Thoughts on attending the anti-Prop 8 protest in Costa Mesa today

I believe I’d already been clear on the point:

…as I tried to note in my comment on women’s suffrage, we have been down this road before, where something seemingly inconceivable became standard. Legalizing gay marriage improves the general lot by further extending the principle of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ to all — as the complexity of society is more and more recognized, then that means that extension must be further applied to the full.

No on 8

I believe in the essential truth originally posted here:

“We did not want to go to Massachusetts or Canada or Spain to get married . . . because we wanted to be legal in our home state,” said Jean, who has no worries about the high rate of divorce in the United States.

“Shouldn’t I have the right to get married and screw it up, just like straight people?”

No on 8

I believe there is something crucial in this statement I made a while back:

..if there is one constant I have noticed among the anti(-gay marraige) campaigners, it’s that the very idea of same-sex love and marriage, that there are in fact people, fellow citizens, involved, doesn’t register with them, that it remains strictly abstract, or rather they aim to keep it as abstract as possible, which I find very telling

No on 8

I believe that the sight of four corners of a busy intersection full of people from all walks of life, old and young, gay and straight, gathered in protest but never giving into pointless anger, is encouraging beyond words.

No on 8

I believe the fact that the initial police presence quietly dialed down over time, as the vast majority of passing cars honked in support while the sole moment of protest was a near incoherent shout from one passing vehicle, is not only a striking thing in general but a profoundly deep thing for Orange County in general, given the huge amount of cars passing by at any one time.

No on 8

I believe that the fact that the organization of everything for this particular protest, not even the only one today in Orange County, started on Facebook by two friends but never kept too controlling, that encouraged people to bring what resources they had (and they did — water, food, signs and more) and to bring their own humor to bear as well, was crucial.

Don't tell your stylist...

I believe that the fine folks starting up a new 527 action group, Straight Against H8, are the type of folks who have their heads screwed on right, which is why I’d encourage you to go to either this site or this e-mail address:

http://www.myspace.com/straightagainsth8

straightagainsth8@gmail.com

Straight Against H8

I believe in what I said earlier, as a sign clearly showed today:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

And that’s what I believe.

ADDENDUM — Andrew Sullivan‘s collected photos and thoughts on many protests worldwide today. Along with my own photos, I sent an e-mail, quoting a part of it here:

…the language from Yes on 8 supporters out here, ever since Election Day but even more so now, is not that of the triumphant victor. It’s bewilderment, denial, anger, confusion. The amount of “I’m not a bigot!” statements from people who doth protest too much is telling. One gets a clear sense that they find themselves on the defensive, the initiative ripped from their hands. They’re hunkering down, hiding, finding themselves ostracized — deservedly so. I don’t think they realized how much they’ve done yet by winning the battle to lose the war but they’re sensing it, and are already on the run.

I was downbeat on Election Day despite Obama’s victory due to the passing of 8. Now I think that while it clearly should not have passed, making lemons into lemonade has rarely seemed so evident.

ADDENDUM 2: Tara, one of the coorganizers of this protest, sent out a note to all attendees and encouraged sharing it, so I will do so here:

Hello friends,

I couldn’t let another day pass without wholeheartedly thanking everyone for coming out to South Coast Plaza, and for spreading the word. We had an amazing turnout yesterday – at least 400 at our largest – which meant that there might have been several hundred more if you counted everyone from throughout the day. Chelsea and I were extremely pleased with the location, and hope everyone was pleased as well. I loved to see the diversity of people passing by. And I loved to see that we were still going strong after nightfall!!! I think we hit a big, expansive part of Orange County!

Thank you to everyone who helped bring extra water, ice, food, sunblock, etc. Thank you to everyone who hosted poster-making parties with their friends, and who helped notify the press. Thank you to everyone who took the high road no matter what was being said to them, and who kept our protest safe by being respectful of traffic regulations and the needs of our handicapable peers.

Thank you to everyone who came later in the day, undoubtedly exhausted from other protests. Thank you to everyone who represented O.C.’s huge Hispanic and Asian populations, helping other Hispanics and Asians to see the magnitude of hurt that Prop 8 caused. Thank you for braving the ridiculous heat, wind, congestion, and for the inspiring positivity you brought to this cause. To those who brought their families and children – thank you for challenging peoples’ notions about what “family values” should be. We have family values, too. And yesterday, it felt like WE were family.

