Sunday, October 24, 2010

BWB's 2010 California Voters Guide

To encourage each and every one of you who reads my blog to get out and vote, I'm going to share how I voted (I vote absentee) and why.

Governor: Jerry Brown. Why: Because this is no time for rookies or anyone else who hasn't figured out that we already have "policy groups" in the Legislature -- they're called "committees," Meg. Besides, you don't seem to know a voting ballot, so my voting ballot doesn't know you.

Lieutenant Governor: Abel Maldonado. Why: Even if Abel is in bed with Big Oil, he's not in bed with his best friend's wife. Yes, Gavin, character DOES count, and I'm not THAT much of a Democrat to vote for you.

Secretary of State: Debra Bowen. Why: For demanding integrity and accountability from the voting machine manufacturers. I'll forgive her putting up a logo from her alma mater, Michigan State, on the Secretary of State's website during the NCAA basketball tournament. Don't do it again though, Deb.

Controller: John Chiang. Why: I think he's done a good job, although his lawyer threw state employees under the bus during her oral argument on the furlough cases, arguing that awarding backpay would be a gift of public funds.

Treasurer: Bill Lockyer. Why: Because his office hired me as an intern when he was in the Assembly and I was a high school senior. I had been turned down by Speaker Willie Brown's office because I was "too political" in my belief that Proposition 13 would be the downfall of the state and public education as we then knew it. Turns out I was right, Willie Brown. Just because I was young didn't mean I was stupid.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris. Why: Because she's the only candidate talking about diverting youth from a life of crime BEFORE they get in the system.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Larry Aceves. Why: I liked his campaign statement in the voter guide better.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones. Why: Because he represented Sacramento well in the past (the city, not the people in the Capitol).


Board of Equalization District 1: Betty Yee. Why: Because she's committed to extending free taxpayer services and assistance to those who need it.

Judicial Retention: I voted out California Supreme Court Justices Moreno and Chin because they blew it on the furlough cases. Hey, if they wanna mess with my paycheck on unsupported legal grounds, I'm gonna mess with theirs at the ballot box. I voted for Cantil-Sakauye for the Supreme Court because I like her.

Proposition 19 (Legalization of Marijuana): Yes. Why: Because I don't see any difference between alcohol and weed, other than, as Chris Rock observed, weed is produced by brown people. Both are intoxicants and gateway drugs to addiction, yet one is legal and the other isn't. I never had a relative killed by a stoner, but I have had a relative killed by a drunk driver. Stoners have the good sense to stay home when they're high. Why? Because they're sleepy and they're going to be rip-roaring hungry in about two hours or less.

Proposition 20 (Redistricting Commission for California Congressional Districts): Yes. Why: Because I'm tired of politicians giving other politicians the political hook-up.

Proposition 21 ( $18 Vehicle License Surcharge to Fund State Parks): No. Why: The State Lotto. Let me explain. When California instituted the State Lottery, it was supposed to be the end-all and be-all for public education and insure a dedicated, steady stream of income for our k-12 schools. However, when you give any state agency a dedicated source of income that can't be used for other things, they act a fool. The State Lottery used their dedicated source of income for all kinds of things unrelated to public education -- trips, sports tickets, you name it -- and we're still being nickled and dimed for public education. I ain't gonna be the same fool twice. I love the state parks, so just charge me a higher fee when I use them. But I'm not willing to add an additional $18 on top of the $348 I spend annually to register my car. As my late mom would say, "They want too much sugar for a dime."

Proposition 22 (Prohibits the State from Borrowing of Taking Funds Used for Transportation, Redevelopment or Local Government Projects and Services): Yes. Why: Because the State of California has credit worse than your Cousin Ray-Ray the Crackhead. The state is always looking to borrow, but they don't pay back. At least with Cousin Ray-Ray, you might could steal his stash and resell it to recoup your losses; with the State of California, you have no recourse when they default. Ask the local school districts about loaning money to the State of California. You'd be better off lending to Cousin Ray-Ray.

