Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Straight People Partnerships

The tiny but formidable Senator Carole Migden has hit the headlines again with her latest bill, SB 11. This bill would expand California’s Domestic Partnership Program to allow opposite-sex couples to register for domestic Partnerships.

Under existing law, heterosexual couples are ineligible to register for domestic partnerships unless at least one partner is over the age of 62. Seniors are allowed to register for domestic partnerships in lieu of marriage because they may want to avoid marriage in order to protect their benefits. Gay couples are totally ineligible for marriage in California but may instead obtain a domestic partnership which now affords all the rights and responsibilities that the state provides to married couples.

Still, domestic partnerships are considered differently under both state and federal law. Federal law does not recognize domestic partnerships at all and provides none of the benefits of marriage to such couples. State law allows for a much easier, faster, and often less expensive dissolution of a domestic partnership as compared to marriage.

The California courts have been reviewing Gay marriage laws in California since Mayor Gavin Newsom began to allow such unions in San Francisco two years ago. Most recently, the California appellate court ruled that California laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are non-discriminatory in part because Gay people may marry in heterosexual unions and because even if they choose to couple with those of the same sex, California provides all of the benefits of marriage in an equal institution (domestic partnerships).

Migden’s stated motivation for SB 11 has been to provide a marriage alternative to heterosexual couples. Many unwed mothers in this state currently cohabitate in a family unit with a father. Domestic partnerships would provide a more stable environment for the rearing of children, would allow both adults to share in employment benefits, offer each the ability to make critical medical decisions when the other is incapacitated, among other benefits. These changes could be extremely beneficial to nontraditional family units.

However, Migden could very well have another motive: a demonstration that marriage and domestic partnerships are separate and unequal institutions. Clearly there must be a difference if a number of people given a choice would predictably choose to engage in one form of partnership instead of the other. Further, it would increase the disparity by allowing straight people to choose between marriage and domestic partnerships but still only allow Gay people to obtain domestic partnerships. Already, the Christian conservative right in California have cried out claiming that this expansion of domestic partnerships is an all-out assault on traditional marriage.

This demonstration that marriage and domestic partnerships are inherently different institutions and that gay people are only allowed to obtain domestic partnerships while heterosexual people are able to choose between the two might spur the California Supreme Court to recognize the difference between the two when they take up the issue next year.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

All Work and no Pay

In case you haven’t been keeping up with Congressional politics, the Dems are heading out of the gate at full speed. The interesting part is that they aren’t screwing up their lead at all!

First, Steny Hoyer announced that he will expect members of the House to actually show up and work most days. Commonly referred to as the “Tuesday-Thursday Club,” members of the House are known to work approximately 3 days of the week in DC, then leave to spend time with their families, constituents, donors, and lobbyists. What has resulted is a culture in which members don’t actually schedule House meetings often enough to actually accomplish anything. The 109th Congress may go down in history as being one of the laziest in US History.

Hoyer has suggested that the House meet five-days-a-week for the first part of the new session in order to take care of many items that were neglected this year and last. As you might expect, this has caused some buzz. Republicans are claiming that this is a ploy on the part of the Dems to hurt families. In reality, those Republicans are lazy bums that are worried about being over-worked with a (gasp!) 40-hour work week!

Now it looks as if the $3,300 pay raise members expected to start getting next month is in jeopardy. Pelosi and Reid have announced that they intend to block the pay increase, claiming that it is unconscionable to increase their own pay when the national minimum wage continues to be locked at $5.15.

Really though, the Dems are sounding more and more like the fiscal conservatives that I hoped they would. They are hoping to increase the productivity of Congress without raising the already high pay for members. When did the Democrats become responsible?

Monday, December 04, 2006

EXTRA EXTRA! Read All About It!

It’s the shock of the week! Hillary’s people have announced that she might be considering a possible run for the White House in 2008!

Oh, wait. That isn’t news at all! Nevermind.

But for a little fun, and to help out a friend’s website, check out this link:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Do Your Part

As promised, I have compiled a short list of organizations and resources involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS

San Francisco AIDS Foundation
American Foundation for AIDS Research

Above all, though, know your own HIV status and get tested. There are locations near every community in the US that can provide tests for the disease that causes AIDS and provide counseling to determine your risk factors for the disease and help you to prevent contracting the virus.

National HIV Testing Centers

Check your local community for organizations that provide services to AIDS patients. Groups like Meals on Wheels, Hospice, and even churches often provide important services, companionship, and care to people dying from AIDS.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is tomorrow. This disease has taken the lives of more than 22 million men, women, and children worldwide. Another 42 million people are currently infected. An estimated 14,000 more people are infected every day, mostly in the 15-24 age group. In the United States alone, over 1 million people are living with HIV with 40,000 new infections each year.

AIDS has ceased to be a “Gay disease” but the GLBT community should continue to consider it a “Gay issue.” Our community was the first to see the ravages of the epidemic and continues to be one of the hardest hit. Yet, this is an issue that our nation seems to have become bored with and put aside.

Our world has made great progress in slowing the effects of the disease, allowing some of those infected to live longer lives. Still, we must not forget that this disease has claimed far more lives than the holocaust and has no end in sight. At the current rate of infection, nearly every person in Africa will be infected in only a few short years. It is unthinkable to allow an entire continent of people to die of a disease with no cure.

President Bush continues to promote an outdated abstinence only approach to avoiding STDs. While we are all aware that abstinence is the only 100% effective approach, it is not always the most appealing. Condoms may not be perfect, but they are the most effective way of preventing the spread of disease among sexually active people and should be promoted heavily.

Our congress (I won’t blame either party because both are guilty) has failed to adequately fund AIDS research and prevention efforts. The Ryan White CARE Act expired well over a year ago and has yet to be reauthorized. Further, it needs to be updated to reflect changes in the way our nation now approaches and defines the disease.

It was only two generations ago that our country led the way in eradicating polio worldwide. Only one generation ago, smallpox was eradicated largely because of American efforts. I am not saying that we can eradicate HIV in the near future, but US efforts could begin a reduction in new infections.

December 1 is World AIDS Day and we should all make an effort to donate our time and money and help to raise awareness about HIV. But the real point of tomorrow is to remind us to stop for a moment and realize how devastating the disease continues to be. That realization should be enough to drive us all to continue to push for an end to the AIDS epidemic.

Later, I will post a list of helpful resources about how each of us can get involved with the fight against AIDS.

The GOP Still Not Catching On

Republicans in California still don’t look like they are getting it through their heads what will make them more popular. The new session doesn’t even start until next week, but each week it looks like the GOP caucus in each house is moving further right than they already were.

In the Assembly two weeks ago, Republicans voted down Plescia as Minority Leader because he was seen a too conciliatory. Indeed, he was pragmatic and understood that the only way to remain relevant in what appears to be a nearly permanent minority position is to bargain with the majority party. As a result, there was significant give-and-take in the budgeting process, a budget was passed on time, the legislature was seen as being the most productive in decades, and the big winner was the Governor.

To replace Plescia, Republicans tapped Mike Villines of Clovis—a hard-line Republican most recently known for his fierce opposition to the budget and bonds. The GOP would have been hard pressed to find a party leader less bipartisan than Mr. Villines, who will almost certainly try to use his position to attack the wildly popular Republican (perhaps the ONLY wildly popular Republican left in the USA) Governor’s position on a number of issues that GOP leadership might see as un-Republican.

In the Senate, incumbent Minority Leader Dick Ackerman isn’t sitting too comfortably on his thrown. Reportedly, he hasn’t been able to secure enough votes to guarantee his reelection to the post, although he has more votes than Jim Battin, his main challenger. This could potentially lead to a compromise candidate—which might not be too bad.

Unfortunately, in order to be reelected, Ackerman has promised to take a harder stance on budget issues. That is, he wants to oppose the Governor’s pragmatic and centrist attempts to form a budget that serves the needs of Californians while simultaneously reducing wasteful spending. In the process, it appears he will be throwing away his good working relationship with Democratic leader Don Perata.

The problem with all this is that the GOP hasn’t figured out why nobody in California likes them and how the Governator became so popular (even though EVERYBODY hated him a year ago). It wasn’t bad spending, poor Republican turnout, or just Bush’s coattails that have led to the Blue Wave. Governor Schwarzenegger has mastered the technique of giving voters what they want.

An old professor of mine once explained that all voters want three things and that anybody who can figure out how to give all three will win every election: 1. Lower taxes, 2. More government services, 3. a balanced budget. While we all know it is impossible to give all of these all of the time, Governor Schwarzenegger has done extremely well by keeping taxes down (he hasn’t raised taxes), keeping services high (and proposing new popular public services regarding the environment and healthcare), and paying down the state’s debt.

The GOP could easily catch on to his strategy and ride it to further victories, but have chosen to fall into irrelevancy instead.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Prager's Christianist America

America is a Christian nation in which every person respects and believes in the Bible, or at least that is what Dennis Prager would have us believe.

