Katie Dunne, Passionate believer in democracy and member of UHM's Digital Media Content Crew.
Ruben Major on the Responsibilities of the Secretary of State, Election integrity and what to do about it, Streamlining the business filing process, the Intelligence Agencies, Solar being safer for National Security and Medicare for All.
Ruben Major is running as a Democrat for the Office of Secretary of State of California. He was interviewed by #WeThePeople on October 30th, 2017. The incumbent in the race is Alex Padilla - an Establishment Democrat. There are also 2 Republicans, 1 Libertarian, 1 Peace and Freedom Party candidate and 2 Green Party candidates in the race.
Ruben had a rough start to life. His teenage mother and alcoholic (at the time) father separated when he was just an infant. Ruben remained with his mother until he was 14 – when he moved out. At some point in his young life his mother was on drugs and there was even trafficking involved. He remembers food boxes and his mother eventually getting some sort of disability allowance. I’m sorry to hear that - says John, looking shocked. From then on, Ruben made his own way, without help. He worked full-time through high school, and was tired after night shifts. Clearly the teachers - or some of them, didn’t know he was working and suggested he was lazy and should quit school. Thankfully he didn’t. Ruben worked very, very hard and is living the American Dream now. He has a law degree, a Masters in military history (and some) extensive training in counter-terrorism, obtained a paramedic certificate and has spent 20 years as an EMT. He has an amazing life now and 3 awesome children. His worry though is that others won’t be able to work hard and live the American dream in the future, as it is becoming more and more difficult to achieve.
Ruben is 100% behind Medicare for All. It’s a no-brainer for him. When people don’t get preventative care, the problems will be worse (and more expensive) later on. Besides, those who have insurance - and show up in E.R. with serious issues, would not have to wait so long if everyone had Medicare for All, he says. Single-Payer healthcare (which Alex Padilla blocked in 2007) would mean substantial savings. Ruben lost a friend to cancer. Insurance didn’t cover the treatment …Why, he says? So that corporations can make more money, he answers.
What are the responsibilities of the Secretary of State? He or she is the Chief Elections Officer of the State, and has certain responsibilities relating to corporations and business filings and also maintaining a number of registries (State Archives). The latter is also very interesting to the military historian that he is. As Secretary of State, you should be an advocate for the causes you believe in, as well as administering what you are doing appropriately, but your job in general is to be as non-partisan as possible.
What did you think of the integrity of our elections in 2016, John asks? Well, there were big problems with administration, voter rolls and easily hackable machines. I do believe the Russians were involved – Ruben says, but that’s not the issue because we have to do something regarding those machines and the corporations that administer our elections. We need publicly owned systems, open source software, printed paper ballots, and more accountability for election officials. Nothing has changed since 2000, because those in power are happy with the system, John says. Ruben continues. We need a process that incorporates both paper and machines. People might put in a few years in an Election Systems Department in government, but they are offered substantially more money to work in IT... Government doesn’t retain the staff it needs to be able to do the job. We have to invest more money into our democracy. CA right now has source code that is actually required to be updated into an Escrow account. The only way the Secretary of State can find out about the actual source code is if he/she has cause. How do you know if that’s the case if you can’t look at the system? We need to urgently de-certify bad machines and bad software - that just got certified by the way. People need to have confidence in it. Ruben believes you need a system that complements paper. Paper should be your primary count. Then you could put the paper through an open source scanner. If everything lines up, there’s no problem. Paper is prone to “hacking” too, i.e. ballot stuffing and ballot stealing. I like the sound of all that - says John. Alan Dechert - Ruben continues, is the computer scientist who helped to develop this.
