The Newsletter: Issue #8

Well anyway, we are getting settled in our new home. I hesitate to call it a home, because when you do that you get attached and if I learned one thing at our old place it’s: do not get attached. Nevertheless, we are settling in at least for now. We aren’t sure how long we’re going to stay here, but we’re making it work in the meantime.

World’s still gone crazy while my move was going on, so let’s get to it.

Around the World

Okay folks, so y’all decided to fuck around with loosening of COVID precautions, and now we are all going to find out.

Cases in other places of the world – in particular Southeast Asia, Europe, England and Scotland, and Canada – with the new sub variant of Omicron BA 2 are exploding, but what is particularly alarming to me (beyond the US again thinking we’ll go by unscathed) is that hospitalizations in some of those countries are at their highest points of the last two years. This is not good. With symptoms more severe than Omi 1, absolutely no prior infection with Omi offering protection, an R0 estimated by some between 22 and 38… and no one – and I mean no one – giving a literal shit whatsoever about any of us… welp friends…

What’s so chilling for me is that corporations and the political elite have completely ripped off the veil. Like really, they have shown all the cards in their hand. They do not give a fuck about any of us. At all. They have the tools, so now fuck all of us. Eat Lord Omi and die, right?

Not this lady, if I can help it. I hope you all are taking adequate protections too.

The other thing going on still, obviously, is the situation with Ukraine and Russia, but there are two things about that I would like to highlight:

First is that the Democratic Party has failed to fund COVID, has failed to secure any social programs – including the continuation of the Child Tax Credit, failed to fulfill campaign promises (in particular that student loan forgiveness one), and has, for the most part, failed to adequately protect us from whatever COVID had to offer… but now they’re all contemptuous of us all for (rightfully) asking just what in the fuck they’re doing for us, while they send literally billions in aid over to Ukraine.

This is and has always been my problem with the Democratic Party: they are elected to do very clear and specific things, and they instead do what they want (which also happens to not be those specific things). They were elected to deal with COVID, provide the working class a better quality of life, and address voting rights and systemic racism. Instead it’s economy, police budgets, and military spending that comprises more than 50% of the entire fiscal year budget.

Think about that for a second. 56% of the budget is for military drones and soldiers to fly around in jet packs. The other day, whatever dumbass is running Biden’s Twitter account tweeted something about how his father always said that to know a man’s priorities, look at his budget. Fucking shooting people and playing big dick around the world as a military superpower appears to be this administration’s priority. The people? Fuck us.

Now I suppose I need to preface this by saying that I totally and completely support helping Ukraine and, by extension, keeping America safe. Putin is a monster, and the war was totally unjustified (in my opinion all war is – for the most part – unjustified); and we are in a pretty scary moment of world history, what with fascism rising all over the world. Nevertheless, it is fair to ask why the American people are being asked to sacrifice, struggle, deal with rising prices brought on by sanctions, and watch billions and billions of our tax dollars being sent overseas, when we can’t even get any fucking healthcare. My daughter needs an MRI on her knees right now, and our share of cost on our insurance (that we pay $1300 a month in premiums for) is 7% of our monthly take home pay. So sure… do all your military spending and big dick drones and jet packs and shit… but can you throw us a fucking bone too? Anyone?

To make matters on this worse: today, a study showed that the sanctions have actually not even done anything to harm the relationships between Russians and Putin. In fact, in his closest circle (the oligarchs)… it strengthened their ties to the country and that fascist fuck. So basically bread and pasta now costs half your paycheck, and you have to wonder how to drive to work tomorrow amidst soaring gas prices from gas and oil company CEOs taking advantage of the situation to make a profit… welp, for nothing.

Well done Dems. Well done. Now, thanks to this incompetence and corruption, the entire world is staring down the barrel of Trump outpolling Biden in 2024 by 6 points. Well. Fucking. Done.

Around My World

Over the years, I have gotten so many requests from people for merch. You guys know what I’m talking about; if you’re reading this, you may even have been one of the people to ask. I’m not talking about merchandise that has something dumb, like my name or my photo; rather has all the dumb shit I say.

So in a couple of weeks I’ll be launching a shop where you can get all of those things on t-shirts and masks and mugs and such. If you have requests, put them in. Here is my favorite one related to the pandemic (but point of clarification: they are not all related to the pandemic):

Other than that, you guys know I turn forty this month. 15 days. I’m staring at it with bags under my eyes and creaks in my bones. Like literally, every year I get more creaky; today I was walking up the stairs and my knees sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies. TikTok says I look like a teenager, so I guess I have that going for me. Whatever the case may be: it’s coming, and it’s coming fast.

My kids and now my mom keep asking what I want to do for my birthday. Thinking about it is exhausting; but also, all of their ideas kind of don’t sound very fun. Fundamentally, I’ve been a student in higher education for so long that I’ve not really taken any time to identify with my interests beyond that and being a mom for decades. Now that I’m no longer a student, and I’m just a mom, I still need time to figure out what I really am… in to? I just don’t see figuring all of that out in two week’s time.

You Can’t Unsee This

So we live in a duplex. The lady that is attached to ours is a crazy ass bitch; like not a good crazy bitch – like “you crazy bitch get over here and do shots with me.” Like this bitch is so crazy we bought an outdoor security system and named the camera for the front door after her: Christine Watch.

On the other side of our front door, though, is another front door that we share the walkway with. This couple lives in Texas for most of the year, but uses the house when they come to visit their adult daughters. These people are the squarest fucking people I have ever met. The husband’s name is Bert, and I’m pretty sure this guy invented high wasted khaki pants for men. Not even joking.

Bert and Betty’s house had water damage to it, and they’re doing all kinds of mold remediation and renovating as a result. So today the French doors were open and these guys were pulling up the flooring, and I look out my window to see into their courtyard (because the doors are open), and what do I see other than a life-size statue of a fucking samurai.

So Bert in his high wasted khaki flood pants, and Betty with her weekly trips to Applebees with the girls, who live in Texas and only live here (here: a gated community in the town that invented the Karen) when visiting their adult daughters, have a life-sized samurai staring at them from their courtyard in the middle of their duplex. Don’t get me wrong, I think the samurai is really cool. But it doesn’t fit their quilts and mallard duck nicknacks aesthetic, if you know what I mean.

This place gets stranger by the day.

STFU Fridays

Today’s STFU Friday is a little tangential; nevertheless, it’s something that’s been bothering me. People that refer to Trump as “tfg.”

I’m sure many of you are among them. Maybe this is the final straw for you and I, and to that I bid you adieu.

Honestly, though, what is the deal? Is it that you have some sort of PTSD when you hear his name? Is it that you don’t want to give him any more airtime? What is it?