Today, he argued that the newly-elected Congressman Ellison should be required to swear his oath of office on what he considers to be America’s book: the Bible. Heaven forbid that he would prefer to use a religious text used in his own religion!

Apparently, when I wasn’t looking, the US Constitution was redrafted with an addendum to the 1st Amendment stating that we can have all the freedom of religion we want, so long as that religion is of a Judeo-Christian nature. As such, Ellison’s Muslim faith is incompatible with the freedom of religion we honor and so he must swear his oath on the Bible instead of the Koran.

Strangely, that argument makes more sense than the arguments Prager uses in his opinion piece. He draws a poor comparison with racists stating that if a racist chose to swear his or her oath on Mein Kampf, we would certainly not allow it. Nor would we allow an agnostic liberal to swear an oath on a stack of New Yorker editorials. Both statements are probably true, but neither Mein Kampf nor the New Yorker are widely considered sacred religious texts.

To that end, why are members of Congress required to swear upon a religious text at all? Or are they even required to? Certainly, I think they should be allowed to as it can give a meaningful foundation to the oath they have spoken if they do it before their own God. However, if they have a different God or do not believe in God, what purpose does it serve to place a hand on a book with little significance to the elected official?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Brownback Probes Judge Who Might Know a Lesbian

Thanks to the friendly folks at TheAngryFag for pointing us to an article about conservative Republican Senator Sam Brownback questioning whether Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet T. Neff should be made a US District Judge because she went to a Lesbian wedding. According to Brownback, "But what I want to know is what does it do to her look at the [same-sex marriage] law?"

From what we can read in the article, the Bush nominee was simply in attendance at the wedding (she did not perform the ceremony nor was she a bride) which was conducted entirely in Massachusetts where she is not a judge and where the wedding had absolutely no legal effect. Neff attended as a friend of one of the two brides that had been a long time neighbor.

Attendance at a Gay or Lesbian wedding should have no bearing on whether Neff is qualified to be a Federal Judge. She has given absolutely no indication as to her leanings on the legal issues involved, only that she maintains a friendship with at least one openly Gay woman.

Brownback's line of reasoning illustrates the deeper problems to be found in the Republican Party. Such distrust and hatefulness displayed at Gay people and our supporters does not benefit the image of the GOP and will contribute to future losses for the party.

More on Here's What We'll Say

A reader (Leland Frances) recently made a substantial comment regarding my review of Reichen Lehmkuhl's new book, "Here's What We'll Say." While there were certainly varied opinions of the book left in the comments section, I promised to respond to Leland's particularly thoughtful comments.

I'm sorry guys. I know you mean well, and that is exactly why my anger toward this poser is so strong—playing upon the gullibility of people with exaggerated, tearjerking accounts of his life. Never has research demonstrating that "pretty people" tend to be automatically assumed to be truthful and good been so well illustrated.

But while desperation to get it on shelves before the spotlight on him as Lance's lover went out easily explains its shoddy editing, factual errors, lack of an index, etc., and whatever one thinks of him, there is less excuse for sloppy reading than there is for his sloppy writing.
I agree that the overall quality of the writing was less than excellent and would have preferred the memoir had it been given better editting. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. The quality of writing, however, has little to do with the content of the book, which was fantastic.

Certainly time considerations may have played a great role in the lackluster editting. In order to achieve the greatest distribution of this book, it makes good business sense to distribute the book while Lehmkuhl is still a newsworthy item. But I do not fault Lehmkuhl or the publishers for this. In fact, I will go so far as to credit them for making the decision because this will lead to a more widespread readership. The book does have an important message regarding Gay men and women serving in the military and we all benefit from a wider understanding of these issues.

1. Out of his many claims, some believable, some not, he does NOT claim that his "rape" was in any way CAUSED by DADT.
On page 221, Lehmkuhl implies that the anti-Gay policies of the military are what made rape a choice, therefore causing his rape. He also states that he has forgiven his rapists

2. "gay cadet": Lehmkuhl was NOT forced to give anyone else a blow job. HE was blown by one of his "attackers;" admits to loving it, having a blazing orgasm, imagining, in retrospect, that he gave the fellator a hickey as he [Reichen] pressed his mouth so forceably against the guy as he [Reichen] shot off, and repeatedly fantasized about experiencing it again for days afterwards. What does the law say about that? HIS penetrating the other person? If I forced you at gunpoint to take a thousand dollars cash from me, could you have me arrested? I don't care what the legal definitions are--no one with any common sense, except someone wanting to get a mountain of publicity, even among mainstream media, which he has beyond probably his wildest dreams, would call that an antigay assault. The alleged punch in the stomach would have been "assault and battery," but it is an insult to those who actually have been violently attacked and sodomized or forced to fellate someone else.
I am unfamiliar with Colorado laws and cannot speak to the legal terms of that state. However, forced sexual acts are always reprehensible in our society. Whether we call it sexual assault or rape, the acts committed that night are illegal both under state laws and military codes whether or not they were performed with homosexual or heterosexual partners.

It is not uncommon for rape/sexual assault victims to partially or fully enjoy parts of their experience. The point is that he was forced unwillingly into the sexual acts. And even more importantly, he is almost certainly not the only man to be raped in the military. Given that Gay men and women are often unable to report these incidents because of anti-Gay policies, it is good that Lehmkuhl used his celebrity status to bring light to an issue most Americans would not have thought much about.

3. What is so "important" about this book? Many much more interesting, let alone better written coming out stories have appeared. While very little of the book actually discusses DADT, had either of you never heard of DADT before? Is anything he describes something that you could not have imagined on your own? The book confirms what "anonymous" wrote. Lehmkuhl was not outed at the Academy; never investigated; not even asked by anyone antigay if he was gay. He simply endured no more than millions of other closeted gays have throughout the history of our antigay military [which long precedes DADT], and, unlike others such as Leonard Matlovich all the way back to 1975 and Margarete Cammermeyer and Tracy Thorne and others more recently he did NOTHING to protest DADT while he was still active duty. Now, four years after his resigning the USAF because he wanted to "go Hollywood," he's applying for some kind of retroactive hero status and people, mesmerized by his looks, are buying it AND this shoddily edited [whatever happened to his first true love "Ben Silverman"?], factually incorrect [Matthew Shepard was not murdered three years before Lehmkuhl's junior Academy year as he writes, but two years after he graduated], vanity project. What child of divorce hasn't been traumatized? Who among those who've experienced it haven't hated boot camp?
This book is important because it brings a celebrity light to issues that still affect many in the military. It is irrelevant how well he was or wasn't able to maintain his closet while serving in the military. I think we can agree that he shouldn't have needed to maintain a closet at all.

I have already discussed that the book could have used better editting and could have been better written. Not to discredit other books on the topic of DADT, but few if any were penned by a person with celebrity status that is as sweeping as Reichen Lehmkuhl's. People will read or hear about this book that wouldn't otherwise care much about DADT or wouldn't otherwise hear about the experiences Gay people have in the military.

4. WHY did he feel the need to claim that things which happened to others happened to him? His "to protect them" doesn't wash given that he could have simply used the method authors have used forever: changing their names and enough other details to "protect them." My theory: because it makes him look like more of a martyr than he actually was. [And, despite his identifying himself as Reichen while at the Academy, he did not change his name to that until years later. He was Richard/Rick/Ricky then.]
Addressing the second part of your point first, had he referred to himself as Rick throughout the book it would have confused the reader. He is popularly known as Reichen now and must draw upon his own celebrity if he intends to sell books.

While you may be correct in your assessment regarding the need for Lehmkuhl to claim that things which happened to others actually happened to him, it could very well be that he was aware that saying they occured to him made both for better story telling and would have a greater impact if they occured to the hero of the story. Given that I do no know which incidents he "borrowed" from other people, I will give theoretical examples. For instance, supposing that Reichen was not the unofficial leader of the "Underground," it makes a better story to make him the leader than it would if he weren't.

Further, changing the names of individuals in a book may very well not have been enough to shield the identity of some individuals who might still be serving in the Air Force or have other circumstances that may prevent them from wanting to be identified. It may also serve to prevent lawsuits from those individuals.

5. What about the twisting of facts in the very first two sentences of the book, appearing on the inside dust jacket, claiming that he and he alone won "The Amazing Race" and its million dollar prize? As he finally admits in the afterword, he AND former partner Chip Arndt won as a team and split the prize. But adding insult to injury he doesn't even include Arndt in his acknowledgements, even though without their joint win there is no reason to believe we would have ever heard from him again, which until he actually DOES something other than writing self-aggrandizing books, would be a good idea. He also should have included his remarkable plastic surgeon in his thank yous.
The writing on dust jackets is usually not prepared by the author of the book but by the publisher. Also, his acknowledgements are his time to thank who he chooses to thank. Generally, neither the acknowledgements or dust jacket are considered of any real literary importance.