YouTube chat still prefers paper, so the conversation continues. Ruben - when he was counting votes himself one time - had personal experience of someone carrying away the ballot box in order to count the votes at home or in the office, he tells us. Cameras might be an idea also. I like the idea of having multiple redundancies he says. NASA uses open source software (that’s open code that is not owned by private companies). Right now private companies own pretty much all election systems except for New Hampshire’s. Considering the results that we have had, why not try something else? Older folk do not necessarily trust all these machines, but they phone or use ATM cards every day, John says. They don’t really understand what secured is. Laura intervenes “The system doesn’t want it to be fast, efficient and accountable. They want it to be manipulable…” We’d like to have 100% paper count but although we can advocate for that the counties may not allow it, Ruben answers. He tells us that a private company, which has (already) been paid, has no incentive for maintaining the machines. And the hacking of proprietary software – he says? Look at all the data breaches that have happened recently. Yes says John, you have to get into Office to start the work of dealing with all this.
Alex Padilla is a Dianne Feinstein Democrat. What would you do differently to him?
Well, the first difference is that Alex has decided he wants to certify proprietary code, and (that) in an election crisis! I try not to be disparaging, but the problem when we have all these people taking money from corporations is that it’s clear the way the votes go. We need to represent the people better. As to the Mail-in ballots in CA, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Padilla regarding the up to 45,000 votes that were trashed from mismatched signatures. Discrimination against minorities (having the vote-by-mail ballots thrown out) is 2 to 1. If we’re going to a system which is going to be substantially increasing vote-by-mail, which we are in CA ... that’s a serious problem! We could potentially be disenfranchising a lot of people. We could have a proper process and notify those whose votes aren’t counted. All they are required to do right now is put the information on-line, but most people don’t look there to see if their vote counted. Ruben has looked at the court cases and at what is happening with Kobach. He is pretty concerned about it. I let people know. I say this is the active voter suppression that is going on right now all over the country. CA needs to speak to the rest of the country and say, we can do X here, why not all over the country? Alex Padilla doesn’t seem to have investigated any of the problems we had with the election cycle. Ruben plans to not give Donald Trump access to the voter registration base, but that involves sending a letter, or more activism perhaps (not what Alex Padilla has or is doing?). What you do when dealing with elections, whatever your position, needs to be issue-based and not people-based, Ruben states. That’s very Bernie says John. Ruben is grassroots funded. He takes no corporate donations at all, unlike Alex Padilla who takes a lot. And then he (Alex) is overseeing these businesses…!! If you take lobbyist money, you leave yourself open to suspicion. For Ruben because he does not, it is a simple question of right vs wrong.
Ruben would like “to streamline the business filing process. We must maximize technology and create a better, more transparent business environment for California. As a small business owner / entrepreneur, I will fight for California business.” What is involved here? We have gone to electronic filing for LOCs. We need to get more information about businesses and relay information to whatever department. We also don’t attract a lot of limited liability corporations to CA, in comparison to other States. The reason is that we charge an $800 fee to do business in CA. Sometimes businesses operate here as long as they can, then when caught pay the fee. It’s a substantial amount if you’re starting out. There is also a ($250) fee if you don’t file your statement of information on time. It doesn’t matter what size a business is, the fee is the same. We need to be alert for shell company registrations. The money laundering issue is really a hot topic right now. We should be able to figure out ways to catch that, and police it better. Also it is really important to turn over information to the Attorney General on a more frequent basis, for people who are performing fraudulent actions, that includes during elections too. Perhaps the A.G. could maybe look into this signature issue (mentioned above)?