“TFG,” which – for those that didn’t know – is what many people colloquially refer to Trump as, ie “the former guy,” is such a bizarre trend. I get that it’s playing allegiance to Biden, who refers to him as “the former guy,” and so in that sense it’s a cute little Biden fan club thing, but FUCK THAT, you guys.

First of all, I can see that it’s a part of not wanting to give that deranged Cheetoh in a toupee any more airtime, but y’all are failing whether you call him “Trump,” “tfg,” or “Almighty Orange One.” The point is that talking about him but changing what you refer to him as does not change the fact that you are still fucking talking about him, and honestly – really – it’s time to stop. I see all these Biden Stan accounts on Twitter that are fan-girling the President so hard, but at the same time they are bitching and griping about Trump like he’s still in fucking office. He’s not. He lost. I don’t care if he thinks he won; he lost. Focus on the people in power, holding them accountable, and making sure they don’t fuck up (which they are doing while y’all still bitch about Trump).

This is why you are giving Trump exactly what he wants: no matter what you call him, you’re still talking about him. Just. STAHP.

And anyway, it’s not like he’s some super villain with magic powers who grows more powerful the more you say his name. This isn’t Peter Pan where you have to say you believe in fairies for them to be real, and for Tinkerbell to survive. Literally Trump is real whether you say his name or call him The Goya Buttplug Salesman. The more y’all act like calling him tfg will change the very real and certain danger he poses to all of us, the more of a danger he becomes because you are missing the point, and being distracted with stupid, pedantic nonsense.

There’s also this sort of collective trauma I’ve noticed, where we’re all just supposed to be so grateful that he’s not president anymore, that any time anyone points out a failure or flaw in Biden’s policy, or the Democrats at large, a whole slew of “Vote Blue No Matter Who” bros come out of the woodwork, and say dumb shit like “at least he’s not tfg.” Yeah, no shit Debra, we fucking voted for him to not be like Trump, so maybe it’s time to start calling people by their actual names and holding all of them fucking accountable for what they’ve done these last several years.

I don’t know maybe try that.

So to them, the Biden Stans, the hardcore Dems, the people that think saying his name will somehow give him more power… I have to say grow up, and shut the fuck up.

Part Four: Outspent

Welcome to the 4th part of my 5 Part Series: The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future Of the Country. 

You can also read the entire series now, download it in entirety in PDF format, catch the disclaimers in the Introduction, listen to it on Text to Speech (I have to warn you it’s a little awkward), or watch the Text to Speech on YouTube.

Also, more resources, videos, updates, and Pay What It’s Worth links can be found there too!

CLICK HERE for The Infection Was Initially Mild Landing Page

Ultimately, in the end, I was outspent. 

Outspent from a monetary standpoint. 

Outspent in political capitol. 

Outspent in will to even win the damn thing. 

That sounds like I gave up, but what really happened was that I realized I could effect much more change simply by speaking up, rather than by being elected. Too many people get elected and it changes them. The reality of their re-election hits them smack in the face at the moment they take their oath of office, and it fundamentally changes who they are. I didn’t want to be changed. I didn’t want to be politicized as an individual in my principles and beliefs – and I saw it becoming more clear that I would have to do that, to compromise my standards in order to win. I chose not to, and suffered the consequence. 

That consequence? I got outspent. 

Of course I pushed on and campaigned to the bitter end. On the weekend before the election, as voting began all over the district, I did another email campaign, text, and phone bank push to every home in the district. With over 70% of ballots that would ultimately be cast already in at that point, this seems like it was all for naught, but – again – in doing this, I was able to still get my message across. While I had the opportunity to lift people’s ear, I did.

That message? To be safe. To wear a mask. Vaccines were coming, when they did arrive, get one as soon as they became eligible. Call me if they needed resources. Call me if they needed an advocate. The election was just weeks before the pandemic was about to get significantly worse, and with clear indication that I was not going to win, I felt an obligation to reach as many people as I could. My opponent, and the entire city and city council for that matter, could not care less if people got sick and died, if the hospitals were overrun, if people lost their homes and starved. Even the nurse. Running for city council, if anything, reminded me that I did not need to be elected to work, organize, and have an impact on my community. 

In the end, though, the will, the way, and the money made sure that do it as a private citizen was the only way I would. 

My will to win faded towards the end of the campaign. Even though, as I said, I fought until the polls closed, I increasingly became concerned about what would happen if I actually did win.

For months, my family endured the type of harassment that I had never witnessed in all of the elections I had worked on before. After college, I worked on a lot of campaigns. Big campaigns, small campaigns; campaigns as a volunteer, as an intern. I worked on campaigns as a full time employee with a big title. Never did I see the type of vitriol and hatred spewed at the direction of a candidate as was spewed in mine. Over a city council seat in a small, suburban community of around 70,000 people. But then social media was not as pervasive to daily life back then. 

The type of comments that were made to me on social media were the stuff of nightmares. People called me innocent things that were easy to  ignore, like “Democratic Socialist,” and at the same time things so horrific and personal, it made my skin crawl.

But the name calling wasn’t the extent of it. I got text messages on my campaign phone telling me I was a “dirty whore,” and that people were coming to get me; my entire family was doxed online in the comments sections of our local newspapers. Strangers knew oddly specific details about our daily lives. On an average day, my kids and I would be heading out the front door in the morning to get to whatever we had going on for the day, to find trash had been thrown at our house. On more than one occasion, we had to call the police because my kids were being followed. 

Of course after the election, I thought all this would abate. It did not. My kids being followed only intensified; trash thrown at my front door became a nightly thing for a while. People texted my old campaign line telling me to “kill” myself. Supporters of my opponent hacked my business social media pages, stole my credit card numbers – you name it, they got ahold of it. 

A few months after the election, I got a text from the organizer of the Democratic mom’s group, calling me a racist because I didn’t support one of the city council members taking a turn as mayor. That council member was white (all of them are); nevertheless, I apologized for any misunderstanding. I was still removed unilaterally by this woman from the group, and she and a couple other Democratic moms began smearing my name in every organization I had been a part of. Even sports groups my kids were in that had nothing to do with politics. Later, I found out that this woman was good friends with my opponent; so much so that they had dinner together on Sundays. Her insistence on not being able to display one of my campaign signs on her lawn – which had no less than ten others on it – suddenly made sense. 

Campaign signs, or rather the replacement of them, ended up being my biggest expense. This was because they were regularly destroyed. Ripped out of the ground, vandalized, and disappearing in the night, this ended up becoming a full time endeavor: replacing the signs, repeatedly. Closer to the election, I just gave up replacing them – having run out of money and the will to keep returning to the same spots day after day to find mine, the only one in the group of all the candidate’s signs, gone. 

