Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bombs Away!

Picture it: Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan/Any other place where the US is likely to be in a war. Instead of dropping a bomb that would cause massive destruction and death, the US launches a very phallic missile. When the rocket strikes, instead of a mushroom cloud of fire and death, a light lavender scent fills the air. Subsequently, all of the unaware enemy ground forces drop their guns and start playing with their...er...other guns and each others.

No, this is not the start of a military themed gay porn nor is it a hoax pulled out of the air (I am really not that creative). On Friday, the Pentagon confirmed that US military leaders had considered a proposal from the Air Force's Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.

The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soliders to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another. As part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."

It should be pointed out that the military quickly dismissed the idea and never funded the $7.5 million requested to develop the technology.

Still, if the Gay Bomb had been produced and the technology had been successful...I'll leave the fantasies to you...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lovely Ladies of the Legislature

Watching the incessant floor sessions this time of year can often be a boring chore. Young staffers are frequently required to monitor sessions to ensure Members are participating appropriately, that important bills are getting the necessary votes, and to provide bosses with all the information they want and need. In the back area of the chambers, staffers whisper critically of the long hours working in the building, the silly arguments made on the floor, and even the fashion choices made by Members.

On that final note, I have made some big observations this week about the status of fashion in the Capitol. Months ago, I critiqued the fashion choices of the boys of the legislature. Today, it’s the girl’s turn.

Assembly Member Galgiani
She is a sweetheart in the Assembly- kind, gentle, and a friend to all. Unfortunately, she needs to bleach her roots. Roots and platinum blonde hair are a deadly combination. But she isn’t the only Member that dresses well but has a horribly dye job—Fiona Ma comes to mind.

Assembly Member Walters
This Republican frequently stands alone in the legislature- both in votes and fashion. She is as likely as not to be the only no vote on a bill she passionately disagrees with. As one of the slimmest elected officials in the California Legislature, she looks like a fashion model in some of the classiest of dresses and suits.

Assembly Member Garcia
We know Ms. Garcia is proud of her curvy body because she reminds us as much frequently, although it has been a while since she has spoken publicly about her breasts. Her suits are exquisitely well tailored to showcase her hourglass figure. Perhaps, too well tailored. How much overtime does her tailor get?

Assembly Member Parra
If you are watching Floor from your TV, you are missing out on the whole picture. Ms. Parra’s shoes cry out to be seen. Seriously, great shoes! Keep an eye open for them!

Assembly Member Strickland
For a pregnant lady, Ms. Strickland is doing a simply fantastic job of keeping herself stylish. The long coats she has been sporting are fabulous.

Assembly Member Berg
Ms. Berg is a kind, older lady. Tiny and frail looking, she has been recently spotted building support for a few progressive bills she cares deeply about (including the Assisted Suicide Bill and the Gay Marriage Bill that was passed yesterday). Typically her outfits are low-waisted, flowy, and very reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties. Paired with long strings of beads and a short hairdo, Ms. Berg has one of the most stunning and unique styles in the Legislature. Kudos to her!

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Sad Comparison

After watching part of the debate between the Democratic Party presidential candidates, I realized I really ought to compare the stances of the popular candidates on several of the big Gay issues of today.

Not surprisingly, the results favor the Democratic candidates. Also, not surprisingly Republican candidates were less likely to have formulated positions on certain issues...except for Mitt Romney. Romney, it seems, has a consistent answer for everything these days. A few years ago, he was supportive of Gay rights, but no longer. Today, he is universally opposed to the "radical homosexual agenda."

On Ending DADT

McCain supports Don't Ask Don't Tell, lauding it as a solution to a difficult problem. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all oppose it. Giuliani wants it repealed. Romney wants to keep it.

On Gay Marriage

None of the six major candidates openly supports federal marriage equality. However, McCain, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards support the right of states to enact Gay marriage laws. Giuliani recently spoke against the New Hampshire plan to enact strong Civil Unions because they were too similar to marriage. Romney opposes Gay Marriage, universally.

On ENDA

ENDA is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation intended to ensure that Gay people are not discriminated against in the workplace. All three major Democratic candidates have voiced their support for the bill. McCain opposes the bill. Giuliani doesn't seem to have a position on it. Romney opposes ENDA.

On Hate Crimes Legislation

All three major Democratic Candidates support legislation that would include Sexual Orientation as a basis for hate crimes. McCain, Giuliani, and Romney oppose hate crime legislation.

On Civil Unions

McCain, Giuliani, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have all spoken frequently supporting the civil unions or domestic partnerships as an equivalent to Gay Marriage. Although such unions are not equal to marriage, they are preferable to no legal union at all. Romney opposes Civil Unions.

On HIV/AIDS Funding

HIV/AIDS is still a monumental concern in the Gay community. As a result support for AIDS and AIDS prevention is paramount.

McCain has long been a supporter of the Ryan White CARE Act to provide AIDS funding in the US. He, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have each demonstrated their willingness to expand this funding. Giuliani supported AIDS causes as Mayor but has not taken a clear stance on HIV/AIDS funding as a presidential issue. Romney opposes AIDS funding and attempted to reduce AIDS spending as Governor.

On Comprehensive Sex Ed

Giuliani hasn't expressed a position that I could find. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all support comprehensive sex education programs. McCain doesn't support funding such programs. However he has expressed that he is unsure that condoms are effective prevention against STDs. Romney supports abstinence only sex education which, by its very nature, is not comprehensive.

In conclusion, the three main Dem candidates are fervently courting the Gay vote. Meanwhile, Guiliani and McCain have failed to take strong pro-Gay Rights stances where it really matters. No major candidate from either party is willing to allow Gay Americans to have full, equal rights.

And Mitt Romney opposes Gay Rights.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Suspense is Killing Me

For those who are keeping track, Appropriations Madness is over. More than 600 bills were rushed through the the Assembly Suspense Calendar alone. Many of these bills were "held" and virtually killed while most moved on to the floor for a full vote. Additionally, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved along hundreds more bills.

Among the bills killed on Suspense was the controversial spanking bill. Among the bills passed was the measure to legalize Gay Marriage in California.

Worth noting was an article in the Sacramento Bee this week that criticized Assemblyman Mark Leno, Chair of Assembly Appropriations, for hosting a fundraiser the day before the biggest Appropriations hearing of the year. While this is clearly an avenue that eases the ability for high powered lobbyists to reach the chair of Appropriations and, as the CRP said, "doesn't pass the smell test," it is hardly unique to Mr. Leno.

Last year, Governor Schwarzenegger held events during the months of August and September when he is expected to act on every piece of legislation passed by the Legislature during that year. Members of both parties from the Senate and Assembly routinely hold fundraisers during all parts of the year including Budgeting Mayhem and Floorapalooza.

Simply holding a fundraiser during a busy time of the year doesn't necessarily mean a politician is beholden to special interest groups. But in the case of Mr. Leno who is running against Ms. Miggy for the Senate, one must straighten up and fly right. Advice to Mark Leno: Keep Carole's exploits in the news. If this is the worst they've got on you, you've got it made.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Just When You Thought Bay Area Freeways Were Safe...


Crazy Carole comes careening through!

Last weekend, Carole Migden, the oh-so-honorable Senator from San Francisco caused a car accident...or a few...while talking on a cell phone and driving eratically.

Some of the choice quotes witnesses used included (courtesy of Boi from Troy):
  • “Please get out here, she is crazy”
  • “I noticed the car hit the center median divide”
  • “Erratic and dangerous driver”
  • “She cut me off and afterwards she screamed that she was a Senator, ‘I am a Senator”
  • “She didn’t seem all there at the time”
  • “Going at least 80 miles per hour and swerving from one lane to another”
  • “It was a female who was both reading and speaking on the telephone at the same time while trying to negotiate the lanes”



Now ol' Ms. Miggy has brought forward a new revelation: CANCER!

It appears that Senator Migden has been suffering from a bout of leukemia for several years. Until now, however, she has decided not to become public with her health issues because she didn't want the sympathy.

Except now, she DOES want the sympathy. So its okay to share with the world.

She is also blaming her lapse of driving ability on her illness. Perhaps she will also blame her illness for her shrill voice, utter lack of humanity, and famously short temper. Maybe the doctors can correct the problem, and a pill can turn the General into the Queen of Nice.

But its doubtful.

We Need a Hero

I hate that I am posting a liberal, anti-war, get-out-of-Iraq post on Memorial Day, but it does seem to be the most fitting time. Before people start to characterize me as a military-hating, anti-war, delusion peacenik liberal, hear me out for a moment.

I am in full support of all branches of the US Military. I think the work they have done and continue to do worldwide has been essential to world stability and America's strength and superiority. But I also think the time has come where their presence in Iraq no longer adds to American security and does seriously jeopardize the security of our boys (and girls and bois) in uniform.

I may sound callous when I suggest that American lives are more important than other lives. In the eyes of the US Government, at least, they should be. Americans both civilian and military, at home and abroad must be protected. The original premise of the war in Iraq was to ensure our safety at home. It is not the job of American forces to unilaterally solve the political problems of other nations. Our primary objective was to remove from power forces with the ability to put Americans in danger in the United States.

