTC in 2000) hard at work, doing press operations.
Governor Gray Davis arrived with great fanfare, and made a speech. Then suddenly, as if by magic, Cruz Bustamante appeared at his side. Davis said, "People wanted to see when we were going to stand together. Well, here we are."
Gray Davis takes the podium at the Democratic Party Special Endorsement Convention, Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA, September 13, 2003. Photo taken by candidate Jonathan Miller (with Marc Valdez's camera).
The endorsement election featured 11 candidates, of which I was one (although I recommended 'No Endorsement' in my written statement presented for the delegate's consideration). Cruz Bustamante won, of course, but 14.2% of the delegates voted for No Endorsement. For a few minutes, I thought I might have had something to do with that, but then I saw a flyer on which the African-American caucus also (for different reasons) recommended No Endorsement (as did a few labor leaders, according to the Sacramento Bee), so I had less influence than I thought (basically zero, really).
As candidates, we had the privilege of watching the counting of the ballots, which was fun. They would bring over spoiled ballots every now and then, and we would ponder the voter's intent. I met three other candidates: Eric Korevaar from San Diego, and Ed Kennedy and Georgy Russell (looking waifish) from the Bay Area. I introduced myself to Bob Mulholland, California's Dark Prince of smashmouth politics. Afterwards, Bustamante spoke, but his address was from a prepared text, and thus lacked sparkle.
After the convention, I went to the pro-recall rally at the Queen Mary, but arrived about an hour after the rally ended. Candidate Diane Templin was still there, however, meticulously interviewing everyone remaining behind with her camera crew. The seaside views were gorgeous in the late afternoon sun, and the ship looked stunning, of course. Afterwards, I ate at a friendly Long Beach cafe (I think it was called the Long Beach Cafe), drove to Buena Park for the next day's activities, got a motel room across the street from the Union Hall across the street where the convention was being held, and tried to catch up on paperwork and sleep.
The next day, I prepared for the Special Endorsement Convention of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA). As I left the motel, Cheryl Bly-Chester drove up, and we approached the Union Hall together. We encountered candidates Gino Martorana and Leonard Padilla, who were both annoyed that MAPA wanted a $100 entrance fee - no one had been informed in advance about the fee, although a few of us had heard such rumors. In addition, campaigning was forbidden, as was leafletting, and we weren't being allowed to speak (apparently our invitation was merely to make MAPA look powerful, and wasn't a real invitation at all - we were fooled by MAPA's lies). Gino suggested that we enter free as members of the press instead, so most of us entered disguised as the press.
By now, I was feeling pretty mad. Here I was, one of the few Latino Gubernatorial Candidates, having to sneak into MAPA's convention like a mojado (wetback), in order to avoid the $100 fee and thus not bust over the $1000 legal spending limit many of us candidates had promised to uphold (I had a $100 bill in my pocket, so money per se wasn't the problem). Plus, I was also worried about my coyote ethnic status (half Hispanic, half Anglo, can't speak Spanish, quite anglified) and also whether we had all stumbled into a Cruz Bustamante rally of some sort. So, when MAPA's head, Nativo Lopez, said 'today the only female candidate in the race is going to be here, but she hasn't arrived yet', and yet here I was seated right next to Cheryl Bly-Chester, who was very much present, I spoke up: 'She's here! Right here!' A few people looked over, and Lopez repeated his statement, and I repeated myself, only louder. It seemed as if Lopez was not only treating Bly-Chester poorly, but going so far as to deny her existence as a human being at all!
For a third time, Lopez stated 'the only female candidate hasn't arrived yet', and then I blew up. I started shouting at the top of my lungs, to 400 or so of the most organized (and hence prominent) Mexican-Americans in the United States, that she was indeed here, as were several of us California gubernatorial candidates, and that we were being treated poorly by MAPA. Lopez shouted 'order! order!' and stated that if I didn't quiet down immediately, they would throw me out. I then shouted "then I will be the ONLY Latino candidate today thrown out of MAPA's convention!" Big beefy guys converged on me, waited for the order to evict, and then I abruptly threw my hands up in the air, quieted myself, and sat down.
