Newsletter #4: Recall, Do You Recall?

I saw a great meme this evening that encapsulates exactly the way I feel about life right now. What a goddamned shit show we are in, you know? I’m starting to really wonder how this is going to end for us. If you aren’t as well, you clearly aren’t paying attention.

Around the World

If you didn’t know: California had an astoundingly stupid 9 months that has finally concluded, and that is the special recall election of our governor, Gavin Newsom. I say 9 months, because before the election was put on the calendar, we had months of these bat shit ass crazy GQP fucks gathering signatures. For some reason I am still unclear on, they were allowed extra time by a judge to gather signatures… I guess the judge was pissed about the whole French Laundry dining experience back in early 2020 too… in any event, for 9 months, we were held hostage by these right wing nut jobs.

Yesterday, the recall was resoundingly shot down.

It wasn’t just resoundingly shot down – making Newsom the first governor in California history to beat back a recall, though. He actually outperformed his landslide election in 2018. He outperformed Biden’s 2020 election, making the path for 2022 and beyond a lot -the-fuck- brighter.

There were so many crazy things about this recall election though.

  1. Caitlyn Jenner – formerly Bruce Jenner, who also killed someone with her car on PCH several years ago – was originally the GOP frontrunner. This was a colossal joke, Caitlyn having absolutely no platform, and not doing much actual statewide campaigning (preferring national media like Fox And Friends, instead).
  2. Angelyne – single name – from my own county ran. Again. She ran in the recall against Gray Davis (and lost then too); the one where we got Schwarzenegger. The crazy part about Angelyne is that her day job is “Adult Entertainer.”
  3. A YouTuber from my county ran also. This guy who campaigned with a literal bear, and later an 8 ton ball of trash, made the news quite a bit. And from all over the state, we had an alarming number of Kevins on the ballot.
  4. The real threat was radio personality Larry Elder. This guy is described by Conservatives as “to the right of Trump.” We are talking GQP insanity in this guy. He believes the minimum wage should be $0. Not $5. Not fixed. NOTHING. He’s black and he doesn’t believe in institutional racism. His solution for homelessness is that the homeless pull themselves up by the bootstrap. His plan was to overturn all COVID measures, including masks and vaccines (the very things keeping California as the only state in the country currently seeing a decline in cases from High to Substantial transmission). Most alarming: last week, he said he hoped Roe would be overturned. The night before the election, it was leaked that he had already started developing a website to claim voter fraud… straight from the Trump playbook. You just cannot imagine how bad things would have been if he were elected governor, but he wasn’t so *phew.*

Well anyway, the recall was overwhelmingly defeated. In 41 minutes, making it a $276 million side show that didn’t even last an hour’s worth of election night coverage.

Fundamentally, I think the solution to this is to reform California’s election laws. California could be much further on COVID, the climate, and a lot of other problems that the governor could have been focusing on, had he not needed to be out on the unexpected campaign trail for the last several months.

And anyway, on the end of the day, it’s unconstitutional. Think about it: a minority of the voters for California – a nation-state comprised of 40 million people, 1 in 8 Americans – can gather their signatures to force a recall vote. It doesn’t matter how stupid their cause is, if they get enough signatures the vote goes forward. The options are then No, or Yes… and if Yes, then who? As many people that want to throw their hats in the ring can, and do, so you could have more than 50% vote to recall, but a candidate slides in with in some cases an alarmingly low percentage of the vote. But because they won by ranked choice… they become governor. You could have a candidate win only 10% of the popular vote, and that person still becomes governor.

How. The fuck. Is that right? It ain’t.

Around My World

Remember when I said my new hobby is bullying the mayor? Well…

First of all, it’s not “bullying.” It’s calling out, or arguing with. There’s a difference.

Second of all, it’s well beyond just the mayor. Turns out it’s mayors of neighboring towns, school principals, and local journalists.