When I started out, I had 256 signs around town (on top of the yard sings people had on their own private property) that I had gotten permission to display, along with all the other candidate signs out on these corners. The night of the election, when I went to collect what remained, there were only 12 left.

In my opponent’s first election to the city council, he spent somewhere in the ballpark of $40,000 – most of his own money – to be elected. This was an unfeasible sum to me for a city council district seat that pays around $1500 a month. I could understand wanting to do it for your community, but that sum of money seemed not just ridiculous, but wasteful and suspect. 

Nevertheless, I figured this was what I was going to be up against: somewhere around $40,000, which all of my advisors and campaign volunteers agreed would probably be the sum to beat.

I didn’t have any intention of fundraising to such a degree, nor did I plan to spend that much of my own money in such large sum. But I knew I could get close to 25% of that in contribution and in my own donations, and make a considerable showing in the race. 

What I didn’t anticipate was that my opponent would go above and beyond to the tune of $75,000. Between his own personal loan to his campaign of $15,000, contributions from local business owners, law firms, and land developers, and tens of thousands of dollars from the police (who never even returned my call) and fire fighter’s unions, my opponent simply raised, and subsequently spent, well more than I could have even anticipated someone would spend for a city council seat. 

But it was more complicated than simply dollar-by-dollar campaign spending. At least in my view. 

While my volunteers were largely staying home and keeping safe due to the pandemic, the bulk of his supporters didn’t even believe in COVID and were paid to go out and walk precincts. 

While my fundraisers were held virtually and in an effort to social distance, his were in person, in people’s homes, which you knew had happened because the following day the entire street would be lined with his campaign signs. 

And as it turned out, cronyism had truly taken hold of the community in insidious ways. What I left of politics over a decade prior to the campaign was gone, I returned to a wasteland of toxic identity politics and capitalistic city control. I knew that politics locally were something of a black hole before, but at least then I knew who stood by what principals. Quickly, what remained of my political capitol and these notions as to how things stood was clearly very little. People on all sides politically in our city, and in the county at large, were now on the same side: the financial and political exploitation side. Using power and public office or appointment as a position from which they could fund their own personal, financial endeavors, people had either lined up for their cut, or left politics behind. 

Moreover, I was stunned to see how my own emergence in the political sphere clearly threatened so many people. To this day, I still don’t fully understand why. Fundamentally, I’m a nobody in the grand scheme of things. With a limited budget, and even less of a stakeholder position in the financial underpinnings of the community, I was no more a threat to many of these people than perhaps a gnat. And yet somehow, many people and groups made sure that I was outspent in every way I could be.

When it came time to seek endorsements, as I said, I made sure to align my goal to the organizations that were in line with my agenda. I didn’t want to waste time seeking the endorsement of any old group that came along. Endorsements take time, lobbying, and a lot of effort to secure. It’s paperwork, meetings, interviews – as a candidate, you have to devote some time to them, but you can’t devote all of your time to them. 

The reason why you “have” to? Money. Endorsements traditionally come with a check, both from individuals and groups; more so with the groups. The local Planned Parenthood was quick to cut a check after their endorsement of my campaign, and it was equal to all of the other city council candidates that group endorsed. A few days before the election, the local carpenter’s union came through in the same way. However, every other group that I garnered an endorsement from fell short on the funding of my campaign as compared to other candidates. Maybe they didn’t think my district was winnable, and wanted to spare precious funds for future political activity. But if that were the case, why would my opponent not spare in the same way? Why would he and the police and fire fighters spend tens of thousands of dollars?

Stunning, as time went on, were the comparisons on campaign disclosure forms. The local Democrats would throw me a bone, while other candidates less qualified with less likelihood of winning were given maximum dollar amounts. The women’s group that endorsed my campaign, also funding me far less than other candidates, also forgot to mail my check for a whopping month and a half after it was written. It was almost as if these groups were setting me up to fail, and in such a way that seemed innocent or simply due to incompetence, but when it happened over and over again, the reality that it was probably for intentional reasons became clear.

There came a point that I simply gave up on personal endorsements, which concluded with my endorsement from our Congressional representative. While nice to know that my political capitol with her had not soured over the years, I knew that was about as good as it would get. A lot of others I had worked with, or done organizing in the community alongside over the years, ended up going silent when I asked for them to endorse my campaign. 

Or some, like the fire fighters, simply smiled, said they supported me in idea, but wouldn’t give any official endorsements in any city council race; only to turn around the next day and endorse my opponent, along with writing a check to add to his $75,000 pot. 

Still others were brutally honest and in my face about it. A former county supervisor I had encountered over the years I was working as a community organizer for the labor unions bluntly told me that she would not endorse me because my opponent was also a member of her rotary club. Another, a school board member, said she didn’t want to be embarrassed when she ran into my opponent’s wife at book club. Soon, these same types of excuses came in. “Oh our kids did boy scouts together,” or “you know we go to the same church.” The church was my real downfall, just up the hill from my own home and a centerpiece in our community, he was a staple figure from the years; and I was… well who was I? Not knowing me, many of them deferred to the familiar name, whose wife and adult children were always in tow, while my untraditional Catholic family could never seem to be found, all of them being at work, sports, or still staying home because of the pandemic.

This not knowing me seemed to do me in far more than I realized at the time. Often I would call a voter for them to say at the end of the thirty minute conversation “you know I wish I could vote for you now, but I already sent my ballot in.” Or, “oh well [opponent] was here last Saturday and he helped me fill out my ballot, sorry.” 

In the retirement community that constituted roughly one-third of the district, I realized early on that if I could win them over, I could win the election. Keeping in mind turnout, presidential year, and what was needed to win, I could secure them plus a few hundred outside of their community, and my win would flow like gravy. Probably the most foolish thought of my entire campaign, I thus focused on that community more than any of the other neighborhoods in the area; hitting them with mail pieces, phone banking, and getting as many signs on lawns inside the gated community was my primary goal. I thought that, from a strategic standpoint, if I hammered on the pandemic and the danger to their aging population, I could secure their votes. 

What I underestimated was the protection they already felt from behind the gates of their community; and the privilege with which they had already shrouded themselves in that made them largely untouched by the pandemic (at the time of the election). When the election took place, they had yet to see a single case of COVID 19 in their greater than 4,000 person community. They continued to enjoy golf, swimming – all of it; because, as we learned in the months that followed – the wealthiest people, in reality, were the ones that came off the easiest. 

Interestingly, I did garner some support from inside the gilded gates of retirement living. Just not enough, and not the right support. And, I found out only too late, that my opponent, using his connections for having already been on the city council, had arranged to have a regular meet up with the community at large. During his time on the dais, he had advocated for them on some hemp smells that were coming from a neighboring farm. For this, many of these seniors, aging in their retirement village that largely stands apart from the rest of the community, felt indebted. 