Jilly asks whether Ruben thinks the CIA should be dismantled. No, Ruben replies. It is important to do the work of (spying) because of the possibility of total war at any time. The problem is where the intelligence agencies are mixing (in) with domestic affairs. We ‘d have to see that they are doing their job, in their role, the way they were supposed to do it, and let the internal police do the internal work. John comments that that would be one of the issues, but asks about the fact that because they are the CIA, they are allowed to murder and torture people, and the fact that we don’t really know what they do and yet they get trillions of discretionary dollars and we never even know where it goes to. I have issues with them in that regard John says, and then continues. You talk about making government agencies more transparent, and I’d like to say that the CIA is just part of the larger issue which is the military industrial complex. You will know Eisenhower’s famous speech about that. Where do we stand today? Do we need a military as giant as it is? I think, replies Ruben, we’ve reached a point where you can’t actually do total war anymore … from a practical standpoint the only thing left is police affairs. It’s a difficult issue, because as you’ve said we can’t have our intelligence agencies hooking up with businesses and industry to undermine our democracy. We don’t want to see people suffering by any means. I feel very strongly that we need to take care of each other. I don’t like torture at all. And it doesn’t work anyway. That’s a tough one, says John, because a lot of the business filing you’ll have, probably have to do with the M.I.C. You, if in office could change the focus there.
Ruben was photographed helping out during the Napa Valley fire. He says he was honored to, and misses - helping out, field work, providing direct patient care and contact. I had to be dragged away, he tells us. He (and team) assisted with logistics too. CA has experienced some extreme weather that has been exacerbated by climate change. Do you agree, says John? Ruben does. Here’s a different viewpoint for you, he says. Solar is safer for National Security because it pulls people off the grid. That way if there is an attack on a power facility or a utility target, it won’t have as big an impact if you have solar on everybody’s house. John adds - and our grid needs updating ... If we had solar going around and not fracking, we’d have a healthier CA, wouldn’t we? Yes. I don’t see why anyone would support fracking. That’s not a People position, Ruben answers.
Thanks Ruben for teaching us about the job of Secretary of State. You are very focused on your issues. I like that, says John. CA just changed their primary dates to be on a Super Tuesday instead of way later in the race. Is that going to be a huge factor in the elections, John asks? Well says Ruben, people are upset that we vote late and the results are kind of known, so maybe that contributes to lower voter turnout in some of the down-ballot races …
Also, I have a concern that non-incumbents are going to have a very difficult time running, and let me tell you the deck is stacked against us. They are already putting Alex up for endorsement now - 13 months ahead of November 2018. How do you fight that system, Ruben asks? I hadn’t thought about that says John. You joined the race early, but now you will have less time to prepare for the primaries.
So why should you be Secretary of State Ruben Major? Because, Ruben answers, if we continue on like this, we may see another 4 years of Donald Trump, 8 years of Mike Pence and his sons after that. We’ve got to deal with this immediately and repair the election systems right now. We want to increase confidence in our election systems and have a real democracy not just a facade. That’s what I’d like to see.
Ruben’s choice of song “This land is your land” by Pete Seeger is all about coming together and loving and caring for one another, rather than being divided and hateful, he tells us.
The links are in the video description. Good luck Ruben!
Douglas Applegate on the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Renewables, Ending oil subsidies, “War is a racket”, AUMF, Income disparity, Getting money out of politics, Support for Women, H.R. 608, the ACA and Medicare for All.
#WeThePeople interviewed Douglas Applegate on December 6th, 2017. This Progressive has been a civilian trial attorney for going on 40 years and is running in California’s 49th Congressional District as a Democrat. The incumbent (at the time of the interview that follows) - Darrell Issa, to whom he barely lost in 2016, pulled out of the race in January 2018. There are 3 other Democratic candidates, 8 Republicans, 1 Green, 1 Libertarian, 1 Peace and Freedom Party candidate and 1 Independent in the race.
Doug’s campaign ad is short and to the point. “Let’s face it. Something’s wrong. The system’s broken. Congress is broken. Politicians, they don’t represent us. It doesn’t have to be this way. I am Colonel Doug Applegate. I’m not a politician. I’m a Marine. I’ll always stand up for what’s right, no matter who’s the President. It’s time to put the game playing and the party politics aside and put the country first.”
