Category Archives: Shapiro

The OTHER Recall Election Results

District Attorney Jill Ravitch

So Gavin Newsom “survived” the recall election. Hmm, when a Repugnicant wins an election with 65% of the electorate in their favor the national media call it a landslide. When a Democrat does the same they “survive”.

So much for the so-called liberal media bias.

I wrote back in July about the OTHER recall we had going here in Sonoma County, that of our outgoing District Attorney. Jill Ravitch had all of nine months left in her term and had already announced she was not going to seek another one when the petitions, funded completely by one millionaire land developer she went after for abandoning senior citizens he was responsible for during a raging firestorm, went out to recall her. Read that article to get all the details.

You’ll be happy to hear (at least I was) that Ravitch “survived” her recall election. Is there another word to describe getting 80% of the electorate in your favor? Maybe the no longer failing New York Times can chirp in with the proper adjective. Yeah, 80% in her favor. I’ve seen elections where someone was running unopposed and didn’t get 80%.

A deeper dive into the numbers showed something even more interesting. In Sonoma County Newsom won his recall with 78% of the vote — 112,264 to 31,939. Ravitch won as previously mentioned with 80% of the vote — 101,269 to 25,400. She actually did better than Newsom, though not by that much. But add those totals up. There were literally just two questions on the ballot, the two recalls. Why did 17,534 people vote in the governor recall, but didn’t vote on the DA recall?

For that we need to look at the actual physical ballot. No, there were no hanging chads, this wasn’t a butterfly ballot of any sort, this was just a straight ahead regular old fill in the bubble with a blue or black pen ballot. Except for one thing.

While the governor recall, because of the extraordinary amount of potential replacements named, took up the entire of one page of the ballot, the DA recall was placed not on a second page, but on the back of the first page. In other words, you had to turn the page over in order to vote on the DA recall. And since no one signed up to be on the ballot as a potential replacement, the entirety of the back side of the ballot took up less space than the space this paragraph is taking.

17,534 people flat out DIDN’T NOTICE the DA election was happening at the same time. Wow, how did that happen? I mean it’s only been all over the local news since last June. But then again here is the sum total of the advertising the No D.A. Recall folks did for this election:

No D.A. Recall Poster

Notice something missing from this poster? That’s right, no where on it does it mention what day the recall election was taking place. In big giant lettering we are told who’s paying for it, but it never mentions the election is the same day as the OTHER recall election. Now yes, 126,669 citizens DID turn the ballot over and vote in the D.A. recall election, but the fact that 17,534 DIDN’T should worry not just educators and good government folks, but the Democratic Party as well.

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It’s Election Day Dude!

Gavin Newsom Keeps All

As you read this Californians are going to the polls to decide the fate of the recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom.

Yeah who am I kidding? Statements like that are a thing of the past. Californians have been voting for almost a month by now on this insipid recall referendum. The days of standing in line to dutifully cast one’s ballot are as quaint and old fashioned as going to the malt shop with your high school sweetheart to sock hop with all the cool cool cats. I mean you could do it, but you’re gonna get some odd looks from the vast majority of your fellow citizens.

Though the national media is focusing on the horse race of the recall, Californians are looking at this more as a referendum on how Newsom has handled the pandemic. And that’s been the most effective tool for Newsom. Don’t like how I mandated masks and vaccines and social distancing? Um, have you seen the death rate in places like Texas and Florida? Would you rather have that?

And it doesn’t hurt that the leading Republican candidate campaigns on how much “freedum” ™ those states have. Yeah guy, just keep singing that song, especially when your fellow conservative unvaccinated antivaccine radio talk show hosts keep dropping like flies.

Californians’ have come to realize Newsom’s handling of the pandemic is like that personal life moment when you realize your parents, who previously had been nothing but nagging kill joys, were actually pretty smart about life and things.

Remember back in the early days of the pandemic when the two “voices of reason” among the American political landscape were Gavin Newsom and that guy in New York, what’s his name? I don’t want to diminish the facts that brought down Sonny Corleone…er…I mean Andrew Cuomo but I can’t help but wonder how it is that two governors who were held in such high esteem just a year and a half ago were targeted for ouster.

And thus we come to how Repugnicants try to gain power in this country. They can’t win fair elections so they gerrymander districts, run recall elections, shout about election fraud, enact laws making it harder to vote, make voters fear their neighbors both in the physical and the international senses, and play to the uneducated and easily led astray. All for the benefit of the super wealthy so they can remain super wealthy and not be forced to settle for being reduced to just really wealthy.

And they really really hate the way California runs elections. Ballots mailed to every registered voter a month before the election? Ballots that can be mailed in, dropped off at secure drop boxes located in every community? Ballots that if you really want can be dropped off at polling locations on Election Day? Voting shouldn’t be that easy! Why if it were the entire adult population would vote! Can’t have that!

And for those who decry the notion of a mailed out ballot as being a blow to the concept of community (ahem….like I once was) let me just say that the world and the way we work in it has changed so the way we vote needs to change. It’s not the first time we’ve changed the way we vote. Once upon a time you had to be a white male over 21 who owned land in order to cast a vote. You also had to have the time to come in from your farm to the closest town and put an X by a name. And then you couldn’t legally go down the dusty street to have a shot of redeye at the saloon.

The world changes. Blacks, women, teens who have hit 18, all got the vote. Polling stations were set up in neighborhoods. Xs were replaced by pulling a handle, then punching a card, then touching on a screen. Bars remain open on Election Day in most communities. Life moves on.

Move on or get run over.

Shapiro Out

 

 

 

The Man Who Lived By The River

As the rains from Hurricane Ida fell across the Gulf Coast I thought of this moment from THE WEST WING. It has been floating in my brain for the past few weeks for other reasons, but I took the storm as a sign to bring it out. It’s an old joke, but it perfectly summarizes the state we find ourselves in vis-a-vis some in the community who believe they don’t need vaccines because “god will protect them”.

Of course it never hurts to have a great actor like Karl Malden deliver it.

But really I do have to wonder why the religious who claim to not need the vaccine don’t see the vaccine creators as having been “touched by god” to create it. Really, are you that narcissistic to believe only you know the mind and ways of that being you call the all knowing, all powerful? Is it at least possible that he (she) has sent you the solution, but you don’t want to believe it because it came through that art known as science? Their are many who believe science is merely man attempting to understand the mysteries of god. Not my take, but at least it is a rational take that the “god will protect me” squad might want to think about.