The mission succeeded in some ways and failed in others.

Clearly, Saddam Hussein is dead. Osama bin Laden has gone into hiding and has been unable to successfully orchestrate a large-scale attack on US soil since 9/11. Many other terrorist leaders have been killed or captured.

Unfortunately, every day, we lose more young people, primarily men of my own age, to a war that has had very little positive effect on American life.

In the months following September 11, 2001, America was in absolute fear of another attack. We were so fearful that we were willing to relinquish some of our most sacred liberties to the government to ensure our protection. While we now must live with a greater government intrusion in our personal lives than ever before, we feel only slightly more safe. This is evidenced by the paranoia that still surrounds us in public transportation, parks, and other public places. Unattended packages, groups of Arabs, and any whisper of a bomb has the potential to ground a flight. Even a bottle of shave gel or cologne can set the airlines in a panic.

The truth is, we were careless before 9/11. We, the American people, and our government should have been paying more attention and enacting policies to prevent terrorism. Now we are in a war to prevent further acts of violence. Unfortunately, our war has ceased to provide a net gain in terror prevention and is instead training guerillas that are well prepared to fight, and kill, Americans.

The best that can be done now is to reduce the situation. Our government has no other suitable option than to begin a withdrawal of troops and enact domestic policies that will prevent the war from reaching our soil.

On this Memorial Day, I want to applaud our armed services for their hard work and sacrifices, and honor those that have fallen. Their work and sacrifices have not been in vain. Their work might, however, be better suited toward other ends than a fruitless war in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Homophobe: Laura Richardson

That's the word according to Senator Sheila Kuehl: If you are a Dem voting in the 37th Congressional District primary, don't vote for Assembly Member Laura Richardson.

As the story goes, Long, Long ago (when Romney still supported Gay rights before he voted against them and when Oprah had really just lost all the weight for good) Laura Richardson fought in a hard primary battle against openly-gay Gerrie Shipske. After she lost, she claimed that Shipske was beholden to the "radical gay agenda" and strongly backed by "the only gay in the Assembly."

While it is true that Gay Rights have never really been popular in the African-American community, it was wrong of her then to speak so negatively of Gay politics. Everybody in politics (especially a seasoned liberal) knows that the phrase "Radical Gay Agenda" infuriates Gay activists more than almost any other. More recently, Richardson has repositioned herself to be very supportive of the Gay community.

At best, Laura Richardson is not trustworthy for changing a major stance so dramatically in such a short period of time. At worst, she is a homophobe. Either way, Gay and Lesbian residents in the 37th District should think twice before giving her their support.

Falwell DEAD!

The leader of hateful bigots across the country died today at age 73. Preceding him in death were hundreds of thousands of Gay men and boys that died as a result of Falwell's attempts to oppress homosexuality in the US. Many of those men died from AIDS while Falwell and his "Moral Majority" prevented funding for HIV research. Others died because they were denied the love and respect they deserved while Falwell's religious coalition described openminded and inclusive people as "Satanic."

Matt Foreman, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, extended condolences to those close to Falwell, but added: "Unfortunately, we will always remember him as a founder and leader of America's anti-gay industry, someone who exacerbated the nation's appalling response to the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, someone who demonized and vilified us for political gain and someone who used religion to divide rather than unite our nation."

Falwell should also be remembered as a founding contributor to the Sacramento Lambda Center. According to the Lambda Center website:

"On July 13, 1984, Jerry Falwell appeared on television and denied that he had ever referred to Metropolitan Community Church as vile, satanic and its members "brute beasts" on his Old Time Gospel Hour. He offered $5,000 to anyone who could prove that he had. Rev Jerry Sloan of MCC in Sacramento, California, called Falwell's toll-free number and purchased a copy of the tape as proof, and demanded payment of the $5,000. When Falwell refused, Sloan sued and won. With $5,000 in hand the Lambda Community Fund was reorganized in 1984 under its current name by Rev. Jerry Sloan and the late Timothy Warford with the help and guarantees of Terry Sidie, Marghe Covino and the Late C.G.N.I.E. Emperor, Randy Hartman, to mention a few, to serve the broader cross-section of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) community."


May his memory live on in the minds of all those that use the Falwell Memorial toilet at the Sacramento Lambda Center. It is important that all of those involved in the Gay Rights movement remember our powerful adversaries as a gauge of how far we have come.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

President Bush Resigns



Or maybe not...

Perhaps it was wishful thinking, a prophetic moment, or simply a typographical error, but CNN International placed a chyron (pictured above) with the words "Bush resigns" for approximately 12 seconds while reporting on the news of Prime Minister Tony Blair stepping down from office.

Maybe President Bush will take the hint and follow Blair's lead...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Who Doesn't Love Fast Guys and Hot Cars?

And hot guys with fast cars are good too!

Japanese auto maker, Daihatsu, has a new marketing ploy in Japan that must've been designed by none other than Brian Kinney. Instead of showing off the size of the car, how fast it is, and how pretty the car looks, Daihatsu is showing a German audience a more (ahem) "sizeable" package.

That is, Daihatsu is following the traditional knowledge that sex sells with a modern Gay spin. Instead of the old pinups with bikini-clad girls posing on cars, this manufacturer is showing hot men posing with the car. Better yet, they have a whole section on the site that allows you to see the models dancing in costume. And you don't need to know German to watch a hot guy dance.

But none of this should come as any surprise. Some of us already knew that Asians and Germans are a match made in heaven...isn't that right, Alex?

Underwear Everywhere

It's Thursday. And that means Brief Encounters at Faces.

Yah. You heard me. Boys in their briefs show off at the local Sacramento Gay hotspot. Apparently, Terry Sidie has something new to offer starting this week on Thursday nights- Ginch Gonch Giveaways- an offer sure to make Boi from Troy jealous for some new undies.

If you are a hot guy with the huevos to carry it off, show up at Faces commando, let them know you want to strut your stuff and check your pants at the door.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Kevin and Don Norte Bill

Assembly Bill 102 was passed off the Assembly Floor this week. The bill is a major boon to Gay rights and gender equity in California.

The bill would allow for an easier name change after the solemnization of a marriage or registration of a domestic partnership. Under existing law, women can easily change their name after becoming married and have special protections preventing discrimination in relation to changing or not changing their name as the case may be. This bill would offer those same benefits to men and women in Gay or Straight unions after the solemnization of a marriage or registration of a domestic partnership.

As is the usual practice with Gay rights bills, the Dems favored the measure with the support of civil rights organizations. Reps primarily opposed the bill under the pressure of the Anti-Gay right.

However, it is important to note those courageous individuals within the Republican Party that did not bow to the anti-Gay lobby. Assemblymen Anthony Adams, Sam Blakeslee, and Roger Niello voted in favor of the bill. Failing to cast a vote on the bill was Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia who represents the Gayest Republican assembly district in California.

Adams, Blakeslee, and Niello should all be commended for their courage to support this important issue that benefits the men and women of California without regard to their sexual orientation. Likewise, Assembly Member Ma should be thanked for her constant support of Gay rights in California.

The Land of the Fruits and Nuts Turns 100

Today, the Land of the Fruits and Nuts has hit its century mark! This, my friends, is the 100th post on my blog.

Although I must apologize for taking a two-week break from blogging recently, I want to thank my readers for continuing to check to see what's new with the blog and emailing me interesting news items and comments about the GOP and the Gay rights movement in California, the US, and worldwide. Thank you!

I should also thank all of those visitors who have given me a boost in hits on this blog by looking for hot pictures of Brian Cushing, Reichen Lehmkuhl, and (my personal favorite) Cameron Smyth. It is amazing how many people find this Republican political blog when looking for pictures of gay frat dudes. But I digress...

With this 100th post, I want to renew my promise to provide interesting coverage of GOP politics, Gay Rights, and Cal sports and news with an interesting perspective. If you have interesting ideas for me to write about, questions to be answered, hot political gossip, or incriminating photos of California legislators, please don't hesitate to email me at calgrown@gmail.com.

Nobody Makes Me Bleed My Own Blood

I have written many times before on homophobia engrained in US law. Usually, my focus has been on the prohibition of Gays in the military and the right for Gay people to marry.

But those are not the only anti-Gay US policies.

The US Food and Drug Administration still maintain a severely outdated policy restricting Gay men from donating blood or bone marrow because of HIV concerns. Although similar policies have been reversed in other Western nations to no ill-effect, the United States continues to uphold this policy.

Recently, Cal students led a pro-active protest against the policy while recognizing the shortage of blood donations. The protest, led by UC Berkeley student, Jeff Manassero, asked Gay men unable to donate blood to find sponsors to donate in their place. As a result of the protest, a massive amount of blood was donated and lives will be saved.

Nonetheless, as a letter to the Daily Cal proves, some of the intellectual elite at Berkeley still support the outdated policy. Professor Moshe Sternberg supports the prohibition on the assumption that Gay men are far more likely than the general population to contract the disease. Unfortunately, the professor fails to consider that other minority populations (including African-American women) should be excluded from donating blood if pathogenic diseases were the only concern. Further, the American Red Cross opposes the outdated policy because it does not serve in the interest of protecting the health of Americans.

