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Boycotted for backing Prop. 8? Too bad.

I’ve had a slew of e-mails and phone calls in the past few days complaining that I, or my paper, or the mass media overall have failed to adequately report the “terror campaign” against supporters of Proposition 8.

I’ve seen plenty of media stories about protests both peaceful and illegal, and based on the information I’ve got, I can say that most have been peaceful. There are some thugs out there who are using the high emotion and constitutional battle over same-sex marriage to excuse criminal behavior, and that’s unequivocally wrong, but the vast majority of people who’ve taken to the streets and the Internet since Nov. 4′s vote have done so legally and peacefully.

The Yes on 8 camp put out a release Friday complaining of “outrageous activities” such as:

  • In Sacramento, a musical theater director was forced to resign after he was blacklisted for contributing $1000 to the initiative;
  • A Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles has been boycotted after a relative of the owner donated to the coalition;
  • Numerous churches have had their property defaced;
  • And an unknown white powder was mailed to several LDS temples and the National Headquarters of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization that supported the campaign.
  • As to the latter two: Anyone committing acts of vandalism, violence or terrorism should be hunted down and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, no question.

    As to the former two: Tough cookies.

    The Mormon Church and all those who supported Prop. 8 expressed their convictions and participated part in the political process, true enough, but that doesn’t mean others can’t hold them accountable. They chose to involve themselves in a question of other people’s civil rights. Standing by their convictions means accepting the consequences; in this case, the consequence is that those who disagree may choose not to associate with them, and to encourage others to do the same. They can’t jump into the public discourse and then claim some special protection from criticism.

    It takes a lot of nerve for opponents of same-sex marriage to whine about boycotts and blacklisting, after all the boycotts and blacklists endured over the years by gays and lesbians and those who’ve stood up for their rights. Given how gays and lesbians long have been ostracized simply for who they are, it’s amazing to see those same ostracizers complain now about being ostracized themselves for their beliefs.

    Posted on Monday, November 17th, 2008
    Under: Elections, General, same-sex marriage | 2 Comments »

    And now, some shameless self-promotion

    It’s bloviatin’ time! Come join me as I take part in a panel discussion on the 2008 presidential election and what it meant for the nation, next Wednesday, Nov. 19 at the Commonwealth Club of California’s office on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. Also on the panel will be Oakland’s own Frank Russo, founder of the California Progress Report; Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo; and state GOP vice chairman Thomas Del Beccaro, publisher of the Political Vanguard. It’s a 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program and 7:30 p.m. reception; tickets are available online at $12 for club members, $20 for non-members and $7 for students with valid ID.

    Posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008
    Under: Elections | No Comments »

    Chuck DeVore launches 2010 run against Boxer

    Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, officially threw his hat into the ring today to challenge U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in 2010.

    In a live Webcast this afternoon, DeVore said he stands for the classic Republican platform of fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and protecting individual rights against government encroachment. He noted it’s “a long way from here to the general election in 24 months,” first through a GOP primary and then against Boxer “and her far-left friends,” but he predicted victory. “I will put my record against hers any day.”

    “California is my home and I love it second only to my God and my family,” he said. “We have a long road ahead but I know that with the grace of god, the courage of our convictions and the blessings of the good people of California, our best days are yet to come.”

    DeVore from 1986 to 1988 was a Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs in the Department of Defense, working on Capitol Hill and traveling the world. He then went to work on Chris Cox’s Congressional campaign, and after Cox won, served as a senior assistant during Cox’s first term. An Army Reservist, he was deployed during the Gulf War; upon returning, he joined SM&A, a Newport Beach aerospace engineering and management services firm. He also was an Irvine Community Services Commission member from 1991 to 1996, and a GOP county committeeman from 1993 to 2003; he won his Assembly seat in 2004.