I get your point though--you are saying that people will only buy this book because he is a pretty face that won the Amazing Race and now dates Lance Bass. That will definitely sell the books. However, I believe that the story related inside provides the reader with a better understanding of what it is like to be Gay inside a military academy.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Happiest Time of Year- the Holiday Shopping Season!

Okay, how cliche can I be? A Gay guy excited by sales?!

For the record, it isn't the sales that I get so excited about starting on Black Friday, it is the consumerism: Capitalism at its finest!

For many, Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate the good fortune that we have. For others, it is simply a time to gather with loved ones and have a turkey dinner.

For me, it is a uniquely American invention to celebrate our industriousness and good productivity from the Pilgrim days of yore to the present. We spare a day each year to simply be thankful for all the things in our lives that we have been able to provide for ourselves. Not just the materal items but the security, liberty, and democracy that we Americans often overlook. But a more fitting traditional day of celebration will occur tomorrow as shoppers line up in the cold early morning to fight one another for the chance to buy a toy for 25% off its already marked down price. Tomorrow is the most American of all holidays- Black Friday!

According to a decree by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the day after Thanksgiving was named the official start to the holiday shopping season. As such, merchants have been all too happy to entice consumers to visit their shops with the promise of greater savings if they shop on that day, knowing shoppers will continue to purchase gifts until the last errant husband has bought a present for his wife on Christmas Eve.

This is the day that stores will be able to best predict their annual gains or losses based on holiday consumerism. More simply put, tomorrow many stores will see their books go from the red into the black. If they don't, they will likely not see enough sales in the remainder of the year to recoup their losses.

Although consumerism is often mistaken for simple greed, tomorrow is a fitting tribute to the Capitalism that makes our nation so great. All year long, the American people are productive. Tomorrow, we will begin to spend some of our saved productivity (our earned wages) so that we may all revel in the pleasures of the earth during the winter Holiday Season.

Is this materialism? Certainly! Isn't materialism a horrible thing? No! In December, many of us will look to self sacrifice as we give away these material items that we spent our earned wages on.

Tomorrow, though, when you look out at your local mall and see droves of middle-aged women rushing to grab the limited supply of Elmo dolls before store is sold out and hear the crying children singing their "gimme-gimmes," try to enjoy the cause of all the exciting madness. Americans are able to perform such feats because we have a free-market, generally strong economy, and relatively low unemployment.

Yes, we do this because we can, but the really remarkable thing is, WE CAN!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tammy Bruce on the Democratic Takeover

As a general rule, I like Tammy Bruce. Sometimes she comes off a little too Judge Judy in her sarcasm, but she tends to have a pretty libertarian approach to politics. Unfortunately, she isn't always as politically astute as she would like to think.

Bruce claimed today that she believes Democrats intend to put liberal social issues such as abortion, gun control, and gay rights on the back burner for the next couple of years. She says that they may be hoping that the American people forget what the party really stands for so that they can take the presidency in 2008. Her assertion is primarily based on quotes such as this one:

David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group, expects Democrats to push legislation to bar workplace discrimination against gays and amend the federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation. Still, he says, those changes won't come until “much later” in the session.

While it could be that Bruce is correct and there is some big left-wing conspiracy in the works where single-issue groups where the Dems don’t have to cater to their constituent bases for the next two years and then offer them the world when the GOP gets evicted from the White House. But that seems far-fetched.

What her post doesn’t seem to take into account is that while conservatives have definitely lost control of the House of Representatives, they have a strong voice in the Senate. More importantly, George W. Bush is still President. He has been EXTREMELY light on the vetoes in the last six years, but he still retains the power to veto any bill he disagrees with and Congress would be hard-pressed to overturn it.

This is to say that David Smith is absolutely correct that the Dems will push Gay issues, but we should not expect any real changes to occur until much later in the session—as in after President Bush leaves 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Here's What We'll Say

I finished reading Reichen Lehmkuhl's new book today about his experience coming out while attending the US Air Force Academy. "Here's What We'll Say" is a surprisingly interesting read that was unexpectedly easy to relate to.

Lehmkuhl is certainly not an experienced writer, which is evident throughout his memoirs. He might have been well-served to have hired a ghost writer to better articulate the thoughts conveyed his his memoirs. However, I recommend not allowing the mediocre writing dissuade you from picking up a copy of this important book.

As we all know, Reichen Lehmkuhl is an Air Force Officer turned Reality TV Star turned Model. After winning the Amazing Race with his then-partner, he went on to be pushed down the throats of many in the Gay community as the new posterboy for GLBT rights. Unfortunately, at first glance it is difficult to relate to a pretty-boy model trained by the US Military to be a rugged machine and made famous on national television. This book, however, helps to show a vision of Reichen Lehmkuhl that is more realistic.

His memoirs provide a sometimes entertaining glance at his humble beginnings as a skinny, awkward kid living in a trailer park near a polluted "lake." Just like the rest of us, he was teased by bullies during his middle school years. Like some of us, he had an unusually difficult time making friends during those years, as well, because of his differences with the other children.

Through his account of his teen years, we witness Reichen first starting to recognize his own sexual identity. He hides from himself behind a long-distance girlfriend who gives him the idea to apply to the Air Force Academy and gives him the moral support to do so. We also watch as he develops an unusually close friendship with "Ben Silverman" that evolves into Reichen's first love. However, when he realized that he had fallen in love with another man, it was too late to act upon it, nor was he ready to recognize or accept his own homosexuality.

His account of the US Air Force Academy is astounding. The challenges that cadets must face in order to succeed at the academy are remarkable. Beyond the rules, strict living environment, rigorous coursework, and general hazing of underclassmen, the training that cadets must endure is simply unbelieveable. Most Americans know that military men and women must complete a difficult basic training filled with hazing from superiors, hard tasks, filthy conditions, and other varied forms of strife. However, most are unaware of the continued training that cadets must face including how to survive as a Prisoner of War in an unfriendly territory.

As a Gay man, Lehmkuhl had to face much more than the ordinary cadet. He had to discover his own identity with little help from others and then learn to cope in an environment where homosexual activity is treated as a crime.

In the midst of his own personal struggles, Lehmkuhl was raped by two unknown men. He explains that it was the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" that caused his rapists to victimize him and it was the same policy that made it impossible for him to report the incident. Had he reported the crime, he would have likely been investigated for homosexuality as a part of the DADT witchhunt.

As the book goes on, Reichen finally acknowledges his sexuality, has relationships with other men both military and civilian, learns to live a double life without losing his own identity, and meets other gay and lesbians in the Academy. Eventually, he and a few friends (out of necessity) develop a tightknit underground network of Gays to provide themselves with alibies and protect themselves from DADT policies.

Though Lehmkuhl admits that some of the accounts in the final chapters of his book did not actually occur to him but were stories that happened to people close to him, this book gives a strong portrayal of what it must be like to be a gay man in a military academy. In general, however, the read is believeable, if sometimes a little fantastic.

The reality is that many people I know, including myself, some of whom are gay, considered seeking an appointment to a military academy. When I was 18 I was not prepared to declare whether I was Gay, Straight, or otherwise and neither are most high school seniors, including those entering the military. Those young people should not be forced into a position where they may serve with honor only if they deny their own identity while their heterosexual peers have no similar requirement. Meanwhile, a misguided policy initially aimed at protecting Gays serving in the armed forces not only causes gay people to live in fear but actually allows harm to come to them both physically and emotionally.

Here's What We'll Say gives a strong account of the inequities in US military academies. All Gays should be free to come out of the closet to live openly without fear. This book goes a long way to expose the problems caused by DADT and to draw public attention to them.

To Settle a Bet

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Boi from Troy and I had a friendly wager over the game on Saturday.
Cal won't be going to the Rose Bowl...again.
Because I am a man of my word, below you will find a few photos of the hottest man from Troy, Brian Cushing.

Ok, so this may not be the most revealing pic of Brian Cushing ever taken...but he is cute.

He would be perfect (if he went to Cal and wore less Red)

Strong Man!

Here's to you, Brian Cushing!

Oh, wait! That's not Cushing! That's Cal freshman kicker, Nick Demopoulos, Cal's Hottest Player! If the Bears had kept the game going into the fourth quarter, we'd all be looking at pics of Nick instead of Cushing.

So that's it, folks. The bet is paid off. Luckily, Cushing is easy on the eyes.

But don't expect to see this much red on the Land of Fruits and Nuts for a long, long time.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple Moderate Voter of California?

A commenter on an earlier post of mine commented that:

California isn't purple, it's Blue. I'm a Democrat and I voted for the Repub. candidates for governor and for insurance commissioner because I thought they would do the best job. I'd caution you not to read too much into the election, especially as any kind of an endorsement of the Republican party. As you said earlier the California Republican Party is still way too conservative for most Californians, including me. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Shane, my point is that California voted Dem this year because it had little other choice. I still maintain that it is a Purple state because that is where it would fall on a Red-to-Blue spectrum.