When you meet him at the pearly gates and ask why he took you, don’t be surprised when he says he sent you masks and social distancing and finally a vaccine, what more did you want? Then he introduces you to a man of wealth and taste.

 

Shapiro Out

Random Thoughts on Labor Hashanah

Jewish Women Labor Strikers

It’s always fun when a corporal holiday collides with a religious one.

I write this on Monday which is Labor Day here in the States as well as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, around the world. It feels like we ought to be throwing confetti so long as it is union made confetti from a factory that practices profit sharing, respect for labor, and a low highest paid employee to lowest paid differential.

Those would all be very Jewish ideals and after all, isn’t New Year’s when we think about the ideal way in which to live?

By the way, while it is certainly fine and acceptable to wish your Jewish friends a “Happy New Year” keep in mind that the holiday to follow in a week or so, Yom Kippur, is officially the Day of Atonement when you ask forgiveness from all you may have hurt in the recently ended year. Don’t wish those same friends a “Happy Yom Kippur”, it’s bad form.  Kinda like sending your Catholic friends a sympathy card on Good Friday.

But speaking of Labor Day, Delta Airlines and many other companies have decided the cost of insuring employees against COVID has gotten to the point where they will be imposing at $200 per month surcharge on the health care plans of any unvaccinated employee. In addition

in compliance with state and local laws, COVID pay protection will only be provided to fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing a breakthrough infection.” Unvaccinated employees who contract Covid, without exemptions, will have to use their sick days after that.

I’m usually not in favor of large corporations picking out a minority of employees and targeting them with lower wages (deducting $200 from their paycheck makes their wages lower) but there are two mitigating factors here.

  1. It’s already being done for other health related matters. For instance, smokers pay a higher premium than non-smokers.
  2. GET THE FREAKING VACCINE. It’s not just about you. This is an airborne communicable disease that has killed 4.5 Million people worldwide and in this instance your “rights” are not greater than anyone else’s right to not be infected. Those same rights you claim come with responsibilities, to your fellow workers, your customers, to the world at large. Just as I have a right to free speech I also have a responsibility to not yell “There’s a gremlin on the wing of the plane trying to make it crash”. (The only time I will go with Shatner over Lithgow)

Back to Rosh Hashanah. I am what is referred to as a “Eating and Gifts” Jew as in I only celebrate the holidays that involve a big feast or presents. Rosh Hashanah is a big feast holiday. Besides looking forward to the new year it is a celebration of the fall harvest. The table groans with the weight of beef brisket, potato kugel, late summer vegetables, and sweets for as far as the eye can see. Not a one of them pumpkin spice flavored for which I am eternally grateful.

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Infinity Stones

Infinity Stones

One stone to rule them all…or am I confusing epic adventure tales?

About a month ago I tangentially mentioned in a post that I had an incident of kidney stones requiring an ER visit. Since then I have been trying to improve my health despite the best efforts of the American Medical Complex to complicate that.

I am no stranger to the formation of kidney stones. This is my fourth bout with them. And yes, I do all I can to prevent them from occurring. I cut down on salt, avoid oxalate foods, and drink lots of water. But my body just loves to remind me that, as the old adage goes, man plans and god says ha!

I belong to Kaiser Permanente, the largest HMO organization in the country. I like the idea of an HMO. I like that it takes a simple concept, people are generally healthy and it’s good to keep them that way, and uses that idea as the basis for it’s coverage. I’ll put it in my own words: Be proactive not reactive.

Unfortunately despite my numerous times being told to (GROSS STUFF ALERT) pee in the same jar for 24 hours then give them a sample and the number of times I’ve gone into the lab for a spot test (I always feel like an Olympic athlete doing that), I still get those pesky conglomerations of calcium stuck in places where the sun don’t shine and cause a kind of pain that only a man would think was like giving birth and which  women who have would say “oh please”. That’s when I have to go the extra 20 miles and get to the big hospital where the reactive doctors play.

And that is why I found myself in the emergency room last month. It’s also where one discovers the flip side of the HMO.

Because as good as Kaiser is at trying to keep you healthy they use the opportunity of your being unwell to trot out all the old American Medical Complex tricks to separate you from the money in your wallet. Oh and your sanity as well.

At the emergency room I had a doctor examine me, an X-Ray, a CT Scan, blood and urine workups, and was prescribed a few medications. Total cost with the medications was $275. Now depending on where you live that’s not a bad deal all said and done. I was also told that I would need to see a urologist for a more extensive exam. I fully expected that.

The next day I got a call from the urology department wanting to set up an appointment. I asked if it could be at the more local medical office and got a surprise when I was told the “exam” would be via phone. Well okay, COVID and all, I suppose this could be handled via telemedicine. A few days later I got an email from a urologist, we’ll call him Dr. Stone, who said he didn’t think there was anything to talk about until we waited a couple of weeks, did another CT Scan, and saw if the stones had moved. The ones in my kidney, not his family. That made sense to me so he set up another scan.

Click the button for more fun and adventures

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A Reader Writes In To Inquire

Democrats Vs. Republicans

After my last post a reader who stands in opposition to what I said asked me some questions that I thought would be better answered in todays post then a simple reply to just him. He raises some points that I often hear from those who stand in opposition to my point of view. We will begin with

Since (Biden) took office, Gas prices in suburban areas of (LOCATION REDACTED) have hit highs of $5 per gallon.

Yes they have. I wish Biden had the power to put a cap on how much oil producers can charge for a gallon of gas, but until the socialist dream is achieved he doesn’t. Nor has any president. EVER. If you are upset about five dollar a gallon gas then start getting mad at the real culprits, the oil companies. Personally I think it’s because they see we are coming to the end of the age of the internal combustion engine and are trying to get as much cashola as they can before no one wants and/or needs their product. But if you think five bucks is high, wait till they start using Hurricane Ida as an excuse to raise prices.

And you know they will.

Since he took office, ISIS which was rarely heard of the previous 4 years are claiming to be responsible for the afghan airport bombing which killed many US marines and citizens that have been left there before being evacuated before the US army was to let in the Taliban to take over.