The Mayor Next Door

Another thing that happened in California in the last several weeks was a couple of housing bills were passed in the state legislature that would expand- like immensely – affordable housing. If you didn’t know, housing in general and affordable housing at that is at an inflection point in California. These two bills came with hard work and dedication by state legislatures reflecting the will of their constituents. Hands. Down.

But local cities are not so happy about it, the leaders that is, because they in effect lose local control as a result of the language of these bills.

To be fair: the city leaders are the ones that created this crisis, so they don’t very well deserve local control anyway… but that’s a conversation for another day.

What is astounding to me is that they send these letters on behalf of the cities to the governor asking him to just abuse his gubernatorial powers and veto those bills. No plan to fix affordable housing – really – in any sort of substantive or authentic way. Just veto them: WE WANT CONTROL!

The mayor of my neighboring city – who also happens to be running for county supervisor next year, and may end up asking for my vote when post-census redistricting is done – posted her letter on Twitter asking for this gubernatorial veto (as if it was something everyone should be proud of). What was so glaring about it was that she claimed that the “majority of Californians oppose this bill.” That was, at the end of the day, a lie which she could not prove with any sort of factual studies or unbiased polling, as well as without any kind of logical reasoning or explanation behind her claim.

The real egregious part, though, was when she replied to me and said “I don’t usually engage in these things on social media…” Um. Really? You want people to vote for you but you won’t answer their very calm and reasonable questions? You just always think you are right and everyone else is wrong? You seriously just make shit up, can’t back it up with legitimacy, and just expect people to accept it?

Definitely lost my vote with that one.

The High School Principal

As most of you know, my kids homeschool. But I am watching all of the area high schools as my 8th grader decides on what she wants to do for high school… public, charter, private, at home still? Decisions, decisions.

At one of our local high schools last Friday, I happened to see a post on social media about a section of the football stadium by the principal of the high school, himself. Initially what I was actually taken aback by was the unmasked crowd of kids, tightly packed together, standing and screaming. I mean… we are still in the middle of a pandemic, right?

But then I read the caption, and that was when my head really exploded: “Check out these kids in their 9/11 pride!”

Excuse me? What exactly is 9/11 pride?

What exactly about the hijacking of planes and reigning terror on the country, and the world, was there to exhibit pride over? What exactly about September 11th as an anniversary of the day America changed forever are we proud about? How exactly are we to interpret this, on this day that we mourn the loss of thousands of innocent human beings?

September 11th is a day for remembrance and mourning. It’s a day to recommit to democracy, and denounce the terrorism and religious fundamentalism that threatened to destroy our country.

It is not a fucking day for American flag t-shirts, beer cozies, and red-white-and-blue face paint!

Local Journos

I had a little tiff with a local editor of a local paper last week, which turned into a shocking public display of his lack of journalistic integrity, respect for community members, and concern about the misinformation that permeates our society.

Long story short: the paper published a letter to the editor that made several unproven, false, baseless, and dangerous claims about masks. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you are all like “not the fuck this again!” People are still complaining and arguing about masks though, and this particular letter was filled with misinformation.

Now I have had times where the editor of a local paper I wrote a letter to contacted me and asked me to back up a claim, or to warn me they would be putting a disclaimer at the bottom. My daughter had this happen to her just last year too, and most glaring is that it was from the same parent organization this local paper is a part of (same publication, different city).

On this letter full of dangerous and deadly misinformation about masks and kids, though… nothing.

A former elected official posted something out there on social media about how disappointed she was that there was no fact check note on the bottom, as is customary; and I backed her up: the letter, itself, was not only shockingly wrong, but dangerous.

Instead of admit a wrongdoing though, this guy from the newspaper fires back and tells me, in a nut shell: tough shit. There are two sides to every story, you all have different beliefs. Shocked, and bewildered, I simply said: but these are facts we are talking about, to which he said there was evidence “on both sides” we have available to us.

No. We do not. Sometimes we do, but in this and many other instances, facts are facts. Alternative facts do not exist. They just don’t.