Why is it that California thought Arnold would do the best job as Governor? He certainly wouldn’t have won the election by such a large margin if he had campaigned on star power alone. The reason is that he is reasonably in line with what most Californians are looking for, politically. This is the same reason Dianne Feinstein remains such a popular figure here. Both are political moderates that lean left socially and lean right economically.

California tends to vote Democrat because voters are left little other option. The California Republican Party is too conservative for voters. Economically, the state is moderate to right. Socially, the state is moderate to left. For the record, both of these generalizations are on the whole of the state.

My point is that because the California Republican Party keeps putting up such conservative candidates, Californians won't vote for them. The Democrats are not highly favored in this state, either. Economically, few are really in line with the sentiments of voters. However, outside of political blogs, academic settings, and financial institutions, who considers fiscal matters sexy? People can get riled up over social issues.

If the California Republican Party downplayed the social issues or moved a little left on them, it could gain a lot of power in statewide races. Local districts are very gerrymandered and it would take a whole new strategy for Republicans to win a majority in the California Congressional Delegation, the Assembly, or the state Senate. But that doesn’t mean California is Blue.

This election (and others before it) show that the median voter theorem is heavily at work in California. For statewide office, voters prefer a moderate candidate that is neither socially conservative nor economically liberal. This is why moderate Arnold handily beat tax-hiker Angelides. This is why moderate Democrat DiFi beats just about everybody. This is why pro-choice Pete Wilson won so often.

California’s median voter isn’t to be found in the San Francisco Bay Area or in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area any more than it is to be found in the Fresno/Clovis area. He (or she) is a strong moderate looking a little like Ahnold and DiFi.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Boi from Troy's Questions

As posted earlier, Boi from Troy and I agreed to do some back and forth analysis of Saturday's game. We also placed a small wager on the game.

These are my responses to his questions:

1) It is rumored that Jeff Tedford has some magical spell to get inside the brain of Pete Carroll and give him fits: fact or fiction?

Fact! The spell was recently uncovered in a stack of papers belonging to famed Cal coach, Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf, and supposedly allows the user to get inside the mind of any worthy opponent. The spell, apparently was frequently used by Pappy in the glory days of Cal Football.

It doesn't take a spell, though, to see how Carroll has developed the USC offense. Clearly, the Trojan offense is based around an explosive rushing game with both barrels blazing. Those barrels used to be Bush and White. Now they are Moody and Washington, but are no less formidable. It isn't going to be an easy victory for us this Saturday.

2) How devastating was the loss to Arizona and how are the Bears--and campus--coping with it, or are they just moving on?

It wasn't all that long ago that losses were commonplace in Berkeley. We never expect an easy season or good luck to follow our team. Lately though, we have been a little spoiled. Ok, a LOT spoiled.

After a bit of crying on my fraternity brothers' shoulders and cursing Jeff Tedford (while momentarily forgetting his very lackluster predecessor, Tom Holmoe), I suddenly realized that the loss isn't so bad. I don't think any of us would have been the least bit upset to be vying for a BCS berth, we would really like to end our Rose Bowl drought. Remember that we haven't played on New Year's Day in Pasadena since 1959. 47 years is longer than any Pac-10 or Big-10 team has gone without a Rose Bowl, ever.

3) Which #10 scares you more as a Cal fan--John David Booty with his efficient passing or Brian Cushing with his explosiveness off the line coming around the backside?

Cushing, definitely. In Arizona the Bears showed problems with our passing game and Cushing could put a lot of pressure on us. Our passing defense may not be the best in the world, but Daymeion Hughes is always good for a few picks. We should be able to hold our own against Booty.

4) If, god forbid, Cal were to win, have the students in Berkeley, like, prepared the biggest bong ever?

When we ended the long Big Game drought in 2002, the fans not only rushed the field but tore down our own goalposts--both sets--and marched them down the streets of Berkeley. Stanfurd has long feared Cal fans and has kept a fence around their old field, lined with police officers, in case we get a little out of control.

If God willing, Cal were to win, I would expect the fans to go souvenir hunting. You might want to hide Traveler from the Cal Student Section.

5) Our wager is that the loser has to post a photo-montage of the hawtest guy from the winning team. Can we see your selection now?

My selection is Nick Demopoulos, our freshman kicker.

Honorable mention to both Joe Ayoob and Andrew Larson.

Southern California Love

I have been a big fan of Boi from Troy for quite a while now. I only wish that the guys over there had gone to Cal instead of SC.

In honor of the longest-held University rivalry in California, Scott at Boi from Troy and I will be doing a little back and forth analysis of the matchup for Saturday.

To make things interesting, we've made a friendly little wager: the loser posts a picture of the hottest player from the winning team.

In related news...

USC's infamous alumnus, OJ Simpson hit headlines today. It appears that he has written a book and done a two part interview to air this week.

The book doesn't actually say that he killed Nicole but gives an account of what would have happened if he had killed her.

Apparently, OJ is now looking to find the murderer on the talk show circuit.

No Time to Smell the Roses, Yet...

So last weekend’s loss to Arizona made me cry a little. That is, until I realized that there really is only one Bowl Game that matters to an Old Blue and we haven’t seen it since Eisenhower was still President. If we beat the University of Spoiled Children this week, Cal goes to the Rose Bowl.

I, for one, would take the Rose Bowl over the BCS Championship any day.

Or we could go to the Holiday Bowl, again, if we lose.

Last week, we failed pretty miserably at Arizona. An Achilles heel of our was definitely exploited. Once Marshawn Lynch got stopped, Nate Longshore had to play the game for us and just couldn’t do it alone.

And Lady Luck decided to take a vacation. DeSean Jackson pulled out some of his magic and gave us a 79-yard touchdown…but stepped out of bounds to nullify it. We intercepted twice in the third quarter but lost both to penalties.

But U$C isn’t unstoppable. We knew that when we beat them before their winning streak started, Texas knew it at the Championship game last season, and Oregon State knew it just a few weeks ago. Hell, even Tommy the Trojan knows that they aren’t 100% effective.

Cal’s special teams are among the best around.

Look at punter Andrew Larson, for instance. Besides making me sweat every time I see him on the field, he has already made us forget that Aussie kid that kicked the ball last year. DeSean Jackson is the miracle man that can turn a punt return into a touchdown without a thought.

I know he is Boi from Troy’s dream man, but Booty can get a little shaky under pressure. He’s no Matt Leinart, but he is good. It’s no secret that our pass defense is lacking, but if we can keep the pressure on for the whole game (instead of just one half) we have a chance at weakening the Southern California game.

It certainly won’t hurt that we have Daymeion Hughes out there to pick off a few interceptions for the Bears. If we can prevent penalties (which we seemed to have a hard time with in Arizona) the Trojans passing game could suffer a little.

Our defense is going to need to hold very strong against the USC rushing game. They continue to be a leader in rushing yards. Fortunately, our defense ain’t too shabby, either. Last week, though, they were a bit weak. I think on Saturday they will remember to bring their game.

Junior running back, Marshawn Lynch is so hot right now. That is, when he isn’t being stopped by an Arizona defense. In case a similar scenario happens at the Coliseum, Nate Longshore will need to pick up his game.

The key to the game is to stay focused, remain aggressive for all four quarters, and keep the pressure on. The boys in Blue and Gold have it in them to win if they can rattle the Southern Cal offense with some good pressure against Booty and some picks by Hughes. One of our biggest setbacks has been that our team only plays aggressively for about half the game. We can't risk that against USC.

Remember that the Golden Bears and the Trojans have a 5-5 record in the last 10 contests. In fact, Holmoe picked up some of those wins. Tedford can surely pull this one out and send us to the Rose Bowl.

Of course, my pick to win is California. But it will be close...too close.

Cause Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut...

Boi from Troy posted that Mike Spence, head of the uber-conservative California Republican Assembly wants to audit the California Republican Party. Spence seems to claim that with the millions and millions of dollars spent, we shouldn’t have lost.

Over at FlashReport, Spence gave his views:

Was Victory '06 a success? After over 20 million dollars spent that is an open question for me. I have my doubts. The Governor was on the way to victory long before the GOTV operation was needed. Maybe Poizner benefited. Although he really benifited from Bustamante.

First, I want to point out that I know something on this scale has not been tried before. I know many Victory '06 staffers. Many of them are great operatives. People can work hard and effectively in campaigns and still not achieve objectives. To be successful in the future requires us to take a hard look at some of these things.

I admit to only knowing a few things. Turnout in GOP areas was lower than four years ago. Imagine that. A "GOP" Governor is winning by 17% and turnout is worse than when we lose by 5%. What gives?
Then, Spence goes on to blame the National GOP collapse, the Governor for not extending his coattails further, and a lack of enough GOTV efforts by the party. In fact, he does his best to place the blame on everybody and everything that went wrong.

