Category Archives: Politics

Letter to Governor Brown re: California’s SB 822 for Net Neutrality

I sent the following to the California Governor’s office, urging him to sign SB 822.

Dear Governor Brown,

I’m writing today to urge you to sign SB 822 into law and restore net neutrality protections within California. SB 822 goes further than the now-repealed FCC rules at protecting business competition, consumer choice, and freedom of communication over the internet.

As it stands today, we’re back to trusting the cable companies to have our best interests at heart. Competition won’t keep them in check. Many areas only have one or two ISPs to choose from.

Before the FCC stepped in, ISPs would do things like intercept and redirect search queries, block tethering apps, or block VOIP applications on their phone networks. Now that the FCC has stepped back, we’re already seeing cellular companies throttling service. In this era of increased consolidation, it’s not hard to imagine a cable company that’s part of a media conglomerate choose to prioritize data for their parent company’s streaming service over a competitor’s service. They could also legally slow down access to websites critical of the company, or sites that advocate political positions that the owners disagree with.

Net neutrality helps businesses. It helps start-ups. It helps consumers. It helps political activists. It helps *citizens*. And while the ISPs might tell you it will hurt them, they managed all right before the FCC repealed its rules. Abandoning net neutrality helps ONLY the cable and phone companies, at everyone else’s expense.

The effort to re-instate the FCC’s rules at the national level faces an uphill climb. If that effort fails, we can still preserve a free internet in California – and serve as an example to other states. If it succeeds, SB 822 will provide even more protection. With this in mind, I hope that you’ll sign SB 822 and restore net neutrality in California.

Thank you.

California: Vote this November!

Californians: If you can vote this November, don’t sit this one out.

We have a governor to choose. We have representatives to select. And we need to shut down the 3-Californias plan hard. It’s a terrible, outlandish, unpopular idea…but in a midterm election (low turnout already) with the specter of voter suppression? Don’t rely on it being too outlandish to pass. No one expected Brexit to happen. No one expected Trump to even be nominated, never mind win the election. Outlandish doesn’t mean impossible.

So check your voter registration status. Make sure it hasn’t been cancelled or otherwise lost, because that does happen.

Breaking up California’s economic and electoral power isn’t going to help California much. And if you think the water situation is bad now, wait until everything’s split across three states, one of which doesn’t touch the Sierras or the Colorado…

Call-In Campaigns, Please Do These Things!

Those “Call one number and we’ll connect you to key decision makers on this issue” campaigns are convenient, but I wish more of them would…

Show a list of all the people they’re going to connect you to. I’d like to know how many calls I’m making before I start.

Mark which lawmakers are already co-sponsors so we can adjust our message between “thanks for supporting” and “please support.” Sure, I can look it up, but the whole point is to make this easier.

Update the campaign as things change. One wanted me to call my state reps, but copied and pasted the information from a federal bill on the same issue. And it included my senator, even though the bill had already passed the senate and was in the assembly. I took one look at the misdirected talking points and ignored them. I also skipped calling the senator who had already voted for a bill that had already passed that chamber. I wonder how many people cared enough about the issue to call, but relied on the campaign for the specifics, and ended up calling the wrong people about the wrong bill?

Voter Suppression Supreme

Step 1: Refuse to confirm a SCOTUS judge for a year.
Step 2: Install a judge you prefer.
Step 3: Get a SCOTUS ruling upholding a voter purge law that disproportionately impacts people who are more likely to vote for your opponents.

Voter purges aren’t about getting rid of invalid registrations. They’re about suppressing votes. The US, unfortunately, has a long history of finding ways to disenfranchise a group without explicitly identifying them. Look up where “grandfather clause” came from.

The modern version is subtler, but it works like this:

You want more people from group A to be able to vote than group B. Find some classification that applies to more members of group B than group A. Target that classification, and you change the balance of the electorate.

What Ohio did was notice that members of one major party tend to vote in every election, while members of the other tend to skip elections where they don’t feel they have a good choice.

Technically they targeted occasional voters.
Effectively they targeted a political party.

Re-Engineering the Road

Imagine a dangerous road curve. Do you blame the drivers and call it a day? After all, not everyone crashes over the edge or into oncoming traffic.

Or do you bank the turn, calculate a safe speed limit and add a railing?

It won’t stop all crashes, but it’ll reduce them.

Re-engineering the road doesn’t ignore the driver’s decisions, but it acknowledges that they don’t happen in isolation. Change the circumstances, and you change how many drivers crash and burn.