Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Victoria Kolakowski, The Unethical Choice for Alameda County Superior Court Judge, Tries to Argue That California Campaigns Can Hire Out of State Telemarketers to Do Illegal Robodialing

Vote No for Victoria Kolakowski(b) No person shall operate an automatic dialing-announcing device except in accordance with this article. The use of such a device by any person, either individually or acting as an officer, agent, or employee of a person or corporation operating automatic dialing-announcing devices, is subject to this article.

(a) Whenever telephone calls are placed through the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device, the device may be operated only after an unrecorded, natural voice announcement has been made to the person called by the person calling. The announcement shall do all of the following:

(1) State the nature of the call and the name, address, and telephone number of the business or organization being represented, if any.

(2) Inquire as to whether the person called consents to hear the prerecorded message of the person calling.

CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES CODE SECTION 2871-2876

For the past few weeks I’ve been reporting on Alameda Superior Court Candidate Victoria Kolakowski’s illegal robodialing she is currently using as part of her unethical campaign for Alameda Superior Court Judge.

Kolakowski interrupted my son’s baseball game a few Sunday’s back when she illegally robodialed my cell phone with this recorded message by Oakland City Attorney John Russo.

Currently the California PUC (where Kolakowski is a sitting law judge sworn to uphold the law) regulates robodialing in the state of California. As you can see from the California code above, robodialing people in the State of California is explicitly illegal unless first introduced by an unrecored “natural voice announcement” asking if you will allow it. The fact that Kolakowski is a sitting law judge at the very agency that regulates illegal robodials (while using them herself) is troubling to me. Does Kolakowski think that she is above the law? And is this the sort of person we’d want as a Superior Court Judge?

Last week KCBS reported on Kolakowski’s illegal robodialing here.

Apparently the Kolakowski campaign has gotten back to KCBS claiming that “one interpretation of the law” is that her robodials are not “technically” illegal because she hired someone to make the calls from outside of the State of California. From KCBS’s update:

“Kolakowski says her calls, that feature the Oakland city attorney promoting her local candidacy, are being placed from outside California and thus outside CPUC jurisdiction. Under one interpretation of the law, that would make them legal.”

So let me see if I get this straight. Even though robocalls are *explicitly* illegal in the State of California, a law judge at the California PUC (the very agency that is charged with enforcing this law) thinks that it’s ok to hire some political hack to make illegal calls from outside of the state into the state?

So then under this logic all *any* company has to do to illegal robodial people in California is simply have the calls originate from out of state? So any California insurance company or bank or telemarketing scam selling auto warranties or carpet cleaning company or mattresses company or whatever, can just hire some company to start blasting millions of robodials into California homes and this is hunky dory? How fast do you think the California PUC would shut down an auto warranty scam from Arkansas targeting California seniors with illegal robodials?

The California Code to me is clear that not only can California businesses or corporations or campaigns not make illegal robodials, that agents on their behalf also cannot.

If *anyone* can simply pay to have their calls done from another state, this means that the California law does absolutely *nothing* to protect our privacy from these unwanted intrusions into our lives and homes. Under Kolakowski’s interpretation, our law has no teeth.

California businesses (including campaigns) should be subject to California law.

The fact that a current law judge at the PUC would try to twist the law this way is enormously offensive to me. But I suppose that’s just politics as usual. Politicians get to cheat and get away with it.

Even if one could argue this case on a technicality, the spirit of the California law is clear. It was enacted to protect Californians from these unwanted calls. I’m disappointed that Kolakowski would stoop to this low level and hope that you will join me in voting against her in the upcoming race for Alameda Superior Court judge. Our public servants should obey both the letter and the spirit of the law.

Update: On Slashdot here.

An Open Letter to Alex Katz, Communications Director, Oakland City Office Regarding Oakland City Attorney John Russo’s Participation in an Illegal Robodial for Alameda Superior Court Judge Candidate Victoria Kolakowski

Hi Alex,

You promised over a week ago that you’d get back with me regarding this issue of John’s participation in an illegal robodial by the Kolakowski campaign. As you know, this particular case is especially galling as it involves an actual sitting law judge (sworn to uphold the law) at the PUC making an illegal robodial that the *very same agency*, the PUC, is charged with enforcing.

KCBS reported on John’s role in this illegal activity yesterday. You can hear their report here.

Your promise to get back with me on this issue is starting to feel more like just a typical first line of defense of a campaign to ignore the complainer.

It would be nice to hear back from you on this issue as you promised me. As Oakland City Attorney, shouldn’t John be obeying the law he is charged with enforcing?