Special thanks to Max, Harvey, Joe, Ned, Tamara, and Cindy & Lindy (?). SPECIAL SPECIAL thanks to my little sister who stumbled upon our protest while shopping – and who, in spite of her temptations, did not get into a ghetto smackdown with the religious guy walking around.

Love,

Tara

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Reflections on results (minus the big one)

I’ll get to that in a separate post.

I am, still, tired, worn out, zonked. A lot went down. And, frankly, not all of it happily. But having gone through all my choices for the ballot, I figure a catchall post noting what the results were can’t hurt.

First and foremost — Prop 8 passed, narrowly but not razor-thin. I am outraged if not surprised, but also convinced this was a rear-guard action at best, as the tide of history changes. A friend put it best in a private note, with his version of my ‘you couldn’t even have imagined something like this being an issue in the recent past’ take:

Yet there’s a part of me which is still pleased and amazed the issue has even limited viability that it does. Less than ten years ago it was nothing more than a few gayocons and a few rebels with lawyers being reasonable and demanding the impossible. It’s not revolutionary speed but it’s not baby steps, either–that’s fucking fast.

True indeed. We will see what happens next — as I said elsewhere, gains are often conditional and asynchronous.

Regarding the rest of the propositions — the results are here, and it’s a reasonable grab-bag. 2 passing was good, 3 I think unneeded in the end but still passed. 4, thankfully, went down, as did 5 and 6. 7 and 10 both bit the dust as well — I did vote for 10 but I can’t say I’m all worried about that. 9 passed, which is overkill on the matter but oh well. 11 is passing by a hair, which I think will be very problematic when implemented in two years time. 12 is coasting, unsurprisingly.

That leaves 1A, and while my support for it was conditional given it was a bond issue, the passage of it as well as Measure R up in LA, which required a 2/3 vote that just made it over that limit, shows what I hope will be a new and conscious engagement on what will prove to be important steps in mass transit in the 21st century. Essentially these moves are green lights to take things further, but they needed to be done in some form or another, and I look forward to the next developments.

Turning to the results as posted via the OCvote.com site — on the federal and state representative front, no surprises, regrettably — Rohrbacher held off Cook in CA-46 for Congress quite easily in the end, while Harman and Tran will return to Sacramento (though Tran’s margin was honestly much closer than I would have expected, which might be a sign for a future candidate). Essentially, a reconfirmation of the status quo.

On the county level, Measure J passed overwhelmingly, unfortunate but again no surprise, while Carrillo happily trounced Marsh for the Superior Court spot. In the Coast Community College District races, Patterson and Prinsky won handily — very good to hear especially in Prinsky’s case — while Hornbuckle beat Pirch in the one seat I was essentially neutral about.

That leaves the Costa Mesa races — in the Sanitation District contests, Ferryman got the top votes while Perry just beat Worthington. Would have been nice if Ferryman and Worthington’s places were swapped, but oh well. As for the City Council, Foley held on but regrettably, if all too unsurprisingly, Monahan and Bever are back. More thoughts about many of these races over at A Bubbling Cauldron.

So that just leaves, as mentioned, the big one. More on that tonight — if I’m not totally wiped out.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 12

(I should note that while this ends the propositions series, tomorrow and Monday I’ll have a few more election related posts regarding state representatives and local offices, plus one local measure too. You never want to ignore those, wherever you’re at!)

Basic information about Proposition 12 — “VETERANS’ BOND ACT OF 2008.”

(No sites for this one pro or anti, as I’ll explain.)

It’s somehow appropriate that after grinding my way through all these propositions that it wraps up with the one that’s the gentlest, if you like. Instead of high firepower blasts back and forth and millions of dollars of donations and more besides, we’ve got something where pretty much everyone agrees on it.

The Cal-Vet Home Loans program, started in the wake of World War I and still going, has at its base a simple, quite thoughtful approach — if you’re a California resident who’s served in the military, this program helps you with the purchase of a house or similar property. Further, while it’s a bond issue, it’s one where the payments are made not by the state but by the participants in the program — a pretty smart setup.

As you can see in the overall page for this, there is an anti argument as well as a pro, but it seems to be just this one fellow with objections that don’t strike me as that strong. This is essentially just a renewal of something already going, and in a time where folks are all that much more concerned about money, real estate and the like, this seems all the more logical to have around.