Proposition 23 (Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law AB 32): No. Why: Because we've already fought this battle. It's settled. What's worse than implementing AB 32 is constantly changing the laws that affect business so they can't make long-term plans. AB 32 is the law. Move on.

Proposition 24 (Repeals Legislation Allowing Businesses To Lower Their Tax Liability): No. Why: If I'm getting bit in the ass by the Tax Man, everybody else needs to suck it up, too. If I don't get to carry forward losses for 10 years following the loss, nobody else does.

Proposition 25 (Changes Legislative Vote Requirement To Pass Budget To Simple Majority And Permanently Withholds Legislators' Pay and Expenses Until A Budget Is Enacted): Hell yes! Why: If I don't get paid when I don't do my job, neither should they. A budget that is one hundred days late is unacceptable. Our state legislators need a simple majority because they are, well, simple.

Proposition 26 (Requires Certain State and Local Fees Be Approved by 2/3 Vote): Yes. Why: Because the state and local governments pull the okey-doke on taxpayers by calling taxes "fees" and requiring the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to litigate to prove otherwise. Enough already. Stay out of my purse.

Proposition 27 (Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting): No. Why: See Proposition 20.

Now that you know how I voted, get out there and vote your damn self! LOL!!!

P.S. How could I forget? U.S. Senate: Barbara Boxer. Why: Because it is either utter hubris or stupidity that would make someone who was fired from her last position think she's qualified for an even higher position. Besides, I like Barbara Boxer's hair better.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No, She's Not Sorry -- Nor Should She Be

So Virginia Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, thinks Professor Anita Hill should consider offering an apology and an explanation for "what she did with" Mrs. Thomas' husband.

Indeed.

As cool and rational as she was in 1991, Professor Hill did the right thing: She declined the invitation to apologize, as an apology presumes some wrongdoing. She did nothing wrong.

Let that be a lesson to women everywhere: If you stand up and tell the truth, and you've done nothing wrong, don't apologize.

However, I think Justice Thomas owes black people an apology for invoking the racialized metaphor of a lynching to question the motivations of his accusers instead of dealing with the accusations head-on. It seems Justice Thomas wants a color-blind society only when it suits his purposes.

As for Mrs. Thomas, she's lucky she asked someone as poised and well-mannered as Professor Hill to consider an apology to her husband. Had she asked the same of me, I would have, in the tradition of my late mother, She Who Is Exalted (SWIE), invited Mrs. Thomas to, well, plant one on my pretty posterior, to put it nicely.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Won't Let Them Take Me . . . To Crazytown

"The best thing you can do for the poor is not be one of them."

- Rev. Ike

"The best thing you can do for the crazy is not be one of them."

- Black Woman Blogging

"When you see crazy coming, cross the street."

- Iyanla Vanzant

You know them when you see them. Or maybe you don't. They come in late to a meeting or event and make a commotion, as if that would distract you from the fact that they're late. Or you have to negotiate with them to get them to do their crucial part on a team project because now they want to question everything that was done before, all of which they had already agreed to. Or they lie. Alot. Or they borrow money from you and then pick a fight with you to have an excuse not to pay you back. Or they constantly eye you up and down and "suggest" how you could dress better, look better, whatever. Or they are the drama queens and kings -- veritable drama royalty -- at any family event. Or they blame everbody and everything for all that's wrong with their lives.

They are, in short, crazy -- whether they be narcissists, passive-aggressives, neurotics, pathological liars, obsessive-compulsives, whatever. And if you're not careful, they will attempt to take you to Crazytown with them.

Don't let it happen.

I've spent a while recently negotiating with a passive-aggressive on a team project. I routinely tell anyone -- I don't negotiate with terrorists or children. Add "passive-aggressives" to the list. I would have had more success negotiating with bin Laden. It took me a while to figure out that the goal of this passive-aggressive -- or any crazy -- is to take you to Crazytown, where they've happily taken up residence, a place where the drama never ends and chaos is not only normal, it's embraced.

I'm not going there willingly, and neither should you.