If we’re being honest, he also is, when you get down to it, an old man himself. In his 60s and covered in liver spots and aged lines, my toad man of an opponent fit in well with the senior crowd, whose regular complaints about aching joints and hemorrhoid problems were likely met with similar anecdotes on his part. He identified with this crowd much more than a young mom in her 30s ever could. For this reason, it was probably more than foolish to think I could win them over in more of a way than he could. 

But still, I tried. When the organizer of their regular candidate’s night event contacted me, I was thrilled at the opportunity to address the otherwise-closed-off community. The event was simple: my opponent and I would come, they’d record and air it on their closed circuit channel, for all residents to watch on their televisions either live or on a replay, during the event we’d field questions from the community so they could make their choices based on our answers to the issues important to them.

A few things, now, stick out in my mind as suspicious about the entire event. For one, the organizer said to me repeatedly things like “I’m trying to be as fair as possible here.” Innocent enough. But then he would call me about some planning thing – offering a tour of the stage in advance, asking me to come have a photo taken, and so on – and he would always preface with “well [opponent] was just here and he and I thought…” The man and the other organizers were nice enough, but what I later found out has soured the entire thing in my mind: he and his wife contributed to my opponent’s campaign, months before the candidate’s event. Does he have a right to contribute to whatever campaign he wants? Of course. But perhaps have someone not clearly biased act as the moderator of the whole show. 

This, sadly, was the way the entire campaign ended up going. I would come to find that family and friends of ours for years – decades – had donated and supported my opponent’s campaign. Some even participated in the destruction of my campaign signs. Democrats, Republicans, everyone. When imposter syndrome and self-confidence rear their ugly heads, I think to myself: maybe it was just me, my policies. But then how could I have earned the support from all of those that I actually did? Were we all just wrong?

The answer, simply put, was that my message and my motive, my agenda and my plans for our community, were spread through the community at around $3 per vote. My opponents? $12. I got outspent. If you run on a quarter of the campaign funds, you can expect about a quarter of the returns. 

In the end, in support, in endorsements, and in final votes, that’s exactly what I got.

Part 3: The Subterranean Termites Come To the Service

Welcome to the third part of my 5 Part Series: The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future Of the Country. 

You can also read the entire series now, download it in entirety in PDF format, catch the disclaimers in the Introduction, listen to it on Text to Speech (I have to warn you it’s a little awkward), or watch the Text to Speech on YouTube.

Also, more resources, videos, updates, and Pay What It’s Worth links can be found there too!

CLICK HERE for The Infection Was Initially Mild Landing Page

Every fall or early winter, late in the year, it begins to cool in Southern California, and eventually it rains. Most years it’s been so dry that even the slightest bit of rain becomes an epic event. What I always notice about the first “big” rain (sometimes it is no more than a spit, and that’s all we get for the season) is that immediately after, the subterranean termites come out in a swarm.

Subterranean termites are these little termites that are white and translucent. They don’t do damage like the termites that rot your attic; but they are annoying nevertheless. What I always notice is that there are just so many of them. One day you’ll be enjoying the first rain of the season, and the next you can’t even look outside without seeing clouds of them in swarms, just flying around. 

Flying for the sake of flying. Existing for the sake of existing.

One year, so many of them came up from underground that they also died in droves. They got stuck in window sills, smashed over the front of my black SUV so that it looked grayish white from a distance, and the ground was covered in their translucent wings so you heard a crunch and a squish, turning the wings into a translucent goo stuck on the bottom of your shoes. It was a sight of horror, one forgotten as quickly as they resurface until the next first rain of the season.

People in politics, in every fashion, are like those subterranean termites. They come out only at certain moments of the year. They fly around in swarms, and infest every open space they can. Leaving behind trails of translucent, gooey wings, and the scent of infestation, politicos (from politicians and electeds, to commentators, bloggers, and volunteers) are like annoying gnats on the ass of America. Few have any redeeming qualities, and they appear to exist for no reason but for the sake of themselves. 

Flying for the sake of flying. Existing for the sake of existing. The subterranean termites come to the surface. 

The city council in my city is perhaps synonymous with any other governing body in America: they are clueless, do very little, and understand even less. 

Our city council is pretty typically made up of any handful of your garden variety locals. There is usually at least one self-professed businessman, whose business is a bit nebulous and sounds more like a Ponzi scheme. A lawyer is always smattered in there somewhere, since lawyers notoriously possess the cut-throated narcissism required to be a politician, and because voters tend to assume that someone who knows how to manipulate the law will also be good at running the city. 

Our city has a hard on for small business, as many cities do; so there are two businessmen and one businesswoman on our council presently. The men are like pieces of Wonderbread, sort of blending into the chamber walls with their weak-willed comments, and hangers-on status. One was up for re-election the same year that I ran, only in a different district, and he acted surprised when my daughter gave him a Halloween treat bag at the Farmer’s Market. “Even for an opponent?” – he asked, to which she had to remind him that he wasn’t even in the same district as me. The other, he seems harmless (and I don’t mean that in a good way). The woman – whom my youngest called “Grandma” whenever he saw her on the screen during a meeting – has been there since the 80s. She’s taken turns being mayor just shy of 10 times (8, to be precise); and, as with the men, most of us remain unclear what business she’s actually in besides grifting the taxpayer dollar. 

There are also the occasional politicos that come and go on the council. These are the people that parrot party lines, like “Black lives matter,” and “Vote Blue no matter who.” Of course neither of those phrases – in the typical election year – would even remotely be tolerated in this community; and yet somehow, some way, one of them managed to get on the council. She’s up for re-election this year, and if I’m reading the pulse of the city right now, she will be a one hit wonder in terms on the dais. The shocking part about her is that in a pandemic, as a nurse, I cannot think or find evidence of a single thing she’s actually done for the public health aspect of it. Even today, into the third year of this collective nightmare we are all living through, I watched recently a video of a council meeting in which she was wearing a loose-fitting, inappropriately layered, mask at the meeting. A nurse. A person who is supposed to know things like ‘how to wear a mask,’ and ‘what type of a mask to wear.’ Someone who was touted as exactly who we wanted to be there during the pandemic, she effectively did nothing for public health education, vaccination or testing efforts, and everything in between. 

I believe – and this is just my own personal belief – that this comes more from the cronyism that is pervasive to our community, and as it turns out in the bigger political picture. Hand picked successors are everywhere. When a council member either terms out or retires, there is always someone that has a familiar name and face that’s been waiting in the wings to pick up the position. This can be done traditionally, with an actual vote of the people (that comes from hefty funding and a lot of local name recognition); or – more often – when someone leaves in the middle of the term, and the council or board or whatever convinces the public that it is more financially responsible to shun the voices of voters, and let the all-knowing remaining electeds select their new colleague.  