Except of course for what the real problem was.

He placed no blame on the far right of our party for alienating voters. California voters are not excited by right-wingers like Dennis Mountjoy, Mike Spence, Dick Mountjoy, and the like who grandstand and give our party at bad name. Chuck Poochigian, Tony Strickland, Tom McClintock, and Claude Parrish are all too conservative for our state.

If the California Republican Party wants to succeed, it must take a page from Schwarzenegger's playbook. It must learn that California wants to embrace economically conservative candidates so long as they are socially moderate.

Instead of auditing CRP and blaming them for the great loss, we should be dumping people like Spence as fast as we can.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Progress of South Africa

It is frightening to realize that South Africa has recently granted Gay people more rights than the US currently offers. In my own lifetime, South Africa has transformed from Apartheid to a nation that offers Gays (of any race) the same rights as straight people.

Meanwhile, several states in the US recently passed constitutional bans on Gay Marriage and the Republican party (both nationally and statewide) specifically name a rollback in Gay Rights as a targeted party platform issue.

How is it that the great bastion of freedom attempts to deny basic rights to people like me based on sexual orientation but a nation that was among the most oppressive only two decades ago now offers full freedom to Gay people?

A Bad Year for the Roses

No, I am not talking about the Rose Bowl. My hopes are still high that Cal can pull a victory against the University of South Central this weekend. In fact, I will be blogging about that that at some point this week.

Today I am predicting another bad year for the Republicans. As everybody in politics knows, the campaign starts the day after the previous election, if not sooner. Why then are the Republicans already failing?

When the voters very clearly tell you that things need to change, it would be logical to change in the direction the voters intend. Not so, according to the choices currently being made in Sacramento and DC.

Republican members of the California Assembly look like they will soon replace George Plescia with even-more-conservative Mike Villines from the Fresno-Clovis area to be the new Assembly Minority Leader. True, Plescia was no strong leader for the GOP. Susan Kennedy referred to him looking like a deer stuck in the headlights and Governor Schwarzenegger expressed his concern that Plescia couldn’t control the “wild-bunch” of Republicans in the Assembly. Still it makes little sense to find a more conservative member to lead our party out of the current quagmire. At this rate, expect the California GOP to be even more irrelevant than it already is.

But it doesn’t seem the national party is any smarter. In the Senate, it looks like the minority leader will be Senator Mitch McConell, an anti-gay “Christianist” that votes a straight Republican ticket. That doesn’t sound like change to me, folks. Why don’t we see if we can find somebody closer to the status quo? Is Dick Cheney eligible for the post?

We can’t expect the foolhardy crowd in the House to provide our party with any good leadership, can we? The three favorite candidates to move into Pelosi’s old office when she becomes Speaker are John Boehner, Joe Barton, and Mike Pence. Boehner we can all remember from his role in the Foley scandal and cover-up where he may or may not have told Speaker Hastert what he knew about Foley’s indiscretions. Pence is an extreme conservative hoping to bring change to the GOP by being even more rightwing. Barton long spouted the necessity of traditional family values before his divorce in 2003 and marriage to another woman soon after. He has received extremely large contributions from energy companies while consistently denying the existence of global warming. When he seems to be the more moderate of the candidates for the job, the GOP is in trouble.

Unless the Republican Party wakes up and realizes it needs to change, it will continue to fall by the wayside. I expected the recent election to be a sufficient wakeup call, but apparently was wrong. What will it take to make the GOP move a little left?

Military Equality Alliance

Today, I discovered an organization of Gay men and women working for an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies of the US Military. Most, if not all, of those involved with the organization are former servicemen and women themselves and have lived under DADT policies.

I have blogged before about my feelings regarding DADT. I believe the policy is causing harm to our military by unjustly reducing the number of individuals eligible to enlist and causing harm to the brave men and women serving in our military with the daily fear that they may eventually be “outted” and receive a Section 8 discharge.

The arguments against the full integration of Gays into the military are ridiculous. When several other countries, including Israel and England among many others, have integrated Gays, there was no noticeable difference in unit cohesion or morale. Women and ethnic minorities have served in an integrated US military with little negative incident.

In fact, Gays are already fully integrated into the military and usually fear the DADT policies more than their fellow servicemen and women.

The Military Equality Alliance has a blog that I highly recommend you all visit from time to time. Their current work is on the Military Readiness Enhancement Act which they (and I) believe will have a much more fair shake under the new congressional leadership. Look for it to receive a hearing in the 110th Congress.

Three's Company

And then there were three. With Giuliani’s establishment of an exploratory committee for a presidential run in 2008, there are now three Republicans that have tentatively thrown their hats in the ring.

But who are these three Republicans? After such a beating by the Democrats last week, do any of the three have what it takes to lead the party in a new direction? Do any of them have the ability to win?

Duncan Hunter has served in the House of Representatives since 1981 and currently serves the 52nd District of California. He has a strong military background and even has a son currently serving in the United States Marine Corps. His voting record on Gay Rights is less than astounding: with a vote in favor of Bush’s Federal Marriage Amendment, he has earned a zero on a recent scorecard from the Human Rights Campaign. Though Hunter is relatively unknown and has little chance of being a serious contender for president, he has recently gained some notoriety for his support for a fence spanning the entire US/Mexico border.

John McCain failed as a presidential candidate against Bush before the 2000 election. The popular senator from Arizona is largely a moderate and voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Once a Prisoner of War himself, McCain has been a staunch supporter of the US military. He has supported sending more troops into Iraq as a method to protect our interests and bring the war to an end in a more timely manner. Notably, he has spoken against the use of torture on prisoners we have captured in the war on terror. He has also taken a relatively pro-environment stance, is pro-life, and labels himself pro-Gay Rights. The HRC, however, has given him a score of 33 for the 109th Congress because his only pro-Gay vote was against the Federal Marriage Amendment. In the past, he has said he supports domestic partnerships but opposes Same-Sex Marriage.

Rudy Giuliani gained his infamy as the Mayor of New York City. He became a hero to millions of Americans in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 when he emerged as a strong American leader in the face of the terrorist attacks. Giuliani has called himself pro-choice and pro-Gay Rights. In fact, the former mayor famously lived with two Gay men for a time. As Mayor Giuliani signed a huge plan for domestic partners in New York City and has spoken in favor of Domestic Partnerships but not of Gay Marriage. Republicans are unlikely to find a popular candidate for the presidency that is more favorable toward the war in Iraq than Giuliani. As mayor during 9/11, Giuliani made a name for himself as a leader against anti-US terror.

For comparison purposes, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have both been tossed around as potential Democrat candidates for the White House. Both are in favor of Gay Rights but fall short of supporting Gay Marriage. Both Senators received high scores from the Human Rights Campaign. In fact, while Kerry scored a perfect score, Hillary Clinton did not support legislation that would grant same-sex partners of US citizens or permanent residents the same rights and privileges enjoyed by spouses of heterosexual citizens and permanent residents. Both Clinton and Kerry have been critics of the war in Iraq but both initially voted in favor of invading the country.

Presently, I am having a hard time supporting any of the candidates being considered for the presidency. McCain comes closest to getting my support. However, he is rapidly aging and has deteriorating health and isn’t quite where I would hope he would be ideologically. Hunter is too much of a scandal-ridden Border-Nazi for my taste. Giuliani is more of an image than a pragmatic politician. Kerry’s political sun has set and he missed his chance. Another Clinton White House scares me.

Why can’t there be a good candidate in either party that generally supports free trade, laissez-faire economics, and a balanced budget while also supporting Gay equality, constitutional rights, and other libertarian freedoms?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gay Television

Now that Queer as Folk has ended and America is between seasons on Project Runway what is there to watch on TV for a Gay guy? I have decided to take a quick look at Gay television entertainment.

Kathy Griffin's My Life on the D-List is a funny show from a funny lady. Sure she sometimes gets a little more political than I care for during my leisure time, and true she is a straight woman, but she captures a definite Gay male audience because she can be so sarcastically funny. Definitely worth an occasional watch.

The L-Word is something I have yet to see. It is definitely geared toward Lesbians more than Gay men, so it really hasn't caught my attention. If you have seen it, please comment and let me know whether it is worth watching.

American Idol starts again in January. I really only watch it to make fun of the really bad performers in the first few weeks. Then I start watching again toward the end of the season so I sound like I know what I am talking about when everybody is raving about who got kicked off and who wins. I really think the cute bald rock-star guy should've won last season instead of the weird gray-haired guy. Also, as a Cal Bear, I really hate William Hung.

I was recently turned on to Desperate Housewives. Great show. Attractive people. Outrageous drama. It may be written for an audience of middle-aged housewives, but was developed by a Gay guy who clearly knows a little something about what Gay guys want to watch on tv.