My outburst provided enough time for the only MAJOR female candidate, Arianna Huffington, to arrive at the Union hall. When I realized that was what Lopez was up to, trying to spring Huffington on the audience as a surprise, I began to feel a bit embarrassed. Well, that's what happens when people lie to their guests - friction! About a half-hour later MAPA's Mr. Romero sat down with us and apologized for the hastily-organized nature of the convention (everything is hasty in this campaign). By this time I was in a pretty amiable mood. Mr. Romero chided me not to yell - after all, most of the folks in the hall had skipped church to attend, and indeed, they looked pretty doleful, and maybe a bit frightened of us. I'm sure they had heard there were some real maniacs running for governor, and from what they had just witnessed, what they heard was apparently correct (maybe I should be less quick to yell). Mr. Romero worked out an arrangement with us, by which Mr. Lopez would read a statement, prepared by Cheryl Bly-Chester on our behalf, promoting the gathering of the Candidate's Forum on Monday, Sept. 22nd, in Johnny Carson Park in Burbank across from the NBC studios (when we go for Jay Leno's Tonight Show appearance).
I sat in a distracted mood and listened to Arianna Huffington. She seemed a bit spacy, or maybe that was her accent combined with my distraction. Later that day, I chased her down in the parking lot outside, shook her hand, and praised her anti-Proposition 13 stance. "It's a terrible thing, isn't it?" she said vaguely as she struggled to figure out who the hell I was.
After Arianna, Peter Camejo spoke. What a guy! I remember my misery last year, when I voted for him for governor over Davis. I knew nothing about Camejo at all in November, 2002. Now I realize I made the correct decision. Camejo looks and sounds very similar to my Uncle Ramon, now deceased, who was a schoolteacher by trade, except that Camejo has a very impassioned manner. He spoke almost entirely in Spanish, and easily won over the audience. I don't speak Spanish well, but Camejo's intelligent manner shone through. If the universe was fair, Camejo would be governor. Maybe he can still make it!
Near noon, youth awards were presented. Mingling in the lobby, I realized the bans on campaigning and leafletting were mere formalities, and so we began talking to various people. Most people remained quite distant, but nevertheless a few teenagers approached to collect campaign leaflet souvenirs. I was impressed talking with candidate Thunder Trek Kelley and friend - they both seemed like pretty engaged people, and even candidate Georgy Russell finally deigned to engage in conversation.
In the bathroom, one Hispanic gentleman approached and said how happy he was that there were a few extra Latino candidates for governor on the ballot - he hadn't expected that, and it helped serve as an example for youth. One prominent woman wished me well (Margarita Calderon of the Congress of U.S. Mexican Women Voters), but I sensed pity from her (come on, it's not so bad!) The most interesting conversation was with Carlos Pelayo from La Raza Unida party in San Diego County.
Mr. Pelayo said that I was just one in a long line of people who have found one reason or another to get mad at MAPA (indeed, even last year, MAPA had problems). He suspected that most MAPA veterans found my outburst earlier that morning to be rather amusing. He said that I was going about politics all wrong, that I should be starting at the grass roots rather than just trying to jump to governor (he himself spends his time trying to elect school board candidates in San Diego County). I asked him what he thought of illegal immigration, and his answer was interesting. He said that Mexico and the U.S. have had an understanding for years, by which the U.S. permits illegal immigration in order for Mexico to remain politically stable. The people who would otherwise be available for making much-needed changes in Mexico instead run off to the United States. Thus, Mexico pays a huge price for the supposed virtue of 'stability'.