First of all, it was not ISIS that was responsible for the Kabul airport bombing but rather ISIS-K which is an off shoot organization not controlled by ISIS. US citizens were killed in the attack but many more of the dead were Afghans. That’s not an excuse, just a statement of fact. Could it have been prevented? I don’t know, but I do know that a second attempt was prevented with a well placed drone strike. I’m sure you were applauding the bold and direct action that Biden took.

Before he took office it was thought that there might be control on the current situation at hand but reading articles on CNN which is pro Biden, it looks like this August is worse than last year August (although you’ll claim it’s all others faults).

What control are you talking about? Trump’s “peace talks” with the Taliban? Look, let me make it clear, we had no business being in Afghanistan and we certainly had no business being there for twenty years. Biden said enough is enough, we’re not wasting any more money or blood on a place with no strategic value to our country. And if you want to cry about terrorists being there please note my earlier comment about the drone strike as an example of how to take care of things.

The Taliban have no friends, only those who give them money to buzz around and annoy Western democracies. Let them run an unrunable country. When the time is right an opposition group will take to the hills, just as the Taliban did twenty years ago, and begin a guerilla war that will end with them marching into Kabul. But if you think that will bring about a peaceful, serene Afghanistan I’ll remind you that the Taliban will just take to the hills and begin another guerilla war.

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Elder Abuse

Steve Harvey and Donald Trump

Here’s Larry Elder with his hero Donald…hold on I’m being told that’s Steve Harvey. My bad.

Larry Elder

Here’s the real Larry Elder, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

So here we are, two and a half weeks before the votes are counted on the Recall To End All Recalls (or so many of us hope) and look who’s shot into the “lead” among the potential replacements. Why it’s the self proclaimed “Sage From South Central” Larry Elder.

And America says “Who?”

That’s okay, most of California is saying the same thing.

Well let me tell you a few things about Larry the Elder and I’m gonna make this promise right now. Everything I tell you will be the truth no matter how bizarre it might sound. And trust me, a whole lot of this is gonna sound bizarre.

We’ll start with the basics. Larry Elder is a conservative radio talk show provocateur. Like most of his ilk his schtick is to make outrageous statements “just to stir the pot” as they like to say when having to backpedal from one of those statements. He is the protégé of  Dennis Prager of Prager University infamy if you are interested in his bonifides.

Elder grew up in the South Central Los Angeles area in the 1960’s and 70s. Contrary to the image that might engender in your mind, South Central at that time was a working class neighborhood of small individual homes occupied by working class families. Frankly it still is. Shame what one riot caused by police brutality can do for a neighborhood’s image. His father was a janitor who saved his money and eventually opened a diner in the neighborhood. The son went to school and made it to Brown University for undergrad work and then on to the University of Michigan where he got his law degree. After a stint practicing law he discovered the world of media, working his way up from part time fill in host on local TV to eventually having his own syndicated megaphone coast to coast.

As they used to say (and he probably would still say) he’s a credit to his race.

Did I mention that he’s black?

Sigh, we’ve gone from the late great Tom Bradley potentially being the first black governor of California to a guy whose political philosophy seems to be “If a liberal was ever for it then I’m against it” regardless of the public harm it would do.

So he’s come out and said his first act in office would be to rescind mask mandates and vaccination requirements. At this point unfortunately we have to be expecting that from any conservative politician because you know “freedumb man ™” But this is nothing new for Elder. He also believes that second hand smoke can’t cause cancer and that while the climate may be changing, humans aren’t responsible for it.

His campaign slogan outta be “Life, it ain’t no big thing”.

All those are just the beginning. Certainly in the top three of concerns for Californians is homelessness. The causes of homelessness are way too varied to go into here, but the bottom line is what are we going to do about alleviating it. Many suggestions, many plans, but none involve gutting environmental protections to allow builders to erect huge apartment complexes on protected wetlands. That is until Larry Elder came along because that is the sum total of his plan to cut down on people living on the streets. Mental health, drug treatment, not important and besides, no one makes REAL money off that. Just gotta get rid of all those pesky rules and regulations. Build baby build. We could call them Elder Hostiles.

That last joke courtesy of El Grand Hefe de First Draft, Adrastos.

But at least it shows me who the money is behind him. California Building Industry Association come on down!

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Recall the Recall

Welcome to California where the American Nazi Party formerly known as the Republican Party have taken advantage of our absurdly lenient recall rules to attempt to undo the results of an overwhelming victory by Gavin Newsom in the last gubernatorial election. 

I got my ballot today. That’s the way we roll here in the Golden State. No standing in line at the polling station, no wondering if the boss will give you time off to go vote, no muss, no fuss. The ballot arrives in the mail (much to Louis DeJoy’s consternation), you fill it out and then can either mail it back in, drop it off at an official ballot collection box which are located in about 20 places throughout the county, or bring it to ANY polling location on election day. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and make use of your local polling location to mark your ballot or press the lever.

Civic engagement made simple. 

Prior to COVID, several counties, mine being one of them, implemented this system for balloting. During last year’s elections the state adopted it for every county. We did not even have a suggestion of any ballot irregularities. In fact a non partisan commission determined there was no advantage gained by either party from full mail in balloting. There is even a system for tracking your ballot from the moment it is mailed to you until the moment it is counted. You get emails and/or texts alerting you to it’s status. It looks like this is the future of voting in California.

That is as long as Gavin Newsom remains governor. If he is recalled and any of the non-entities listed on the ballot take power all bets are off. The recall law is absolutely screwy. Just about anyone who can marshal enough signatures and can pay the filing fee can get their name on the ballot. The only person who can’t be on the ballot? Gavin Newsom.

24 of the 46 names on the ballot identify as Repugnicant while only 8 identify as Democrat. A couple are the usual Libertarian, Green, etc. and the rest have no party affiliation. Only one of the 46 has any governmental experience and that was as a member of the Board of Equalization (that’s the sales tax board). Several list their occupations as “entertainer”. Lots of former cops. And of course Caitlyn Jenner because we need to add a they to the hims and hers. Even the serious Repugnicant candidates for next year’s governors race didn’t get involved in this. 