Simply stated, the policy prohibiting blood and bone marrow donations by Gay men is homophobic and based on outdated science and statistics. HIV screening is far better than it was in 1985 when this policy was first enacted and much less centralized in the Gay community. Further, there is a more pressing public health concern in ensuring an adequate supply of donations for blood banks.

Berzerkeley Politics

UC Berkeley activism has recently been seen at one of the most untimely of places – commencement.

But this should come as no surprise – the last several graduation ceremonies encountered politically motivated issues and complaints when there weren't any. Steve Westly spoke regarding his candidacy for Governor at a Political Science commencement days after a political author argued against capitalism at the graduation exercises. Johnny Mosley was met with signs asking "Why Johnny?" More recently, Speaker Fabian Núñez and former presidential candidate Howard Dean refused to cross a picket line to speak to the graduates.

According to the Daily Cal, the Californians Senior Class Council attempted to find a non-political speaker to avoid an over-politicized graduation or a last minute cancellation. Clearly, they failed in selecting Danny Glover.

Selecting Glover as a non-political candidate would be as apolitical as picking Michael Moore or Cindy Sheehan to speak. He is well known for his political activities and is a frequent critic of President Bush.

This is not to say that Berkeley shouldn't have a political speaker. It should! Cal is known for being a hotbed of political activism, a fact which all sides should learn to embrace if they haven't already. Nonetheless, the graduation ceremonies are a sacred event for Cal students. Every effort should be made to ensure that it goes off without a hitch and appropriate dignity be granted to each graduate.

It is important for those planning commencement ceremonies to warn speakers in advance that labor unions may picket the events. These same labor unions should avoid picketing graduation ceremonies as injury is placed upon the students incapable of making the changes requested and not on university administrators that are able to negotiate the demands of labor.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Splash for Equality

This Sunday, April 22, Faces (the famed Sacramento gay nightclub) will be hosting a fundraiser for Equality California.

Better than just another Sacramento political fundraiser, it's a pool party!

"The California Equality Project is a coalition of over 30 statewide and national groups who have joined for a public education campaign, reaching out to California's residents. Currently, we have been going door to door in Northern California to educate folks about the rights, responsibilities, and benefits of marriage that many Gay and Lesbian couples would like to have the choice to fully and equally enjoy."
The Party's on Sunday, April 22 at Faces (on the corner of K and 20th in Midtown Sacramento) from 2pm to 6pm.

From what I hear, this is the place to be this Sunday! Three of my favorite things: Drinks, Politics, and Boys!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Leno on Top!

The feud in SF is heating up! While their colleagues are waiting to put their support behind a winning horse, Assemblyman Leno and Senator Migden are in a no-holds-barred fight in Frisco.

Both are currently working to gain support among Democratic Party activists in San Francisco. The first major endorsement went to the challenger, Mark Leno. The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club of San Francisco, a Gay-Rights organization similar to the Stonewall Democrats, voted on Monday to offer an early endorsement to Leno. Later in the week, Leno and Migden appeared before the San Francisco Young Democrats for an endorsement debate.

The organization overwhelmingly voted to lend its support to Assemblyman Mark Leno over Senator Carole Migden.

According to the Bay Area Reporter, the debate featured a critcism of Migden's famed "Ghost Voting" incident of 2005. Miggy's response: "It was an error. We apologized. It happens all the time in the Assembly. I am proud of the product, not of the error." Leno retorted that never before had a senator ghost voted on the Assembly floor and that Migden's responses signaled an "any means to an end" approach to politics.

The Bay Area Reporter has excellent coverage of the debate. It is clear, though, that the best quotes of the night came early in the opening statements.

Leno: "We've worked together and I need your support now. We have the same mission: to challenge the status quo and fight for change. I am the best choice for change."

Migden: "My name is Carole Migden and I am the status quo."

Gender Neutral Marriage?

Assemblyman Mark Leno of San Francisco reintroduced his Gay Marriage bill this year. This week, it made its first major progress in the 2007-2008 legislative session.

On Tuesday, April 10, Assembly Bill 43 was heard in the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. After a heated discussion with passionate witnesses on both sides, the bill was passed on a 7-3 vote.

In favor were Assemblymembers Evans, Feuer, Jones, Krekorian, Laird, Levine, and Lieber. In opposition were Tran, Adams, and Keene. This constituted a strict party-line vote with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition.

While marriage is the last real legislative inequality faced by Gays and Lesbians in California, this bill isn't the magic pill that will cure our problems. Even if this bill is passed and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger (who has indicated he will veto it on the same grounds he used last year), Gay Marriage in California would require a vote of the people or a ruling of the courts to be granted.

The Knight Initiative, Prop 22, banned same sex marriage. Specifically, Section 308.5 of the California Family Code states, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Because those words were added by an initiative passed by a majority of voters, it would require an act of the voters to remove those words--an act of the Legislature would be insufficient to repeal the Knight Initiative.

However, although Prop 22 seems clear under a first reading, it is actually quite ambiguous. Section 300, et. seq of the Family Code seem to be clearly arranged in a specific order. Section 300 governs the definition of marriage as a relationship arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman. Subsequent sections govern the solemnization of marriage. Section 308 clarifies that marriages contracted outside of California are valid in this state.

It is possible, therefore, that Section 308.5 is really a subsection of 308 intended to prevent California from recognizing same-sex marriages obtained outside of this state.

Supporting this case, the ballot arguments in support of Proposition 22 focused on marriages from other states. For example, it was stated in the proponents' arguments: "Opponents say Proposition 22 is unnecessary. THE TRUTH IS, UNLESS WE PASS PROPOSITION 22, LEGAL LOOPHOLES COULD FORCE CALIFORNIA TO RECOGNIZE 'SAME-SEX MARRIAGES' PERFORMED IN OTHER STATES."

While AB 43 may not be the magic, cure-all pill for marriage equality, it can't hurt our cause in California. The Legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger would do well to pass and sign this bill into law. Still, it is the Court that should immediately interpret the meaning of Prop 22 and the constitutionality of any Gay Marriage ban in California. The rights of millions of Californians hang in the balance.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

ASUC Endorsements

Please accept my apologies for not posting my endorsements sooner, but I was giving as much time as possible to allow for candidates to return my endorsement surveys.

And the endorsements go to….

For President: Travis “SEO” Garcia

While I don’t expect Garcia to actually win this race and would have recommended that he also file to run for a Senate seat, he does bring to the table the best possible platform. Most importantly, this is the only candidate that is free from the baggage of both the Gabriel Legacy and CalSERVE’s history.

For Executive Vice President: Taylor Allbright

Taylor Allbright has a long history of working across party lines to serve students. After her first (failed) senate campaign, Allbright still worked within the system as a student leader. Moreover, this is the only candidate running that I believe actually knows what she is getting into if she were to win. Senator Allbright knows the ASUC structure, knows what students want, and knows how to get the projects done.

For Academic Affairs Vice President: Carolina “Caro” Jauregui

Jauregui lists specific, tangible goals to benefit the student body—namely restoring dead days and the drop deadline. For a long time, these were the goals of Student Action. Unfortunately, SA seems to have forgotten the role of the various officers and Curtis Lee seems to only list the constitutional duties of the AAVP as his campaign platform.

For External Affair Vice President: Justin “Screw Residents” Azadivar

Azadiver, otherwise known as Beetle, has the longest history of advocating for students in Berkeley. Also, his goal of world domination is infinitely more attainable than those of his opponents. Making use of a ridiculously liberal student organization (UCSA) or even more liberal city council (Berkeley City Council) is useless as nobody will take either entity seriously. Likewise, it is laughable to think that this office can clean the streets of Berkeley and make them safe—EAVP candidates have run on that platform for over a decade now and all have failed.

For Senate:
137. Alex Mastrodonato, Apple Engineering
95. Chad “Big Axe” Kunert, Berkeley College Republicans
70. Marybeth Moore, Unite Greek

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hot Blooded Latina to Speak with Gay Republicans

Republican Assemblymember Bonnie Garcia will be making a visit to the Sacramento chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. She will be the keynote speaker for the regularly scheduled April meeting. This announcement comes on the heels of a report pubished by the California Log Cabin Republicans listing the "Gay factor" in Republican Assembly Districts throughout the state.

Palm Springs, which is a part of Garcia's Assembly District 80 is the gayest city in California, according to the report.

Garcia made headlines last year when she narrowly won reelection after Governor Schwarzenegger referred to her as a "Hot Blooded Latina" and she commented that she wouldn't throw the Governor out of bed. She is also well known in Sacramento circles for her wild, exuberant personality and sense of humor.

The Log Cabin Republicans meeting will be on Wednesday, April 25 at 7pm at Carrow's Restaurant (2800 J Street, Sacramento).

Cameron Smyth, GOP Stud

As regular visitors to the Land of Fruits and Nuts will remember, last January I came up with a list of the best dressers in the California legislature. Topping that list was freshman Assemblyman, Cameron Smyth. This week, Smyth's fashion sense hit the news again. It seems I am not the only one watching legislative floor sessions as if they were red carpet specials hosted by Joan Rivers.