Dante's Cove has been heavily publicized among the young gay audience. Unfortunately, it isn't available on any of the tv stations I get. I supposed I could download a few episodes and see if they are any good, but I am too lazy. I have heard that if you like Buffy, Angel, or Charmed and are Gay, then this is the show for you. I loved all three. Has anybody seen the show yet? Is it worth watching?

I, for one, really miss Queer as Folk. Until I find a new cast of friends to spend an hour each week with, I will feed my crush on Michael Novatny (as played by Hal Sparks) by watching the DVDs.

Any suggestions of shows I should watch or have missed?

The Last of the Election Wrap-Up Posts

I believe this will be my last post that is simply an analysis of the November election. Really, I think we are all tired of hearing about what Speaker Pelosi will do and how the country has called for bipartisan efforts, change, blah blah, Iraq, blah, etc. So, my final analysis will focus on what the election means to California Republicans and Gays, but not necessarily on Republicans that happen to be Gay.

I have always maintained that California is NOT a blue state. It is impossible to imagine it as a red state, either. Really, Californians are purple but forced left. Similarly, Gays are not hard Democrats. Even Log Cabin Republicans like myself have a hard time voting Republican because of the anti-Gay rhetoric from the right. We are forced left.

But we already knew their was an association between Gays and purple.

California showed its purple nature last week. At the top of the ticket was a very independent minded Republican winning by a huge margin. With the exception of Steve Poizner, the rest of the statewide ballot was decidedly Blue.

I have already looked at what makes Schwarzenegger different. He and Poizner both are fiscally conservatives with a background that shows that they favor business interests in general. California prides itself on a strong economy based on a combination of agriculture, natural resources, and commerce.

But, you ask, weren’t Strickland, McClintock, and other Republicans on the ballot strong economic conservatives?

Yes they were! However, Poizner and Schwarzenegger successfully painted themselves as social moderates. It also didn’t hurt that Poizner ran against Cruz Bustamante, who nobody really likes.

Schwarzenegger, especially is moderate-to-left on many social issues. He follows the majority of Californians when he discusses Gay Rights, Environmental Policy, and Criminal Justice. His basic view seems to be that government shouldn’t interfere where it doesn’t need to but should step in to protect the rights and property of individuals when necessary.

This (small-L) libertarian sentiment can be seen in his stances all over the place. He is pro-Gay Rights in protecting our rights to economic and social liberty and justice. He is pro-environment because he sees a government necessity in protecting the environment as a public good, but not so pro-environment that it would significantly impede the rights and liberty of individuals or business to operate or do as they wish (within reason) on their own property.

Californians, clearly, tend to lean left on social issues. Except in rural areas and the Central Valley, Californians tend to favor liberal social issues. Statewide, Californians tend to favor moderate economic policies.

More so, Gays tend to be socially liberal. I have met very few members of the GLBT community that are not socially liberal. It is extremely difficult to identify as a social conservative if most of what you hear from the right is how you are an abomination and living a deviant lifestyle. That does not mean, however, that Gays necessarily really identify with the Democratic platforms. Many Gays are not as economically liberal as the Democrats would like.

Last week’s election is a grand opportunity for the California Republican Party to take a serious look at itself and decide whether it wants to remain relevant. By rewriting its platforms to focus primarily on conservative economic goals while remaining socially libertarian, the CRP can win back the state.

The greatest and most successful Republicans to come through the ranks of the California Republican Party include Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. All three developed conservative economic policies while remaining socially moderate or libertarian. The policies of all three believed that the government that governs best is that which governs least.

If the California Republican Party rejected its current platform based primarily on conservative social issues, it would be in a far better position to recapture the votes of Californians. Further, it would be easier for Gays to vote Republican with a clear conscience (at least in California). Over time, this could lead to major reform nationally.

My hope is that the CRP will take a few minutes to look at the current state of affairs and recognize its own shortcomings. If it continues to serve as a bastion for social conservatives, it will continue to fall into obscurity in the state. If it learns to embrace the socially moderate views of its most successful members, perhaps it will have an opportunity to reform California while limiting the power of the tax-happy socialists disguised as Democrats in this state.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Again, to quote Evita, “What happens now? Where are we going to?” These seem to be some of the most relevant questions when thinking about where America will be headed in the immediate future.

I have already stated that I think Speaker Pelosi will need to move a couple steps right. Similarly, I think we have already begun to see Bush move ever-so-slightly toward the center with the acceptance of Rumsfeld’s resignation. While I certainly question whether we will see more of Pelosi’s spirit of bipartisanship, I remain skeptical that we will see much from Bush.

What we will see from Bush will be Vetoes. Lots and lots of lefty legislation will get the Presidential axe. To date, President Bush has only vetoed one piece of legislation (regarding stem cell research). Certainly a Democratically led Congress will pass more legislation that is not in keeping with the President’s views than the Republican led Congress did. If so, we should expect the President to be more willing to pull out the Veto pen than in years past.

The House of Reps will remain a wild and rambunctious chamber of politicians clamoring to push reactionary legislation to whatever happened to hit headlines that day. The conservatives will continue to push for a constitutional ban on Gay marriage while the liberals will continue to push for the US to leave Iraq. The real difference will be in what gets heard above the noise. Speaker Pelosi will control the floor schedule and will appoint the new committee chairs. The Democrats will decide what issues get significant floor time. Undoubtedly the Iraq War and other military reforms will take center stage while socially conservative issues will be quieted.

This does not mean, however, that things are going to be any better for Gay people. While the Federal Marriage Amendment is now off the table for the moment (thankfully), this opens too wide a door for the left to grandstand on the very same issue: Gay Marriage. I have said it before, and I will say it again. Gay Marriage isn’t going to help us any. We already know that any pro-Gay Marriage legislation that makes it out of Congress is almost certainly going to be Vetoed by President Bush. Further, few bills from the House make it through the Senate.

Which brings me to the more reasonable of the two houses of Congress, the Senate. The Senate has a well-earned reputation for being the place where legislation goes to die. That house tends to be much more moderate and well-regulated. Few reactionary bills get serious consideration in the Senate.

I sincerely doubt that we will see much change as a result of the shakeup in the Senate. The newly elected Democratic leaders tend to be on the moderate side, and often as conservative as their Republican counterparts. The partisan leadership of the Senate is less important than the leadership of the House because the rules of the Senate are largely traditional and based on seniority rather than party affiliation. Further, the presiding member of the Senate will remain Vice-President Dick Cheney who gets to cast tie-breaking votes. Also, this moderate house is further moderated by the close political division: the Senate is nearly divided equally in half by party.

So, in terms of where we are headed, expect little change other than President Bush getting to exercise his Veto power a little more frequently. Certainly, he will have to fight harder to continue the status quo. The prevailing political winds are calling for a change of direction. Expect Democrats to interpret this as a complete reversal of Bush policies. I remain hopeful that Pelosi will keep her word and remain level-headed, bipartisan, and fair. If not, the Senate will continue to moderate legislation.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

In numbers too big to ignore, a Democrat Majority was elected for Congress. This means that the United States will have its first female Speaker of the House in Nancy Pelosi. I firmly believe that the Dems did not win by merit of their own superiority but because Americans were fatigued of failing Republican policies. This leads to an interesting dilemma that I am sure Pelosi has already begun to examine.

Should she remain the Liberal San Francisco Progressive we know her to be? Or should she transform into the characterization of what the American people currently want, namely a Pragmatic Centrist?

In 1994, the Republican Party came roaring onto Capitol Hill after a long tenancy by big-government-loving Democrats. The Class of ’94 promised to be different—they promised to cut government, to be critical of the Clinton administration, and to create pragmatic solutions to the problems the nation faced.

Then they got re-elected. Again. And Again.

Soon they forgot why they were there in the first place. They had gone Washington and ceased to be the champions of their districts. To make up for it they threw lots of earmarked money back home and espoused what they claimed to be traditional Conservative values on the hill. Except the values they loved so much really looked like tax cuts mixed with lots of Big Government and bureaucratic waste.

Now the Dems get their turn at the helm again. If they learn from their own mistakes (and the GOP’s) then Pelosi could turn the whole ship around. She just needs to make the right decision and move a bit toward the center. This could be a great new day for America.

Americans have spoken. Contrary to what the media might tell you, they did not vote only according to party. They voted based on what they saw as good or bad. Big government, unbalanced budgets, overspending, and mismanagement were seen as bad. But the people did not favor overly liberal, “progressive” values either. The candidates elected were people on the Right wing of the Democratic Party or the Left wing of the Republican party. The Center is gaining momentum.

And here is where Pelosi comes in. If she fails to build a moderate House of Representatives, she will have failed America. Our nation has cried out for a centrist approach in Congress. The people generally agree that the Bush policies both foreign and domestic are not working and the Republican-led Congress had failed to find solutions. America needs her problems to be solved. If Pelosi fails to lead the House in a moderate and fair manner, she will have broken the orders given to her by the voters on Tuesday and our nation will be the worse for it. Worse, our nation will be angry.