And yet polls show this as a dead heat race, with an energized Nazi, er, I mean, Repugnicant base rallying around the hope Democrats will forget to send the ballot back in. So first let me scream at Democratic voters. SEND THE FUCKING BALLOT BACK IN YOU WANKERS. OK, now let me scream at the Nazi scum who are behind this bullshit recall. YOU ARE NOT TRUE AMERICANS AND HAVE NO IDEA WHAT ONE MAN ONE VOTE REALLY MEANS

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The Ne(x)t War

Hacker at Computer

Everyone here at First Draft has been expounding on the events in Afghanistan this past week or so. If, dear reader, you are so inclined (and I highly recommend it) take a look at Cassandra’s post or Adrastos or my brother Michael, Michael F. All are excellent reads worthy of your time.

I am, like President Joey B. Shark, moving on.

I want to talk about the next war, mostly because it’s already underway.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are nearly constant attacks against Western citizens and companies via the internet. Just today T-Mobile had to admit they had been hacked to the tune of 40 million people having their personal info, including addresses and Social Security numbers, stolen. But they are not the only ones and are far from being the first. Hell, go back far enough and you might discover that this war has been going on longer than the one in Afghanistan.

And it’s not going to end any time soon.

One of the problems is that we first have to admit that it IS a war. You may think that these hacks are being done by some Incel in his parent’s basement as Donald Trump claimed about the DNC hack, but I’m here to tell you it’s pretty obvious that backdoor cyber attacks by individuals or even groups of non governmental individuals are unlikely. Contrary to the myth Hollywood has created, little Matthew Broderick can’t hack into NORAD from his Commodore 64. Nor can any of the individuals, fictional or not, who have tried to ransomware a hacked system. They may have started out as lone wolves, but as the targets became more complicated the individual pirate became a band of pirates and then, just like England in the age of Elizabeth, the pirates went to work for governments. These attacks are coming from well funded government led operations, the kind that, were they in the physical world, would be called guerilla warfare. So first we have to come to the realization that we are in a war and call it that, not cybercrime.

Power grids get hacked. Military computers get hacked. The systems controlling air traffic and even traffic lights get hacked. Elections get hacked. As Deep Throat would say (no not “follow the money”) who benefits? You are talking about a gradual even long term series of attacks on various but vital aspects of everyday life in the West. Tell me, what would cause more deaths, the bombing of one building or the sudden take down of the air traffic control system? 3000 people versus who knows how many of the average of 1.2 million people on flights at any given moment? Think about this, even the most Luddite, living off the grid, burying their money in cans out in the backyard, Survivalist nut case still has to drive a car. That becomes more difficult with no gas because the pipelines have been shut down and more dangerous because the traffic lights are completely turned off. Everyone would be affected. If you wanted to bring rioting and civil unrest to a country this would be the modern way of doing it. Especially if you have a coordinated fifth column of citizens living in the country who would be welcoming the arrival of your “peacekeepers” with rose petals and open arms, all covered live by their favorite faux news network.

Not to mention if you add in a natural disaster like an earthquake or an unchecked forest fire or a pandemic you could bring an entire nation to it’s knees without firing a single shot.

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Shane Is Not Happy With His Room

Japanese Restaurant

Really, the only time I get upset at a Japanese restaurant is if they run out of Wasabi

A couple of weeks ago an incident occurred at a Palo Alto Japanese restaurant. To summarize, a customer got bent out of shape because the restaurant, as a COVID precaution, wouldn’t take cash, only credit cards, as a form of payment. He started in on a rant about not being able to pay with cash (no doubt because he doesn’t have credit cards because then “they” know where you are) which of course ended with the now expected racial insults and cries of “go back where you came from”.

Really dude, you ate their food and now tell them to “go back where you came from”? Pretty sure he didn’t mean Mountain View. And you didn’t notice the 47 signs saying only credit cards as a form of payment? Just what kind of a…..no, I’ve been asked to defer from calling people the K name by my friends of the K name persuasion since they are getting all kinds of heat just for having that name. So in honor of having just concluded watching THE WHITE LOTUS, let’s call him Shane. Besides, I don’t know any Shanes.

Anyway, this Shane got so out of hand the cops had to be called and now they are investigating this as a hate crime. Well it should be. “Go back to where you came from” is just as coded a phrase as “urban upheaval” and “border crisis”. But I would also like to see it investigated as a hate crime against the service industry.

Really people, we’re at a point where things are beginning to open up just a crack in most of the country but it seems like half the population went into lock down and forgot how to act in public. This story takes place in Palo Alto but it might as well have taken place in a thousand other places. The prevailing attitude amongst so many people seems to be that any restaurant, bar, theater, hot dog stand, should just be glad to have the business and screw how I act. I’m free (from the detention room of my den), White (yes, it’s mostly white people) and 21 (or there abouts) so I can do whatever I want and you need the money so bad you’ll just have to take whatever I want to dish out.

And while that might be the major upfront factor in these incidents, I suspect there is something else on Shane’s mind. For that, we need to look at another story from last week.

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If Democrats Were More Like Republicans

Not even a Bowie Knife

If Democrats acted more the way Republicans act things might be different in these parts

  • The headline in the Dallas Morning News would be:

BIDEN TO TEXAS, DROP DEAD

  • Democratic governors would be shouting at the top of their lungs for citizens to wear masks as well as turning around and signing mandatory mask laws that have REAL teeth, ie, don’t wear a mask and you are confined to your home for the duration.
  • Kristen Simena would have outed Lady G and watched in smug triumph as he squirmed to get out from underneath his own baggage.
  • MSNBC would have better ratings than Fox on a consistent basis.
  • The public would have been bombarded with TV and print commercials saying this Daily Show phony anti-voting ad was real. Plus the Voting Rights Act would have already passed.
  • Every time Republicans blathered Culture Warrior chants, Democrats would bring out photos of slaves, civil rights workers being beaten, and the protests over the murder of George Floyd.
  • The cries over a supposed “border crisis” would be outshouted by the cries to fix the countries these poor people are fleeing
  • Climate change deniers would be ridiculed for their folly and real solutions involving real jobs for real workers would be front and center in the public mind.
  • Etc., Etc., Etc..

Democrats don’t have a problem with their policies. State any one of them to any John Q. Public you meet on the street, strip out who is in favor of that policy, and old John Q. is going to say, sure I’m for that. No one will ever say they are in favor of polluted water, unbreathable air, heath care only for those rich enough to afford it, preventing citizens from voting.

