November 2012 California Ballot Endorsements

My California/Los Angeles County ballot endorsements. I’ll be happy to answer questions about why I’m voting how I’m voting.

President: Barack Obama
US Senate: Dianne Feinstein

Prop 30: Yes
Prop 31: No
Prop 32: No
Prop 33: No
Prop 34: Yes
Prop 35: No
Prop 36: Yes
Prop 37: Yes
Prop 38: No
Prop 39: Yes
Prop 40: Yes

Los Angeles County Measure A: No
Los Angeles County Measure B: No.
Los Angeles County Measure J: Yes
Los Angeles County District Attorney: Jackie Lacey

November 2010 California endorsements

Though the general election is still 27 days away, here are my California endorsements for the November 2 ballot.

Statewide Offices

US Senate: Barbara Boxer
Governor: Jerry Brown
Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom
Secretary of State: Debra Bowen
Attorney General: Kamala Harris
Controller: John Chiang
Treasurer: Bill Lockyer
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Larry Aceves

For the partisan offices (all but the last), I’m endorsing Democrats. I have endorsed Republicans in past elections. In 2006, I endorsed a Green (Peter Camejo) for Governor and two Republicans (Steve Poizner over Cruz Bustamante for Insurance Commissioner and Bruce MacPherson for Secretary of State over Debra Bowen.) But the caliber of the Democrats is uniformly higher this cycle, and genuinely progressive Republicans like MacPherson have been purged from the GOP.

California propositions

A full list of the state propositions and ballot summaries can be found here.

Prop 19 (legalize marijuana): Yes (see Monday’s post)
Prop 20: (redistricting of congressional districts): Yes
Prop 21: ($18 increase in vehicle license fee for state parks): Yes
Prop 22: (local versus state funds): No
Prop 23: (repeal the state’s landmark emissions law): No
Prop 24: (business taxes): Yes
Prop 25: (simple majority for budget): Yes
Prop 26: (two-thirds majority for protecting environment): No
Prop 27: (put redistricting back in legislative hands): No

Feel free to inquire about these positions in the comments.

Yes on 19: of “nudges” versus bans, and the wisdom of legalizing pot

Later this week, I’ll be posting a complete list of my endorsements for the California general election to be held in just 29 days. Though I don’t overestimate my influence, I’m often asked by students and others for my views on ballot issues, and I’m happy to share — outside of the classroom setting, of course!

But this post deals with just one initiative on the state ballot next month: Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana and allow local agencies to tax and regulate it. After some careful consideration, I’m voting “yes.”

I haven’t smoked pot since sometime during the spring of 1990, when I was a first-year grad student at UCLA. I’d been a periodic marijuana user since my freshman year of high school, but my consumption level skyrocketed at Berkeley. While I knew that alcohol and other drugs were a source of trouble for me, I’d always felt that I could control my pot usage. But on one Tuesday evening in the UCLA co-ops, I smoked two joints that had been laced with PCP. I hadn’t been told the pot had been “enhanced”; I ended up having a nightmarish multi-hour battle with the worst paranoia I’d ever experienced. I ended up in the emergency room (not the first time, nor the last.) And though it would be another eight years before I got clean and sober “for good”, I never smoked pot again after that night more than twenty years ago.

But my experiences do not good public policy make. I’ve known countless people, including responsible colleagues and mentors, who have been casual pot users for years with no discernible ill effects. While I’m leery of some of the more extreme claims made by marijuana’s most zealous advocates, I’m even more leery of those who see it as a gateway to despair and addiction. At worst, marijuana’s impact is no more deleterious on either the individual or society than alcohol’s, and at best, it has genuine therapeutic potential. Thus it makes sense to me to legalize not only the consumption of marijuana, but its production and sale. And of course, once legalized, it can be taxed and regulated, resulting in greater revenue for state and local agencies, reduced law enforcement costs due to decriminalization, and greater oversight of quality.

When it comes to drugs, or animal agriculture, or pornography, or sex work, I tend to think that the focus should always be on gradually reducing demand while legalizing and regulating the production of the “supply.” I have huge problems with prostitution, but support the legalization of sex work so that those who work in that industry can organize for protection, better pay, and greater respect. I am a vegan who wants to see everyone stop eating meat — but until that blessed day arrives in the far-off future, I want to regulate farms to guarantee the most humane conditions possible. And I want to see pot legalized even as I hope that my daughter’s generation will use it (and other drugs) less frequently than those that came before it.

Let me clarify again: I am a clean and sober alcoholic who refuses to use the drugs which are permissible for him to buy (like vodka); I’m hardly going to start smoking pot merely as a result of a change in its legal status. Continue reading

California Primary Endorsements

I’m offering my endorsements for the California primary election on June 8. I endorse candidates from both major parties. Often these endorsements are offered less in enthusiasm than in a sense of supporting the “least-worst option”.