My community has no shortage of either. Decades ago, one of the area’s Congressmen died suddenly and tragically, and in the special election his wife ran for and won the seat. The funny part of that was that when you polled most of the voters in the district, they were both unaware it was her (and not the dead husband), and didn’t even have a grip on when regular elections were supposed to be held, and just voted when told to. 

On the more local level, we had a county supervisor on the board for decades, before the county finally gave in to the will of the voters and instituted term limits; and someone totally and completely ideologically opposed – though sharing the last name – got enough money from local oil and natural gas companies to plaster enough name recognition pieces around the community that she was elected in a landslide. This county representative – now on a re-election – has no more than bananas for brains, and will blow whichever way her biggest donors sway her (I can only assume the air between her ears helps with the flight). Often she harms the community with her total cluelessness, and subsequent harmful (at times dangerous) policies. 

Most people in the community, though, still think they’re voting for the last lady.

On the flip side are the institutional cronies that are in just enough local groups, and have been around the political scene long enough, to simply step onto the stage the moment an opportunity presents itself for them to do so. Often times, it is so glaring when it happens you can’t help but be insulted that these people, this pack of cronies deciding everything from what roads are repaved, to which books our children in the public schools learn from, think we are both blind and dumb. 

Perhaps, since we go along with it, we are.

In the last couple of years, the real offenders were the ones who knew they wouldn’t serve their term. One school board member had already contracted a move, but notified the public only after she was re-elected. This allowed the school board to handpick her successor, again after reminding the public that this was the fiscally responsible thing to do. Nothing gets your average community member like the idea that their tax dollars are being wasted, even if it comes at the expense of the authoritarianism. Make no mistake about it – handpicking successors is exactly that. 

Another school board member in recent years died of a terminal cancer she knew she had and kept secret through her re-election; again she was replaced by installment. Two city council members that same year met the same exalted status locally, when seats opened only after other council members won higher office. 

Of course we could have municipal laws that prohibit a candidate from running for office while holding another that would require them to resign, leaving the path open for this kind of malfeasance at schools boards and city halls all over the country. This would at least eliminate some. We could also end the ability for installment, and require special elections under all circumstances. But this brand of local authoritarianism is kind of what the whole game is about: making sure that only the people in office can decide who else is there with them. 

All the Parts in the Machine

What makes all of this possible – at every level (water board, city council, county supervisor, state legislature, Congress, and so on) are the insiders. Paradoxically, this is a group of people that believe they are inside and influencing decisions, when the reality is they exert about as much weight as that of their pinkie fingers. Not much. 

Sure, political influencers and some employees play a part, and can make or break a candidate or an elected official with their own actions or part in the dance. Like the city clerk who handles the elections – she could simply not return the phone call of a candidate until the time has passed for the candidate to file, and that’s about that. In the year of my own election, a man that ran for mayor in a neighboring city became victim of the malicious incompetence of the county clerk, who just happened to “accidentally” leave the man’s name and candidate information out of the election handbook mailed to all voters. 

Beyond all these tertiary elected and appointed subterranean termites, there is also the mega-bureaucracy at the city and county levels, who portray and highlight those elected to office with their own particular brand of incompetence. If I am constantly having a problem dealing with the people in the property tax office at the county, it’s unlikely I will continue to vote for the incumbent on the county supervisorial board that is supposedly meant to oversee these clowns. Right? The same could go for almost any department the average citizen encounters, or so you would think. 

Except when everyone is incompetent, including their replacements, what else can we come to expect over the years? Now, in 21st century suburban America, this standard of incompetence is matched only by the amount of gaslighting done in the public view. Community members accept this low standard of public service thanks to messaging and social media posts that have glossed over an otherwise abysmal electoral track record. 

This was especially highlighted in the pandemic, when the inner-workings of the local government showed itself to the public to be inefficient, idiotic, and – in this case – deadly. But at the same time, they messaged the hell out of the story with social media posts and pretty pictures, and now the collective perception of how things have been handled is divided between those that watched from the protection of their homes and Internet, and those that suffered the greatest hardships. 

Even our public health is made up of installed puppets, bureaucratic cronies with interests beyond their scope and practice. In the earliest days, our county took the strategy of protecting businesses at all costs. Those costs were, naturally, human lives – mostly of the elderly, low wage workers, illegal immigrants and guest workers, and members of multigenerational, low income homes. Still, the vast majority of CAREs funding the county received went to business grants, and to cities which then distributed further business grants. Very little went to public health (beyond testing, which they rapidly phased out the first chance they could). To make matters worse, the public health professionals made recommendations and guidance at the pace of snails, not wanting to hurt small business through this difficult time. As community member fatalities began to stack up, our public health director ignored the call by the public to publish what businesses had experienced employee outbreaks as well. They do it for other public health violations, but an outbreak of COVID among employees was seen to them as too politically controversial, and would harm local business. The list of these, and other, transgressions over the years of the pandemic has stacked up, rivaled only by the list of people that have died of the disease and their gross negligence. But again, the messaging is at peak gaslit, and the public has been profoundly removed from the gross negligence that has gone on. 

This raises a very serious issue in American politics: what the general public doesn’t always seem to realize when they vote is that they aren’t just voting for the person or identity of the candidate, themselves, but for everyone they bring with them. 

This extends beyond just who they install when a seat on their own council opens. With the president, it’s judges and administration officials. With counties, it’s everyone running the show – from your jails to your elections to your child support services. In cities, it’s the manager and the city planner. You have to ask yourself, in a city like mine, why the council hasn’t been able to find residents of our actual city to hire as city managers and planners; or why when a once in a lifetime pandemic hits, there’s no one of all the people working at city hall capable of being moved into a position to better coordinate a more well-rounded local response to save lives.

All of these people are a part of the same whole: flying for the sake of flying. Existing for the sake of existing. In essence, accomplishing and contributing very little to society as a whole.

Finally, you have all the rest of the swarm that can be seen everywhere. Like the subterranean termites, they gaggle into groups, serving only themselves.

They are the local media, who cow tow to local elected officials because it is local governments that fund their struggling newspapers. 

They are the special interest groups, that average people believe only exist in the highest levels of government, when in reality they exist at all levels and are most insidious in their influence at the bottom. 

They are the two bit activist groups, who have some nebulous and general cause that is used as an excuse to get together, drink wine, and gossip. 

One of our city council members has a somewhat influential mother in one of these groups. A gaggle of old women and one, gay man, they get together multiple times per week to gossip about everything going on in the world that pisses them off, write checks to personalities they like, and get sauced on a local Chardonnay in the process. On one occasion they invited me and the other woman running in the city (in the other district) – a pink-haired Democratic activist that talked down to me, and routinely interrupted to ramble into oblivion on topics no one could understand. The event was 80% her talking, 19% the group complaining about Trump, and I was given about 2 minutes to state my name.   