So where do Democrats stumble?

They don’t outshout their opponents. And on top of that they allow themselves to get drawn into useless debates over petty issues that muddle the waters and make independent and never Trump Republicans say how can I trust them to run the country.

Like it or not we live in an age of Click Bait and Gotcha and political discourse via Tweet. Democrats do a good job of pointing out in great detail the downsides and absurdities of what Republicans say, but by the time they do the metaphorical horse has fled the barn. Learn to play the game. It is played in short tweets that do nothing to advance the art of political discourse, but do get a few idiots who currently vote Republican to switch sides.

You can win with defense only in sports. If you don’t go on the offensive and do it on a regular and consistent basis you end up only playing defense. In the world of politics, defense loses every time. Just ask Andrew Cuomo.

I’m tired of Democrats not getting out ahead of any issue and allowing Republicans to set the argument. Look at the disgusting way Congressional Republicans have framed the January 6th attempted overthrow of the government as merely a group of over zealous tourists. Yes, Democrats have pushed back on that notion, but not so much that the general public hasn’t laughed Republicans out of office. The Republican argument is a plainly absurd idea. We all saw with our own eyes what happened and it was nothing less than an attempted coup intending to install Donald Trump as the winner of the 2020 election.

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Of Facts And History

Nagasaki Peace Statue

The Peace Sculpture in the Nagasaki Peace Park. Photo by yours truly.

I was going to write about the Tokyo Olympics coming to an end, but then I noticed today’s date. August 9th. So I decided to write about a different Japanese event.

76 years ago at 11:02 in the morning the United States dropped the “Fat Man” A-bomb on the city of Nagasaki. 74,000 people died, most in an instant, no warning, not even an air raid siren because the Bockscar, the plane carrying the bomb, was thought to be only on a reconnaissance run.

It was Nagasaki’s bad luck that the primary target, Kokura, had poor visibility that morning and thus the plane diverted to their secondary target.  Bad luck. That is about the biggest understatement of all time.

Historians say it ended the Second World War. They say both it and the Hiroshima bomb actually saved millions of people’s lives by negating the need for an amphibious invasion of the home islands of Japan. There is no denying that since those millions were still alive a week later when Japan accepted the surrender terms included in the Potsdam Declaration.

But history is a funny thing. Yes, it’s true that’s it is written by the victors but usually because the victors have the luxury of time and contemplation while the losers are too busy rebuilding their society. In fact it might be said that history is actually a collection of facts whittled and shaped into a narrative that aligns with the views of the victors. Thus, did the US drop the bombs on Japan? Undeniable fact. Did the US drop the bombs on Japan to let the USSR know we had, as Truman had told Stalin in Potsdam, “a weapon of enormous power” and to get them to stay out of the Pacific war? Fact, with a bit of informed supposition, a bit of smoothing and shaping.

The history of the atom bombs makes for strange bedfellows. There are those who decry it’s use, saying a naval blockade of Japan would have brought about surrender before an invasion would have been necessary or that the US should have had a demonstration explosion so as to scare the Japanese into surrender. There are those who praise it’s use, retribution for Pearl Harbor with the added note that for the two weeks prior the US had dropped leaflets throughout Japan saying cities would be destroyed if they did not surrender and thus we were the more “civilized” nation. The former include many conservatives, the later many liberals. The most liberal, anti-nuke teacher I had in high school told the story of being on a troop transport heading for the Pacific when word got to them about the bombs and feeling like his life had been saved and so yes, he was glad the bombs were dropped.

Personally I take the pragmatic view of history. Decisions are made in the moment, especially those related to war. Actions are taken not in a vacuum but in the context of what is happening. The United States had built a weapon that they felt would end the war. If Oppenheimer and his crew had been a bit faster there would be a wide swarth of the Ruhr Valley that would have been vaporized. But Nazi Germany had been defeated by the time the night sky of Alamogordo was turned to day. Using them against Japan was not even a question.  It was only a matter of how many times they would need to use them before the Japanese called it quits. Fortunately it was only twice.

More after the jump.

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Little Children Everywhere

Drawing Blood

I spent Wednesday afternoon navigating the halls of my local emergency room. Fear not dear reader, this was just my semi-annual bout with kidney stones. After getting x-rayed, CT Scanned, probed, prodded, spindled, and mutilated, I emerged with dignity intact, pain fairly well resolved, and a fistful of drugs no respectable street corner drug dealer would want. As George says, all things must pass.

So I’m fine, but this isn’t about me.

It’s about the woman across the aisle from me as we both waited for test results. Now to be fair this early twenties woman was in quite a bit of discomfort. So much so that her mother was allowed to sit with her, even though my wife (Cruella) had been COVID procedures banned from sitting with me. A nurse with a mobile blood draw cart came by to take a sample from this young lady who immediately went into spasms of fear over the thought of a needle going into her arm. The spasms were so great that I now understood why the mother was allowed to stay with her as she patted her daughters hair and cooed that everything would be all right and that it would only take a moment, etc. etc.

I want to make it clear here that this woman was not impaired in any way. This was all the work of the flapping blades of a helicopter parent who made enough of a noise that the nurses and security staff finally gave in.

At any rate, the woman’s moaning drew my attention. That’s when I noticed them. The tattoos she had adorning her right arm and also down her right leg. There may have been more on the other side of her body but they would have been hidden from my view. This woman had obviously spent many hours in (hopefully antiseptic) tattoo parlors having needles jabbed again and again into her skin, but couldn’t stand the thought of a thirty second blood draw. And that blood draw was only accomplished with the coaxing of mommy dearest.

Now I will admit that I don’t like having blood drawn. I can’t imagine anyone in the world actually LIKES it. It’s just one of those things that has to be done. One of those things that all adults have learned how to deal with. And while deep down we’d all like to have a loved one with us for moral support, as adults we know that the pain is momentary and the end results are what matter.

Would that this mother had ever once taught her daughter that.

So to all those who whine and cry and make excuses why they can’t/won’t get the COVID vaccine jabs allow me to call you by what you really are — little children afraid of a the big bad needle.