Since I'm related (either by blood or marriage), work with, or deal with crazies, let me share the benefit of some hard-earned wisdom with respect to crazies, some of which I would have learned a long time ago if I had listened to my older siblings:

1) Goal One: Not to be taken to Crazytown. Crazies want you down there in Crazytown with them because it affirms their reality, no matter how warped it may be. Don't go there. Don't become dramatic with the drama royalty, don't become passive-aggressive with the passive-aggressives. Whatever brand of craziness they have, just don't embrace it. At all costs, do NOT go to Crazytown with them.

2) Yes, they are crazy; yes, you should feel bad for them; but no, not bad enough to be victimized by them. You are not the Captain Save-A-Ho of Crazytown. Yes, it's sad that they're narcissistic (although I've yet to meet a narcissist unhappy with him or herself), passive-aggressive, or whatever, but your empathy should stop at the boundary of feeling bad for them and trying to save them. Why? First, because once you try to save them, you become their victim. Second, because you can't save them any more than you can perform open heart surgery and do sudoku at the same time. Only a professional can help a crazy. Don't try this at home, or anywhere else for that matter.

3) Do not put yourself in a position to either need or help a crazy, otherwise you will not achieve the goal of staying out of Crazytown. Trust me, if you are in a position of need with respect to a crazy, you'd be better off putting yourself out of your own misery than being slowly tortured by their craziness. Second, if you help a crazy, you become their victim, either by being caught up in their drama or being blamed for helping them in the first place. So, don't ever need a crazy to help you and don't ever help a crazy.

4) When it comes to crazies, avoidance is the best option. When Iyanla Vanzant said, "When you see crazy coming, cross the street," she summed up dealing with crazies at its best. Avoidance is the best option. Even engaging crazies in idle pleasantries like, well, "Hello," is, to them, an invitation for them to take you to Crazytown. Why? Because you showed an interest in them. Yes, that's all it takes. Might as well have hung a sign around your neck saying, "Hitchhiking to Crazytown."

Now, sing with me, to the chorus of Funkytown:

Won't let them take me . . . to Crazytown . . . won't let them take me . . . to Crazytown. . . .

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Are We Done Persecuting Gays?

Gay teen suicides. The military opposing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." And perverts thinking it's okay to set up secret webcams to record their gay roommate/classmate having sex and then stream it over the Internet, as if setting up a secret webcam to record anybody having sex is okay.

When did it become acceptable -- even cool -- to persecute gays?

I support gay marriage and oppose "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on legal grounds -- equality. If the government's going to stay in the business of deciding whether people can marry, it has to treat people equally. Marriage stopped being solely a religious rite when the government got into the business of regulating it. Besides, if marriage were solely a religious rite, then atheists shouldn't be allowed to marry -- but the government allows them to.

Similarly, if the government is going to decide who gets to defend our country (as if there's a rush to take up arms and get shipped to Iraq or Afghanistan), it needs to treat all these brave people equally. Last I checked, gay people are people. And brave, too.

And, quite frankly, I don't care about the sexual orientation of the men and women defending and dying for the freedoms I have. I do care that each and every one of them has the same freedoms at home as I do and that they are fighting abroad to defend. Need we look any further for examples of this type of hypocrisy and injustice than World War II, when we sent African American servicemen abroad to defend this nation only to have them be treated as second-class citizens upon their return? Besides, you don't have to be straight to shoot straight. I don't care if our servicemen and women are gay or straight; I just want them to be good at their jobs so they can protect our country and each other. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with the ability to shoot missiles, fly planes, or disarm an IED.

It saddens me to know that young people are taking their lives because they are being persecuted for being who they are. These young people don't have the benefit of the wisdom that comes with age and tells you, "It's going to be alright. Just wait and see."

Regardless of your religious beliefs, no matter what your faith is, this persecution of gay people has got to stop.

So, are we done persecuting gays?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Veteran Pol, Rookie Mistake, and the "W" Word

It's the new millennium. Why, oh why, do politicians still get caught saying embarrassing things or having their staff say embarrassing things into "hot" microphones or their functional equivalent -- phone calls on speaker that haven't been properly terminated?