Most malignant are the local political groups, whom are usually more cliquish than they are substantive in their activism. Like a cancerous sore on the body politic locally, these groups in my community are why the leaders of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Caucus (also known as the D-Triple-C) once told me at a union junket in Sacramento that because of the toxicity that is pervasive to these local political groups in this district, the caucus typically considered it a political black hole. 

Especially in my own experience, with the Democratic groups, they are the grassroots embodiment of the party at large: overpromising and underdelivering. For our own election, the local Democrats sent emails upon emails to candidates promising volunteers, phone banking, mailers, and the like. In the end, we got a couple hundred text messages sent, and a stack of door hangers with a long list of names on it (mine was towards the bottom). No manpower to distribute them except the Young Democrats who gave us a few hours one Saturday. And, of course, that couple hundred bucks from just one of their many groups. 

Of course with social media, the groups expanded into things like political mom groups, and everything that comes with them. If Facebook Mom Groups are the state of nature, my own experience with them has been quite Hobbesian: nasty, brutish, and short. The political moms groups of course divide into the ideological camps, and I managed to piss off both of them. 

For the conservative moms of the community, it was quite obvious. Most of them believed I had that conspiratorial “agenda,” of which they themselves could not even articulate. On social media they would claim they saw me being “nasty” to fellow moms, and contemptuous of our community members. None of this was true, and when asked for the proof they could not produce it. That started the next conspiracy, that I had spent years of my life gleaning my presence on the Internet, something any mom of three knows I have absolutely no time for. A lot of them were hyper-religious and took offense to my positions on public health as well (it remains to be seen how wearing a mask has anything to do with Jesus).  

Naturally, the defund the police rumor, was at the front of their sentiment against me. In the end there was going to be no winning them over for this reason. True or not, they had heard too much. 

The Democratic moms, though – them I did not see coming. Considering myself a very issue-based voter, organizer, and politician (if I even called myself the latter), there are a lot of things that I wasn’t particularly in agreement on with the Democrats. Perhaps that was a part of the problem, but if I understand it more clearly now, it was my own identity and demeanor that was a problem to some of them. For some in particular, that I ran in the first place.

I’m not an insider to them. For over a decade, I didn’t go to local Party events, I didn’t attend the rallies or the fundraisers or the Democratic Labor Day picnics. I stopped being on the inside of all of those things years ago, so to resurface today was jarring, I can only assume, to many of them. Especially when so many were new.

I probably didn’t help myself with occasional gaffes stating the obvious. Comments like “it’s so nice to see new faces!” are not welcome by people that consider themselves establishment figures in that particular community (whether it’s rooted in reality, or not). 

I also didn’t tone down speaking up about things I saw that I believed were wrong. When the Democratic moms Facebook group decided to host an online candidate meet and greet for a man running for the community college district school board, and a mom running herself asked to be given the courtesy of the same opportunity, she was ignored. I spoke up. 

When they defended people going out and breaking their COVID quarantine, including – many of them including many elected officials that should have been setting an example, I spoke up. 

When they left several endorsed candidates off their list of locals that had been endorsed by the Democratic Party, I spoke up. 

When my kids were followed around at the public park by supporters of my opponent, and filled cups from McDonald’s were thrown at my front door, and one of the organizers of the group said we should all forgive my opponent for staying silent on this issue “because he’s a nice man,” I spoke up.

Later, I learned, that the speaking up, and running for city council to begin with, was what I did wrong in that group. In reality, it was what I did wrong in front of all of them. It made the community (the moms, the conservatives, the cogs in the bureaucracy machine) feel threatened. It was where Blue MAGA and Red MAGA found a common enemy.

Me. 

My Opponent the Toad

My opponent was as bland as water, and as in-actionable as a toad. 

Remember the old story about the two toads on a log? There are two toads on a log and one decides to jump. How many toads are still on the log? Two. Toads think about doing things, but rarely have the energy, drive, or will to actually do them. This sums up my opponent, and everyone that surrounded him for that matter, in a nutshell. 

To make matters worse, he looked like one too. 

Being fair, I only met him in person on one occasion. It was at a carefully curated debate-style event for the senior community in our district. I call it “carefully curated” because it was crafted so as to protect him as much as possible. At the time, I had no idea I was walking into a room full of his supporters running the event; finding out later only after reading over his campaign contribution list, and recognizing all of their names. And to be clear: this was a cohort of toads, obsequious to their leader, and mostly condescending towards me. 

The queen toad – his wife – accompanied him and upon walking in, she talked to me like I was one of her gal pals at Bunko. “Oh, you’ll get used to these events,” was the first thing she belched at me, while clutching her handbag and evidencing for me that she clearly had not read my bio, nor had even the slightest inkling that I – a young woman in her late 30s – could have possibly been to any of these events before in her life (I’ve been to plenty).  

The moderator. The cameraman. The producer. All toads, all with that same leathery and blotchy, reptilian skin; at least a few with a bullfrog’s neck goiter. 

Through out the entire campaign, this toad man – the token lawyer on the city council – painted me not just as a radical liberal, but as an idiot. In certain crowds on Zoom events and candidate forums, he would answer questions by first stating that I didn’t know what I was talking about – this was why he should be re-elected. When he wasn’t running on this, he was doing so on his totally unfounded defund the police claims. He never actually campaigned on what he would do with four more years. He simply highlighted that he wasn’t me. (And it worked.)

Of course if he had highlighted what he had done with four years in office, he would have had nothing to talk about. Besides contributing to hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer waste by getting the city sued several times, this supposed-lawyer didn’t have much else to account for. The material conditions of residents were no better (arguably worse), the city was bleeding jobs even before the pandemic as well. I can’t blame this toad of a man for making me his solo talking point. If I were as much of a lame duck, I would have done the same. 

Of course I always managed to overcome his incessant and condescending bullfrog noises – his gurgles and belches, that said less in substance than I even thought was possible of someone speaking words as fully formed sentences. After all his man-spraining and treating everyone like a village of idiots, I kept my cool, stated facts, and always ended events with more supporters than I came in with. Yet either a fault of the pandemic, or more just the way things are in local politics, the general public was by and large not present for these candidate forums and face-to-face  (or Zoom-to-Zoom) events. There were 10, maybe 20, at each. Add all the candidates from the combined events, and you had an online total of maybe 40. Not enough to sway the vote, because in the end what it came down to was who had the most money. 

This was when I simply got outspent.