Little children think only of their own selves, never those around them. I’d venture to say the realization that one’s attitude is having an effect on the people around them is one of the first signs of maturity. And let’s be honest, at this point not getting the vaccine has less to do with any individual than it does with society as a whole. Here in California we’re back to masks indoors because a minority of people refuse the jab and thus COVID cases are rising, filling hospitals and morgues. I’m not happy about wearing a mask indoors, especially after a few weeks without, but I’ll do it because I’m an adult and we need to make the state safe again.

Then of all things, this pops up in my Twitter feed:

I don’t know if that woman had Meat as her tattoo artist, she might be a vegan for all I know, but I do know she wasn’t as afraid of his needles as she was of Nurse Nancy’s. If you are not vaccinated, you’re a child. Children have to be held by the hand and made to do what is best for themselves and the rest of their community. They don’t get a say in that. The grown-ups make the rules and the children learn the lesson.

Let’s end the week with a bit of hopeful music. I’ve been on a Beatles kick lately. Cause it’s been a long cold lonely winter:

Shapiro Out

Cancel My Wake Up Call

Woman turning off alarm

I’ve been back at work the past couple of weeks which necessitated using something I haven’t had to use in a year and a half — my alarm clock.  Of course in this day and age an “alarm clock” is really the clock app on my phone even though I have a bedside clock with an alarm that would do the job just as well, but hey I paid a lot of money for this phone and I’m gonna get the most use out of it I can.

A lot of my work occurs at hours that for many people they’d be asking “There’s one of those in the morning?” 3AM wakeups are not uncommon. Don’t feel bad for me, I don’t have to do it every morning unlike my father who had to get up at that hour every weekday for years so he could put a roof over our heads and food on the table and send you three kids to those fancy schools…

Wow, sorry about that, I was suddenly possessed by my father’s spirit. Might explain why I also had a sudden urge to yell to the wife (Cruella) to get me a soda and a pretzel. Yeah he was like that and my mother went along with it because that’s how they were both raised. He yelled, she did what he wanted, and everything was fine with the world. And it wasn’t just my mother he did this with. His kids, his employees, even his friends all got the same treatment.

It was called “having a forceful personality” and it was seen as an emblem of American success.

As a child I thought that was the way things were supposed to be. A man needed to brutishly barge his way through life to get what he wanted for him and his. But as I grew older I began to realize this wasn’t a great example of how to go through life. I began to disregard many of his tirades about anything from work to schooling to what play the football team should run next (option pass to the tight end was his go to favorite). This of course led to sometimes long periods of sulking on his part. What’s the point of having kids if they don’t listen to you?

I do want to make it clear that he was extremely liberal…for his times. While he was totally behind the Civil Rights movement (he saw Blacks and Jews as similarly oppressed people), women’s rights or gay rights were too far a stretch for him, at least in my formative years. He did believe, and he showed it in his own businesses, that if a woman did the job of a man and did it just as well then she should be paid the same, but at the same time women should really be homemakers. Homosexuality wasn’t something that people should be jailed for, it was something for the psychiatrist’s couch.  These were the prevailing liberal views of the Sixties and early Seventies.

Over time, and I’d like to think that my rejection of many of his views helped him along, his opinions changed. An outsider would call it evolving. I would call it growing up. It’s something we as humans do every day, cradle to grave.

Which brings me to wokeness and cancel culture.

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Simone Biles All American

Simone Biles

Just in case you have been living under a rock the past week, Simone Biles, preeminent women’s gymnast, considered by many the gymnastics GOAT (that’s Greatest Of All Time) withdrew from the 2020(1) Olympic competition because of mental health issues.

Like everything else these days, it quickly became a political issue. Liberals cheered her decision as a matter of personal sacrifice in the face of truly difficult circumstances. Conservatives jeered her as unpatriotic and unwilling to do whatever is necessary for the USA to chant “USA USA USA”.

Unwilling to do whatever is necessary for the USA to win. Of course all you conservatives are also vaccinated because that’s doing whatever is necessary for the USA to win against COVID.

But I digress.

I think Simone Biles is doing what a lot of Americans are doing coming out of this pandemic. She spent a good amount of time the last year and a half with nothing else to do but ponder what she wanted out of life. And she came to the conclusion that the mental strain of being the GOAT wasn’t worth it. Just like an awful lot of people around this country are coming to the conclusion that working for minimum wage in a job they hate is not quite a fulfilling life. For Biles, all those commercial endorsements have cushioned the financial strain she will perhaps take for her decision. For the rest of us, the government cheese (as the wife, Cruella, calls it) has given a small lifeline allowing many to ponder their life choices.

And what exactly is wrong with that?

For possibly the first time in their lives many Americans have taken this mandatory time-out to really THINK about their lives. So many of us just try to get through the day, make enough money to keep ourselves in food, clothing, and shelter (with a little WiFi thrown in). Suddenly there was nothing but time to delve into our own psyches, to ask ourselves just what do I want out of life.

I think that’s terrific.

But conservative media isn’t buying that. It’s people taking advantage of a free handout they cry. Cause you know, conservatives never get free handouts. Well we won’t count corporate welfare. Or a tax system that allows them to pay little if any taxes. Or a gerrymandered voting system that allows the minority of voters to block the will of the majority. Oh and shall we talk about Tucker Carlson?

Sorry, I digressed again.

What they’re really worried about is having to give up some of that money they so carefully horde in order to get people to work for them. Nothing gets a rich conservative to shout SOCIALISM faster than having to take a ten cent a share dip in earnings in order to properly compensate the people actually doing the work.

So Simone Biles says she’s had enough of it and conservatives go nuts and say she’s just a quitter. Hmm, a young black woman “couldn’t hack it” according to them. This will make it so much easier to pass on the African-American female candidate interviewing for a job. “Look, if Simone Biles can just up and quit, what’s to say this woman won’t do the same thing”. And you know that is the thought going through a lot of hiring managers heads right now.

If, dear reader, you happen to be a young black woman trying to advance in the world of business, and even if you are not, know this: Simone Biles has a kind of courage and fortitude those hiring managers will never have.  You don’t want to work at a company that would have them in that position because that company is going to fail. Work for someone who will be willing to take your life experience and use it for the betterment of all. Show them you are the hero of your own story.

Just like Simone Biles, All American.

If only we had had a chance to hear more of what would come from his own personal time out.