    Earlier this year he headed up Citizens for a Safe and Prosperous America, a “section 527” issue-advocacy group that ran attack ads against Democratic presidential primary contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Here’s one of those ads:

    So if DeVore helped air an ad saying Obama’s record is the Senate’s most liberal, I guess that’s not a claim we’ll hear him make against Boxer – right?

    Now, to the numbers… DeVore won his 70th Assembly District seat in 2004 with 61.1 percent of the vote against a Democrat and a Libertarian. He kept it in 2006 with 60.5 percent against only a Democrat, and again last week with 58.2 percent against that same Democrat – still a comfortable margin, but with some slow slippage over the years.

    Boxer was elected to the Senate in 1992 with 47.9 percent; she was re-elected in 1998 with 53 percent of the vote and in 2004 with 57.8 percent of the vote – a steady gain over time. And both Republicans who unsuccessfully challenged her incumbency earlier had won election to statewide office – 1998’s Matt Fong as state Treasurer, and 2004’s Bill Jones as a two-term Secretary of State.

    Add to that the facts that Boxer has a formidable fundraising record and $3.6 million cash on hand in her campaign war chest; a bully pulpit as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; and a sitting president almost certainly willing to come stump for her, and one’s left with the impression that DeVore enters this race as a long-shot at best.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
    Under: Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Elections, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

    Time for an end run around the Electoral College?

    This year’s presidential election didn’t bring us the sort of one-state Electoral College cliffhanger that we had in 2000 and 2004, but there are those who still believe the EC as it stands is an outdated relic.

    A leader of that movement — John Koza, a computer scientist who’s a consulting professor in Stanford University’s Electrical Engineering and Medicine departments — is delivering a lecture this afternoon at the University of California, Berkeley. His argument is that in the existing system, a candidate has no reason to poll, visit, advertise in or even pay much attention to states where he/she or his/her opponent enjoys a seemingly insurmountable lead; witness how California usually serves as little more than a campaign-cash ATM for candidates. But if the president is picked by a direct national popular vote, he says, every state becomes a battleground.

    It wouldn’t even take a constitutional amendment. National Popular Vote — a nonprofit of which Koza is vice president, and Lafayette political attorney Barry Fadem is president — notes the Constitution’s Article II, Section I lets each state appoint electors “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” That means there’s nothing stopping state Legislatures from agreeing — via an interstate compact — to throw their electors to the candidate who won the most votes nationwide.

    So far, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey have enacted laws approving such a compact. Legislatures in some other states, including Rhode Island, Vermont and California, have passed such bills but seen them vetoed; Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed them twice, in 2006 and 2008.

    This year’s bill was SB 37 by state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco; in his Sept. 30 veto message, Schwarzenegger said the bill “represents a significant departure away from letting each individual state choose how to award its presidential electoral votes and towards a national vote for president. Because California’s endorsement of a national popular vote would significantly change the debate on the matter, enactment of this bill would represent a major shift in the way not only Californians but all Americans choose their president. Such a significant change should be voted on by the people. As such, I cannot support this measure but encourage the proponents to seek approval of the people for the changes it proposes.”

    Foes of the plan say relying only on national numbers would send candidates careening to the coasts and big cities, leaving the nation’s interior as nothing but “flyover states.”

    But supporters note the smallest states aren’t getting presidential attention anyway — for the past 20 years, six of the 13 least populous states have regularly gone Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota) and six others have regularly gone Democratic (Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, and the District of Columbia); only New Hampshire has been a battleground state.

    Those 12 small, non-competitive states have a combined population of about 11.4 million and have a total of 40 electoral votes, National Popular Vote advocates note. Meanwhile, the battleground state of Ohio has about 11.5 million people and candidates trip over themselves to court its 20 electoral votes. A national popular vote would make a vote cast in a small state as important as a vote cast in Ohio or anywhere else, advocates say.

    Now, I don’t think this takes into account the fact that candidates might still gravitate to the big coastal population centers not only for raw numbers but because major television markets provide more advertising bang for the campaign buck. It also doesn’t take into account the cutting-edge, grassroots ground game that Barack Obama brought this year, putting boots on the street and money on the airwaves in several previously ignored states.