As a fundraiser for the YMCA model legislature, several members of the legislature participated in a Capitol version of Family Feud. On the Dem side were Senators Jenny Oropeza and Darrell Steinberg and Assemblymembers John Laird, Betty Karnette, and Laura Richardson. In the GOP family were Assemblymembers Bonnie Garcia, Greg Agharzarian, John Benoit, Roger Niello, and Senator Dick Ackerman. Members of both houses of the legislature were surveyed for the most popular responses to several questions. For example, members of the legislature were polled to determine the best dressed male. Top responses were 1. Mark Leno, 2. Cameron Smyth, and 3. Gil Cedillo.

Once again, Smyth gets recognition for being the leading GOP fashion icon.

Other interesting responses from the survey were top restaurants (1.Morton's, 2. Lucca's, 3. McCormick and Schmick's), best dressed woman (1. Asm Mimi Walters, 2. Asm Patty Berg, 3. Asm Nicole Parra), and funniest senator (1. George Runner, 2. Don Perata, 3. Dave Cox).

For the record, the Republicans won the contest and showed that they are more in touch with the general sentiment of the Legislature. The final score: Reps 19, Dems 14.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

Typically, I don't write many posts that don't revolve around Gay issues, GOP politics, or Cal. Still, there has been a little known news story that caught my attention in the media recently.

Way down in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley lies rural Kings County. The county's economy is primarily based on agriculture, is surrounded by dairies and fields, and is known to be one of the poorest counties in the state. Some of the largest, non-agricultural businesses operating in the county are PG&E, Chemical Waste Management, and Standard Oil. Each have been identified historically as some of the worst polluters in the region.

Now in the virtually uninhabited area South of Kettleman City (home to the In-N-Out on Interstate 5) a massive new green community is in the planning stages.

As a Californian, my heart warms a little whenever I hear of a privately planned development that would function in such a way as could conserve environmental resources. This one certainly intends to do that.

Quay Hays vision for Quay Valley Ranch is a city that would produce all of its own energy through solar panels, would rely totally on energy efficient cars, and would be the model city of the future with efficient homes with a minimal commute to work or play. The city plans call for parks, hotels, tourist attractions, schools, and (perhaps most appealing) as many as 40,000 new jobs.

Unfortunately, Hays is very much akin to the Medicine Man roaming into a small town, preying on naiveté, and selling cure-all potions before moving on to the next town. It seems that Hays has a history of selling investors more than he can provide.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Around 1985, Neal Levin, a now-retired financial adviser for Hollywood celebrities, said Hays came to him looking for money to start a Chinese restaurant called Bao Wow. Those who invested included satirist Weird Al Yankovic, singer Melissa Manchester, Olympian Bruce Jenner, rock band Devo and Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin. The restaurant didn't make it in Beverly Hills and moved to Encino. It was sold after five years because it was not profitable, Levin said.

In 1992, Hays started the General Publishing Group out of his home. For his first book project, he persuaded the Democratic National Committee to commission a coffee-table book on the history of the Democratic Party for its 200th anniversary.

Before going bankrupt in 1999, General Publishing issued scores of titles and generated positive industry buzz for its rapid growth.

The Chronicle goes on and on about the failed business ventures started by Hays.

My hope is that these small communities don't get duped by the razzle-dazzle this big city businessman is peddling. Before investing in a green city in the shadow of three large polluters, it would be smart to make sure the city isn't sitting right in the plume, that other buyers plan to move there, and that the developer hasn't failed on every business venture he has ever attempted.

Buy California Grown

It seems that gawkers everywhere are spotting royalty in interesting places. And I am not talking about Princes William and Harry. California's own Katherine Schwarzenegger, the Governor's 17 year old daughter, has been spotted touring prestigious schools on both coasts.

Back in January, blogger Frank Russo caught Miss Schwarzenegger with First Lady Maria Shriver on Berkeley's very own Telegraph Avenue. The two were taking a look at the wares sold by the iconic street vendors. At one such stop, the two looked at nearly every political t-shirt and bumper sticker sold by the vendor that usually sets up his stand on the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph nearest American Apparel. Many of these shirts are emblazoned with less-than-flattering images of dear old Arnie.

It appears, though, that Cal may have a bit of competition in courting the Governor's daughter. Recently, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver were spotted at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Mother and Daughter (but not Grandmother, who visited the admissions office but left soon after) took a walking tour of the campus. According to the student tour guide that led the two through the Foggy Bottom campus, the Schwarzenegger family visited at least two other campuses in the DC area that day including Shriver's alma mater, Georgetown.

My always-impartial advice to Katherine: Buy California Grown. Go Bears!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Don't Be Cruel

Once again, California is tossing around a Death-With-Dignity/Assisted-Suicide/Euthanasia bill modeled on Oregon's law. This one is a little more tightly controlled than past version but is no less necessary than past incarnations.

This bill would allow those with terminal illnesses to end their own life, at their own hand. It would, however, require that the patient have a prognosis of six-months or less to live and that the doctor explain, in writing, alternatives in treatment and hospice care. All patients seeking physician-assisted-suicide would be required to undergo a psychological evaluation and only those found to be mentally capable could be allowed to request a lethal dose of medication. Further, patients would have to request a lethal dose of medication in writing with at least two unrelated witnesses present. In order for the death to be legal, the patient would have to take the medication of their own volition and action without any coercion from others. Actions intended to force a patient to end their own life would be considered in the highest class of felonies.

For most healthy people, the idea of killing oneself is outrageous. However, at the end of a life already being cut short by a painful and debilitating disease, there is often little dignity left. Those who would force such individuals to endure their diseases unwillingly are cruel and unjustified.

Certainly, many of those who are nearing the end of a struggle with terminal cancer, AIDS, or any one of a plethora of painful, life-ending diseases would not choose to take their own life. Their choice to continue living with their struggle should be considered as sacred as the choice others would make to end their own life. The benefits of living longer may, in some instances, outweigh the benefits of dying. A hastened death, however, may reduce some of these costs in some instances. Such costs can be measured monetarily, psychologically, in the burden of survivors watching family members struggle, and in the pain endured by the patient. Certainly, the decision to end ones own life should not be a choice taken lightly.

Fabian Nunez's AB 374 takes each of these factors into consideration and makes every effort to ensure that the patient is well informed and acting according to his or her own wishes. The freedom to end one's own life is a liberty that should be established under the law to allow already dying individuals the ability to cut short their suffering. Any action by government officials to prevent such freedom would be cruel.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Decline of the GOP

It should come as no surprise that party loyalty among Republicans is waning in this country. Our president, proudly displaying his party loyalty, has seemingly made every effort to drive moderates, libertarians, and the intelligent (other than evil geniuses) from the ranks. Following his lead, the party leadership, both nationally and locally, have similarly done their part in maintaining ideological purity.


The obvious result has been a reduction in party loyalty by these alienated groups. We can all remember when Log Cabin Republicans famously declined to endorse President Bush during his reelection campaign, citing his lack of support on Gay issues. More recently, we saw Congress move from Republican control to the Pelosi Reich. Fewer and fewer Americans are willing to support the GOP.


A poll came out today that shows a more marked decline in Republican Party loyalty than we have seen in decades past. What’s more, the poll shows that typical voters are moving away from the socially conservative notions that are a hallmark of the Republican Platform.


Back in 1994, 84% of voters supported "old-fashioned values about family and marriage." That number has since dipped to 76%. More drastic is the reduced support for allowing school boards to have the right to fire Gay teachers, which dropped from 39% in 1994 to 28% in 2007.


These numbers show that the public sentiment is progressively more centrist on social issues. The Republican Party is hemorrhaging membership specifically because they are out of touch with voters. The Grand Old Party should focus on issues where it can agree with a majority of voters and return to a platform of small government and economic prosperity.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ASUC Elections

It's that time of year again! Soon, Sproul Plaza will be filled with students that haven't adequately bathed or changed their clothes in days. A veritable forest of campaign signs will spring up on every path to campus. The aggressiveness of the campaigners will leave even the most zealous member of CalPIRG jealous.

And this is not a protest to stop the war, defend equal rights, reinstate Affirmative Action, or support one of the seemingly countless candidates for President.

This is an ASUC election.

Granted, that I am no longer a student at Cal and cannot vote for ASUC officers. Still, I am a big fan of politics and spent more than my share of time in Eshleman Hall. I would like to hear from as many candidates as possible (for both executive and senate offices) as I plan to make endorsements early in the campaign.

Contact me at calgrown@gmail.com and I will ask you a few questions about what you know and how you intend to serve. Give it a try, it's free and (mostly) painless.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Faces gets a Facelift

Thanks to proprietor of several local Gay businesses, Terry Sidie, Sacramento's premier gay dance club has doubled its size. Of course, if you are Gay and in Sacramento this weekend, you probably already knew that because you were probably there.

Our "beloved" old Faces is still there behind all the new glitter, but with much more to offer. Instead of entering through a crowded hallway connecting the house dancefloor to the bar and the hip-hop room, guests now enter through the annex.