Shapiro Out

Assault On A Queen

Assault On A Queen Poster

I’m a sucker for a good “caper” movie. Give me protagonists with shady pasts who devise brilliant schemes to make themselves and their buddies rich and man that is just good old fashioned entertainment. This movie, ASSAULT ON A QUEEN, is a 1966…well…at best okay addition to the caper cannon. Sinatra just kinda walks through it, the plan has you wondering why they do things the way they do, never explains away nagging incongruities, and the two best acting performances are supplied by supporting characters (Franciosa and Conte). But in terms of audacious plans it’s hard to beat raising a sunken submarine, retrofitting it, and making it your get away vehicle for robbing an ocean liner at sea.

I’m sure by this point you’re probably thinking “okay where’s he going with this”. Patience. Just like a good caper movie you need all the backstory.

The film’s ocean liner is a real ship, the RMS Queen Mary. When used for the filming it was in it’s next to last year as a seafaring vessel. Soon after the filming was completed Cunard/White Star sold the Queen Mary to the City of Long Beach in southern California where it has been permanently moored for the past 54 years. It has functioned as a hotel, convention center, and general tourist attraction for all that time.

The city had leased the ship to a management company who agreed to run the facility and keep it in good shape. “Just send us the check each month” seemed to be the municipal attitude. But Grande Dames, especially those of the ocean going variety, need constant maintenance and upkeep. Constant maintenance and upkeep costs a lot of money. For as long as tourists paid their way onboard to see how the other half once traveled or conventioneers thought it was a hoot to stay on a ship instead of a Sheraton things were fine. For the last year and a half though the tourists haven’t been coming. Neither were the checks. And an independent inspection of the ship’s condition showed that it needed over a hundred million dollars just to get it back to a state that would keep it afloat for the next 25 years. It would be close to half a billion dollars to retrofit it to last another hundred years.

The management company, when informed of the repairs needed, basically said “New phone, who dis?” and declared bankruptcy, leaving the City of Long Beach holding the proverbial bag and forcing the city council to debate what to do with the ship. By the end of the debate I’m sure most of the council members were wondering why in hell their predecessors had come up with this cockamamie scheme.

Their options, according to the Daily Mail, came down to three:

Option 1: Renovate and preserve the Queen Mary for 100 years 

It’s estimated that preserving the Queen Mary until 2120 could cost taxpayers between $200 million and $500 million. Extensive repairs and upgrades would need to take place on a dry dock and could take several years to complete.

Option 2: Renovate and preserve the Queen Mary for 25 years

Experts say short-term preservation could cut immediate costs to the taxpayer. Marine engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol says taxpayers will fork out $150 million and $175 million to keep the boat viable as a tourist attraction until the late 2040s.

Option 3: Dismantle and/or sink the boat

It is estimated that either sinking or dismantling the boat could cost upwards of $105 million because metal from the 81,000 ton vessel would have to be transported to a scrap facility or moved further out into the ocean

First of all it’s a ship, not a boat. A ship can carry a boat. A boat can never carry a ship. End of naval semantics lesson.

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Kevin And Karen Can F*%K Themselves

Kevin Can F Himself

You know, for a nice Canadian gal she sure has a habit of picking titles that are potty mouthed

My new favorite TV show is called Kevin Can F*%K Himself. If you don’t know, the premise of the show is that that main character, Allison, lives in two different television realities. In the brightly lit multi-camera sitcom world she is the perpetually put upon wife of the titular man child character. Think Leah Remini in The King Of Queens. In the other darker single camera world she is a woman on the edge of a nervous, potentially homicidal, breakdown ready to do anything to escape the hell that her husband has made of her life. Think Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. The combination of the two is a phenomenal deconstruction of both styles. I’m particularly drawn to the point it makes about how situations perceived as benign one way are tragic in another.

Which brings me to vaccines. In particular, the COVID 19 vaccine.

Let me just begin by saying that if you are a Kevin or a Karen who still hasn’t gotten the vaccine, you can go f*#k yourself. I don’t want to hear your excuses. I don’t want to hear about how the FDA hasn’t fully approved it (this is an emergency dickwad and it was approved for emergency use so f**k you use it). I don’t want to hear about how you HEARD it might mess with your DNA (no more than that six pack of Coors before dinner every night does and probably a lot less). I don’t want to hear about how you’re just being cautious and once the science comes in you’ll decide from there (like you care about science or could even read a scientific report let alone understand it). And if you say but people who have been vaccinated have still tested positive for COVID I swear I will punch your lights out. Learn what that really means. If you want this pandemic to be over there is only one way for that to happen and it’s for everyone to get the vaccine.

So f*^k you if you haven’t gotten it.

We had it beat. We were starting to reopen, to get back to normal, to come out on the other side. All you had to do was get the jab, once for J&J, twice for the others. The first day I was eligible I made an appointment to get it. More importantly the wife (Cruella) made an appointment to get it as well. Put a pin in that point, we’ll come back to it after the jump.

On June 15 California declared that anyone who was vaccinated could go without a mask, not have to observe social distancing, and in general get back to life as we knew it. Last week many counties in California were forced to reintroduce those precautions because the Delta variant, which it has been shown the vaccine protects against, has spiked here and across the country. Who’s getting sick? Not those of us vaccinated. Only those who are not. In other words, those of us who did what we were asked to do, what we were pleaded with to do, now have to go back to Pandemic Days because little Karen Kouldn’t Kare with her degree in epidemiology from the University of Fox News has to be kept alive and well.

I’ll do it, cause I’m just that kind of community minded person, but Karen can go f##k herself.

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American Hero

Rockets in Huntsville Alabama

Rocket display in Huntsville, AL. Photo by J. Freshour

Earlier this year I wrote about my mother-in-law. Today is the day I will always associate with my father-in-law. Some thoughts on him, adapted from a piece I wrote a dozen years ago.

It’s July 20. Those of us old enough remember it as the day of one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. We can tell you where we were, who we were with, how we rejoiced. We celebrated Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins. Their voyage to the moon and back is legendary, the stuff of American heroes. Much has been written and spoken about them in the years since. They are the heroes of the the Space Race, the Cold War, and any other capitalize the two words phrase from the era between WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

That’s all well and good, but I’d like to talk about another American. His name was Jim Freshour and he didn’t go to the moon. Instead in the mid 1960’s he got to pack up and move from Sunnyvale California to Huntsville Alabama. The mid 1960’s. Huntsville Alabama. He didn’t go to the moon, he went to a whole new planet. And he took his family along with him.