I’m glad I took a recording of the call that KCBS was able to use.

Victoria Kolakowski, The Unethical Choice for Alameda Superior Court Judge, Vote No on Kolakowski

Vote No for Victoria KolakowskiJust had my son’s baseball game interrupted due to plea for help by Victoria Kolakowski, apparently she’s running for Judge in Alameda County and she just lost my vote for sure.

1. I expect that when I put my phone number on the do not call list that politicians respect that. (Yes, I know that those crafty bastard politicians are legally exempt from the do not call list, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t abide by it voluntarily).

2. To show so little respect for me, my time, my wishes tells me that a candidate has no interest in the things that are important to me. They have no interest in representing me.

3. It’s even worse when they don’t even have the decency to have a real person call you, instead using a robo dialer and recorded message.

4. On my cell phone.

5. On a Sunday during my son’s baseball game (while he was batting actually).

Join me and thousands of other Alameda County residents in voting “No” on Victoria Kolakowski. Together we can take back our right to not have intrusive unwanted phone spam.

Update: Vicky Kowlakowski responds on Facebook:

“I am sorry that you were inconvenienced. I was told that the phone numbers were obtained from the voter files from the county. Those are public records with information provided by the voters on their voter registration forms. As you know (you mention it on your blog link), the Do Not Call list does not apply to political calls, and it appears that you listed your cell phone as your contact number with the county, which is why you were called at that number. I apologize for the interruption of your time with your family – that was never my intention, and the timing was contrary to my instructions.”

Wordle of Barack Obama’s Congressional Speech Last Night

Obama's Congressional Speech Wordle

View large here.

Economy is bigger than health which is bigger than education which is bigger than deficit which is bigger than power which is bigger than prosperity which is bigger than Iraq. The word terrorism did not make the Wordle at all and the world was only used once in the entire speech last night.

You can read the complete transcript here.

Artist Shepherd Fairey Arrested in Boston Friday Night

Hope Will Be Towed Away

"The people who truly deface our neighbourhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff. They expect to be able to shout their message in your face from every available surface but you’re never allowed to answer back. Well, they started the fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.

Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place."

— Banksy, Wall and Piece

Shepherd Fairey, the famous graffiti artist responsible for Obey as well iconic imagery used in the Barack Obama presidential campaign was arrested in Boston on Friday night. Fairey was in town for an opening of a new show of his, "Supply and Demand," at the Institute of Contemporary Art. He was arrested on two outstanding warrants for graffiti in Boston.

Fairey told the Los Angeles Times last year that his "Obey Giant" street art campaign had led to his arrest many times.

When Fairey came to San Francisco for a show at the Shooting Gallery late last year the entire City was bombarded with his art on everything from the back and fronts of billboards to abandoned gas stations. Most of his work in San Francisco last year was around his Obama images.

Earlier this week I blogged about an ongoing dispute between Fairey and the Associated Press regarding the source of his famous Obama HOPE image.

In another high profile graffiti arrest about two weeks ago, 7 high profile graffiti taggers from the crew MTA were arrested in Los Angeles.

Boycott Kellogg Co.

Fruit Loop

If you think marijuana should be legal, digg this here.

Kellogg Co. today become the first major company to drop Michael Phelps over the photo that appeared of him smoking marijuana.

“”Michael’s most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg. His contract expires at the end of February and we have made a decision not to extend his contract,” spokeswoman Susanne Norwitz said in a statement.”

1. Kellogg Co. is idiotic. Apple Jacks, Cocoa Krispies, Eggo waffles, Froot Loops (yes, you heard that right Froot Loops!), Frosted Flakes, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Cinnamon Marshmallow Scooby-Doo! cereal, Spider-Man Spidey-Berry cereal, SpongeBob SquarePants cereal (say it ain’t so!), Cheez-It crackers, Mother’s Cookies (and I’m talking pink and white frosted animals sailor!), Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, and the list goes on. Do those idiots not realize that stoners probably make up at least 50% of their sales?

Fortunately Cap’n Crunch still remains safely owned by by Quaker Oats and their parent, our good friends over at Pepsi (whew! dodged a bullet with that one!).

2. By dropping Michael Phelps for the sole reason of smoking pot, they are making a statement that pot is bad. That pot is evil. That by extension pot ought to be criminalized. In a very public way.

Earlier this week when several of his sponsors announced that they’d be standing by him, I think Dave Winer put it best, “Glad to see some sensibility emerging. Smoking pot is like having a beer. BFD.” And that’s exactly how Kelloggs should look at this as well.