The Newsletter: Issue #6

Oh hey there; let’s just pretend I didn’t bail on the weekly newsletter for something like four months. A lot was going on, and while I posted and was working and writing a lot, I was just a little … well, you guys know, overwhelmed. Delta then Omicron, now Omicron’s cousin. Well, it’s a bit much. I’ve heard so many people, doctors, psychologists, and the like say that no one is OK right now. I would heartily agree. For several reasons.

Nevertheless, here we are and here you are. I’m sure you noticed the new newsletter banner. A lot of new stuff coming at you soon from your girl here. And, as always, I really do hope you and yours are staying safe in these turbulent and, well, fucked up times.

So let’s get to it.

Around the World

Fuckin’ yikes, right?

So it’s looking like Lord Omicron has completely taken over the chat, and even introduced his cousin BA.2. I know these numbers and titles get a little silly and confusing at times, but it’s the overarching theme of “this ain’t over ’til it’s over” is hopefully now abundantly clear to us all.

Perhaps the worst time to go to a war is in the middle of a pandemic. If my history serves me correct, the Spanish Flu weakened the United States military in WWI, at least for a time; so the fact that Biden is now sending troops into Eastern Europe is simply terrifying. I’m wishing I had gone ahead and let my kids do that pandemic project of building us a bomb shelter in the backyard after all.

Secretary Blinken made a statement yesterday that I’d like to hone in on, and I only caught a clip of it on Twitter, which I will paraphrase here: this isn’t about whether or not Putin or Russia trusts us; it’s if our allies trust us. That was when the existential dread and the hope that the paint in our walls is actually lead really sunk in for me, because if I were allies… I wouldn’t be so sure.

The United States government – on several levels – has been exposed for all its weaknesses, and more so insidious underbelly, through out the last two years of this pandemic; and the lying and untrustworthiness is at the forefront, at least as a resident. Can our allies trust us if we have lied repeatedly in the name of things like whether COVID is airborne (it is), where we got our data on masks (many times they made policy without any), and the decision making process of agencies like the FDA and CDC (it’s a clusterfuck)? It’s important to remember that the United States – for better or for worse, and even in spite of Trump – remains a leader in the world, in many ways. Public health being one of them, in spite of the fact that our healthcare system is not nationalized as many countries are; so when other countries have looked to the US for pandemic response, and we just fuck it up with lies and bullshit for two straight years, it’s hard to see us as an agent of utmost integrity on anything.

Couple that with the fact that our president wants to slow dance and sing kumbaya with the GOP that literally does not even believe in the government they are elected to be a part of; while the Democratic legislature has yet to hold anyone accountable for a number of egregious and traitorous acts by high level officials related to the Insurrection… well, you just have to wonder.

So I don’t know y’all. I’m not sleeping too well at night right now, especially since we live nestled between a naval base and a naval air station, and just around 100 miles south of Vandenburg Air Force base (translation: nukes).

Around My World

What isn’t going on around my world these days?

On ultra personal notes: we are moving in April, and if you follow me on Twitter you know this has been an utter gut punch to me and my family. I’ll spare you all the pathetic details, but long story short the owners of the home we’ve treated as our own for years and years and years have booted us out on our asses, in the middle of the worst part of the pandemic, at an inflection point in California’s housing crisis, because… well, there are several theories, but the prevailing one from my biggest supporters back when I ran for city council is: political retaliation.

Perhaps this is the denouement to this city trying to run me out on a rail; just a few months ago we still vividly recall when my son and I were attacked by a maniac running into my car, then following us in his.

But whether the termination of our tenancy was an act of political malice, or simply just a scumbag slum lord with no soul wanting to turn the house for a bigger profit, I continue to ride on.

If you haven’t heard yet, next Tuesday, February 1st my 5 Part Series on running for city council in the middle of said pandemic drops, and I could not be more excited. If you haven’t read the announcement you can do so HERE, or watch the brief trailer down there:

And if you haven’t done so yet, hop on over to Instagram and get in on the Giveaways that I have going next week to celebrate the release!

Other than that I’m just plugging along around here. My daughter turns 18 in less than 3 months, so I’ve been stocking up on brown paper bags to hyperventilate into. My 5 year old’s new thing is to stick things up his butt and then moon everyone in the house; and my 14 year old …well, you know middle children.

You Can’t Unsee This

New feature of our weekly newsletter – and I promise, I’m getting back to doing it weekly again – is something you just can’t unsee. Because if I have to, y’all do too.

This week’s, courtesy of the escalating relationship between the Republicans and Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema in the Senate (I have my own opinions on whether or not Biden’s Supreme Court pick will become a reality; more on that later…), I present you with The Notebook meme that will scar you for life:

STFU Fridays

I again hate to harp on about the pandemic, but I’m starting to get a real negative vibe on how things are going now that Lord Omi is on the downswing. It’s like the very second that things started to even remotely give the appearance of turning for the better, tons of people called it a win and started popping bottles of champagne in the streets.

There is a profound problem with doing this. Actually several.

First of all, a slow decline in cases, that may even plateau at an alarmingly high level (again, as happened with the Delta surge) is nothing to write home about. It also indicates that an even larger number of people will get infected during the downswing than on the up, just over a lengthier period of time. Some could argue this is positive as it stretches out hospitalizations, but that isn’t guaranteed; especially if y’all start poppin’ bottles and makin’ out in the streets again.

The thing to also remember that in this period of the surge is when the fatalities really start to stack up. We’ve been down this road several times now, all over the world. We know that the fatalities lag; the tragedy is only starting to be felt by the families and loved ones that have and will continue to die in the coming weeks. To be as celebratory and pat-on-the-back about this moment is – in an inevitable phrase – really fucked up.

There are also the calls for the immediate removal of restrictions, even some now from a coordinated terrorist group of physicians that call themselves scholars and experts, some of whom have even talked their way into high positions at otherwise prestigious academic and medical institutions. And look, I’m not a fan of masks; especially the ones needed to protect yourself and others from Omicron (N95, KN95, P100, or the like). But also, it’s really not the end of the world. And to call for kids to not wear them in school when so many children remain unprotected, and thousands of teachers are still at high risk is… well… a bit sociopsycotic.

