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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Universal Healthcare in California

After spending some time in a Idaho hospital after a holiday ski accident, the Governor has unveiled his new healthcare plan for all Californians.

Eat your heart out, Hillary! This plan actually as a chance of becoming reality!

According to the plan, all Californians will be required to maintain health insurance. This would serve to reduce emergency care costs for the uninsured that hospitals currently must “eat” and eventually pass along to insured and paying patients. The governor has likened this to a hidden tax. This would also improve the public health by encouraging early treatment and maintenance care of ailments-typically much cheaper and effective than late treatment and emergency care.

More controversially, the plan will require all business with 10 or more employees to offer insurance or pay at least 4% of their payroll to help pay for their employees’ health coverage. Additionally, this plan would require insurance companies to guarantee individuals coverage in the individual market and spend 85% of every premium dollar on patient care.

There is certainly a need for healthcare coverage in California and too small of a percentage of our population currently are able to maintain coverage. Market forces have kept adequate coverage out of the hands of many who need it and want it. Because insurance companies frequently no longer offer individual plans in California, insurance is impossible for many people to obtain.

Further, because California emergency rooms must provide services to individuals without regard of their ability to pay, all Californians must carry the burden. Those that are unable to pay are also unable to obtain preventative care or treatment for most ailments until they find themselves in emergency rooms. The costs at that point are much higher and the chances of successfully treating the ailment are significantly lower. Given that we are already paying a high cost for medical care for those that cannot pay for themselves, I would much rather my dollars be used more efficiently and effectively.

All of this analysis comes without a dollar sign attached to it, so far. As far as I can tell, the Governor has not announced how much his plan is going to cost taxpayers or where the money will come from. All Californians will be required to carry insurance now and this could cause some difficult questions of enforcement and, in an unlikely worst-case scenario, could potentially lead to chronic overcrowding in hospitals. While the Governor has enjoyed a remarkable record with the economy, requiring all companies to offer health benefits could be detrimental to many small businesses. Not to mention, we have no idea what this would do to preexisting health benefits and insurance premiums.

We know what the ends are (and the ends are good!), but we don’t yet know the means by which the Governor wants to implement these plans. Will the ends justify the means?

James Fullmer on Gay Marriage

The California Patriot Blog recently had a comment thread in which James Fullmer (a member of Berkeley College Republicans and managing editor of the California Patriot) and I debated Gay Marriage. However, as the comments became longer and longer, I decided that it would be appropriate to place a post on my own blog to continue the debate, already in progress.

Please feel free to add your own comments here.

“In allowing a government to determine which relationships are recognized and which aren’t, we are giving the [government] too much power.”

Then, government should stay out of marriage altogether and leave it up to individual churches. How very libertarian of you.

In general, I am very libertarian. I do believe that the government should keep its nose out of marriage except that so many of the privileges tied to marriage under federal law are based on the word “marriage” that it would be tedious to remove marriage from law. Besides, we know the government wouldn’t go along with those plans any time in the near future. So marriage should be offered equally to straight people and gay people.

The government recognizes and subsidizes marriage because marriage 1) provides a mass social framework that allows for the raising of children in two-parent homes with both a male and a female influence and 2) provides a mass social framework in which individual men protect individual women (who are generally physically the weaker sex) and individual women make sure individual men (who are generally the more idiotic sex) don’t do anything too stupid. This saves the government from having to do all the safety and police work itself. (You’ll pardon me for being unbearably traditional and generalizing in my views of the sexes.)

And the reason why two people of the same sex don’t qualify for this governmental recognition is because - at least in the eyes of society today - a relationship between two individuals of the same sex does not fulfill those two criteria. Both are up for debate, of course, and incidentally I think the strongest argument for gay marriage is that it does provide social stability. The whole “marriage tames men [and women, in this case]” argument.

Yeah. Not so much. I have a hard time taking any part of that argument seriously. For arguments sake, I will refrain from criticizing these rather sexist statements regarding the weakness of women and idiocy of men. Though such notions of sexual differences are still in vogue in places like North Korea they have been decreasing in popularity in the US since about 1910. But I digress.