The War on Drugs has cost our country dearly. It’s cost millions of dollars to incarcerate people for doing something that is no different than imbibing in a little alcohol. Instead of legalizing pot, taking the profits away from organized crime and drug dealers, and taxing it to raise much needed revnue, the politicians (along with their friends from the alcohol lobby) would rather just keep wasting money. To this end Kellogg Co. is not part of the solution. And they are very much a part of the problem. And for this reason, as much as it pains me, I’ll be keeping away from my Froot Loops and frosted animal cookies for a while.

Hopefully someone can talk some sense into Kellogg and Co. and have them reverse this horrible decision announced today.

Update: an interesting article from Anthony Citrano. Michael Phelps Should Not Be Sorry.

Olympic Great Michael Phelps Smoked Pot, Who the Hell Cares, Nothing Wrong With That

Weeds

Many news outlets are running a story this morning that Olympic Great and winner of 16 medals last summer Michael Phelps apparently has admitted that a photo of him smoking pot is authentic.

From the BBC:

“Mr Phelps, 23, who won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics last year, was pictured by the News of the World inhaling from a glass pipe.

The picture was taken in November at a party in the University of South Carolina, the newspaper said.

Mr Phelps apologised to fans and said the incident would not be repeated.

In a statement sent to the Associated Press news agency, the swimmer acknowledged the photo was authentic. “

To which I say, *who the hell cares!* Surely had this man been enjoying a martini instead of a bong nobody would have given a rats ass. And yet marijuana is no more harmful to your body than cigarettes and alcohol. The “war on drugs,” complete with the propaganda that Michael Phelps in this case somehow did something wrong is idiotic. At present we are spending way too much money prosecuting and incarcerating people for crimes associated with marijuana when smoking pot and getting high really is no different than downing a six pack or if you’re rich, a nice bottle of cabernet sauvignon.

The criminalization of marijuana has gone on too long. It has taken a huge toll on society enforcing it and ensuring that most of the money associated with the trade goes directly to organized crime and gangsters on the streets rather than a more sensible approach where it is sold through liquor stores and taxed like other arguably less than healthy things in our society (alcohol, tobacco gasoline, etc.).

It was the Great Depression and the need for tax revenues that finally got the United States to end the prohibition on alcohol. Maybe this most recent downturn and a need for tax revenue will finally convince people that marijuana ought to be legal as well. Those that argue against the legalization of marijuana most of the time have never even tried it. People make outlandish claims about how it zaps all your ambition and prevents you from achieving anything in life. But in actuality there are many people who use it regularly and are perfectly successful and do just fine with it. Just like there are people who alcohol ravages and people who can consume alcohol socially just fine.

Our President has admitted to smoking pot (and inhaling and enjoying it), millions of Americans smoke pot regularly every year, heck one of our popular TV shows now is basically all about pot, and now we have an Olympic hero who has imbibed. It’s time for the stigma associated with marijuana to go away. If people want to smoke pot there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Smoking pot won’t kill you. It’s time for the country to legalize it.

U.S. Rep Pete King Wants Your Cell Phone Camera to Go “Beep”

U.S. Rep Pete King Wants Your Camera Phone to Go "Beep"

U.S. New York Representative Pete King (Republican, Long Island) introduced a new bill in Congress this month H.R.414: “To require mobile phones containing digital cameras to make a sound when a photograph is taken. ” The short title of the bill is simply, “Camera Phone Predator Alert Act.”

From the bill:

” (a) Requirement- Beginning 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, any mobile phone containing a digital camera that is manufactured for sale in the United States shall sound a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone whenever a photograph is taken with the camera in such phone. A mobile phone manufactured after such date shall not be equipped with a means of disabling or silencing such tone or sound.

(b) Enforcement by Consumer Product Safety Commission- The requirement in subsection (a) shall be treated as a consumer product safety standard promulgated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under section 7 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2056). A violation of subsection (a) shall be enforced by the Commission under section 19 of such Act (15 U.S.C. 2068).”

Now I’m a father of four young children, and nobody wants to protect their children from predators more than I do, but this is just plain stupid.

First off there are many times that you don’t want your camera to make audible noises. Let’s say your shooting your own kid in the school play. Having a bunch of disruptive beeps going off every time someone takes a photo is annoying. There are many times when you want to shoot something being less disruptive not being more disruptive. There are certainly plenty of times and places where it is perfectly appropriate to try and be as quiet as you can while shooting.