If Pelosi begins her term as Speaker in a centrist and problem-solving way, she will be seen as the great American hero and all of us will be the better for it.

I hope for the latter solution.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hasta la Vista, Baby!

It is notable that in the sea of Republican losses last night there was a massive victory for a Republican in a well-known bastion of liberalism.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won re-election last night in a landslide victory.

It was hardly unexpected. For weeks (or months) now it has been very apparent that the Governator was going to win by a large margin. He is a seemingly unstoppable force in California politics right now, and is a Republican in a year where Republicans are getting slaughtered everywhere.

What is it about this legendary man that has given him the ability to win so handily? Can we apply his magic to the rest of our party?

The simplest answer is that he not a conservative but a moderate. Many Republicans have criticized him for ceasing to be a REAL Republican. While I don’t believe the Governor to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only). In fact, he has moved in a direction other Republicans should follow.

Governor Schwarzenegger is a pragmatic centrist. He maintains strict principles that he believes to be necessary for the growth of California’s economy. His social values are more in keeping with the “Small Government” tenets of the Republican philosophy than the Republican Party Platforms are. In reality, Governor Schwarzenegger is a better Republican than any other elected in California.

He won last night because the good people of California see him for what he has accomplished and attempted to accomplish in California. During the Recall Campaign, the Governor took his seat as an outsider loved by the state because he was not a seasoned politician, had glamour and celebrity, and was promising to lead in a way that was different. Throughout this campaign, the Governor promised to continue to lead in this unique way. Instead of guiding the state through the standard party lines, he has chosen a path right down the center aisle of the Legislature, knocking a few people out of the way as he goes.

Other politicians should learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s technique. The reason the GOP sustained such huge losses last night was because the people are generally tired of partisan gridlock and rhetoric. The Republicans that currently control the House, Senate, and Presidency have said much, but shown little progress. The Democrats that are currently serving have done little better but have not been obligated with the responsibility for Congressional leadership. It is important to note that the Democrats that were elected to fill formerly Republican seats last night were primarily moderate to conservative, politically. This indicates that the voters were not looking to replace incumbents with politicians with radically different policies in all areas.

In general, the American people are looking for pragmatic leaders willing to work across the aisle with little or no discomfort. We are growing tired of career politicians that argue only in terms of Republican or Democrat values and would like to replace them with leaders looking for solutions without regard to parties.

Where Do We Go From Here?

To quote Evita, “Where do we go from here? This isn’t where we intended to be.”

I am sure that Karl Rove didn’t even attempt to sleep last night and that President Bush woke up with a sickening knot in his stomach and a headache worse than any he has experienced since he gave up the bottle. Indeed, the Republican Party is experiencing one killer hangover today.

I for one, am not completely upset by the results of last night. Just like all other members of the GOP, I am terrified of the prospect of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. But much good could come from these election results.

There are several analyses I would like to draw from last night’s election and will be posting them soon on this blog. Among them, you will find my predictions for what will occur under a Speaker Pelosi House, how the Senate will operate with such a split membership, how policy will be changed, and how party membership will change.

I really do think that this could be a pivotal moment for both parties and for the direction of this country.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In the Navy!

Gays serving in the military has long been a topic of discussion and debate. The former Democrat President, harolded by many misinformed people as "Gay-Friendly," established the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule. With friends like him, who needs enemies?

The truth is, Gay people have long served in the military. Just like every single other establishment on the planet, we have already infiltrated all branches of the military and served with distinction. Reichen Lehmkuhl is only the latest example of a successful man in uniform who served our nation with the highest of honors while hiding his sexuality from the world.

After attending the United States Air Force Academy, Lehmkuhl spent 5 highly successful years serving our country proudly. At the end of that time, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.

Then he came out.

Had he been outted in high school, in the Academy, or during his service, he would have become ineligible for the military. Clearly, Captain Lehmkuhl was a good match for the US military and served his country well in peacetime and in battle. In order to do so, he was forced to keep something about himself hidden to the world, although he and his family had long known his sexual orientation.

It was once explained to me that it isn't that Gays are unfit for military service but because straight members of the military wouldn't accept them. As I remember from my history books, Black people segregated for the same reasons (read: Buffalo Soldiers). It was feared not that Blacks couldn't fight as well as Whites but that Blacks and Whites would fight amongst themselves. The rules were changed and Blacks serve right along side Whites in the US military without much incident.

But, you might ask, "Gays want to have sex with men and would make the straight men nervous or would be distracted by the other men?" Again, I remember a similar argument being made about women serving in the armed services. Women now serve in the military alongside their male counterparts. In fact, the only differences in their service are that they are ineligible to be drafted under current law and are unable to perform certain tasks because of their physical differences from men.

We may also look at other male dominated institutions to gain a better perspective of how the introduction of Gay people might affect the military. Social organizations such as men's clubs and college fraternities have both been integrated by Gay men. Notably, they have not been similarly integrated by women. College fraternities, in particular, have always been known as especially aggressive and heterocentric. Even with the addition of openly Gay men, they continue to be just as aggressive if slightly less heterocentric and certainly less homophobic. It should be noted that in most college fraternities, brothers, whether Gay or straight, cohabitate in a shared living environment including shared bedrooms, bathrooms, and showers. Athletic teams have similarly been integrated by those who are openly Gay. The result hasn't been earth shattering. While there is anecdotal evidence of physical violence or social rejection against Gays in these establishments, the results have been a far cry from the effects feared by those wishing to keep Gays out of the military.

Going back to Reichen Lehmkuhl, he has a new book that hit shelves earlier this week called "Here's What We'll Say." I haven't had the opportunity to pick up a copy yet, but I am very interested to see what Lehmkuhl wrote about his years in the military.

Given that the United States is currently in the middle of a war and has struggled to recruit enough qualified volunteers to serve, it makes sense to broaden military eligibility requirements to be inclusive of Gays. Already, the military has loosened its requirements regarding the age of an enlistee. While I don't think that allowing openly Gay people into the military is suddenly going to create a bevy of new recruits for the US military, it would be a fair thing to do.

On that note, I will leave you with a final thought. There is an old joke that essentially asks if "Homosexuality is a disease, then can I call in Gay to work?" Similarly, if there is a draft, can I respond and say, "Nope. I can't be drafted today. Still Gay."

Monday, October 30, 2006

And the Beat Goes On...

Not only have my posts gotten me called a liberal heterophobe, but now it is being implied that I believe that Gay people must prove we are people before we get rights. My comments on his blog attempt to explain my posting.

Clearly you didn't read my entire post on my blog. While did say that we should withdraw our focus on winning the right to marry in the courts, my argument was for our community to focus on real progress in Gay rights.

Specifically, I live in California where Gay people are legislatively equal to straight people (with the exception of the word marriage, alone). But there are too many places in our nation where that is not the case. In many states we can not adopt children, we have no form of domestic partnerships, and have no legal protections against hate crimes. These are real issues that need real progress.

The focus on forcing the courts to grant same-sex marriage is very much hurting our push for other, more important, equal rights. We should focus on true equality first!

In reality, what I was trying to explain with my most recent post is that while Gay people want the right to marry and deserve it, it should be placed lower on our list of priorities. The Queer community is being denied a great number of rights across this country because of our sexual orientation. Those rights are of immediate necessity to many Gays and Lesbians and should be fought for now. Marriage is of less immediate necessity but is known to infuriate many of those who oppose Gay people on even the slightest level. Instead of attempting to prevent our right to marry, they go further and attempt to withhold other rights from us.

As such, I firmly believe we should not back down from our fight to secure equal rights for all Gay men, women, and children. The word "marriage" should be a part of these rights because it is part of our equality to straight people. However, we should be smart about our struggle and fight for those things most necessary to us first.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Case AGAINST Gay Marriage

No, I haven't become a straight, Christianist, homophobic operative of the religious right. Trust me, I am as Queer as I have ever been. And yes, I do think that we Gay people are totally equal to straight people and should have every equal right, including marriage. However, given the state of our nation and the Gay rights movement today, a good case can be made as to why we shouldn't be fighting for the right to marry.

Today, New Jersey made a ruling that is being touted as a precursor to Gay marriage. It is not. What the court said today is that the State of New Jersey must provide all the rights that married couples enjoy to same-sex couples. They did not, however, say that Gay people can get married. Their ruling will likely provide a system identical to California's. We are seperate and almost equal.

But if we learned anything from the civil rights movement, seperate is inherently unequal. We should be allowed to marry. But the title of this post is "A Case AGAINST Gay Marriage." We shouldn't be fighting for the right to marry.

In states where Gay marriage is likely to be legalized, we don't need it. In California, we have all the benefits of marriage that the state can give us, except for the word marriage. Soon, New Jersey will give those same rights to Gay people. Several other states have granted protections for the Queer community and a few have even protected Gay families.