Immediately, clubbers are greated with a big, new dancefloor covered in enough lights and lasers to distract anybody- at least until a hot guy comes by and offers to buy the next drink from one of the new bars set up around the perimeter of the room. A large video screen anchors one wall and projects live images of dancers from a camera suspended from above.

Watching the action from above is now possible from the upstairs lounge. Complete with yet another bar and comfortable seating and tables, this area is the perfect area to take a break from the dance floor below.

For the smokers out there, there are two new smoking patios in addition to the old one on the K Street side. One of these patios is home to the much talked about swimming pool.

Yes, the rumors are true. Faces installed a swimming pool. And, yes, partiers can swim in the pool (at least when the pool is open during Happy Hours).

Unfortunately, the new glitz and glamour doesn't cover up all the problems with the old face of Faces. The hip-hop room is still packed full of heteros, straight from the ghetto and the old front bar definitely shows its age.

Even given the line stretching around the corner and down the block on Saturday night, we can be certain that the crowds at Faces won't be quite so big at Faces in a few weeks. Hopefully, when the crowds go down, the cover will return to its old $8 (instead of the $10 charged last Saturday night).

Still, I think the new Faces is something to check out...at least until Badlands opens!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Alex Randolph, He's So Hot Right Now


The Bay Area Reporter is a strong voice for the Gay community of San Francisco and the BAR seems to have a little crush on Cal alumnus, Alex Randolph. Most recently, they have included Randolph in a profile of Black, Gay politicians in San Francisco.

After Alex graduated from Berkeley, he served as Campaign Manager for another Cal alum, SF Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who represents the Castro. Randolph seems to have quickly morphed into Dufty's new protege.

After securing Dufty's reelection, Randolph picked up a post in the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services and covers much of the action in the Castro. He has also become active in SF's LGBT Democratic club.

According to the BAR, Randolph has indicated that he has not ruled out a possible run to replace Bevan Dufty when he terms out in 2011.

"It is a possibility, but I haven't given it any strong thought yet," he said. "When the time comes, I might, but not right now."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Gay Frat Dudes!

I have also been negligent in welcoming Sigma Epsilon Omega to campus. ΣΕΩ is promoting itself as the new Gay fraternity at Berkeley. Although I welcome any attempt to expand the Cal Greek Community and wish the best for the men of Sigma Epsilon Omega, I question whether there is a need for a Gay fraternity on campus.

Most fraternities on campus are accepting of Gay members. In fact, I know of few that do not have openly Gay brothers in their active membership and do know of one that welcomed a transgendered man. When I came out of the closet, my fraternity brothers were among the most accepting people in my life at the time.

More importantly, unlike other living environments including dorms and co-ops, fraternities are values-based organizations. Dorms and Co-ops can benefit from having a random mix of people or a themed living environment. Greek houses, however, are intended to be people of similar values living together in a brotherhood or sisterhood, building familial ties. While Gay people absolutely should be included in these environments, these values transcend sexual orientation. Those that want to live in a Gay themed house should look towards Oscar Wilde House, an apartment or house shared with Gay friends, or the LGBT themed dorm.

I do welcome Sigma Epsilon Omega onto campus and wish them the best of luck. Hopefully, the brothers of that fraternity will develop a brotherhood based on shared values beyond the acceptance of homosexuality. There is always room on campus for another Greek house. Best of Luck!

Cal Students for Marriage Equality

I have been neglectful in my duties to welcome Cal Students for Marriage Equality to the Blogosphere. CSME is a relatively new student group on campus (okay, not that new since it was founded by Andy Ratto before he graduated) with the intent to promote marriage equality in the Cal community. Think of it as the Human Rights Campaign or Equality California on a local scale. As one of their activities, they are maintaining a blog discussing Gay issues in the media. They are the newest addition to my blogroll. I know some of the leadership involved with CSME and expect to hear good things coming from their organization.

Unfortunately, it seems CSME is showing up a little late to the party. Most of the pressing issues facing Gay Californians have already been resolved. Although the term "marriage" is not yet awarded to Same-Sex couples, all the benefits and responsibilities the state can bestow are already granted. More notably, Cal is located in one of the most Gay-friendly regions of the world where most people are already accepting of Gays and Lesbians.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I Love a Man in Uniform

I've blogged on the Military Readiness Enhancement Act before the Pelosi Reich began. Of course, we all knew the bill that would end Don't Ask Don't Tell wouldn't get passed by a Republican, lame duck congress.

But, the bill is back with new support under the Democratic congress. Unfortunately, I have not found the new bill number for the legislation (last year's bill number was H.R. 1059).

Bringing an end to DADT is one of the most important issues facing Gay rights at the moment. From the Gay rights perspective, it is a government field which Gay men and women are explicitly banned from serving in openly. From a military perspective, DADT diminishes the pool of qualified candidates that the military may recruit. Further, it has been shown that many of those removed from the military for being Gay are the all-important Arabic translators that our military currently has a shortage of.

Never has there been a shortage of Gay and Lesbians serving in any branch of the United States military. Rarely does a week go by that I don't meet a guy from the Marines or Air Force out at the local Gay bars. While these men and women are usually not "out" at work (and, in fact, might not come out if DADT were reversed), they deserve the opportunity to serve without fear that they might be removed from their chosen profession because of their sexual orientation.

Hopefully, this year's version of the bill will fare better than HR 1059 did.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Filthy Pigs

A friend of mine sent me a link to a Rolling Stone article criticizing the American pig farmer. Before you click on that link, let me caution you that it is pretty graphic and I am still nauseated by the images portrayed. If you have eaten anything with pork in it in the last 4 hours, you should probably wait.

Typically, I am a proud supporter of the ag industry and have little aversion to eating meat. However, I made the unfortunate choice of eating sausage this morning before reading the article. Tasty sausage, though it was, this article exposes some of the less glamorous truths about pig farms (are there any glamorous truths?).

The particular pig farm Rolling Stone wrote about was Smithfield Farms in Smithfield, Virginia. That particular farm is one of the largest pig farms in the United States, slaughtering 27 million hogs each year for an $11 billion profit.

Another notable number is that they spilled approximately 4 million gallons of pig excrement waste into Virginia rivers and streams and have allegedly leaked much more into ground water. This is in addition to the overpowering fecal smell surrounding the plant that is so lethal pigs and men have both died from the smell.

The article reads much like a less socialist excerpt from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and I made the very same mistake President Teddy Roosevelt was purported to do: eating sausage for breakfast before reading the dirty truths of the meat industry. Seriously, I could have done without reading about pig shit this morning.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gay Drama in the NBA

It's been a while since I did a sports related post here at the Land of Fruits and Nuts. Frankly, I don't like basketball much and Cal's season leaves a lot to be desired. There was once a time when Cal fans would leave football games saying, "just wait until basketball season." Now, Old Blues are wishing to bypass college hoops to get back to fall, football, and Tedford.

My basketball post today isn't so much on the sport as in the Gay drama surrounding it. Between Anna Nicole updates and news stories featuring crazed astronauts in diapers, a few news sources have featured John Amaechi's recent coming out. Amaechi is the first NBA player to admit he is Gay and the sixth pro-player of any major American sport's league.

There is nothing really all that remarkable about Amachi coming out of the closet. We all know that lots of Gay people exist and that, statistically, there must be many more closeted athletes in every major sport, probably on every team. But what is interesting, but unsurprising, is the level of homophobia present in the world's premier basketball league.

Amaechi, in his new book, Man in the Middle, reportedly wrote about his homophobic coach. Recently, former Miami Heat star

Saturday, February 10, 2007

GOP Convention in Sacramento

Today is the second day of the CRP Convention held in Sacramento. I haven't had much of a break here yet but have seen all of the usual faces, bloggers, movers and shakers, and other celebrities of the California Republican Party.

While GOP might not stand for Gay Old Party, there seems to be quite a delegation of out Republicans running around the convention center this weekend. In fact, prominant Gay Republican bloggers BoiFromTroy and Kevin Norte have both been spotted frequently. Tonight, one of the larger hospitality suites will be hosted by the California Log Cabin Republicans and will feature a Hawaiian Luau theme.

Tomorrow morning the general session will commence and delegates will discuss policy issues and candidates for statewide offices within the Republican party. It currently looks like Chuck DeVore's plan to remove the authority of Republican primary voters to support a Presidential candidate is going down in flames. Late in the week, Duf Sundheim, Ron Nehring, and others wrote a letter condemning the plan and urging members to vote against it.

Unfortunately, not all of the votes are going so well. Southern California members elected Jon Fleischman of the FlashReport. This, of course comes the morning after Fleischman campaigned to Log Cabin members by explaining that he will never support Gay Rights, will never attempt to understand or accept "the Gay lifestyle," or support the chartering of Log Cabin Republican chapters. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Hopefully other rightwing candidates won't find as much luck in the elections tomorrow. Most notably, Tom Bordonaro (a member of the rightwing California Republican Assembly) is running against Tom Del Becarro. Members of the party need to recognize that our relevance is at stake if we don't take a more moderate, inclusive position.

I know where my vote is.