And, of course, I’ve got a special connection to military veterans, thanks to my family. So the rest follows. This one’s a slam dunk, and it’s nice to end this series on a positive note.

A happy YES.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 11

Basic information about Proposition 11 — “REDISTRICTING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

Oh BOY do I love deep arguments over redistricting.

Ha.

The thing about redistricting is that it’s one of those key things that has slowly but surely evolved in the course of American political life that is both essential and imperfect. Weird thing, I kinda like it that way.

Partially this derives from the fact that it was America which gave the world the term for shenanigans involving electoral redistricting — gerrymandering, one of those beautiful neologisms that held on over the years. Wikipedia’s entry provides a good enough overview for a casual reader but there’s more out there — this, however, is the legendary illustration of the principle at work, where a district was rather curiously drawn, specifically to favor the political party in charge of such things at the time:

The gerrymander!

It’s probably one of the key political cartoons in American history pre-Thomas Nast, and still relevant today — there are crazily drawn districts everywhere. Texas, notably, has some wacky ones, especially after the last redrawing (which occurs every ten years following the Census). For instance:

Wacky times in Texas

But they’re all around.

Now it may sound flippant on my part to talk about stuff like this in a light tone, I realize. It’s serious stuff, and I’ve no doubt Texas friends of mine are still smarting over the last redistricting, for good reason. Still, some part of me recognizes that perfection is impossible, and that these kind of games will continue in one way or another so long as the process and society continues.

Thus Prop 11, which is one of many attempts to try and make the process of redistricting fair — or at least it’s claimed. Problem is that it makes a complicated process even MORE complicated, and I’m not sure that’s the best approach. The idea of setting up redistricting commissions with set seats for the two major political parties for all time…well, frankly, no. Things can still change, after all, and that limitation alone is enough for me to think this is an imperfect solution to a continuing problem. So no, not this time. Maybe never. But I wouldn’t be surprised if never arrives, stranger has happened — as we can see nationally, after all.

Anyway, an ‘eh…shrug’ NO.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 10

Basic information about Proposition 10 — “ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES AND RENEWABLE ENERGY. BONDS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

From one billionaire sponsor of a proposition to another — but T. Boone Pickens works in different realms than Henry Nicholas III, thankfully.

On the face of it it’s almost like I’m getting past propositions reheated up at this point — alternative energy! transportation issues! bonds! So there’s something that feels a bit deadening right about now — maybe I’d feel differently approaching it if I had looked at it first of the twelve, I’m not sure.

A friend of mine put it to me this way, though:

i think that while undoubtedly SOME money will go into t. boone’s pocket, it could be a small price to pay for millions of dollars in research, subsidies for end-users, etc. right now i’m a “yes” voter, but i wish there was a “yes, but…” option.

I’m with that, but from a different angle, namely my current concern about bonds and budget and less the lining of T. Boone’s wallet. As it stands, I see nothing about his general approach that is somehow self-contradictory, as has been alleged — if someone who has grown rich off a resource is thinking, “Hmm, looks like it’s time to diversify for the long term,” then why be surprised if he tries to do so and seeks to swing public opinion his way? Whether or not you like that approach, of course, is another matter.

Ultimately, I’m deciding on this one the same way I’m deciding on 1 — while I’m not entirely thrilled with it all, I do think there is some sort of sense in investing for the future here, and this has more potential and interest to me. Further, there doesn’t seem to be the internecine environmental warfare going on here than with 7, at least on first blush.

A conditional but ultimately hopeful YES.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 9

Basic information about Proposition 9 — “CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. VICTIMS’ RIGHTS. PAROLE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

As the election draws nearer and as I, frankly, feel a bit more tired, I admit I’m not as inclined to give these last few propositions as good a going over as they deserve. Which they do deserve, don’t get me wrong — but there’s almost a tendency to fully drift into autopilot at this point, and I can’t imagine I’m not alone. I think a lot of people aren’t so much waiting to get to Election Day but the day *after* Election Day.

So that said, this reflection on Prop 9, and the three remaining propositions to follow, will be somewhat swift — in this case, Prop 9 tackles one of those endless issues, crime and punishment. Having already suggested no votes for both 5 and 6, I’m pretty much inclined to go that route 9 as well.

Part of the reason why, I admit, is somewhat perverse — namely, the identity of the man who sponsored it (as well as 6, I now realize, which is even more hilarious in retrospect). Former Broadcom head Henry Nicholas III is, as they put it, a character — which is a kind way of noting that a guy who has been arrested for various drug, fraud and sex charges seems like an unlikely person to be sponsoring a victims’ rights law. But hey, that’s life for you.