If government sanctioned marriage is intended to provide a mass social framework for heterosexual, two-parent families then it has been a horribly failed experiment. The major flaw with that argument is that marriage and fertility have no correspondence, at all. Married people do not need to have or raise children to be married or even be ABLE to have or raise children to be married. If this were the case, elderly, infertile, and those without the desire to have children would be forbidden to marry for the same reason Gay people are not allowed to.

Further, last time I checked, one did not have to be married to procreate. In fact, it is not even a requirement to be heterosexual to parent a child. Lots of Gay people have children—whether from a previous heterosexual relationship, adoption, artificial insemination, or other means.
Yet, children of single parent families and Gay families are punished under a system that attempts to promote heterosexual marriage. If the government really cared for the upbringing of children, it would promote stable homes-regardless of the gender of the parents-by allowing all parents to marry and would provide shared custody to both parents (provided they are capable of caring for the child and are non-abusive) for the unfortunate event of a separation or death.

I am not convinced that there is a social benefit to children from heterosexual parenting. Clearly heterosexual homes have misinformed Mr. Fullmer regarding gender roles. The social structure promoted by heterosexual marriage is not necessarily detrimental, but neither is the social structure promoted by Gay marriage. That is to say that both can promote stable, loving, and caring homes for children to be reared in but neither necessarily provides such a functional environment. More structurally, both can raise children but neither must. Negatively, both can have the same faults—selfishness, abusiveness, and other causes of distress—but neither must.

Gay marriage has the same societal benefits that heterosexual marriage does. By this logic, there is no reason to incentivize heterosexual marriage over same-sex ones.

No, because given the two reasons government recognizes marriage that I listed above, an interracial marriage is no different from an intraracial marriage. Anti-miscegenation laws were attempts by racist idiots to preserve “racial purity” and had nothing to do with whether or not a particular marriage was beneficial to society. Racism and homophobia are both terrible things. However, there actually is a non-homophobic case against gay marriage; if there’s a non-racist argument against interracial marriage, I’ve yet to hear it. So let’s dispense with this analogy, shall we?
Gay marriage and Straight marriage are not intrinsically different. Laws preventing Gays from achieving marriage rights are put in place by homophobes trying to preserve a view of society that never actually existed. Gay marriage does not harm society any more than heterosexual marriage nor does heterosexual marriage benefit society any more than Gay marriage. If there is a non-homophobic case against gay marriage that is based in reality then I have yet to hear it.

“In allowing a government to determine which relationships are recognized and
which aren’t, we are giving the [government] too much power.”

No, quite frankly, we’re not. Marriage, as we’re discussing it, is recognized by-guess who-the government. For the purposes of this discussion, marriage is a government program. If the government has a program, it can set requirements for who qualifies for that program.

As “Republican” and “Conservative” as Fullmer claims to be, it appears that he has forgotten the greatest of Conservative tenets: promotion of small government. This nation and the GOP were both founded on the value of personal liberty over ill-placed government sovereignty.

Simply because the government can and does doesn’t mean it should set certain requirements for certain government programs. In fact, the Supreme Court has often held that the government can not impose certain requirements preventing people from partaking in government programs if they are improperly established, are discriminatory, or otherwise are wrongly imposed. Any argument that something is proper because it is status quo is illogical.

As I’ve said before, if the government interferes with our rights to enter into consensual relationships with whomever we want, then I’ll be out there with you protesting it. But don’t mistake the fact that some relationships qualify for government recognition for an inherent right to have a relationship recognized by the government.
Somehow, I do not think we will see Mr. Fullmer fighting for Gay rights on the front lines any time soon.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Governor Declares War on GOP

Not only has California left the United States under the leadership of Governor Schwarzenegger, war has been declared on the Republican Party.

Thanks to a tip from a San Francisco Democrat friend of mine, I have come across a Time Magazine article claiming that Governor Schwarzenegger is in a war with the Republican party in California. Given the sentiment of many Republicans I know that listened to the inauguration speech this week, I expect this to be a common theme in articles written about the Governator in the next few weeks.