John and Doug discuss the following - which the WTP team took from Doug’s site. (Thank you by the way to the latter for the brilliant slides they always prepare for these interviews!) “San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) threatens 12 million Southern Californians with its current plan to place a nuclear waste dump of … half-buried nuclear-fuel-rod-storage-casts containing 4 million pounds of fuel rods at temperatures of more than 400 degrees on the beach of San Onofre.” Doug details the “felony stupid” plan and as he says “existential threat” involved.
He has plenty to say on the issue of renewable energy - such as the fact that CA could be using 100% renewables within 10 years. Doug has been talking - over the last 2 years with a lot of international (consultants) from firms like Deloitte … he has been told time and time again that the above is possible. Scotland, he says – if they were to break away from the U.K. would control the North Sea oil fields, and yet they are making a huge investment … and plan to have 100% renewable energy within 2 years.
The first question you need to ask a politician - Doug says, is “Will you vote to put an end to the oil subsidies immediately?” This is a faster way to get there and the best way to help the environment. The hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that Mike Levin (another Democratic candidate) and others like to point to are a bit of a problem because there are no natural hydrogen deposits anywhere on Earth. It is obtained from carbon fuel. He says there’s a lot of half-speak and parsing of words, and it fools a lot of people. What about bridge fuels, says John? It’s too late for bridge fuels I think - Doug says. We need to use every tool to drive the market to a higher percentage of renewable energy. Walmart is looking to go to electrifying all of their vehicles for delivery all across the United States, U.S. Postal Services is already doing that and is very close to awarding a contract. This is all based on the markets and costs. Would you give the subsidies to renewables, John asks? Doug doesn’t even think that that’s going to be necessary. 45% of carbon fuels produced within the U.S. would not be produced without 50 to 60 billion dollars a year of subsidies to oil companies. So if you “let the market work its magic” as business people would say, Doug thinks we’ll be driven to renewables at a far greater pace.
Adrian in YouTube chat asks whether it is possible to make the argument that renewable energy should be paid for under the Defense budget? Interesting - Doug says, because for the last 15 plus years, the Navy and Marine Corps especially, have been asking for additional renewable fuel programs because of the vast logistics load for P.O.L (Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants) which are all carbon based. If you could get 100% renewables within the Defense Department, as has been requested up on Capitol Hill - where Doug later says “The interpersonal skills of everybody … have to be that of a Kindergarten...” – and has fallen on deaf ears! That would drive the race to renewables even faster. It is a National Security risk because if you’re the second world (power) to become a military with 100% renewables, you’re going to have a handicap in getting to the fight or getting to the containment.
I’m proud to say I’m a Marine Colonel - Doug says. I’m prouder to say I’m a Marine. Most Veterans who have had combat deployments believe in containment and peace rather than kinetic deployments. Most Veterans - and certainly this Marine, believe “war is a racket”. Doug explains that that quote is from Major General Smedley Darlington Butler and dates from the 1920s or 1930s. The Major General had won 2 Congressional medals of Honor. He turned on the early phases of the Military Industrial Complex and recognized that most of his fighting had been done to the benefit of United Fruit Company in the Caribbean and Central America. He was a very strong advocate for a reduced military and a limited use of kinetic operations to solve the world’s problems. “You can’t kill your way out of problems” Doug adds, saying that history has borne this out. Great answer - says John, and I appreciate what you (and the Major General) have to say about war being a racket. So - John says, the military makes requests but the government spends a ton of money on the arms trade, perpetual war and regime change because they make money there. Doug continues. It’s a perpetual war. Most combat Veterans will concede that we’re making more enemies than we can kill right now on the world stage, wherever the threat comes from. And a lot of the operations going on all over the world, whether or not the United States population knows about them, are based upon oil and natural resources and there are 2nd, 3rd and 4th collateral effects to what we are doing to keep the oil flowing. John appreciates this Veteran‘s honesty. It’s refreshing to hear, he says. Doug is clear about where he stands. He believes that Irak was a strategy blunder … and that history will reveal it to be so. It will be held up - he says, as an example of the failures of the whole concept of pre-emptive war, which by the way was never taught in the military colleges from the U.S. The Military alone isn’t a solution. Most professional (military) personnel know that it’s “Diplomacy, Intelligence, Military and Economic leverage.”