That said, his reasons are deeply felt — his sister was murdered by an ex-boyfriend of hers back in the early eighties, and whatever else he’s done himself, anyone who couldn’t think that he has reasons to feel outraged still after all these years has a heart of stone. Yet I tend to agree more with the people arguing against 9 as this sounding like gilding the lily, and like 6 relying on emotion overriding more practical considerations. It’s a rhetorical difference, I admit, but in reviewing the arguments and rebuttals on the official site for the proposition, the fact that the no forces took a very cool, level headed line against the ALL CAPS APPROACH was appreciated.

But rhetoric isn’t enough, of course. In the end, this strikes me, especially in the wake of problematic laws like the Three Strikes effort, as overreaction, a focus that is so driven one way only that it introduces more problems than it solves. And, once again, it places demands on a state budget at just the wrong time in its fiscal history.

A flat NO.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 8

Basic information about Proposition 8 — “ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

The big one.

I could say a lot. But a few months back, after the California Supreme Court decision, I already said a few things, and to avoid repeating myself, I will leave it at quoting myself twice. First, as I linked in that piece in May, a reminder of my overall political thoughts, specifically this:

…if, as I’ve said before, the American experience is an experiment that has never been guaranteed of success, then my feeling at heart is that I vote and act to ensure that the least possible damage is done on the widest possible scale, no matter how many decades certain standards have been in play (and often precisely because those standards have been in play — it is still less than a hundred years since something seemingly so patently obvious now, the right for women to vote, was confirmed nationwide). Things must be done to improve the general lot, of that I have a firm belief — even as I feel one must be rigorous in ensuring those actions done to improve it are carried out to the best possibility there is.

I then added this in May:

I see this as the continuing experiment at work, and as I tried to note in my comment on women’s suffrage, we have been down this road before, where something seemingly inconceivable became standard. Legalizing gay marriage improves the general lot by further extending the principle of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ to all — as the complexity of society is more and more recognized, then that means that extension must be further applied to the full. I think this principle as applied to this issue is going to be further recognized and understood with time. Fully accepted by all? I do not foresee that in the slightest, but I do not see the clock being turned back — as I read briefly in a story somewhere over the last few days, if you had asked the question of gay marriage in, say, 1960, the idea would have barely made any sense to anyone whatsoever. By 2060, by and large, people will wonder what the fuss was about.

Perhaps I was too optimistic at the time I wrote that. Nonetheless, my conclusions remain as they are.

I vote a simple, flat NO.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 7

Basic information about Proposition 7 — “RENEWABLE ENERGY GENERATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

Okay, first off — I have to admit to a raging headache this morning. So this is not going to be much of an in-depth discussion.

However, part of the problem is that this is yet another huge proposition covering a lot of ground, tackling everything from governmental regulation to predictions in the energy market, and therefore trying to concentrate on its various facets would be hard under the best of circumstances, admittedly.

On the face of it, anything acknowledging future problems in maintaining energy standards and encouraging use of renewable standards is a good thing. However, there’s a large push against 7 from a variety of clean-energy supporters and groups, and I figure where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Further complicating matters, however, are the responses from other groups accusing *those* groups of being sellouts…and down the rabbit hole we go. (I was considering linking to a variety of arguments and comments to illustrate all this, but my headache was bad enough as it was.)

Two things, however, stood out in the official analysis which made me wonder a bit about the effaciousness of this proposition. To quote:

In its findings and declarations, the measure states that, in the “short term,” California’s investment in solar and clean energy (which would include the implementation of the measure) will result in no more than a 3-percent increase in electricity rates for consumers. However, the measure includes no specific provisions to implement or enforce this declaration.

In the long run, there are factors that may be affected by the measure that have the potential either to increase or to decrease electricity rates from what they otherwise would be. For example, to the extent that the measure advances development of renewable energy resources in a manner that lowers their costs, electricity customers might experience longer-term savings. On the other hand, the same cost factors that could lead to short-term electricity rates that are higher might also lead to higher long-run electricity rates. To the extent that the measure requires electricity providers to acquire more costly electricity than they otherwise would, they will experience longer-term cost increases. It is unknown whether, on balance, factors that could increase electricity rates over the long term will outweigh those that could decrease electricity rates over the long term. Therefore, the long-term effect of the measure on government costs is unknown.