Is Everybody Running?

Apparently the only people not running for President in 2008 are Arnold Schwarzenegger and me. I attribute the lack of both of our candicacies to constitutional ineligibility for the Oval Office.

Now that Clinton and Obama have publicly announced, Giuliani has filed papers, and McCain and Romney are expected to announce their intentions soon. Add to these candidates Duncan Hunter, Joe Biden, and other unlikely hopefuls and the race for the White House will be quite a crowded one.

This year will be a fun one for political crackheads!

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Post About Gavin Newsom (But Not His Affair)

While California is still reeling over Mayor Gavin Newsom's latest romance, I want to focus on what made Mayor McDreamy the political star that he is today. Hint: it wasn't his looks or money.

On February 12, it will have been three years since Mayor Newsom declared same-sex marriage legal in California. While he did not have the authority to interpret state law (that role is reserved for the courts) he did force California to consider the issue with urgency. On that fateful day in 2003, Newsom's protest shook California like an earthquake and initiated a series of lawsuits now pending in the California Supreme Court to determine whether Gays and Lesbians have the legal right to marry.

I have already written about my personal views on Gay Marriage (as a refresher: I support Gay Marriage but think there are more important and urgent Gay rights issues that must be addressed immediately). Still, I applaud efforts in California to show heterosexual people the inequality faced by Gay men and women.

The Yolo County Clerk-Recorder, Freddie Oakley, was featured in the Sacramento Bee today because she is doing just that-making more apparent the inequality faced by Gay couples in this state.

Ms. Oakley is statutorily unable to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, so she has developed a certificate of inequality to grant instead. Obviously, Gay people already know that we are treated unequally under state laws, but these certificates have continued to draw attention to the disparity. Although Governor Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that grants every state-provided benefit and responsibility of marriage to domestic partners, Domestic Partnerships are still unequal to Marriage in both name and federal benefits.

In short, I applaud the efforts of both Newsom and Oakley for keeping Gay rights on the forefront of California politics.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hippies More Wood!

If you follow Cal sports, environmental politics, or the City of Berkeley, then chances are that you have heard about or seen the hippies living in the trees at California Memorial Stadium.

Unfortunately, this is not some giant publicity stunt to draw attention to Wonder-Coach Jeff Tedford and the California Golden Bears.

Instead, the Ewoks have taken to the trees to prevent the University from cutting them down to make progress on retrofitting the stadium and building a new sports complex near the site. The tree-sitters claim that the University is threatening to cut down one of the last old-growth woodland areas in Berkeley.

The biggest problem with their argument is that it isn't an old growth woodland area nor is it one of the last surviving woodlands around.

The trees around the stadium were planted by the University and only four predate the stadium itself: three oaks and a redwood. Those who make a short trek to another shrine to Cal athletics, the Tilden Statue near Haas Pavilion, will find themselves surrounded by a lush woodland protected by the University. In fact, many other wooded areas exist on campus, several with University protections to prevent the flora and fauna from being disturbed.

The University has agreed that some environmental disruption will occur as a result of the new construction, but plans to mitigate the damage by planting three new trees for each one that is removed. Further, it is important to note that the University planted those trees on University land several decades ago as part of a landscaping design. It should be well within the ability of the University to remove the trees. Besides, the stadium is of more historical, cultural, and economic value than the trees in question.

What is most interesting is what groups have entered into the fight: most notably, the Panoramic Hill Neighborhood Association (PHNA). PHNA has a long history of being a thorn in the side of the University, the students living on Southside, the Greeks, and Coops. It is no secret that they have opposed construction on the stadium on the basis of the noise, lights, and traffic in the area. They have latched onto tree preservation because it is just the latest in their many attempts to stop the progress of the University community.

The Panoramic Hill Neighborhood Association doesn't love trees; they hate student life.

In conclusion, Berkeley hippies, Ewoks, and the PHNA are forming an evil axis that hates students, Cal, and college football. They should be opposed at all costs.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Have No Fear, Nanny State is here!

Nanny State is here to save the day! (Actually, that scares me even more!)

Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed Universal Health Care. Assemblymember Sally Lieber has proposed an anti-spanking bill. No fewer than five California legislators are attempting to ban trans fats.

Republicans, as usual, are crying foul and claiming that Big Brother is going to mess things up. As a general rule, I agree with the idea that the Government should allow the private sector to fix problems and allow maximum personal liberty. In my mind, the government is only responsible to protect the rights and property of the people and entities it serves.

But I disagree with the mainstream Republican line on these issues. I have recently posted on Healthcare, so I will focus primarily on transfats and spanking today.

TRANS FAT

Following the lead of New York City and the advice of nutritionists everywhere, California may decide to ban or limit the use of trans fat in prepared foods in the near future. Despite the tasty goodness that trans fats can lend to many delicious fried foods, I couldn't be happier!

Imagine a world without trans fats. Despite exaggerated claims from some industry folks, your favorite foods and restaurants will continue to exist with nearly identical tastes at similar prices. The biggest difference will be that your cholesterol level will be lower and all Americans will have a greater chance of being a little healthier.

It was only a few short decades ago that trans fats became an important part of the American diet. We were all informed that trans fats are significantly better than the dreaded saturated fat and might actually be good for us like polyunsaturated fats. Quickly, our society adapted recipes and our way of life to promote this new miracle substance only to learn that transfats are FAR worse for our cholesterol levels than evil saturated fats could be in their wildest dreams.

Fortunately, members of the public (like Oprah and that guy from Supersize Me) have started to realize the danger of eating poisons like partially hydrogenated corn oil and have called for it to be removed from our diets. Even more fortunately, the private sector has responded! After NYC started talking about banning the substance, many corporate foodservice providers like Starbucks and Kentucky Fried Chicken started removing trans fat from their recipes without any noticeable change in the taste of their products. In fact, if these corporations hadn't been on a massive advertising blitz to tell you that their food is healthier now, there wouldn't have been any noticeable change at all!

Yet many still complain that the government shouldn't require the private sector to remove partially hydrogenated oils from their foods. I would be inclined to agree if the average person out understood how human nutrition works, that trans fats are essentially a poison, and that most of us are eating toxic levels of it regularly. As such, we should limit the use of trans fats in foods just as we limit the use of arsenic, lead, and other dangerous substances in our foods.

SPANKING

A friend of mine recently argued with me that Americans have a right to raise children in the way that we want. I asked him to show me where that right is listed in the Constitution.

The truth is that the right to privacy that the Supreme Court has read into the Bill of Rights does not grant us the right to cause harm to others. If it did, all laws preventing people from causing harm to others would be unconstitutional!

The spanking bill that Lieber unveiled would prevent adults from spanking children under the age of three. While I would suggest that the age limit might be more fitting at two years of age, it is important to note that children do not ever have the mental capacity to comprehend the reason they are being physically punished at extremely young ages.

While Republicans argue that the Nanny State government is over-reaching its boundaries in telling parents how they can and can't raise their children, it is a fact that any time an adult strikes an infant with the intent to cause pain it should be considered child abuse. Likewise, children too young to understand the reason they are being physically punished should be struck by an adult as punishment. Those who oppose the ban on spanking are focusing on the privileges of parents but are neglecting the rights children.

Certainly, I agree that responsible adults should be able to parent in whatever way they see fit, however they should be prevented from causing harm to their children. The government has the indisputed authority to punish parents that attempt to kill, poison, or otherwise abuse their children. However, social customs have allowed parents to strike their children even though psychologists have proven that the extremely young are only harmed by the practice.

CONCLUSION

As a general rule, I think that the Nanny State still sucks and Big Brother watches us too closely. Still, I think it is worse that Americans are abusing their children and poisoning themselves because almost worth eating contains trans fats. Sure, spanking isn't as bad as locking a child into a cage nor are trans fats quite as deadly as cyanide. Still, both should be legislated against as soon as possible. Most of us won't even know the difference!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Legislative Fashion- PART 2: Top 5

After scouring through pictures of all the male members of the California Legislature, I finally came up with a short list of men who understand style and take the time to look good. Granted, every man occasionally commits a "fashion don't" but these men tend to make some fashionably good decisions.

WILLIE BROWN

Honorable Mention goes to Willie Brown. Although he is a former legislator and technically not qualified to recieve this honor, Brown has a style all his own. Few men have been able to rock a hat as well as he does since they went out of style in 1960.

KEVIN DE LEON
A newcomer to the Assembly, De Leon will be trying to make his mark with a liberal agenda, but I would rather see him remembered for his style. Kevin De Leon has a certain Eric Estrada feel to him. I don't know if it his feathered hair, his casual way of ditching the tie and rolling up his sleeves, or some other je ne sais pas. He will be a legislator to keep an eye on this year.

LLOYD LEVINE
Everybody's favorite reality television star slash politician, Lloyd Levine has a definite style and earns himself recognition in my list of the most fashionable male legislators. Levine has grown and shaved a very well-trimmed goatee, made good use of pattern and texture in his wardrobe, and wears very well-fitted clothing. He would be able to rank higher on my list if he paid as much attention to his hairstyle as he does to the rest of his appearance.

