Monday, May 15, 2006

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Over on the (newly-redesigned and very slick) Independent Gay Forum, Steve Miller is discussing how, as people age, they tend to become more conservative -- and the impact that might have on the fact that people of the up-and-coming generation are more gay-tolerant than any others.

Steve's controversial postulate is that association of gays with "left-liberalism's big-government, redistributionist social agenda" could potentially turn these young folks against gays. His commentors have generally returned with the "nobody is thinking of welfare or public school", which I do believe is a valid complaint.

However, the gist of Steve's argument is dead-on, in my opinion; namely that what tends to turn people against the idea of anything is when it's imposed on them by fiat.

In our government, the structure is set up as a reaction to a monarchical form of government; through the election process, particularly in the executive and legislative branches, the government is "by the people and for the people". However, what we also have is a branch -- the judiciary -- which by design is meant to hover above the fray and not be directly subject to the whims of the masses. Judges are encouraged to be unknown to the public, to avoid making appearances and statements, and to reject input on their decisions from the general populace. Simply stated, they don't ask your opinion -- they give you theirs, and that's final.

As any manager of employees or projects can tell you, people support that which they help to create and resist that which they do not. Think about how we react at work or at home when we are told to do something or to carry out orders that we feel are completely arbitrary. The natural response is to look for flaws and holes -- or, put differently, reasons not to do something. Worse, these natural responses are usually based, not on the idea itself, but on one's perceptions of it -- which more often than not are not rational and/or factually-based.

Given that knowledge, should it surprise anyone that people would be inclined to distrust and oppose judicial decisions? Would one not expect that people who feel put-upon by the judge's unilateral action, even though they may not oppose it per se, act to limit the judge's power?

My experience with the sodomy law in Texas was very similar. Most people didn't know it existed, and if they did, thought it was kind of dumb, especially since it was so rarely enforced. But the thing they thought was even dumber was the courts telling Texas how to run itself -- exactly what happened in Lawrence v. Texas. What could have been handled directly with a legislative change was instead ramrodded through -- and the backlash left gay rights in even worse shape than before.

What the information portends is that there likely will be a sea change in attitudes towards gays politically over the next one to two decades. It's come about and will continue because thousands of gays throughout the country have been willing to present a view of gays that isn't anything like what "gay activists" (or, ironically, the antigay forces) wanted people to see -- namely, that gays are normal people just like everyone else.

This change isn't because of ACT UP desecrating churches, or gays throwing used condoms, or NGLTF and HRC forking over tens of millions of dollars to the DNC's homophobic leaders and candidates. It isn't because of "gay leaders" making hundreds of thousands of dollars by peddling gays as cannon fodder for unpopular leftist groups. Most importantly, it absolutely isn't because "gay activists" have avoided voters and gone shopping for non-hostile courts to impose their will on a disgruntled public.

Keep doing those, and we'll stay spinning in place.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Well, I'd Be Willing to Entertain Offers...

It was a fine and sunny (albeit windy) day here today, so I figured I'd lovingly wash the car that you, my dear readers, helped pick, albeit with a few bumps along the way.

As I was poking through the glovebox and console detritus, I found my driving map from the trip out here from Dallas. The stop, start, and end points were all carefully marked with the distance covered and odometer reading -- including the final, "San Francisco, February 16th, 9147 miles".

I looked up at the odometer -- now reading all of 9,456 miles. Only three hundred miles -- in three months of living here.

During my last summer in graduate school, I managed three hundred miles in three days. Having grown up and lived in the Great Plains, where runs to the store are measured in hours and trains only carry grain from the elevator, I am a child of the automobile. I learned how to drive when I was six, and from that point forward, did -- regularly and often.

Here, though, matters are different. Theoretically, I CAN drive to work, but when it's $5 bridge toll, $7 per garage day, $6 of gas, and enormous amounts of personal aggravation, the mile-and-a-quarter walk to BART and the 22 minute, $3-each-way ride looks pretty darn good. Cardio, environmental consciousness, and ease rolled into one -- and to top it off, the money I spend for passes can be tax-deferred. Sure, there are drawbacks -- like when the system hiccups and leaves you stranded for hours on the wrong side of the Bay -- but by and large, I'm not looking back.

So, my lovely little Mazda languishes, invigorated only by trips to the gym and grocery runs. Indeed, I'm even considering whether or not, since the husbear has one, if I even need a car.

If you had told me that two years ago, I would have laughed. Laid down on the ground, kicked my heels, screamed, and laughed.

Friday, May 12, 2006


In news today, the California Senate voted yesterday to mandate the teaching of the historical contributions of homosexuals.

In related news, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freeman issued a ruling today blocking enforcement of the California state high school exit exam, agreeing lawyers who argued that hundreds of thousands of students were going to "substandard schools with unqualified teachers, insufficient textbooks, and squalid conditions".

This is of course, in regard to a test that students take as sophomores -- mainly because its two components, math and English proficiency, require a score of only 55% on math and 60% on English to pass and automatically be eligible to graduate. If they can't manage THAT, they get two more tries as juniors and three more tries as seniors, by which time you would think they would be able to pass an English test at tenth-grade level and a math test at a paltry eighth-grade level.

It's good to see that the Senate has its priorities straight. As long as students are required to learn about peoples' sex lives, it doesn't matter that they can't even manage junior-high-level math.

Whither San Francisco?

When I first announced that I was moving to San Francisco a year ago, there were several different reactions; however, the general one was something to the effect of, "Have you lost your marbles?"

With GayPatriot's announcement of yesterday that he was headed this way, regular commentor Michigan-Matt put into words what it seems many conservatives think about the Peoples' Republic.