Candidate Lingel Winters from San Francisco arrived after lunch, and we talked about how pointless the day was turning out from our campaigning perspectives. Gray Davis arrived with entourage, including State Senator Gil Sedillo and Assemblywoman Solis, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, and current U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Many speeches were given and I took numerous pictures. Gray Davis answered the stock set of questions the other candidates had answered that morning, and strangely enough stumbled a lot - you would think he'd be used to that by now. One of the angry folks who nearly tossed me out of the building earlier that morning was gracious enough to approach and thank me for staying.
It was time for several of us to go to the airport. Cruz Bustamante was expected, but he never arrived - plane problems in Denver. Thus MAPA apparently never endorsed him, but who they did endorse, if anyone, I still don't know. In the end, some of us paid the $100 MAPA fee (one candidate paid $250!!!) and some of us (e.g., me) didn't.
I drove off in my rent-a-car, and Cheryl and Lingel followed (lost them near the airport, but they appeared again eventually at the terminal gate). I had a pleasant conversation with a fellow named Keith from Tustin on the flight back to Sacramento. Then off (late) to musical theater rehearsal. One busy weekend! No votes to speak of, but hey, it's an education!
Various notables at MAPA special endorsement convention, including MAPA President Nativo Lopez, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, and State Senator Gil Sedillo. Just off-camera right, Governor Gray Davis.
Friday, September 12, 2003
Thursday, September 11, 2003
My bit aired last night, September 10th, on Jon Stewart's 'The Daily Show'! Aarghhh! I was apoplectic when I came into work late and saw an E-Mail message from my friend John in Oklahoma that the show had aired, because the folks in New York had told me they would warn me beforehand, so I could alert others. I raced home, but it was too late. The New York folks HAD called and left a message on the answering machine, but I hadn't checked messages before heading out to musical theater rehearsal. The show aired again at 1 a.m., however, so I finally did get to see it. Steve was going to use his TIVO system to tape it at 7 a.m. here, so maybe we'll have something to post later on, or maybe The Daily Show will post it themselves in a few days, as they often do with Corddry's interviews (see Corrdry - On the Road, at the bottom of the page called up by the link above).
I was surprised how little footage they used. They were at the house for nearly two hours. Life in the fast lane, I guess! At least they used the Arnold impression, probably the funniest bit.
Anyway, no 15 minutes of national fame, more like 15 seconds. Still, it's a start!
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
On Sunday, the Candidate's Forum met at RJ's Restaurant in downtown Beverly Hills. At first I was going to fly down on Southwest Airlines, but then Jim Weir from Grass Valley, one of the other gubernatorial candidates, offered up to three other Sacramento-area candidates a ride on his company's Cessna airplane. I was the only one who took him up on his offer. So there I was, after an excitable, completely sleepless night, at Sacramento Executive Airport, a few miles south of where I live, at 6 a.m. on September 7th, watching the sky turn from black to blue, and watching for a little bitty blue Cessna coming from the northeast.
I didn't realize how small Cessnas are. And noisy too. I was able to talk to Jim through a headset. Jim teaches at Sierra College in Rocklin and runs his own electrical engineering firm. Jim is a former Nevada County Supervisor, and thus has political experience. It was a beautiful day to fly, and we settled in for the 3 hour flight down the Central Valley, to Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valley.
Except my bladder didn't settle in. I had had quite a bit of fluid, including a soda, before getting on the plane, and thus I found myself in considerable discomfort. Somewhere south of Lemoore NAS, more than a mile above the ground, I learned the art of peeing on a Cessna, using an empty plastic water bottle I had, and praying for no turbulence. Surprisingly, everything passed without incident, and I settled in for a more comfortable flight (although I'm sure Jim had doubts about my judgement, especially regarding the soda).
Approaching Van Nuys, much to Jim's annoyance, a Comanche aircraft crossed our path (airspace is a bit crowded in the LA area). After landing, Jim parked the aircraft, and after losing him in an abortive and embarrassing effort to locate fellow candidate Lawrence Strauss, an effort that put me behind various security cordons, we finally all got reunited for a lift from Lawrence down to RJ's.