FABIAN NUNEZ
Always impeccably dressed, Nunez must spend a fortune on his suits and ties. Fabian Nunez tends, however, to dress in a veritable uniform: his suits all have similar cuts, he seems always to wear a solid white shirt, must own dozens of bright solid ties. On the other hand, it works for him and he changes his look slightly by changing the color of the suit or tie.

CAMERON SMYTH
The only Republican to grace my list of the best-dressed male members of the California Legislature happens to have found himself at the top. A freshman in the Assembly, Cameron Smyth already outshines his Republican colleagues as one of the most fashionable men on his side of the aisle. When dressed for work, he plays with the colors of his shirt, tie, and suit but manages to have each complement the others and still manages to refrain from looking showy. Unlike some of his colleagues, Smyth can apparently dress both for work and for casual days away from the office. Pictures show him in an appropriately sized polo shirt (with the collar unbuttoned), tucked into casual khakis, and accessorized with the greatest of all political accessories-a baby and loving spouse.

Legislative Fashion- PART 1

Today is the day that, as promised, I take a look at male fashion in the California Legislature. As expected, I found a lot of boring, outdated suits worn by boring, outdated old men.

My most major gripe with the members of the legislature is their primary accessory: the necktie.

A tie is of great importance in business and politics. It is considered a standard part of the business uniform for a man to wear a proper necktie. For fashion purposes, however, it is not okay to simply grab the first tie you see on the rack, tie a quick knot, and run to the floor (especially if cameras are around).

Far too many legislators wear ties that clash with their shirts/jackets/suits, are loud and ugly, or otherwise distract from the rest of the outfit in a bad way. Even more importantly, a lot of legislators have somehow been elected without learning to tie a knot correctly. NOTE: A THE KNOT OF A TIE SHOULD NOT LOOK PAINFULLY (AND UNFASHIONABLY) SMALL IN COMPARISON TO THE REST OF THE TIE.

Gentlemen, please, look at yourself in a mirror after you tie the tie. If the tie looks awkwardly tied, untie it and start over. If you don't like how a simple four-in-hand looks, try a half-Windsor! There are lots of ways to tie a knot; learn a few and experiment!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gentlemen of the California Legislature

After reading the New York Times congressional fashion fluff piece that I blogged about earlier, a friend of mine complained that people spend far too much time addressing the fashion of powerful women but never look at the way men dress.

And that gave me an idea!

Many men in the California legislature have a very defined and unique sense of style. Some have got the fine art of looking good down to a science and others could use a little help. Interestingly, fashion sense seems not to be very well correlated with physical attractiveness. Case-in-point: Hunky Republican, Todd Spitzer, has been spotted around town wearing a "Canadian Tuxedo." Under no circumstance is it a good idea to wear a blue denim shirt with blue jeans.

If any of you know of a particular man in the California Legislature that is worthy of mention (positively or negatively) let me know! You can either leave a comment or email me at calgrown@gmail.com.

Congressional Style

Today, the New York Times wrote a fluff piece on the fashion of the women of the 110th Congress and Speaker Pelosi's personal style.

Since when is Nancy Pelosi a fashion icon?! It is very true that Members of Congress are not known for their sense of fashion, but saying that the St. James uniform is overplayed and ugly does not suddenly turn Mary Bono into Joan Rivers!

I have a very hard time taking seriously the fashion choices of anybody in Congress. When I was an intern working in the House of Representatives, I saw a photo printed in one of the rags (Roll Call or Congressional Quarterly, probably) pointing out that one particular day had apparently been seersucker suit day. On that specific summer day, several members wore full seersucker suits and posed for a picture on the Senate side to show off their silly sense of dress. My office promptly cut out the picture and posted it on a bulletin board to laugh at it daily.

Perhaps the fashion sense of the 110th Congress is far better than that of year's past. Even still, I don't think that Nancy Pelosi has had any effect on the Tahitian pearl industry. While it is true that she frequently wears them, they are not half as iconic as Barbara Bush and her white pearls. The real reason women are buying Tahitian pearls is that they are exotic, attractive, and currently very stylish. Besides, although women frequently admire Pelosi's power and status, I know of none that actually wants to look like her.

New Political Reality Show?

I have a hard time believing that nobody has yet made a TV reality show about four law-makers sharing a home together. But we might not have to wait long! Today, both the Boston Globe and New York Times published articles about four Democratic members of Congress sharing a home owned by George Miller.

Perhaps "home" is too strong a word. The arrangement seems to appear more along the lines of a stereotypical, "animal-house" style frat house than a home suitable for four men elected to do to the people's work.

My favorite line in the post referred to the pair of Barbara Boxer souvenir boxers left on top of the communal clothing pile. Priceless! Brings me right back to my college days!

California's legislators are rumored to have frequently lived in similar situations. From what I understand, several legislators lived together last year in a bipartisan arrangement and Jay LaSuer and Dennis Mountjoy shared an apartment with other Republican men. I am sure that after certain contentious nights in the Capitol, the bipartisan house looked like a war zone.

Perhaps a TV reality featuring politicians living together should be made for the Political Crackheads out there! For the perfect show, we would need a pretty-boy (Lloyd Levine), the upright and by the book guy (Todd Spitzer), the scary lefty (Sheila Kuehl), the one with the big boobs (Bonnie Garcia, of course!), and the crazy-slobbish-jerk (Dennis Mountjoy would have been perfect! Who is replacing him?!).

Sure, this television show wouldn't be at all popular outside of political circles, but I bet it would be the top gossip of the day inside Sacramento! I expect royalties if this show ever gets made!

Post-Partisan Depression

Matt Cunningham at the Red State OC Blog posted a very short video clip of Todd Spitzer accepting the Legislator of the Year award from the Republican Party of Orange County.

While it is totally unremarkable that Spitzer got the award (he is an excellent legislator, a Moderate, a Republican, from Orange County, and helped to spearhead the criminal justice reforms we saw last year especially in regards to sex offenders), his acceptance speech is notable. Specifically, Spitzer speaks briefly on the Governor's inaugural address in which he called for Post-Partisanship.

Spitzer seems to agree that we all need to work together. He has definitely had a history of working across the party line and some consider him to have straddled it too closely on occasion. Nonetheless, the moderate Assemblyman pandered to his GOP supporters by explaining that the reason for all the successes California has seen can be credited to the hard work of the party.

This highlights the subject of some of my earlier posts regarding the reason that the California GOP is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Instead of proclaiming how far right they are, California's Republican legislators should be following Arnold a little more closely. Schwarzenegger has popularity because he is a centrist, moderate, post-partisan Republican. Most GOP candidates are unpopular because they are perceived as right-wing nuts. I would have expected Spitzer to recognize this as he has modeled himself as a thoughtful, right-leaning centrist and gained enormous popularity in his district for doing so.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Seat at the Table

CBS Anchorwoman, Katie Couric, penned an article today about the Big Meeting preceding the Big Speech. According to Couric, very high-level senior officials in the Bush Administration met with network anchors and select cable anchors to discuss the State of the Union address.

In her article, Couric expresses frustration that she was the only woman sitting at the table. While there were women on the support staff near the door, she looked at her peers around the table and found no women. Among the men seated were Charlie Gibson, George Stephanopoulos, Brian Williams, Tim Russert, Bob Schieffer, Wolf Blitzer, and Brit Hume.

I hate to be too critical of Couric-after all, I woke up to her cheerful voice through most of my growing up years-but she seems to be completely oblivious that there were bigger problems than a lack of female peers.

The women's liberation movement popularly started in the 1970s. By that time, the Civil Rights movement had already been in full swing and the Gay Liberation Movement began with the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Yet, Couric fails to mention that not a single Queer or Non-White was present at that table.

I am of the belief that promotions should be based on merit, not on race/ethnicity/orientation. Affirmative action has no place in deciding who the anchor of the TV news should be. While women and ethnic minorities have had a long history of subjugation that kept them out of schools and certain jobs, Gay men in particular have often been able to hide themselves enough to bypass that oppression and attain higher education and jobs.

It boggles my mind that no Gay man would be fit as an anchor of a major TV news program. By even the most modest of studies, Gays and Lesbians make up at least 10% of society (some studies claim more!) Yet the always-liberal Katie Couric failed to mention that while women at least have some representation at nearly every level of society, Gays don't.

Tedford to Stay at Cal, Remain Deity Until 2013

In recent history, Berkeley has seen a series of losing seasons culminating in a season so bad that we only won one game...versus Rutgers...post season...in the snow...And we didn't have the Axe for most of a decade.

Then we let Tom Holmoe go and hired up Jeff Tedford.

After a stunning win in Michigan followed by other stunning wins against formidable opponents both on the road and at home (not to mention a recapture of the Axe!), Berkeley became filled with "Tedford is God" shirts. He certainly did play the part of a deity-he turned a struggling, highly overrated Kyle Boller into a quarterback worthy of playing in the NFL.

We were always proud to be the California Golden Bears, even in the dark days. But under Tedford, it is that much easier.