Secondly, this bill only applies to cell phones. So if some predator wants to try to sneak photos of kids in the locker room all they would have to do is use a regular old point and shoot camera which this bill doesn’t apply to. In fact, spy type cameras have been around for years and if someone really wants to try to take stealthy photos, they certainly can without the need to use their cell phone camera. The law also does nothing to address video.

Then of course there is the part of the bill that this would only apply to new phones. So let’s see, a predator then could, theoretically, still use any old cell phone that they want to take silent phones while millions of law abiding users have to put up with noisy beeps going off whenever they shoot.

I have no idea what the cost of implementing this technology would be, but I’m sure AT&T would figure out some way to make the “enhancement” a reoccurable fee every month on your cell phone bill.

It seems to me like this bill is yet another example of really bad ideas coming from government. It would seem that this is not the first boneheaded idea that Rep. King has come up with by the way. Another of his winner ideas was responsible for funneling $3 million in taxpayer money to a campaign donor for custom manhole covers that Con Ed said could be dangerous in — order to fight those pesky terrorists. At least that’s the way the Daily News reported it. I thought Republicans were supposed to be for less government not for more.

ArsTechnica has more on this new bill here. Thanks, Geoff!

Wordle Comparing President Obama’s Inagural Address With President Bush’s Farewell Speech

Wordle Comparing Obama's Inaugural Address vs President Bush's Farewell Speech

The wordle above compares the Inaugural Address presented earlier this morning by newly elected President Barack Obama (top) with President George Bush’s Farewell Speech (bottom).

No matter what your politics, we are very fortunate to live in a country where every 4 or 8 years a peaceful transfer of power takes place based on Democratic elections.

You can read President Barack Obama’s entire Inaugural Address here. You can read a transcript of President George Bush’s farewell speech here.

View large here.

Smoke Two Joints in the Morning, Smoke Two More at Night, Legalizing Marijuana is the Number One Suggestion in President Obama’s Virtual Suggestion Box

Ending Marijuana Prohibition

The Register published a story yesterday regarding President-Elect Barak Obama’s experiment with a public suggestion box over at change.gov. Change.gov is a sort of government suggestion box where people can ask questions or offer suggestions to the newly elected President that supposedly he’s going to consider. Users on the site can vote suggestions up or down. And the top suggestion amongst the thousands offered to the new President. Yep, you got it, people wanna get high, legally.

From the Register:

“Obama’s Change.gov site will close down its internet suggestion box today, after a week of taking suggestions and opinions on the new administration’s executive policy from the web public at large. In standard Web 2.0 fashion, users can vote up or down on existing entries — the theory being that the best schemes will rise to top.

Supposedly, the “top ideas” will be presented directly to the new Commander-in-chief in the form of a “Citizen’s Briefing Book” following his inauguration on January 20.

Barring any massive last-minute changes, the tip-top idea will be best summarized by the philosopher/poet Chris Tucker in his cinematic role as Smokey: “I’m gunna get you high today, ’cause it’s Friday; you ain’t got no job…and you ain’t got shit to do.”

There are lots of other interesting ideas that the general public has come up with including suggestions for bullet trains and light rail, ending Govt sponsored abstinence programs, creating a more green country, etc. But top of the list is legalizing pot.

Barack Obama of course is the first President who has admitted that he smoked pot in the past and actually inhaled frequently because “that was the point.”

With the budget woes that are currently facing the country, certainly legalizing marijuana could provide for a windfall of Government revenue. It was largely the need for tax revenues that got the government to end the prohibition against alcohol back after the Great Depression. In an interesting editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle last week the tax benefits of legalizing marijuana were raised once again with the argument being made that the State of California could possibly address our current budget woes by a tax on the popular drug:

“The marijuana crop is valued at $13.8 billion annually – nearly double the value of our vegetable and grape crops combined. Our state is the nation’s top marijuana producer. Indeed, the average annual value of our marijuana crop is more than the combined value of wheat and cotton produced in the entire United States.

According to government surveys, 14.5 million Americans use marijuana at least monthly but both the producers and consumers of this crop escape paying any taxes whatsoever on it. While precise figures are impossible given the illicit nature of the market, it is reasonable to suggest that California could easily collect at least $1.5 billion and maybe as much as $4 billion annually in additional tax revenue, if we took marijuana out of the criminal underground and taxed and regulated it, similar to how handle beer, wine and tobacco.”

It will be interesting what our new President has to say about legalizing marijuana if he has the political gumption to actually broach the subject. Certainly almost 100,000 people on the internet have. One person though who it looks like doesn’t support marijuana legalization is Obama’s pick for Surgeon General, Sanjay Gupta.