Various press clustered around the door of RJ's. I said hello to Cheryl Bly-Chester and Frank Macaluso, and changed my shirt. We moved tables around to form an approximate circle of furniture in the back of the restaurant, and the meeting started.
What a boisterous crowd! Many opinions, some of them clashing, filled the air, stoked by the presence of the cameras we decided to permit to attend. Fortunately, there's a film crew capturing the craziness for a documentary (working title: 'Katie, Bar the Door!'), so maybe in a few months everyone will get a flavor of it.
My main goal was to air my plan to poll the candidates as to the feasibility of the Candidate's Forum endorsing or recommending one or several of us as being best suited to becoming governor of California. Indeed, my polling has already started.
We candidates hold a unique place in California - because of the Candidate's Forum, and other venues where candidates actually meet face-to-face, better than most Californians, we can judge who might make the best governor of the state - because we've met them, or know who they are! Through the media, our collective judgment may perhaps affect the course of the race, by elevating new names, and knocking aside the Top 5 the media seem to prefer to focus on.
In any event, it was a fun day. Met a lot of candidates I haven't seen before. Didn't get any press attention, but c'est la vie. Jon Zellhoefer spent time talking to the press and looking appropriately gubernatorial.
After the meeting, candidate John Beard drove Jim Weir and myself back to Van Nuys Airport. I made a crass comment that probably sounded anti-Semitic: as we passed the impressive Los Angeles Temple, and John rattled off a few names of people who go there, I said something like "and I suppose that isn't a MORMON temple, is it?" John said nothing. But he was nice enough to give Jim and I bright pink hollow plastic piggy banks that say "$ave California - Elect John Beard Governor 10/7/03". John owns a company that produces campaign paraphernalia, so he had a bevy of buttons and bumper stickers as well.
The flight back was quiet. The views were beautiful. The day was one of public meetings and private embarrassments. Then afterwards, 'Music Man' rehearsal at DMTC in Davis (opens Sept. 19th).
Candidate Jon Zellhoeffer speaks excitedly at the Candidate’s Forum, RJ’s Restaurant, Beverly Hills, CA, September 7, 2003. Also pictured on left are candidates D.E. Kessenger (right), Jim Weir, and Sara Ann Hanlon.
Friday, September 05, 2003
Friday, August 29, 2003
Marc Valdez delivers a letter of complaint (content on my gubernatorial web log) to a representative of Governor Gray Davis (according to Diana Foss, his name is Yanni), on the west steps of the California State Capitol, Sacramento, August 29, 2003. Also pictured, left to right, are recall candidates Lawrence Strauss (cut off), Leonard Padilla, and Chris Sproul. Photo by anti-recall candidate Diana Foss.
Today, roughly ten recall candidates met on the west steps of the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, to deliver letters of protest to Governor Gray Davis. This collaborative effort was spearheaded by recall candidate Lawrence Strauss, with help by recall candidates Cheryl Bly-Chester, Jon Zellhoefer, and Leonard Padilla. I'm a rather latecomer to these efforts to forge a common position on some issues amongst the recall candidates, since the efforts started while trying to come to a common agreement on how to approach the media, with respect to the Leno appearance on Sept. 22nd, and I had already decided not to attend that. But the idea of a common approach to matters we have in common still has appeal, and I'm glad to join - starting today, and tomorrow, with the USS Hornet meeting in Alameda.
These candidates are a fine group of people! Great, energetic people! Several other recall candidates were there too. I helped anti-recall candidate Chris Sproul arrange his interview with John Hancock over at the California Channel, across from the State Capitol. While there, I met recall candidate Chuck Pineda, who was just about to undergo John Hancock's grilling. Other candidates I met just briefly: Diana Foss and Patricia Tilley. And there may have been another candidate, but he was trying not to associate with us.