This week, the Cal Athletic Department has announced a tentative agreement with Tedford to extend his contract through 2013. Although he is currently making approximately $1.5 million each year, under the new contract he will see a raise. It is also assumed that the contract continues to hinge on the new athletic center and stadium renovations currently held up in the courts by the people living in the trees next to Memorial Stadium. The official contract can't be finally approved until the Regents vote on it.

Nearly $2 million is a lot to spend on a coach. He is already the highest paid employee of the University of California system. Granted that Tedford's leadership has led to a profitable football team that has bolstered Cal's popularity (leading to even more income), it is hard to imagine spending so much money each year on one man. Still, if any Pac-10 coach is worth it, it would have to be Jeff Tedford.

I haven't seen the contract, nor do I know any specifics about it. I do hope that the contract is strong enough to keep Tedford working his magic in Berkeley through 2013. Cal actually has a real shot at being a Rose Bowl contender before this contract expires. Under Tedford, we are a top-20 team and beginning to gain respect as a football school once again.

And we still have the Axe!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

State of the Party

With the California Republican Party Convention in Sacramento just over 3 weeks away, I want to start examining the future of the California GOP.

Clearly, California has some definite Republican strongholds. Large swaths of the less urban areas of Southern California, Central California, and rural Northern California are conservative bastions and are unlikely to change voting patterns. Urban areas including SF and LA are strongly liberal areas that are unlikely to ever support GOP candidates. Though California has voted Blue in several past elections, I have already explained that I consider it to be a Purple state that could vote Republican under the right circumstances. Remember that our Governor is the infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.

Governor Schwarzenegger has come to the same realization that I have: most Californians are not in favor of government regulation in their personal lives nor are they socially conservative. Also, people in this state tend to favor certain "liberal" policies including developing infrastructure and protecting the environment, especially if both can be done with a minimum impact on their own lives and business.

Unfortunately, the GOP has not yet come to this same realization. Founder and Editor of the FlashReport, Jon Fleishman penned a post on his views on the GOP's shortcomings recently. In it he pointed specifically GOP members of Congress becoming addicted to spending as a reason for their loss. While I agree that it certainly made them worse members of Congress and did contribute to their loss, I contend that a bigger factor was the inability of GOP members to keep themselves from meddling in the everyday lives of Americans and keep themselves out of scandal.

In California, the Republican minority in the state legislature has grown increasingly irrelevant. The only Republican sponsored bills that are passed are either totally innocuous or are parts of deals to get budget bills (and other bills that require a 2/3 supermajority) to pass. The rest of the year, it really doesn't matter what most Republicans say (unless, of course, that Republican is the Governator). Most GOP members of the Legislature hem and haw so loudly and obnoxiously that it is hard to take them seriously. Indeed, sometimes the Assembly floor has slightly resembled the British Parliament questioning the Prime Minister, with the minority party becoming insulting to the majority.

However, it need not be this way. Not long ago, Republicans were able to enjoy a majority in the Legislature. We were once relevant in California outside the Governor's Horseshoe.

What was different then was that the GOP molded itself to fit into the mainstream of political thought among voters. Without a doubt, the GOP still fell a little to the right of public opinion. However, the party continually attempted to capture the median voter both statewide and in many local districts. In those days, such people as Governor Pete Wilson, a moderate pro-choice Republican, not only was elected but maintained the support of the party and many swing voters.

Today, a moderate pro-choice Republican by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger has managed to capture the support of 63% of the state but has been practically abandoned by the party. One would expect that a popular Republican governor in a Democratic state that proposes moderate, proactive solutions would receive support from his party when he proposes landmark legislation like healthcare. Apparently, not so.

What the California Republican Party needs are leaders who are willing to step away from socially conservative notions that are out of touch with California voters. These leaders should work with the Governor and champion traditionally liberal causes in a uniquely Republican way that promotes personal liberty, small government, and free market principles.

Soon, I look forward to reviewing some of the candidates that are running for offices within the California GOP. Nominations have not yet closed and I only know of a handful of people running for party offices. If any of you are running or know of a candidate I would be interested in (either positively or negatively) please let me know!

The First 100 Continues

As the Democrats first 100 hours of leadership continues into its second actual week of work, let us pause to look back and see what has occurred thus far.

  • Massive Time Warp achieved to allow 100 hours to last 3 weeks
  • Vacation to watch football
  • 9/11 Commission Recommendations passed
  • Stem Cell Research bill revived and passed
  • Bill to allow Secretary of Health to negotiate for better drug prices passed
  • Holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Half holiday to allow recovery from MLK Jr. Holiday

After completing work on three bills last week, the Democratic-led House began this week in a true spirit of bipartisanship: they took a break together. Republicans and Democrats enjoyed a Monday off to honor MLK Jr. and most of Tuesday off to honor their own laziness.

In a less lazy display of bipartisan efforts, the House of Representatives passed a monumental bill to allow for stem cell research expansion. The only thing is, this bill passed last year and didn't go into effect because President Bush vetoed it. In fact, it is the only bill that President Bush has ever vetoed. All signals say that he is prepared to veto it again if it makes it through the Senate.

Nonetheless, the stem cell research bill passed by a 254-174 vote with more than a few Republicans voting Aye and several more not voting. Almost all the House Democrats voted in support of the bill. This shows that if the President vetoes it again, we can expect a substantively similar bill to make its way back to the Oval Office repeatedly until the President gives in or works with the Congress to develop a compromise plan.

On a vote of 255-170, the House passed a bill to allow the Secretary of Health to negotiate with drug companies for better prices. This will benefit those who use the Medicare Prescription Coverage that President Bush signed into effect. Basically, this is a cost cutting measure that fixes an apparent shortcoming in Bush's policy. I don't consider this bill to be all that earth-shattering.

Much more is still to come before the Democrats first 100 hours ends! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Retired Chair of Joint Chiefs asks for end to DADT

Now that President Bush is trying to find another 20,000+ troops to send to Iraq in a hurry, he may finally be thinking in terms of how to reduce the limits on who can serve in the military. Specifically, the administration should look toward lifting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

I have posted a few times about DADT. Any regular readers know that I think that reversing DADT is a more pressing concern than the right to marry. From a Gay rights standpoint, Gays and Lesbians should be able to participate openly in any career in the United States for which they are otherwise qualified-especially those jobs provided by government. From a national security standpoint, Gays and Lesbians should be allowed to serve openly because it allows a greater pool of qualified candidates to serve our nation proudly. This larger pool allows for a larger, stronger, more effective, and better military.

A recent editorial in the New York Times written by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John M. Shalikashvili, criticized DADT and declared that it may be time to reverse the policy. What is remarkable is that Shalikashvili was instrumental in establishing the policy during the Clinton years. The retired general has fully changed his mind in light of the 24 other nations that currently allow Gays to serve openly in the military and the recent polls showing that the men and women currently serving would not have a significant problem if Gays and Lesbians were allowed to serve alongside.

Supporters of DADT have argued for years that allowing Gays to serve would undermine unit cohesion, harm recruitment, and lower morale. Shalikashvili has unequivocally stated that while he believes that DADT was necessary in 1993, the time has come when the United States no longer needs to consider homosexuality incompatible with military service. This may come as the greatest strike against DADT yet!

The Bush administration needs at least 20,000 more soldiers on the ground, by their own count. While the military has never actually been very successful at preventing all Gay people from serving, DADT has very effectively prevented openly Gay men and women from entering military service. While it is unlikely that 20,000 qualified, young Gay and Lesbians would immediately enlist, the Bush administration would certainly have an easier time meeting recruitment needs.

100 Hours Update

So far, the Democratic leadership has been successful and bipartisan under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We are currently nearly 3 days in to a timewarped first 100 hours lasting nearly 3 weeks.

Here is a recap of what has already been accomplished:

  • Speaker Pelosi drew upon Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to slow down time enough that the next 100 hours will actually take 3 weeks
  • Congress took a long weekend to watch college football championship games
  • Easily passed 9/11 Commission Recommendations

Almost all of the Dems and 68 Republicans in the House (including 3 Republicans from California) supported the efforts to implement the 9/11 recommendations. Two Democrats were suspiciously absent from the vote. Most of the Republicans that voted in favor of the measure echoed Mary Bono’s (R-CA) sentiments:

The protection of the American people is of paramount importance; and if this Congress is able to implement procedures and laws that will safeguard future generations of Americans to come, we must make every effort to do so…I am pleased that this Congress, in a bi-partisan fashion, has expedited the passage of this important piece of legislation.

America's traveling public, which includes the tens of thousands of visitors who utilize Palm Springs International Airport, will benefit from the steps Congress is taking to help ensure their safety.

I hope that this legislation will help accelerate initiatives that were already approved in the last Congress. Despite the redundancy of some initiatives, I believe legislation that places the safety of the American people first is a commendable beginning for the new Congress.

Basically, this measure passed because it really doesn’t change anything, looks really good and bipartisan, and might help alleviate fears about airport security (even if these efforts fail to, you know, actually secure our airports).

Today is “Increase the Minimum Wage Day” in Congress. I figure that even if the minimum wage is increased it won’t come close to approaching what the minimum wage is currently set at in California. As such, Californians are all winners today if Congress doesn’t increase their own salaries today!