Veteran politician Jerry Brown made the rookie mistake -- or his staff did -- of continuing an off-color conversation about Meg Whitman while inadvertently leaving a voicemail by not properly terminating a speakerphone call. We've seen this same "rookie" mistake with hot mics with Carly Fiorina and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

But it's what's said in these unintentionally revealing moments that is, well, revealing.

In the new millennium, you don't get to call a woman politician, even Meg Whitman, a "whore." It's a term charged with sexist meaning, usually reserved only for women, often unfairly used. Sure, Meg may have been selling out to the police unions, agreeing to lay off pension changes for them in exchange for their support, but that doesn't make her a whore. It makes her a politician. Like the big boys and girls at the State Capitol, Meg has some constituency she's willing to throw a bone to in order to get their support. If Meg's a whore, well, then the State Capitol is one big ol' whorehouse.

And, to paraphrase a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill, "Now that we've established what Meg is, we're just haggling about the price . . . . "

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Benefits of Being Raised Black: Who Promised You "Fair"?

Who promised you "fair"? Well, they lied to you.

- My late mother's response whenever I said, "That's not fair."

When I read the California Supreme Court's decision upholding the state employee furloughs, of course I was mad because the legal reasoning was so twisted. The justices clearly reached high into the far recesses of their collective behinds to pull out that decision. Before I could complete my thought of, "That's not fair," the voice of my late mother, She Who Is Exalted (SWIE), came into my head:

"Who promised you 'fair'? Well, they lied to you."

At that point, I laughed, thankful for having been raised black.

Black parents don't sugarcoat anything. Life's not fair? Well, who promised you "fair"? Life knocks you down? I'll let you lie there for a little while, but then you have to get back up. Get cheated out of something you worked hard for? The world doesn't owe you a damn thing. Expecting someone to do something for you for free? Ain't nothin' free but Jesus. Do something stupid on the job that everyone else does and get singled out because you're black? Well, that's on you, according to black parents. See, you forgot you were black. Heck, I wasn't even allowed to believe in Santa Claus because my mom wasn't going to give some old guy the credit for putting Christmas presents under the tree that SHE paid for.

Growing up black means growing up expecting life to be unfair and learning to "build a bridge and get over it," as one of my nephews would say. Black parents teach you to expect unfairness because NOT to teach you this would be a disservice to you, leaving you unprepared for how the world REALLY works. Black children are taught to be resilient in the face of unfairness because life is unfair, and life for black people tends to be really unfair. You'd be crazy or depressed if you perpetually expected fairness as a black person.

So when arguably unfair things like the California Supreme Court's decision happen, you learn to shrug it off, laugh, and build a bridge and get over it.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Meg and Nicky Situation: Janky and Stanky

When the story broke about Meg Whitman's undocumented maid, I was a bit skeptical. The timing was a bit suspicious. Whether Meg and her husband were aware that there had been a Social Security no-match letter sent to them was not clearly proven at the time. But when Nicky Diaz Santillan said that, at the time of her dismissal, Meg told here, "From now on, you don't know me, and I don't know you," I thought: Sounds like Meg knew.

Those words sound like they came from an aspiring politician trying to hide something, just like the words, "Now, kiss it when you're done," sound like they came from an NBA player visiting Colorado for knee surgery who never thought he'd be caught forcing a woman into sex.

But I digress.

The issue isn't what Meg did but how she handled it. She blamed just about everyone under the sun for hatching a conspiracy against her and pleaded ignorance of Nicky's status until just before she fired her. She said Nicky handled the household mail, not her, not her husband -- until her husband's scrawl was shown written across the Social Security no-match letter.

You run a multi-billion dollar company, and you don't know the immigration status of your maid? I'd bet eBay had a cadre of immigration lawyers on tap to keep good IT hires on the payroll. I bet eBay knew the immigration status of its employees.

There's just something janky and stanky about the Meg and Nicky situation. Even if I were inclined to vote for yet another gubernatorial candidate with training wheels on, it wouldn't be this one. If Meg wants to "strengthen our borders" against illegal immigration, perhaps she should start with her own front door -- assuming Nicky was ever allowed to enter through the front door.