Unfortunately, in many other states, Gay people have few (or no) protections. In some states, not only can't Gay people adopt children, they can lose custody of children that they adopted in other states. Until quite recently, it was illegal for Gay men to have sex in some places. As a community, Gays should be focusing on promoting the basic necessary rights for our families to survive in this world.

Gay marriage scares little old ladies in the South. It scares a lot of other people, too. The people that Andrew Sullivan calls "Christianists" get motivated by their homophobia and act on it. They vote. There is a reason why several states have gone so far as to repeal Gay rights in some places and enact constitutional bans on any form of domestic partnership or civil union between same-sex couples. Every time our community goes out there demanding the right to marry, more and more single-issue voters try to elect the Mountjoys of the world- namely homophobic " Biblical constructionists" that provide no benefit to society.

This isn't to say that we should give up the fight. Gay people should be recognized as completely equal to straight people. Instead of so loudly proclaiming that we want to marry, we should be focusing on protection for Gay people and families in places where there is none. We should be working to provide support for young people terrified to come out of the closet. We should be working to improve the public image of the Gay community.

We know that not all Gays are sexually promiscuous demons ready to molest innocent children and turn them Gay, too. AIDS is neither the Gay Cancer or a punishment from God for our evil ways. Further, we are not hated by God or doomed to spend an eternity in hell because we want to sleep with a person of the same gender. We also know that we do not simply choose to be Gay. But we haven't done a very good job of portraying all of that to those who fear us.

What we should be doing is attempt to live our lives as best we can. If we want to marry, we should find partners and live as married couples with whatever form of civil union we can get from our states and santify them with an appropriate ceremony. We should live in homes next to theirs, mow our lawns next to them, raise our children next to theirs, and invite them to our bbqs.

Then they might finally see us as people.

Monday, October 23, 2006


While I understand that many political crackheads have already submitted their ballots for the November election (I submitted mine almost a week ago), the elections are coming up. But you probably already knew that, unless, of course, you have been living under a rock for the past few months.

Here in the Land of Fruits and Nuts, we have a super-sized ballot full of ballot initiatives and statewide candidates for office. To help you make sense of the madness, allow me to give you some brief advice on your ballot.

GOVERNOR- Arnold Schwarzenegger
My endorsement absolutely goes to the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has a brilliant record on Gay rights and the economy and has proven his moderate credentials. Phil Angelides is a hack that would overtax the state and drive business away without providing any substantial improvements on Schwarzenegger's social policies.

Lt. GOVERNOR- Tom McClintock
What does a Governor Lite do anyway? Since this is a post primarily concerned with waiting for the real governor to leave the state, die, or otherwise vacate his office, it is hard to come up with a good reason to have a Lt. Gov.

A harder question to answer is who is Garamendi? McClintock is a proven conservative. While I definitely disapprove of his views on Gay rights, he is a fiscal watchdog that would do a fine job...if that had anything to do with the office of Lt. Gov. I will endorse him anyway because I really don't like the idea of a no-name Democrat keeping the seat of the Governor-in-Waiting warm.

ATTORNEY GENERAL- Chuck Poochigian
I have already posted on the reasons I am not supporting Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown for Attorney General. Despite the impact the office can have on Gay issues in California, Brown won't be tough on crime. Poochigian would be. It's that simple.

I heavily considered giving my endorsement to Bruce McPherson, but he doesn't excite me. After former SOS, Kevin Shelley screwed up and was forced into resignation from office in a cloud of shame, McPherson stepped up to the plate to be appointed SOS. Well, sort of.

I think somebody forgot to tell him he was named Secretary.

His term was marked, well, by nothing. Granted that Secretary of State is not the most exciting office in Sacramento, but he seems to have kept things going as business as usual without any remarkable innovation.

Bowen, on the other hand, is a rebel rouser that seems to want to go totally back to paper ballots. While it is good to have a healthy fear of electronic voting machines, her fear of technology borders on paranoid.

CONTROLLER- Tony Strickland
Who would be a better person to elect as the official fiscal watchdog of the state than the man who successfully sued Gray Davis? Strickland was the youngest person to ever serve in the Assembly, was a powerful force in YAF, and would be a strong leader to preside over the Board of Equalization. And his opponent? Some Democratic unknown.

I won't even pretend to have a rationale for why I am endorsing Poizner. Really, I just have a great disdain for Cruz Bustamante and his greedy ways. Cruz has spent the greater part of his adult life "earning" a paycheck in elected office. In his most recent gig, he didn't even have to do anything to keep making six-figures except wait around for a Governor to leave office...and he managed to do a poor job at that! Even more recently, Bustamante got caught taking large amounts of money from insurance companies in the form of campaign contributions. While this normally wouldn't be a big problem, he is running for a job that's sole purpose is to oversee regulations on those same companies. If that doesn't reek of impropriety, I don't know what does.

US SENATE- Dianne Feinstein
DiFi is one of my favorite politicians alive today! Sure I hate her history on gun rights and dislike her position on abortion, but she has managed to carve herself a niche as a pragmatic problemsolver. She has been a great representative of California in the US Senate to date, and I expect her to have several more good years in office. This Republican proudly supports DiFi for office.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Berkeley College Republicans in the Wall Street Journal

On Friday, when I did my usual look through The Wall Street Journal, I saw a familiar face. Between the sketches of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nancy Pelosi, and various other political heavyweights was the poorly drawn image of fellow Golden Bear, Josiah Prendergast, President of the Berkeley College Republicans.

Chris Page at the Cal Patriot Blog already blogged about BCR's Wall Street Journal article. Unfortunately his coverage of the article lacks any real news. We already know BCR is a big group on campus and that the conservative mindset is a novelty in the People's Republic of Berkeley. However, he asserts that Republicans are needed in Berkeley more than anywhere and that is why they are a big group. In reality, the number of Republicans on campus is more a function of the increasingly moderate to conservative makeup of the student population. But the size of the club is mostly correlated to the activities of the organization.

The Berkeley College Republicans have fun. Students like to be involved in groups that are fun. It should come as no surprise, then, when BCR posts such large numbers. Really, who doesn't like a group that has lively political debates, fantastic guest speakers, huge events attracting worldwide media coverage, ice-skating trips, parties, bar nights, and other activities when people want to organize them? They really try to have something for everyone.

Another key to the success of BCR is that they avoid really divisive topics. The members of BCR, contrary to popular belief, don't sit around and talk about how wonderful it is that we are in Iraq right now or how awful abortion is. When those sorts of topics are brought up in meetings, it is usually in a debate format with two people passionately debating the issues with formal rules followed by the questions and comments of other members.

Berkeley College Republicans can thank their own efforts for developing an organization that people want to be a part of. Good job, guys! Thanks for keeping a conservative beacon on our liberal campus!

UPDATE: Josiah Prendergast, President of BCR, has been asked to appear on Hannity & Colmes on FoxNews on Wednesday. The show will air at 6pm and 11pm, PST.

The CNBC show "Kudlow & Company" is airing a debate at 2 pm tomorrow between Josiah and a representative of the Cal Democrats regarding the November election, students inpolitics, and the future of America.

Get Those Rally Comm Kids a Cigar!

Apparently, the Big Game Week hijinks are starting a little earlier than usual this year. I couldn't be more pleased! Check out Wikipedia! Somebody (presumeably) a member of Rally Comm updated the Stanford entry with a few interesting facts.

Nobody cares more about Cal traditions, history, and spirit and the stanfurd rivalry than the good folks in the UC Rally Committee. Those kids put in long hard hours all year long to make sure all the traditions occur. Among their duties are card stunts (which Cal invented), the California Victory Cannon, the Big Game Bonfire Rally, keeping the Big C a fine shade of "King Alfred Yellow," and waving the cal flags at football games. All the while, they are running around in hideously ugly (and dirty) striped rugbys.

Let's go on a tangent for a moment, shall we? Seriously, those rugbys are ugly. And they stink. The smell is a sure testiment to the hard work that the Rally Comm kids do in that they are dirty and smell because Rally Commers are so frequently hard at work in them that they don't often get a chance to wash them properly. But there is no excuse for the ugliness. Somebody should tell them that striped rugbys went out of style in like 2002. I guess it is better than the cardigans and funny looking caps that Rally Comm members wore in ancient times. I don't have a picture of those uniforms, but check out a yearbook and take a look. The rugbys are actually an improvement. But I digress...

Go check out Wikipedia! It contains such interesting facts as stanfurd being a finishing school and it's recent losing streak to Cal.

UPDATE: It appears that the stanfurdites have gotten wise. The updates have been removed. If any of you know of any other pranks, hijinks, or other anti-stanfurd community service occurring on or around campus, please drop me a line! I won't even publish it if you don't want me to. I just hate stanfurd!