State and Federal Offices

Governor: Jerry Brown (Democratic), Meg Whitman (Republican). Whitman is slightly better than Poizner on women’s issues and slightly less toxic on immigration.

Lt. Governor: Gavin Newsom (Democratic) Abel Maldonado (Republican)

Attorney General: Pedro Nava (Democratic), Steve Cooley (Republican). This was a hard call. Nava narrowly gets the nod over San Francisco’s fine DA, Kamala Harris, because of his particularly vociferous commitment to environmental protection and animal rights. The Democrats have an embarrassment of riches in this primary, however, as Facebook exec Chris Kelly is also a solid choice. Cooley is vastly preferable to his two GOP rivals.

Secretary of State: Debra Bowen (Democratic), Damon Dunn (Republican). Dunn’s primary opponent, Orly Taitz, is the self-proclaimed leader of the “birther” movement. A genuinely terrifying person.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones (Democratic), Mike Villines (Republican). Jones won the Sierra Club endorsement.

Treasurer: Bill Lockyer (Democratic), Mimi Walters (Republican).

Controller: John Chiang (Democratic), Tony Strickland (Republican)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Gloria Romero

US Senator: Barbara Boxer (Democratic), Tom Campbell (Republican)


Proposition 13 (property tax reassessments, seismic retrofits): YES
Proposition 14 (open primaries): YES
Proposition 15: (campaign funding): YES
Proposition 16: (the “let PG&E block municipalities from competing with it” initiative, shamelessly mislabeled): NO
Proposition 17: (good driver policy, another clever mislabeling): NO

A brief escape

One way to escape election anxiety is to disappear for a while. I’ll be out of the country again (briefly) from this afternoon until late Sunday night. No blogging until Monday, November 3.

Play nice in the comments sections, please. I think I’ll have some wireless access with an ability to moderate, but it will be intermittent.

And a reminder of my endorsements:

Barack Obama for President.

Yes on California Propositions 1A,2,3,11, and 12.
No on California Propositions 4,5,6,7,8,9,10.

Yes on Los Angeles County Measure R (transportation).
Yes on San Francisco Measure K (Sex worker rights).

Bumped: California Election Endorsements

This post will appear daily between now and the election. Scroll down for new posts.

Since folks are voting early, here are my endorsements:

President: Barack Obama

California Propositions:

1A: Yes.
2: YES!
3: Yes.
4: NO!
5. No, reluctantly and with ambivalence, but no.
6. No.
7: No.
8: NO!
9: No.
10: No.
11: Yes, with trepidation.
12: Yes.

A link to a longer explanation here.

Twelve days out: of dollars and polls, and — finally — an Obama endorsement

If the polls can be believed (and not all the polls agree), we are moving inexorably closer to a Barack Obama victory on November 4. Like many progressives, I fear a sudden disaster (either tactical or geopolitical) that shifts massive energy to the McCain campaign. I’ve learned to take nothing for granted; after the bitter disappointments of 2000 and 2004, I’ve become clear that it ain’t over until the votes are counted three times and the Supreme Court intervenes. (May it not be that close this time.)

I’m worried, too, that the great success of the Obama fundraising may have hurt other progressive causes. I mean that in two ways. Progressives in California who are committed to, say, better treatment for farm animals (Proposition 2); protecting access to abortion for our most vulnerable young people (Proposition 4) and preserving marriage equality for all (Proposition 8) have many causes to which to give. Obama has outraised McCain impressively; I can think of dozens of people who have given, and given, and given to the inspiring and transformational senator from Illinois. (I know many folks who have given to Obama who have never donated to a politician in their lives before.) This is all to the good, up to a point. Propositions 2, 4, and 8 are all likely to be close. Big agriculture interests in the Midwest are spending a fortune to defeat Prop 2, while national conservative groups like Focus on the Family have spent millions and millions to pass Prop 8. And in these battles, progressive groups are behind in fundraising.

At the same time, some conservatives have given up on McCain. Read the conservative blogs — it’s not just the likes of Colin Powell, it’s David Frum and Christopher Buckley and George Will and so forth. Not all have endorsed Obama outright, but many have been deeply pessimistic about McCain. The money isn’t flowing in to the GOP coffers as fast as it comes in for Obama-Biden. Frustrated right-wingers who want to salvage something are thus turning their attention to issues like marriage, abortion, and animal rights. Prop 8, which would ban gay marriage, thus benefits (perversely) from the national Republican ticket’s poor prospects. Continue reading