Doug’s first reason for wanting to run was the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force). Congress does not have the courage to vote for it on a roll-call vote he says. They are shirking their Constitutional obligations this way, and have been since 9.11! From 1945 to the present – he continues “The fewer Veterans that you have in Congress, the more likely you will get votes authorizing the use of military force, because they’ve never seen a combat zone, and aren’t going to be sending their children and grandchildren to the wars they authorize.
John has heard that the military has asked for more educated soldiers. Doug has the following posted on his site. “Public education has clearly fallen behind the pace of the modern world.” “Within 20 years robotics, automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate half of today’s jobs and deliver the greatest disruption of the world’s economy in history.” This is tied into income disparity in the United States, he tells us … people won’t even believe in the American Dream anymore unless they can participate and compete at a higher level. I’m from a blue-collar union household, outside of Dayton, Ohio. It’s not only an issue of an educated population that can fill the ranks of National Defense, it also concerns our economy! We need to harness technology and integrate it within our population - otherwise the income disparity will grow. I believe government is the solution not the problem. John comments that Republicans moan about big government, but he just wants one that works! Doug answers that Republicans never seem to mind a bigger military though. John laughs. Another brake on the economy, Doug says, is 6 figure debt on the shoulders of the Millennials, after they get out of college with very few job prospects. They aren’t going to be able to contribute to the economy by buying a house or car or starting a family, and raising children that they send to college. This tax reform bill - by the way, is the biggest scam and theft of wealth from the middle and working class, in history.
John asks Doug (who is not taking money from Corporate Interests) how he feels about getting money out of politics, adding that the tax scam is kind of the end result of that problem. Doug says that “One of the reasons we don’t have renewables is because Big Oil and the carbon fuel oligarchy is buying off everybody.” If you want to get a more economical education system, then fewer people will go to private institutions and government loan programs won’t be the same sources of revenue. Follow the money. Here Doug speaks of banks, money laundering and how the Trump name and business stayed afloat. He is impressed with Mueller and the legal team he has around him. The Trump family behavior was calculated in from the beginning to gas-lamp the American public, he says. This is intentional (the move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel) and it is going to put American lives at risk all over the world, to drive up disruption in the Middle East again, bring further opportunity for the Military Industrial Complex, and draw people’s attention away from crimes committed on the right side of the aisle … People will go to jail he says, trust me!
How do you support women, is another YouTube chat question that Laura passes on. Doug replies. I grew up in a union family. With collective bargaining agreements you don’t have issues with equal pay for equal work. The military is the other place apart from that, where you have women being treated fairly as regards pay. By the way, I’m the first to concede that the military has a huge problem with sexual assaults. I think it should be taken out of the Commander’s authority to deal with criminal action against an in-service member. JFK signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963. (I missed some detail here due to sound issues.) Doug thinks the issue will only disimprove due to the Conservative majority (5 to 4) in the Supreme Court. He was proud he tells us, that the military was one of the first places they got more rights for LGBTQ folks. The government shouldn’t be able to get away with discrimination he says.
Joseph in chat wants to know whether Doug if elected, would co-sponsor H.R. 608: Tulsi Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorists Act. Doug says that Tulsi’s got a lot of great ideas. I’m completely on the side of de-weaponizing places which are hot-spots, he says. We shouldn’t be in the business of training in a lot of places because we end up representing the wrong side. John presses him. So are you for or against it? Doug answers that he’d need to be more familiar with it. He explains: Weapons are readily available in the Middle East, Africa, and many places in South Asia. We sell weapons at a huge profit level to people who don’t need to be wasting that much money even if their conflict may or may not be a righteous one. Tulsi’s bill is more of a symptom of the problem according to Doug. Add what you’re going to do about the weapons already there, and the reasons for the conflict. This breaks down to … Should you be treating the symptoms or the disease? Why is there conflict Doug asks? There is corruption over minerals and oil and the first step to change the metrics of wealth and power is ... Shift away from oil and give people economic opportunity in parts of the world, so that they have an option other than to become warriors.