There is a fine line between allowing for free speech, and amplifying misinformation. I believe journalists can allow the one, while making sure that reality is still reflected in the subtitles. Now almost a week later, I am still shaken to think that in my own community, even journalism operates under the guise that we can live in alternative universes where in one up is up, and in the other up is down.

STFU Fridays

Today, I commented on a post by our county about business grants, and someone replied to me the following:

“You are a vile and disgusting human being. We dodged a bullet when you lost the election last year.”

Ah, the joys of having run for city council and not either immediately moving away, or dying, upon defeat.

I wish I could say that this is abnormal and – dare I say – a little strange for the people that live around here. But no. Since I even announced my run for city council over a year ago, now, I have heard just about everything that could be said to, at, or about me. I’ve also had people throw McDonald’s cups at my front door, had people follow my children to the local public tennis courts and then post about it on their public Facebook pages, and right after the election was told that if I thought the harassment before November was bad, “just wait.”

(And to be fair, I was warned by several former city council candidates that this would happen. It’s just… how things are here…)

Here are just a few of my favorites that I’ve received over comment, email, and text since losing the election:

“You lazy slut you don’t belong in this city.”

“My pet hamster is more qualified to be on the city council than you are, and he’s been dead for 12 years.”

“Die and get fucked, in that order.”

“By saying a white woman was unqualified to be mayor, you showed yourself to be a racist and I want you to know I have let everyone know so that you never hold a position in this town ever again.”

“Kamala is a cunt and you sound about as cunty as her.”

“You don’t belong here you commie, leave while you know what’s good for you.”

To these people, who cannot seem to get over the election even though it was almost a year ago and – again – I LOST… shut the fuck up. Honestly. I am getting so tired of this. Beyond feeling threatened, and not really welcome in my own home community anymore; now I am constantly being forced to relive that failed experience by way of these mean comments that, well… what is the point of them? Why email me out of no where to tell me your dead hamster is more qualified than I am? Probably right, I don’t know. Why text me after months of not communicating with me, after no campaigning has been done, and I’ve moved on and just gone about my life, to call me a racist?

Something about this ain’t right, and frankly I don’t give a fuck what it is. Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up with the nastiness and the meanness and the rudeness. Shut the fuck up talking about my kids! They’re CHILDREN! And anyway… I. Lost. I fucking lost! Handily, too! You all got what you wanted! I don’t really go anywhere, don’t spend money in the city, don’t go out to eat around here anymore… we live our lives largely elsewhere. I don’t attend city council meetings. I’m certainly never running for office again (at least not around here)…

What more can I do to get ya’ll to shut the fuck up?!

I know. Nothing. Because that’s the thing: I violated the code of this community, which is that I asked questions, I talked about change, and I dared to suggest that everything is not perfect. And even though I don’t go to events and keep my finger on the pulse of local politics much anymore, I still do those things. Why? Because my kids have lives here, believe it or not, and I want them to grow up to a place they are happy and proud to continue to live in. And no matter how many threats or mean words are hurled my way, I won’t stop standing up for those people that did vote for me, and those that couldn’t, which means I’ll have to continue to thicken my skin until these worthless, local-yocal inbreeds finally shut the fuck up.

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For more election and recall talk, from last night’s recall… check out this podcast I was on as the results came in astoundingly fast:

Looks Like SOPA Dropped the Soap

There is nothing in this world that I dislike more than feeling morally obligated to participate in a protest. They are usually just so time consuming and messy; and it typically just makes me more jaded about the world in general as a result of the number of people that are there yet unaware of why. I will never forget the time my boss sent me to a protest of some health care thing when I worked for the AFL-CIO, only to feel like complete shit about my own life afterwards because I was fighting for health insurance for a group of workers when I, myself, was not being given health insurance by my employer that sent me there in the first place. Protests can be effective, but they can also be very ineffective, and in many ways.