Visiting SF has always been a dilemma for this gay Republican –no, a real dilemma (Dan). I see the kind of hostility the leadership of SF has toward our military, toward conservatism, toward mainstream American values and wonder how thinking people ever let SF get this bad. When I go there, I see chaos in the public transit, disdain for tourists, dirt in the streets, and reminders everywhere that the city is a testament to dysfunctional governance –and yet it continues! The nonsense about making a political statement against war, against American military history in favor of anti-imperialistic principles underscores how far SF has fallen into the abyss of decay. Why spend a dime there helping to indirectly prop-up the failure?

From a distance, the city is beautiful –on a rare sunny day, something akin to RR’s shining city on the hill. But when I get there, tranverse the city, open the newspaper, listen to the news… it is so depressing that something with such potential is allowed to wallow in inferiority and neglect and failed vision. Is civic pride in such short supply?

After living here for a few months, I can say that Matt's characterization is to a great deal correct. Day-to-day operations and activity in The City are a crazy-quilt mess, driven by identity politics and a schizophrenic tendency to champion "individual rights" while enacting even harsher regulations ("Let's ban smoking indoors AND outdoors!"). If another large enough earthquake comes, The City will be leveled -- and if you thought New Orleans's response to Katrina was disorganized, you haven't seen anything yet.

What keeps this city alive, though, is twofold -- its sinews and the people who live in it.

The 1906 earthquake, while it for all intents and purposes leveled the city, also provided the impetus to start over and fix what local leaders already knew to be broken. Out went the corrupt Gilded Age politicos, and in came the progressive leaders like Mayor "Sunny Jim" Rolph and City Engineer M.M. O'Shaughnessy. Over the next three decades, these leaders constructed on the blank canvas of the ruined city a stupendous and colossal infrastructure -- the Muni railway network, the Hetch Hetchy water and hydropower complexes and systems, the advanced sewers -- that not only met the needs of the time, but looked forward to the future, aided by the fact that geography prevents San Francisco from growing beyond a clearly-defined set of parameters. By and large, the systems that make the city of 2006 function were completed over 70 years ago and are still fully operational today.

In addition, San Francisco is a cash cow, just by virtue of where it is. Face it, we're gorgeous, and we know it. Tourism is the number-one industry in the city -- not just tourists from the US, but people from around the world, who come by the millions to see Fisherman's Wharf, shop at Ghirardelli Square, and watch the sunset from the Golden Gate. As the real-estate mavens go, location is everything, and San Fran has it in spades.

However, because of this embarras de richesse of inherited wealth, San Francisco has become the Paris Hilton of cities -- spoiled, self-centered, and clueless. Because the infrastructure systems work so well, city politicos have felt free to divert the money that would ordinarily be earmarked for their maintenance and improvement into pet baubles -- or, more precisely, influence-buying among special-interest groups. Furthermore, like Ms. Hilton, dear S. Fran, under the influence of the low-oxygen atmosphere in City Hall, is under the delusion that people love her for her political posturing, not for her body -- so she feels free to demand impeachment of the President while her chest and shapely rump fill up with human and other flotsam and jetsam.

It is obvious to almost every resident of The City that San Francisco exists by the grace of the San Andreas and Hayward faults -- and if either of those stop liking us, San Francisco may be red-tagged for the better part of a half-century. But by and large, we residents of "The City That Knows How" have learned to treat our politicians and byzantine legal codes as we do the hills -- as the interminable price we pay of living in one of the most unique, scenic, and vibrant areas in the world.

For me, sure, I could do without the daily sense of exasperation I get from reading the Chronicle and Examiner, as well as seeing the tangle of signs and fouled-up construction, the rampant and endemic homelessness and dirt, and the protestors walking up and down the street who have never known hardship greater than losing the soles on their favorite Birkenstocks.

But the grandeur of the fog blowing over Twin Peaks.....the sunlight on the Pacific and the Golden Gate from Land's End.....rows after rows of stately, beautiful Painted Ladies on my drive to the gym....and the sense as I walk down Castro and up 24th Street of being here, of being part of such a fusion of natural and manmade wonders.....those make living here all worthwhile.

Hugs to you, San Francisco.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Patience Is a Virtue

Some of you may recall how pissed I was at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for rejecting the mooring of the battleship Iowa for reasons that are, to put it bluntly, stupid.

As the turn of events has revealed, though, karma is far friendlier than one can expect; the oxygen-deprived decision of the BoS has created an even better opportunity.

What better place to put the Iowa than somewhere that would draw tourists away from San Francisco, recognize and reward the long-established naval tradition of a city, be within eyesight of the Board of Supervisors -- and be right in the face of the chief anti-military and pro-terrorist harridan who lives nearby?

Honey, The Burritos Are Glowing

Since Husbear is out of town on business this week (DC, for those of you who absolutely must know), I have moved my workstation downstairs to the kitchen. This has less to do with easy access to snacks than it does in keeping his mini-macaw, domiciled therein, from shrieking her discontent -- and by doing so, protecting my sanity.

However, this has brought up an interesting point:

Q: When do you know it is time for a new microwave?

A: When running the old one knocks you off the wireless network.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

When You Get Married, You'll Understand

The results of this survey should come as a shock to no one who a) is in a long-term relationship of any type or b) has been a gay man for more than two weeks.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Message to Gay Democrats

Speak your mind and we'll hurt your family.

UPDATE: John Aravosis posts criticism of Howard Dean's actions -- and proceeds to get pistol-whipped in the comments, usually accompanied with an insinuation that Donald Hitchcock, after years of service, is suddenly incompetent to do his job.

Like I previously said, though......

Tuesday, May 02, 2006