Los Angeles residents: Are you confused, annoyed, frustrated or outright angered by the prospect of having to vote on no less than 17 state measures, two county measures, another goddamned school bond and four city measures in the November 2016 election, in addition to making selections for president, US senator, US representative, state senator, member of the state assembly and four judicial candidates? Here's some helpful advice.
PRESIDENT: They all suck.
Republican Donald Trump is the crash-the-system protest-vote choice who unfortunately appears to be a bit of an unhinged, raving madman. Democrat Hillary Clinton is a deceitful politics-as-usual warhawk owned by Wall Street. Libertarian Gary Johnson is a dope. For Californians, that only leaves Peace and Freedom candidate Gloria Estela La Riva (who cannot possibly win, because she is on the ballot only in California, so I won’t bother critiquing her) and the Green Party’s Jill Stein (who is on the ballots of 46 states and the District of Columbia, so she theoretically has a shot). Stein would have been my first choice — she is against war, in favor of universal single-payer healthcare and not beholden to either of this country’s despicable “Big Two” major parties — but she also is in favor of open borders, amnesty for illegal immigrants and paying slavery “reparations” to African-Americans, which indicates she is hopelessly insane. So either pick which candidate you hate the least and pretend to be happy if that one wins, or take the moral high ground by refusing to participate in a process that offers such insultingly unsatisfying choices.
UNITED STATES SENATOR: No vote
California wastes voters' time and money with a system in which the top two vote-getters in the primaries, even if they are members of the same party, go on to be the candidates on the November ballot. That means we once again have a "choice" between two Democrats, this time the embarrassingly dumb Loretta Sanchez and the Clintonesquely reptilian Kamala Harris. Don't lend legitimacy to this corrupt charade by voting for either of them.
STATE SENATOR and MEMBER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY: Why bother?
Because of state gerrymandering, my voting district would go Democrat even if the Republican alternative were Jesus Christ himself. Feel free to protest-vote for the Republican. Or write in Mickey Mouse.
I don't know jack about any of the candidates who are up for these four elections, but I assume they're all lawyers, which means all of them would lie about themselves and their positions, anyway. Next!
STATE MEASURE 51 (SCHOOL BONDS): No
Go by this simple rule when it comes to deciding on any measure that involves increasing taxes or fees: Do you think that the obscene amount of money already being hoovered from your wallet by the government is being well spent? I don't. I never would vote to give Los Angeles, LA County or California another penny. When it comes to school bonds, all you have to do is remember the multi-billion-dollar construction bond that voters foolishly passed a few years ago, only to watch its funds be used for an insanely wasteful and corrupt "iPads for all" scheme.
STATE MEASURE 52 (MEDI-CAL HOSPITAL FEE): Yes
This only continues a program in which hospital fees fund Medi-Cal. Fine.
STATE MEASURE 53 (REVENUE BONDS SUBJECT TO VOTER APPROVAL): Yes
Requires voter approval of any bonds totaling more than $2 billion. Which at least means there would be a chance that state lawmakers could be kept from getting everything they want when it comes to robbing taxpayers blind.
STATE MEASURE 54 (NO BILL PASSED UNLESS POSTED): Yes
Requires bills to be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before a vote, which will let us pretend nothing can get railroaded too quickly into law.
STATE MEASURE 55 (EXTENDS TAX HIKE ON $250,000-AND-UP EARNINGS): Yes
I'm normally against tax hikes, but anyone making $250,000 or more should be paying more of them in the first place.
STATE MEASURE 56 ($2 TAX HIKE ON PACKS OF CIGARETTES): Yes
Cigarette smoking is disgusting, obnoxious and causes cancer. Case closed.
STATE MEASURE 57 (PAROLE FOR NONVIOLENT FELONS): No
Most inmates have had the charges against them pleaded down from more serious crimes before they are sentenced. Also, even what are referred to now in California as "nonviolent" crimes include thefts of up to $950 of personal property. It makes no sense to let any inmate in this slap-on-the-wrist state serve any less time than even the infuriatingly inadequate sentence he already has received. This measure is yet another misguided attempt by California to reduce its inmate population, as it has been ordered to do by the courts, instead of building more prisons to house them. Here's an idea: Maybe Governor Jerry Brown could divert a few billion from his beloved bullet train boondoggle to slap up a few more San Quentins. Problem solved.
STATE MEASURE 58 (ENGLISH PROFICIENCY): Yes
Preserves the requirement that public schools ensure that students obtain English language proficiency. I can't imagine anyone having a problem with that, especially considering that it would have "No notable fiscal effect on school districts or state government."
STATE MEASURE 59 (CITIZENS UNITED DISAPPROVAL): Yes
This is a completely toothless "advisory" that lets voters express their disapproval of the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, which essentially allowed unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns. Go ahead and vote for it, then clap your hands really hard and maybe Tinkerbell will give you a unicorn pony.