    Still, it’s an interesting proposal and shows no sign of going away; Migden’s gone, but NPV reportedly is keeping all options on the table for the coming Legislative session.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carole Migden, Elections, General | No Comments »

    Romanowski: McCain & Palin used my supplements

    I was talking with former NFL Pro-Bowl linebacker and Oakland Raider Bill Romanowski today, one of half a dozen East Bay notables I interviewed for a forthcoming story about their reactions to Obama’s win.

    Romanowski said he’s inspired by Obama, but was proud to have played a role in the McCain/Palin campaign, too. What’s that, you say? Well, it seems John McCain and Sarah Palin might be satisfied customers of Romanowski’s Lafayette-based Nutrition53 nutritional supplement business.

    “We had found out that Sarah Palin had been using my Lean1 product — it was said she went from a size 6… to a size 4,” Romo told me. “So, being able to eat healthy and to keep the figure that she wanted to keep, she utilized Lean1. I’m just excited that I’m able to make an impact, that my company is able to make an impact in people’s lives. My career in the National Football League for so many years was about me and my ego, and now when I think about it, I want my legacy to be, ‘This guy, yeah he was a tough football player, he won Super Bowls, but he also changed people’s lives… That really excites me, I get passionate each and every day.”

    Romo said it was also rumored that John McCain was taking his Neuro1 product, which Nutrition53′s Web site says “delivers the neuronutrients you need for the best mental energy, focus and memory to perform in your daily life.”

    The New York Daily News reported this about a month ago, followed by the Rocky Mountain News, and then by bloggers questioning McCain’s health and acuity. Palin’s Lean1 use was picked up by the New York Daily News last week. The campaign didn’t comment on any of those, and I’m guessing it won’t do so now.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
    Under: Elections, John McCain, Sarah Palin | 1 Comment »

    What’s happening with Proposition 8

    As of the latest unofficial returns, it seems Proposition 8 — the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage — is passing with 5,235,486 votes (52.2 percent); opponents offered 4,800,656 votes (47.8 percent).

    “Yes on 8″ chairman Ron Prentice issued a statement early this morning declaring victory:

    While it will take a few weeks to finish counting all the votes, Proposition 8 takes effect at midnight tonight. Just as it was before the Supreme Court’s ruling, only marriage between a man and a woman will be valid or recognized in California, regardless of when or where performed.

    This has been a hard-fought campaign on both sides. Now that the people of California have decided this issue, we hope there can be a healing among all and a continued respect for the diverse views that have been expressed during this campaign.

    The outcome of this race is being closely followed in every state in the nation, and in countries throughout the world. California’s vote in favor of traditional marriage should give the silent majority comfort that they do have a voice and can and should stand up for this precious institution in legislatures throughout the world. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

    But the “No on 8″ campaign issued a statement refusing to concede the race:

    Roughly 400,000 votes separate yes from no on Prop 8 — out of 10 million votes tallied.

    Based on turnout estimates reported yesterday, we expect that there are more than 3 million and possibly as many as 4 million absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted.

    Given that fundamental rights are at stake, we must wait to hear from the Secretary of State tomorrow about how many votes are yet to be counted as well as where they are from.

    It is clearly a very close election and we monitored the results all evening and this morning.

    As of this point, the election is too close to call.

    Because Prop 8 involves the sensitive matter of individual rights, we believe it is important to wait until we receive further information about the outcome.