I understand that we were all promised normalcy back in the summer of 2021. I understand that we were even promised it back in the 2020 election. We were lied to. It’s that plain and simple. So we’re in this DIY pandemic together, and whereas there are still a lot of people that are choosing not to protect themselves, there are even more so that have absolutely no choice to – for a variety of reasons. So we can take one of two paths:

We can err on the side of caution. We can be respectful of the dead and their families, and not go popping bottles of champagne just yet to hold space for them to grieve. We can do our own individual risk assessments, take precautions, and at the same time respect others. As mask mandates lift, maybe keep one in your car and ask the people you are with if they feel uncomfortable unmasked, and respect them if they say “let’s mask up.” We can stay home if we’re sick…

Or we could just throw all the lessons we’ve learned in the last two years out the window, and fuck around so that we can again find out. We can pop bottles in the streets, make out with strangers, go everywhere and anywhere sick, maskless, and refuse to even get tested. We can let our local leaders, state leaders, and federal government continue to slide on managing this like an estimated 6 year pandemic should be managed (with massive surveillance). We could terrorize the public by demanding not only an end to measures for ourselves, but turn it into a culture war where people still taking measures are bullied…

Ultimately, I can already see which way it’s going; maybe you can too. Maybe you don’t mind. But to the people that are calling it over before it’s over, for my part I have to respectfully request that you… wait for it…

The Infection Was Initially Mild

This post is short, and sweet. I’m thrilled to announce that just over a year after running for city council (and losing – dodged a bullet, I’m learning), I’ve finished my 5 part series on the experience.

Titled ‘The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future of the Country,’ will be available wherever you prefer on February 1st, 2022.

In this post we’ve got:

  1. Details on how you can read, listen, or watch it
  2. Giveaways (there’s more than one!)
  3. The trailer!

The best part is that it’s entirely free. While there is a Pay What It’s Worth PayPal link, you can get all of the content entirely free to you. Why? Because I think it’s a critical story to tell, and also don’t want people to think that writing about it was the only reason I did it.

You’ll be able to read each part here on the website, download a PDF version, listen to it on Audiocast, or watch me read it on YouTube.

I’ll also be sending each part out weekly as a blog post. To sign up to just have them directly sent to your email box, go ahead and do so here:

Giveaways!

But wait, there’s more!

To celebrate the release of this, I’m hosting a Giveaway, and this one you won’t want to miss. One winner will be selected at random on Instagram LIVE on February 2nd. The winner will receive: a vintage political button puzzle, a box of Barnett’s chocolate covered gourmet cookies, a PURE personal air filter (I have one of these, they’re amazing), and a YEAR of Disney+ streaming services. Hit me up on Instagram and LIKE AND SHARE the heck out of this to be entered!

I’m also mailing out “THIS PANDEMIC SUCKS!” bookmarks! I have SO MANY still to give out. Just click this LINK to put in your information and get your bookmark today!

The Trailer!

Don’t leave without taking exactly 30 seconds to get in the mood for this new release!

Now go sign up for those Giveaways!

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:

In a dog eat dog world, which one are you?

In 2007, I finished college (for the first time) with a bachelor degree in Political Science.  Being idealistic and young, I immediately signed up for the first job I could close to the heartbeat of local politics.  Working as a community organizer for a local non-profit, I soon found myself in the midst of all-things political, especially the corruption within.  I drew the line with that first job when I realized that I was fighting for healthcare when I, myself, was not being covered for health benefits under my current position.  I thought this seemed wrong and unfair, so I left that job feeling glad that the seedy dark side of local politics had not corrupted the moral character I knew I had.  But I was still naive and excited to be in the middle of (what seemed to be) the powers that wielded our lives, so I moved on to contract as a political consultant for a political action committee who shall remain nameless (not only because I know those bitches would sue me, but because they also don’t exist anymore so the name is moot).  While at that political action committee, though, my naive idealism finally took the dark turn to jaded cynicism.  To say I witnessed the ugly parts of local politics would be an understatement – some of the nastiest, most unethical things went on in front of me on a daily basis.  And worse, those bitches (as I will heretofore refer to them) took credit for every single thing I did.

It was towards the end of my tenure at those bitches’ political action committee that I realized they were doing this.  They had hired me to do all manner of tasks – from statistical analysis to planning fund raising events to voter education programming, to even building their website from the ground up.  But then one day I was at an event (that I had single-handedly orchestrated) and I noticed that not once was I acknowledged for my hard work in putting the event together.  As the days wore on, this incident began to bother me so I started to pay more attention when my bosses and I were with other politicos.  To my dismay, I realized that they were not only failing to acknowledge my hard work, but they were taking the full credit for every bit of it.  Telling one outright lie after another, I soon worried how I would even explain things because I had no idea what – exactly – I was to admit having done anymore when we were at public events – they took the credit for just that much.

When I mentioned this to my family and friends, I was confronted with a “everyone knows it’s a dog eat dog world” and “that’s the way it is in the working world, Heather”-attitude, and now (years later) I realize that it really, and truly, is.  In the adult/working world in which we all reside at some level, it all really boils down to whether or not you are one of two people:  the thankless worker or the do-nothing thief.  Even in local church communities, there seems to always be someone right around the corner just waiting to steal the credit or the work itself that you have done; that has already begun saying they did all the work before you have even finished it.  Worse yet, the Internet and computer technology has made it all the easier – for no longer is the old “I gotta’ have time to copy it in my own handwriting, McFly”-matter an issue.  Literally within minutes – seconds even – someone can steal your work and all the credit for it with ease of a simple “click” and “send.”

So it seems that the only way to overcome this is to become a credit-taker – a work-stealer – yourself.  I, myself, do not plan on doing this; but I know that I will probably always be stuck having others take credit for the hard work that I do – even in the most unprofessional, volunteer situations.  So the question that remains is simply:  why do it?  If there is always someone that will be standing around the corner just waiting to take the credit for the things you do – like those bitches at that political action committee – why do them?  I can see in a work environment, where your time and effort equals money which pays the bills, doing the bare minimum is an absolute requirement.  But why go above and beyond the call of duty if you are not going to take the credit for the work that others do, thereby leaving yourself open to be the thankless worker?  Why stay that extra hour or put in that extra pizazz in your quarterly presentation if it is going to be credited to someone else and get you absolutely nothing?

The days of workers in this country taking pride in their work are over.  With a destroyed economy, political unrest, and problems across the board with jobs, unemployment, social security, and health care, the notion of a loyal company that gives back to its loyal employees is gone.  Anyone who thinks that they are allowing themselves to be pushed around and taken advantage of as a thankless worker simply because they “take pride in their work” … well, they are nothing more than a complete and utter moron.  We all know at least one of those idiots, and we all know that they probably deserve to be pushed around for being so ridiculously stupid.  So unless you are going to be a complete douche rag and steal the work and the credit from others, all you are doing by going that extra mile is setting yourself up for unlimited frustration and/or ultimate stupidity as the thankless worker.  Nothing will come of it but stress and upsettedness.  Nothing will result but frustration.

So why bother?  I can think of a myriad of other more rewarding things we could all be doing with our time.  Like reading a book, or going to a movie.  At least there no one can take the credit for the happiness such recreation can bring.  In a dog eat dog world, maybe in the end the best thing to do is just be a cat.