STATE MEASURE 60 (RUBBERS REQUIRED IN PORN PRODUCTIONS): No
This moronic measure (a version of which already is in effect in loony Los Angeles County) would require porn actors to wear condoms, and would fund (at an estimated cost of more than $1 million annually) enforcement of that ridiculous regulation. Which apparently means "Dick Inspector" will become a new government job, complete with the usual platinum-level pension and benefits. What next, a law that says mainstream actors must use dental dams in kissing scenes?
STATE MEASURE 61 (PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING STANDARDS): Yes
Want to know how vile pharmaceutical companies are? This measure would ensure that the state of California would be prohibited from paying more for drugs than the price paid by the US Department of Veteran Affairs. So drug makers are running anti-61 ads warning that passing it will mean higher costs for vets...apparently threatening that prices will be raised across the board, for vets and everyone else, to ensure that Big Pharma will keep raking in the billions. (It would be nice to think that if they follow through on this threat, California would adopt a single-payer universal healthcare system in response.) Don't let drugmakers get away with profiteering. Vote yes.
STATE MEASURE 62 (REPEAL DEATH PENALTY): No
The problem with the death penalty in California is that it has become meaningless, because the sentence has not been carried out in more than a decade. Instead of repealing it, remove the stumbling blocks to speed up the process of putting violent, subhuman monsters to death by voting Yes on Measure 66 (see below).
STATE MEASURE 63 (BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR AMMO SALES): Yes
Might not help, but couldn't hurt.
STATE MEASURE 64 (MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION): Yes
I've never smoked pot in my life, but I couldn't care less if somebody else wants to do so in the privacy of their home. Outlawing it has been an expensive law-enforcement fiasco for decades.
STATE MEASURE 65 (CARRYOUT BAGS FUNDS TRANSFER): Yes
Laws requiring stores to sell plastic bags (instead of giving them away with purchases as before) let stores keep the money. This measure would require the money be turned over to the state for environmental projects. I think it was nuts to ban the bag giveaways in the first place, but anyone forced to cough up a dime to buy a bag should at least know the money is going somewhere other than to the grocery store's pockets. (Also see Measure 67, for another bag-related proposition.)
STATE MEASURE 66 (SPEEDS UP DEATH PENALTY): Yes
There are so many impediments to executions in California that the death penalty has become meaningless here. The solution isn't to get rid of it, however, as Measure 62 would do. Better to speed up the appeals process and eliminate other hurdles that have kept it from being implemented, so rapists and murderers get their due before dying of old age.
STATE MEASURE 67 (STATEWIDE CARRYOUT BAG BAN): No
The Los Angeles ban on grocery stores providing plastic bags to customers meant everyone here had to start acting like a homeless vagrant, carrying around their own soiled old sacks for their purchases, unless they wanted to pay for paper bags at the store. It also means we don't get free plastic bags to use later as trash bags, or to pick up dog crap, or to tie around our heads while performing erotic auto-asphyxiation acts. Bring back the bags!
COUNTY MEASURE A (PROPERTY TAX HIKE): No
Does anyone in Los Angeles County think we're not paying enough in property taxes already? Or that the taxes we are paying already are well spent? It doesn't matter what the county wants to do with new taxes, because they have taxed us enough already. Instead of letting the county take even more, force them to re-prioritize.
COUNTY MEASURE M (SALES TAX INCREASE FOR TRANSPORTATION): No
Wouldn't you think that highway improvements would be one of the first places where taxes should be spent, especially the ones we pay as gasoline taxes that are specifically earmarked for transportation needs? When the government says it needs more money for that purpose, what it really means is that they have wasted too much money on other things, and that they think we can be fooled by being told the money is needed for roads. Force them to set better priorities. Vote no.
$3.3 BILLION SCHOOL BOND: No
Again, if you actually believe that you are not paying enough in property taxes already, go ahead and vote to flush more of your money away to LAUSD. Maybe this time they'll use it to give every student an iWatch.
CITY MEASURE HHH ($1.2 BILLION HOMELESSNESS BOND): No
It's another bond, which means higher property taxes, which means no.
CITY MEASURE JJJ (AFFORDABLE HOUSING REQUIREMENT): No
Sounds inoffensive at first, until you realize that the part saying it will create an "incentive program" will mean taxpayer money going to developers. And legislators wonder why we question their spending priorities?
CITY MEASURE RRR (DWP BOARD CHANGES): No
Why bother making meaninglessly incremental window-dressing changes to the DWP, which instead needs a top-to-bottom overhaul and an end to its corrupt pay-for-play relationship with the county? This is only another fake feel-good measure that will accomplish nothing significant.
CITY MEASURE SSS (ADD MORE EMPLOYEES TO PUBLIC PENSION ROLLS): No
California's public-employee pension funds already are so underfunded that the state is effectively bankrupt when those obligations are figured into its overall debt. This insane measure would add even more employees to that taxpayer-funded gravy train. No thanks.
So, there you have it. Now go forth on November 8 (or sooner by mail) and pretend that your vote actually means something, and that democracy is anything more noble than mob rule.