    Here’s how the Bay Area voted, according to this morning’s latest but not-yet-final returns:

    ————————— Yes ————- No
    Alameda —————— 38.1 ———— 61.9
    Contra Costa ————- 45.09 ———– 54.91
    Napa ——————— 44.94 ———– 55.06
    San Francisco ———— 23.48 ———– 76.52
    San Joaquin ————– 65.44 ———– 34.56
    San Mateo ————— 37.6 ———— 62.4
    Santa Clara ————– 44.39 ———– 55.61
    Santa Cruz ————— 28.61 ———– 71.39
    Solano ——————- 56.03 ———– 43.97
    Sonoma —————— 33.9 ———— 66.1

    I think the most telling numbers from this race come from Los Angeles, where Proposition 8 seems to have narrowly prevailed, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. LA is generally very Democratic – Obama won 69.33 percent of the vote there – yet that political liberalism didn’t translate into “No on 8” votes. I think many African-American and Latino churches were very effective in getting their flocks out to the polls for Obama, and for Proposition 8.

    If Proposition 8 has passed when the election returns are finalized, it’ll go straight to court. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights already have petitioned the California Supreme Court to invalidate the measure; they argue the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the state constitution’s commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group — lesbian and gay Californians. They also say Prop. 8 seeks to keep the courts from exercising their essential role of protecting minorities’ equal-protection rights; the state Constitution says such changes to state government’s organizing principles can’t be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must at least pass through the state Legislature first.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
    Under: Elections, General, same-sex marriage | 15 Comments »

    Political Haiku, Vol. 6

    In the end McCain
    had nothing left to offer.
    Angry old white man.

    Obama wins big
    for a job no one should want.
    Hope and change? We’ll see.

    Dems kick butt in House,
    Republicans left weeping.
    Don’t feel bad, Andal.

    A new day dawning,
    and yet no joy is found in
    My 401(k)

    And, hoping nobody minds a variance in poetic form…

    There once was a girl from Wasilla
    Whose inexperience ended up a killa
    She said with a sniff
    On November the fifth,
    “It’s like I got stomped by Godzilla.”

    Posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
    Under: Elections, haiku | No Comments »

    A bittersweet night?

    Dick Hague, 77, sat with a friend watching the election returns in the residents’ lounge at Barbary Lane, the LGBT senior community apartment building near Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Outside, we could hear cheering in the streets as Barack Obama became the president-elect of the United States of America.

    But it was a bittersweet moment of sorts for Hague, who’s elation for Obama’s win was tempered by concern over Proposition 8.

    “My partner, Otto Bremerman, died a year ago. If he were still alive, we would be married today,” Hague said, noting he and Bremerman had been together for 48 years. “Regardless of what the proponents of Proposition 8 say, it’s really a civil rights issue. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.”

    “But even if we lose on Proposition 8, you have to recognize that the direction of history is going toward greater civil rights for people, greater equality,” he added. “Losing on Prop. 8 would be a setback but it’s not going to change the trend.”

    When the upstate New York native came to the Bay Area in the mid-1950s after fighting in Korea, “you could not be out gay and keep your job,” Hague said. “In fact you couldn’t even be ‘obvious,’ as they used to say. So we’ve come a long way.”

    Just consider what would’ve happened if you’d suggested back then that an African-American would become president. “You know what kind of answer you would’ve gotten: ‘Never.’ “

    Posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
    Under: Elections, General, Oakland, same-sex marriage | No Comments »

    Meanwhile, on Prop. 8…

    …people here at Oakland’s White Horse Inn — one of the Bay Area’s oldest gay bars — are happy that Obama seems headed for victory, but deeply apprehensive about what’ll happen when California’s polls close and the votes are tallied for and against Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

    Faye Bruno, 49, of Oakland, said she’s at least glad it’s a tight race “because I was afraid that with all the money coming in from other sources, like the Mormon Church, that people were getting a skewed view of what it’s all about.”

    “Changing the constitution is not something you want to do lightly,” she said, noting she recently moved here from Colorado, where voters passed a similar amendment in 2006. “I expect that from Colorado, I don’t expect that from California.”