I have already posted about the Governor’s speech and his centrist, “post-partisan” agenda for his second term. Many Republicans (read: the old boys network including such figures as Mike Spence from the California Republican Assembly) are already condemning the Governor’s speech. Their argument is that this new post-partisan agenda seems to look an awful like the Democratic agenda and nothing like the Republican agenda. They believe that the Governor plans to make a number of Big Government, anti-business moves that will increase spending and require taxation. They also promise a fight against the Governor and his administration if these new policies come to the Legislature.

But this fight might be exactly what the Governor is looking for. According to my favorite Berkeley instructor (who I will henceforth call a professor out of respect, though he does not technically hold that title) Professor Dan Schnur, the governor could really benefit from some Republican opposition. Prof Schnur, who is a moderate Republican strategist, says that when Arnold runs for Senate in 4 or 6 years, “The more the conservatives do to push back at him, the more moderate he will look by comparison. As long as he doesn't raise taxes it's difficult to see a conservative candidate beating him in a primary, which means he's free to situate himself right at the political center."

Friday, January 05, 2007

California Secedes From Union, Declares War on USA

Governor Schwarzenegger was sworn in today amidst much fanfare. By now, anybody who reads about politics would have already heard about the Governor’s speech applauding centrism in bringing the state forward. But what you might not have heard is that the Governor renounced parties and declared war on the United States after California’s secession from the Union. Well, maybe not quite.

But the Governor did declare that California is a nation-state. Indeed, we have a very diverse population but well defined cultural identity. Additionally, we are an important world economy and power in our own right. We are even trying to fashion ourselves a world leader in environmental progress. Stated by the Governor in his inaugural speech while surrounded by members of the California National Guard (which he commands), this could very well be considered an act of secession. Perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger found a way around the constitutional provisions preventing his election to the presidency—he declared himself the chief executive of his own nation! GO GOVERNATOR!

The Governor also promoted “Post-Partisanism” a new term he coined to reflect what he hopes to achieve in this new nation—an end to parties, once and for all. No longer does he intend to act in a bipartisan manner; he wishes to run a California where a partisan label on issues doesn’t drive or kill a measure. That is, the Governor wants to promote issues that Californians want, need, and elected him to secure (namely: prison reform, healthcare, and environmental reform) without the Republicans or Democrats pulling party lines because the issue has been historically Democrat or Republican led (in these cases, Democrat led). As the Gov said, “We don’t need Republican clean air or Democratic clean air. We all breathe the same air.”

Not that any of this should really be news. Governor Schwarzenegger is hardly a partisan and has long stated his disdain for partisan politics. His views on the environment and healthcare are well-documented. Nobody should be surprised by his views today. Today’s speech, was however, a refreshingly inspiring look into the mind of the popular Governor. I may post the transcript of the speech in its entirety later. Or maybe not.

In other news: Maria Shriver looked too thin. Patrick Schwarzenegger needs a haircut, badly. Eunice Shriver looked fabulous. Also, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who as usual, was impeccably dressed in a well-tailored suit with a lavender tie needed more stylish crutches. The set he was using were plain, grey, aluminum crutches that appeared to be issued by the hospital. Perhaps he should find a more stylish set with modern appearance or an ergonomic design. That would be cool.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Political Leanings

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish, I have found a more-than-decade-old political exam that rates political leanings on a scale of 0-40, 0 being a Jesse Jackson Liberal and 40 being the ultimate conservative (who the test says is Ronald Reagan…I disagree).

Fortunately, I am not in the middle of any identity crisis nor am I desperate to find myself on one end of the political spectrum or the other. According to the test, I am at 20- Colin Powell’s ideological twin. Neither am I a conservative nor am I a liberal. No wonder I hate both political parties so equally.

Hear that, parties? I am the new centrist, median voter! Hear my words! The well-educated, moderate, white, middle-class, young, Gay, male that identifies Republican will select the next US President!

President Oprah Winfrey might be on the horizon!

The California Legislature Reconvened!

Then they promptly went home. Nobody noticed. Really, the only reason they are all in town is to go to the Governor's star-studded inauguration tomorrow.

The inauguration already seems a bit disappointing. Given Ahnold's own star power, one would expect high caliber celebrities to perform. While rumor has it Danny DeVito will be at the party (maybe sober, maybe not) it has been confirmed that Donna Summer and Paul Anka will be the musical entertainment at the Inaugural Gala and the event will be hosted by former Speaker of the House Willie Brown.