Those of you my age or older may recall that Huntsville Alabama was dubbed “Rocket City USA” back then. From all over the country came young engineers and scientists to work on the absurd challenge a martyred president had put forth; to put a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth by the end of the decade. And as if it weren’t crazy enough that all these over-educated, underpaid, slide rule gunslingers were plopped down in the middle of the segregated South, they ludicrously were led by a group of former Nazi bomb makers who had just a few years earlier been trying their best to bury London under a blitz of V2 rockets. The whole lot of them were met by a welcome wagon of race baiting, fifteen year olds in the sixth grade, tobacco chewing, George Wallace loving, reddest of redneck natives.

The Cold War meets Jim Crow. What a sight that must have been.

Jim did his job. Every morning he went off to work and every afternoon the ground around Huntsville would shake with the testing of the thunder he had created. Every evening he would come home and play with his children and avoid talking about what he had done at work all day. Like everyone else imported to Huntsville, Jim couldn’t talk about what he did. The constraints of national security made the merest whisper of what was said or done in the buildings behind the fencing on “that side” of town not simply local gossip, but a matter of national security, even treason.

Everyone knew what those rockets with their red glare were really about. Oh getting a man to the moon was the exciting tale to sell the public, but what we were really saying to our vodka swilling competitors across the ocean was “Don’t mess with us. If we can put one of these on the moon we can sure as hell land one in Moscow packed with a multiple kiloton nuclear surprise.”

It’s a beautiful day in Dr. Strangelove’s neighborhood.

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A Victim of FOFO

Prince George At Euro 2020 Final

I feel for ya kid. If my dad made me wear a suit and tie to a sporting event AND my team lost I’d be pissed too.

A few years ago a new acronym entered the lexicon- FOMO. It stands for Fear Of Missing Out, the notion that because via our phones we can see in real time events our friends and relations are engaging in we are somehow missing out on those events by not actually being there.

This past Sunday I became a victim of FOFO. Like FOMO, FOFO involves our relationship with technology and the toys that bring the tech to our fingertips. But FOFO isn’t about missing out on something, it’s about the active desire to not want to know something. FOFO stands for Fear Of Finding Out.

The particular event this relates to was the final of the Euro Cup Soccer Tournament between England (the good guys) and Italy (the less good guys). Out here on the Left Coast the match began at noon. I could not watch it then. There was business to attend to, business that would not be finished till well after the end of the game. No problem thought I. I would simply record the game, avoid any information about what happened in the game, and watch it in pure unadulterated sports ignorance bliss when I got home.

And that’s when I encountered FOFO.

It might not be a big deal here in the US of A, but the Euro Cup IS a big deal everywhere else in the world. While I had disabled all the alerts I have for sports stories and even went to the extent of disabling alerts from news organizations on the off chance a score would find it’s way to my binging phone, I so wanted to know nothing of the match in order to better enjoy it via tape delay that I took to not even looking at my phone the entire afternoon.

That’s a lot more difficult than you would think. I didn’t miss out on anything really important, but every time there was a vibration and a bing in my pocket (is that a bing in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?) I felt I had to ignore it on the oft chance it might contain information I didn’t want to know.

And suddenly I understood the Fox News viewer better than I ever have.

While I didn’t want to know who scored or what team was ahead, the Fox News viewer doesn’t want to get information from any other source on the oft chance he or she might have their preconceived notions of right and wrong challenged. Their FOFO is directly connected to their own self image or perhaps to the lack of same.

Their FOFO is so strong that their elected officials are taking them up on it. January 6th? Never heard of it. Did something happen that day? I just remember there being a lot more than usual tourists traipsing through the building. No big deal.

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The OTHER Recall Election

District Attorney Jill Ravitch

A popular Democratic politician takes the necessary steps to provide justice and safety to the people of the community and for their trouble takes not only heat from conservatives and know nothings but ends up having to contest a recall election.

Oh, did you think I’m talking about Gavin Newsom and the Half-Witted Recall?

No I’m talking about the OTHER recall that hits a bit closer to home for me.

Jill Ravitch, Sonoma County District Attorney, faces a recall election this September. This even though her term would be over nine months later and she long ago announced she was not going to run for re-election.

So what heinous crime did she commit that requires the extraordinary enterprise of a recall election? Was she caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar? Was she allowing criminals to walk away Scot free? Was she in league with the forces of Satan?

None of the above. She did her job. She prosecuted a company for abandoning seniors living in a senior care facility the company ran during the 2017 Tubbs fires, leaving them with no way of getting out even though the area was under mandatory evacuation notices. That’s right, they left grandma to a raging firestorm. Residents of the facilities had to be rescued by loved ones and first responders. Fortunately none of the residents died. The county filed a civil suit against the company. I wish they had filed criminal charges for elder abuse, but the civil suit was the best they could do. The company, Oakmont Senior Living, eventually settled the county’s suit against them for a payment of $500,000.

Now you would think that kind of publicity is the kind you’d like to have just quietly fade into the mists of history. You’d like to think they’d take their licking and hire a good PR firm to smooth out the rough edges. You’d think that, but if you did you wouldn’t be Bill Gallaher, owner of Oakmont Senior Living and one of the larger developers in the county. He decided it wasn’t fair his company had to pay out half a million bucks just cause they left a bunch of old people to potentially die a gruesome death. Nope, he took a clue from the QAnon based recall efforts against Governor Newsom and started a recall petition against DA Ravitch.

According to state campaign financing records Gallaher has bankrolled the entire recall effort by himself. $750,000 or thereabouts. And how did he get Sonoma county voters to sign his petition? He had the petition peddlers tell potential signees that Ravitch needed to be recalled because she didn’t prosecute PG&E, the local power company, for their part in the Tubbs fires.

That is true, she didn’t. She didn’t because she and her office investigated PG&E’s culpability for that particular fire and found, unlike other fires, there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. As someone I know who has greater insight into the world of law and courts once said, it ain’t what you know is true, it’s what you can prove.

Nevertheless the anger still seething within the public breast over the fires found it’s way into the fingertips of enough registered voters to get the recall on the ballot. And so this September the county will spend somewhere between $600,000 and $900,000 to administer an election that is only happening because of the spite of one man.   Continue reading