    Bruno said she’s an Alabama native… and gay… and a woman… and black. She said she’s no stranger to discrimination. “I’ve had those battles, but to see this happen in California, it’s shocking,” she said, adding that if Prop. 8 passes, “to me it says we haven’t come far enough in our thinking, in our valuing of human beings.”

    UPDATE @ 7:47 P.M.: Kris Hoffman, 41, of Albany, said she didn’t feel the Prop. 8 battle really hitting close to home until the past few weeks. She was driving one day and noticed a “Yes on 8″ sticker in the car in front of her.

    “And I felt, ugh, I didn’t like those people. It was a strong feeling, and I was surprised,” she said. “Someone wanted to stand in the way of me having an equal right to what they already have.”

    “I really just wanted to them to go out in the middle of the intersection without any protection and then say to them, ‘That’s what you’re doing to us,’ ” she said. “It enrages me that this is even on the ballot… For people in my community to come out against my being equal, it’s ridiculous, it’s beyond ridiculous.”

    She’s a third-generation East Bay native who hails from a politically conservative family. “I called to ask my mother… I don’t really know how she voted, but I doubt she voted in favor of my equal rights,” Hoffman said sadly.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
    Under: Elections, General, Oakland, same-sex marriage | No Comments »

    At the Northern California Obama HQ…

    …on Adeline Street in Berkeley, where volunteers are crammed in tightly around folding tables, calling Colorado voters to get out the vote. A cheer went up here a short while ago as a field organizer announced National Public Radio had called Pennsylvania and New Hampshire for Obama; now that same organizer is telling everyone Obama himself called the California field director to implore volunteers to stay on the phones.

    Frankly, it looks as if you’d have to drag these people away in chains to get ‘em off the phones before the polls close. They’re hunkered down with cell phones, snatching bites and sips between calls, ringing desk bells every time they hang up on a voter committed to Obama.

    Now they’ve got ABC News on a projection screen… They’re so hungry for news from back east, and yet so determined to cram as many calls as they can into the time they have left, they barely know where to turn.

    UPDATE @ 6:05 P.M.: Screams of joy here as ABC just projected Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin for Obama. Texas looks close at this hour, but these people know better than to think the Lone Star State’s gonna go blue. They seem delighted, however, that ABC’s not yet willing to call McCain’s home state of Arizona…

    UPDATE @ 6:20 P.M.: Now they’re calling Iowa voters, and the desk bells are ringing out.

    UPDATE @ 6: 35 p.m.: Adam Stern, 49, of Berkeley, said it was his daughter who brought him here.

    “She’s 13, and she’s been here half a dozen times in the last two weeks,” he said. “I’m very motivated to keep working for Obama; my daughter is an inspiration to me. She actually recruited two of her best friends to join her on several of her visits here.”

    Sasha Stern pauses between calls, phone still cocked by her ear, to disclose that she has placed about 350 to 400 calls by her estimation. “I’ve called New Mexico, Florida, Missouri, Colorado and Iowa,” she says, before dialing the next Iowan.

    Her dad said he’s been stunned by the campaign’s efficiency. “They trained us, and in 15 minutes, both my daughter and I were on the phones making calls to voters. The level of organization is very sophisticated.”

    UPDATE @ 6:55 P.M.: Yvette Stuart, 67, of Oakland, pauses between calls to snap a camera-phone photo of a fellow volunteer who’s posing with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Obama. The West African native said she has never worked for a political campaign before, but the Obama t-shirt, the eight Obama buttons on her jacket and her very presence here tonight illustrates the depth of her dedication to this one.

    “I’ve been really, really energized by his message… I believe it’s a chance for all of America to have someone they can believe in,” she said. “It was better to put my mouth where my energy was than to just sit wringing my hands… Change cannot happen if you don’t work for it.”

    They’re shutting down the shop here, and directing people to the big campaign party starting at 8 p.m. at the Marriott in downtown Oakland. I’ll be there too, after a few other stops…

    Posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Berkeley, Elections, General | No Comments »