They discuss the Affordable Care Act. It is a conservative Republican Heritage Fund based healthcare system. There are better outcomes at less cost. The ACA was a huge mistake ... the perfect example of starting off by asking for less and ending up with much less. Under the ACA - Doug says, we insured 25 to 30 million more people and expected to win an election next time? In Western World healthcare systems (11 or so of them) he tells us, the U.S. ranks last in 5 out of 6 categories). We’re average in the 6th category. We may have tremendous healthcare research capacity, which by the way we are under-funding, but we’re not delivering a better outcome at even the same cost as these countries. This is simply business. You don’t even have to believe in socialism. We’re doing a lousy job of capitalism. On Single-Payer Doug says that the costs are lower (due to less administrative waste and no profit for insurance companies). People then want to know whether it is readily available and what the outcome is. It’s not enough to say – you can keep your doctor. That was an absurd promise to make. You have to sell the idea to people as “a healthcare system that’s good on delivery and will give you a good outcome and it’s not going to break the bank.” John adds that he remembers that M.S.M. spent a lot of time pushing the idea that Single-Payer was government controlled healthcare and that that was bad. That was the way it was sold, he says. I think we need to work on the message that “Right now you have insurance companies controlling it and they’re killing you, wouldn’t you rather have your government Representatives?” “It’s time for the U.S. to put people before profit.” Doug supports Medicare for All.
John asks about Darrell Issa’s chance of staying in Office – He won’t, Doug answers (12.06.2017). This is still a Republican District - he says, and you’d better be able to talk to Republicans as well as Independents and Democrats. Doug has an advantage over other Democratic candidates who might think it will be easy … he’s a Marine. There are (50,000) Veteran households … and it’s a Marine Veteran population. Aside from that Doug knows his district and other challengers don’t, and have been bought out by Moneyed Interests. Some of them have an undisclosed investment in their (campaigns) from Exxon and still claim to be environmental attorneys (Mike Levin – Democrat, was or is a lobbyist…). Doug found that the DCCC were stalling in terms of helping him out in 2016 and nothing has changed it seems.
So what else does Doug want to tell us? There is a need to talk about income disparity and that will depend upon a new labor movement. We have to have $15 an hour minimum, no cost public education preschool to 16 years and vocational apprenticeship or public university, Doug answers. I repeat that we need renewables and to end oil subsidies. We must demand that Congress come out and vote on-the-record on any use of military force … I support or vote nay on AUMF, in the realization that I am sending your children and grandchildren to the most dangerous part of the world and that they could pay the ultimate price, for what everybody concedes is our freedom.
He’d also like to say that sometimes Veterans are a little offended when people say “Thank you for your service.” One told him recently, that what people should be doing is thanking “us” with their vote. Vote for people who are going to support the Vets and going to support Vets that are going to serve in the future. Exercise courage when you vote to send out young men and women overseas to kill and destroy things because that’s what our military is being forced to do, and it’s being done in a very ineffective manner. On a cheerful note, Doug has been told all over. “I voted for you the last time. I’m going to vote for you again.”
Douglas Applegate needs donations and votes. He is endorsed by National Nurses United, Vote Vets, Justice Democrats and a lot of other groups. He is intelligent, very well-spoken, confident and clear about what needs to be done, convincing, definitely has cross-party appeal, and must have his opponents shaking in their boots. He's a leader no doubt about it.
The links are in the video description. Good luck Doug!
Jess Phoenix on Volcanology, Geology, The Challenges of Climate Change, Green tech R&D,