A great time, with more to come!
On Thursday, I went on a hurried journey to Mindless Entertainment Inc., located across the street from Paramount Studios in Hollywood, to audition for the Game Show Network's (GSN's) 'Who Wants to be Governor of California?', a debate among five pre-selected candidates, in a game-show format, to be filmed in late September and aired on Cable TV across the U.S. on October 1st. The interview went well - I hope very much that I'm picked. Not just because I want to win the $21,000+ campaign cash prize, but because I believe that GSN's approach actually represents THE major innovation of the campaign, perhaps a revolutionary development that can break the stranglehold Big Money has on campaigns nationwide.
What is it we miss most in American politics? Spirited political debate, the kind that thrived at saloons and debating clubs across America in the early 19th Century. Legendary debaters, like Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, the triumvirate that dominated the Great Compromise of 1850 Congressional debates, or Lincoln and Douglas, campaigning in the Illinois Congressional elections of 1858, were merely the tip of the iceberg of American rhetoricians.
After modern politics got its start, in the stump speeches of Bryan, and the Big Money approach of McKinley in 1896, the older art form steadily died. Throughout the 20th Century, newspapers, radio, and TV slowly strangled the art of political debate. Today, we have self-financed and pay-to-play campaigns, costing millions, run by people who couldn't argue their way out of a 19th Century saloon.
When you have an election with many candidates (like this recall campaign), however, it's possible to bring back the old art form, in a new guise. All you need is an ambitious media mogul and some money. First, you audition the candidates, and preselect the ones you want to compete. The competition can take any form. It can be a traditional debate, or it could be something else: a cookoff on a cooking channel, or a tournament on a golf channel, or perhaps a first date with a supermodel on a channel that focuses on relationships. The winner gets cash for their campaign, and then on to the next round of debates. The excellent free media exposure saves the candidates precious resources, the cash fuels the campaign, and the mogul exercises an indirect influence on politics. Cheaper than the current form of modern politics for the various candidates, the new approach strengthens candidates' rhetorical skills, and could well break the back of old-style campaigning. I want GSN's nod, just to see what I might be able to do with this new political toy. The future begins here, and it begins now! Farewell the old, stale, lesser-of-two-evils campaign (provided the old 2 candidate system can be dealt a death blow - that might be the hardest part).
After the interview, I had time to burn, so, following local custom, I energetically drove my rented car all around Hollywood. I visited a fabulous old bookstore on Melrose Ave., and wandered in-and-out of shops, up-and-down Melrose's wonderful youth-oriented shopping strip. What must it be like to go to high school at Fairfax or Hollywood High Schools, so close to all that glitters? If I was a teenage girl with shopaholic tendencies and a credit card, I'd probably go nuts. I drove past various interesting landmarks, like the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, the Will and Ariel Durant branch of the LA Public Library, the Valdez Guitar Shop, the CNN Tower, KNX Radio (I should have stopped in), and a zillion restaurants, travel agencies, and tattoo parlors. And, of course, despite the bustle, very few pedestrians. The sidewalks were eerily quiet, even by lazy Sacramento standards:
Artist : Persons Missing
Song : Walking In LA
Lyrics Available at Let's Sing It
Look ahead as we fast try to focus on it
I won't be fooled by a cheap cinematic trick
It must have been just a cardboard cut out of a man
Top forty cast off from the record stand
Walking in LA
Walking in LA
Nobody walks in LA
Walking in LA
Walkin in LA
Nobody walks in LA
I don't know could have been a lame jogger maybe
or someone just about to do the freeway strangler baby
Shopping cart pusher or maybe someone groovy
One things for sure he isn't starrin in a movie coz he's
Walking in LA
Walking in LA
Nobody walks in LA
Walking in LA
Walkin in LA
Nobody walks in LA
You won't see a cop walkin on the beat
You only see him drivin cars on the street