In all seriousness, the California Legislature isn't really covering anything right now except an esoteric argument over a particular labor-owned education appointee that needs to be reappointed. The Republicans don't like him but neither does that particular council like Republicans. Governor Schwarzenegger nominated him again anyway. If the vote goes down the party lines, Dems only need to capture a couple of GOP votes to secure his reappointment. And nothing will change.

This Week in America

The new Democratic leadership has officially taken control of Congress and the big headlines, other than whether Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama will top the Democratic presidential ticket in ’08, is that the first 100 hours of Congress will change the course of American history.

By 100 hours, they really only mean 100 hours when they are actually in chambers during their newly extended four day work week. And by first, they really mean starting next week. So really, instead of saying first 100 hours, they should say, “first month in office including the week we don’t really do anything except talk.”

According to Steny Hoyer’s office (as a side note, I have always really liked Congressman Hoyer in a non-Mark Foley sort of way) there is a calendar of historic congressional actions events happening between the 9th and the 26th of January.

The rundown is like this:

January 9th: Enact 9/11 Commission Recommendations
January 10th: Increase Minimum Wage
January 11th: Allow Stem Cell Research
January 12th: Negotiate for Lower Prescription Drug Prices
January 13th: Saturday
January 14th: Sunday
January 15th: Monday (Doesn’t everybody have Mondays off?)
January 16th: Votes postponed until 6:30pm (to recover from Monday hangovers)
January 17th: Cut Interest Rates on Student Loans
January 18th: Cut Subsidies for Big Oil and Invest in Renewable Energy
January 19th: Votes
January 20th: Saturday
January 21st: Sunday
January 22nd: Monday (You mean to say, You work on Mondays?!)
January 23rd: State of the Union Address (Maybe President Bush will solve this silly problem of working on Mondays)
January 24th: Votes
January 25th and 26th: Republicans Vacation after an exhausting “100 hours”

What is not on the calendar is that immediately afterward, the Pelosi Congress will solve world hunger (food instability), earthquake-proof California, find Osama bin Laden, pay off the national debt, make peace with Iran and North Korea, and still find time to keep declare Mondays a national day of rest for those of us that are not Members of Congress.

Seriously, why do we have to work on Mondays?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Let Diana Ross Decide!

Ok, so the news is old now. As Kevin Norte so eloquently put it, (to paraphrase) the Supremes have unanimously decided to hear the Gay Marriage case in California.

While it might be interesting to have a Diana Ross-led court determining the outcome of Gay marriage in our state, the California Supreme Court will soon hear the case and make the ultimate determination as to whether the Knight Amendment can stand in California.

To give a recap, after Massachusetts courts declared anti-Gay marriage laws unconstitutional, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began to offer marriage licenses in California. Immediately afterward, the state of California refused to recognize these marriages as valid because they were believed to be void under the state constitution. The courts disagreed. However, before the decision went into effect, the appellate court took up the case and reversed the ruling of the lower court, in part, because Gay people are not discriminated against because Gay men can enter into marriages with women and Lesbians can enter into marriages with men just as heterosexual people can. Now the Supreme Court will be reviewing the case.

This is great news for Gay and Lesbian Californians! I continue to believe that it is of greater importance to ensure more basic rights than marriage for Gays in places outside of California than it is to achieve full marriage equality in California. But since this ball is already rolling, there is no reason to stop it. Gay men and women across the state will hopefully soon be granted full marriage equality!

I'm Back!

I took an unannounced vacation from the blog for a little while. Partly because my personal life was busy and partly because there wasn't/isn't much interesting news to blog about that isn't covered in like a million places.

After all, if you want to read about President Ford's life and death or Saddam Hussein's execution, you probably aren't going to go to a Gay political blog covering California news. Even if you did, I wouldn't be giving you any interesting new spin on things.

But the greatest of news machines is gearing back into action: the California Legislature. In the coming days the legislature will return from their winter recess and continue to do what they believe is "the people's work." Only time will tell how badly the people will get worked over this year!