But this SOPA/PIPA deal is a whole other ball game.

You all know how I feel about the film industry. If you don’t, you can get an idea by reading the Open Letter to the Film Industry I wrote a while back when I was pissed off about how many hours my husband was working for not one red penny of extra pay. In a nut shell, the film industry ranks up there pretty high alongside protests with things in this world that I really dislike. Not only do I feel that it is in some ways responsible for the end of my career in academia (for there are few philosophers in Hollywood, and yet Hollywood is where the husband must stay); but so much about it just reeks of greed, insensitivity, and a way of thinking that is inconsistent with the moral right. The film industry days of Cary Grant and Gloria Swanson have been gone for a long time; replaced by an industry that identifies everything by the almighty dollar. SOPA and it’s lame ass cousin, PIPA, are just more of that.

Now I’m not going to sit here and give you all a Congressional rundown of what SOPA and PIPA are because you should know that. If you don’t, read the news or hit up Wikipedia; of course this will also require that you get your head out of the ground for a few minutes, which I’m not sure a lot of people are all-too-willing to do. So I won’t go much beyond saying that they are bills working their way through Congress that are intended to strengthen the film (and, in some senses, music) industry against online piracy. (And if you still can’t find the information, just read the Wikipedia on it; although at midnight EST, Wiki will be protesting as well by enforcing an entire-site outage for 24 hours.)

I will, however, explain quite clearly what is wrong with SOPA.

SOPA/PIPA is an utter violation of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

It is a slippery slope when you start writing bills that give people the opportunity to whistle blow or claim false copyright/piracy infringement on intellectual property, which SOPA and PIPA both do. Perhaps the most frightening aspects of the bill are in the consequences: that search engines like Google could be forced to stop indexing articles written by a so-called offender; that Internet Service Providers be required to block access to any site participating in or related to the supposed violation.

While I am all for an end to piracy, censorship and directly stripping the rights guaranteed as a part of being a “free” individual is not the way to do it.

So it looks like SOPA dropped the soap…

Yesterday, Wikipedia announced that it will be participating in an international protest of SOPA by “going dark;” today, Google followed up by committing to an inclusion of the protest on the homepage of Google products. At the latest check about one hour ago, over 7,000 additional websites have committed to go down, displaying nothing more than a message of protest when visitors visit the page from 12:00 am – 11:59 pm on January 18th. Hundreds of bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon as well – as writing, journalism, and blogging are among the most vulnerable groups that will be adversely affected by the proposed bills.

So it looks like SOPA has officially dropped the soap, for I fully expect that the outrage these bills have inspired will kill them quicker than the innocence of a new guy in the prison ward. As annoying as it may be to have so many websites we use on a daily basis down, and as stupid as it is that we have to launch an international protest over something that should be common sense – protest really seems to be the only morally right option.

There are better ways to protect the film and music industry without destroying the free speech of all.

To be honest, after being married to someone who works in the film industry, I am in no way surprised that it has made it this far. The film industry is run by primarily greedy, selfish people – people that care only about the bottom line dollar amount that makes its way into their pockets. They will screw anyone and everyone to get ahead, and the worst part is that the people that work within the film industry don’t even recognize this. The bias most people within the industry carry blinds them to a myriad of injustices that they unintentionally contribute to – from bad labor practices to unfair wages to these issues of censorship. But that doesn’t make it any less sickening to see the special interests of a handful threatening the rights and freedoms of everyone.

So, faithful blog followers, I’m sad to say that the B(itch)Log will be taken down for the 24 hour protest, and many of my blogging counterparts plan to do the same. I apologize for the inconvenience, although I’m fairly certain the only ones who will be truly inconvenienced are all these weirdos looking for photos of a Korean hooker. I hope the rest of you do the same as I am – call your local representative, take down your site, refuse to be censored. It is so much more difficult to get your freedom of speech back once it has been taken away. I hate protests. But I hate the silencing of my voice even more.