You won't see a kid walkin home from school
Their mothers pick them up in a car pool
Walking in LA
Walking in LA
Nobody walks in LA
Walking in LA
Walkin in LA
Nobody walks in LA
Could it be the smog's playing tricks on my eyes
Or it's a rollerskater in some kind of headphone disguise
Maybe somebody who just ran out of gas
Makin his way back to the pumps the best way he can
Walking in LA
Walking in LA
Nobody walks in LA
Walking in LA
Walkin in LA
Nobody walks in LA
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
DMTC's youth workshop Cast 2 presented Peter Pan last weekend. A fine show, with many strong performances, particularly Rachel Fader as Captain Hook. Also, Hannah Trost did very well as Mrs. Darling, and also last weekend as Tiger Lily. Unfortunately, Cast 2's Peter Pan, Emily Jo Seminoff, caught laryngitis, so Cast 1's Peter Pan, Julia Spangler, had to do Sunday's show. On Saturday evening, Emily excelled with her rendition of 'Beautiful Lady' - she reminded me of Matt Dunn, who did Peter Pan for Tokyo Disneyland a few years ago.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Friday, August 22, 2003
Robert Corddry of NewYork-based Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show' came over to the house with crew for an interview yesterday evening. Despite the threat of rain (in August???? in Sacramento???? it's that small upper level low parked off the CA coast, combined with SW monsoonal moisture, and what looks like a front along the Sierras), the backyard scenes went well.
The premise of the interview was: Marc Valdez - serious candidate for Governor, maybe just a bit wacky, but not wacky enough to be Governor of California without our help. Things went great, but it may be three weeks or so before the piece gets aired, since they are on the brink of their annual August vacation in New York. I hope to let you know when that happens....
On other fronts, I've noticed an upsurge of interest on my Web Log from New Mexico, after the Monday story in the Albuquerque Journal, and the Tuesday interview on KRQE TV.
Made a 1-minute radio ad for mammoth AM radio station KFI in Los Angeles. All the candidates have been offerred 1-minute slots for KFI's drive-time audiences. I also sent off a 5-minute tape (made with the help of friends) that hopefully will appear on obscure Cable TV channels in the LA area. And I'll be doing an interview on John Hancock's California Channel (a cable California governmental channel) on Monday morning.
And I declined the invitation to attend Jay Leno's Recall Candidate night, Monday September 22nd. I was annoyed by the nature of the invitation, and sensed all the recall candidates were being dissed a bit. Etiquette often revolves around small matters - trivial sometimes. My concern wasn't that my dignity was being violated as a politician, or even as a human being, but rather as a theater person. The Tonight Show violated standard, age-old theater etiquette with this invitation.
Since we are not guests in the standard sense, we can't take the stage. Fine. But we are to be seated in the studio audience. So does that mean we are members of the studio audience? No. We lose two rights that audience members have traditionally had - the right to decide when we attend, and the right of anonymity (a precious right of its own!) We are to be recognized 'as a group' (a form of honor which is usually done for technical crew and orchestra members, who must remain at their stations), yet we aren't seated as a group and we are not at stations. So what are we, exactly?
Almost all the other candidates who responded to my E-Mail complaints to the Tonight Show were dismissive, suggesting that I should view the invitation as a party invitation, and not whine so much. But we aren't party guests, because what are we celebrating, exactly? The recall? That party came and went with Arnold. Beats me what we are - an untouchable class? Circus freaks? Gladiators? I don't know! As far as I know, only myself and Ralph Hernandez from Contra Costa County, who felt we should all get stage time, are sulking.
I was chastised that I shouldn't moan and groan too much regarding an invitation, so I won't: but I won't attend either. I'll go another time, and enjoy the show as an anonymous audience member.
Many of the other candidates want to get together for alternative media events both before and after the Tonight Show event. That is a superb idea, and there's no reason why they can't mold this opportunity to suit their needs.