It has to be acknowledged that, after all, not every measure’s full impact can truly be judged until it is passed and enforced. Still, it’s these sorts of variables that make me wonder about the proposition, much more so than who is supporting it or which person is a shill and which isn’t. The fact that energy companies are against 7 is somewhat troubling — it’s also noteworthy that both the Democratic and Republican parties are against it while the Green party is for it. But something about this feels an overpromised wish, a solution that is biting off more than it can chew. More’s the pity, given the subject of the measure.

I vote a ‘should have been better’ NO.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 6

Basic information about Proposition 6 — “POLICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNDING. CRIMINAL PENALTIES AND LAWS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

Not as lengthily complicated to digest as Proposition 5…but I’m not sure that helps much.

Prop 6 in ways addresses the same general area as Prop 5 but from a different angle. Rather than a focus on rehabilitation, Prop 6, from what I can best tell, is essentially a law-and-order approach — while rehabilitation is part of the measure, mostly it’s an expansion of funding for police forces and prisons, in combination with a review and changing of a variety of criminal penalties in matters of gang and violent crime, as well as creating new penalties.

And that alone gives me pause, frankly.

Trying to find the exact words for my unease is hard to put my finger on, though. I should note this now, though: I’ve long thought that some of the blanket condemnations of all law enforcement members out there are as problematic as those of members of the military, say — it does not allow for possibilities of change, of inclusion and of new approaches that reflect the best of this society, even as it would be utterly foolish to deny that problems can and do exist, individually as well as institutionally. (Hey, I live in OC — all I have to do is point to the example of Michael Carona, as I’ve done before.) I touched on this sense of promise briefly in this post last month regarding one of the victims of the Chatsworth crash, LAPD officer Spree DeSha:

Without wanting to make her a symbol — from what I can tell in the reports and memories that have been posted, she was a low-key and no-nonsense person and officer who would have been embarrassed by what she considered to be outsized attention — I think it is a sign of some sort of progress, quietly but ever onward, that full honors from the police, church and city were granted to someone who also just happened to be lesbian, and whose partner….also works for the LAPD as a full officer. This is as it should be. No further qualifiers are necessary.

Instead, the larger question in my mind revolves around two things — money (again, as always a larger matter in this election than ever before) and the scope of the new laws and more covered by this proposition. I am leery over the idea that this is biting off more than it can chew, as well as what appears to be an underlying supposition that the range of penalties regarding certain crimes should be expanded in combination with wanting to build more prison space. There is something cart-before-the-horse about this which I’m not sold on, and this is before taking into account the fact that fourteen year olds could be tried as adults or the expansion of what is considered ‘hearsay evidence,’ which opens up further cans of worms.

Ultimately, if both 5 and 6 are seeking to address an understandably troubling subject, crime, punishment and treatment, if 5 is the right idea at the wrong time, 6 just seems like a wrong idea in general, expensive and with possibly unintentional consequences, with too much tied up in it all that deserves more individual consideration instead. Not good.

A simple NO.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 5

Basic information about Proposition 5 — “NONVIOLENT DRUG OFFENSES. SENTENCING, PAROLE AND REHABILITATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

––

So far I’ve done my best to read and review the propositions in great detail, if only because, even when my decision was already pretty clear to me, I wanted to make sure I knew as much as I could about each one. Something that affects the state constitution, after all, can’t be treated lightly.

Then I reached Proposition 5. Yikes.

If you read the official analysis in full…I freely admit, you’re a better person than I. This is something so wide-ranging in potential scope that I think you can only do it in bursts, and my eyes keep glazing over a bit as I try to concentrate on it.

This is a pity, though, because the issue is an excellent one to concentrate on — namely, how we judge and grapple with drug convictions, as well as look to questions of rehabilitation. It’s one of those issues that I can remember thinking about for at least twenty years now without pretending it’s been something to the forefront of my mind much — it’s always seemed removed to me, whereas for many people, whether as victim or prisoner or friend or relative or more, it’s a deeply felt situation.

In ways, the argument for 5 is similar to the argument for 1 — an investment for the future, in the hopes of improvement and a better deal for everyone all around. This is very emotionally appealing to me, since while it pitches things on a very broad scope it has a resonance. At the same time, there appears to be enough room for individual discretion on the part of many authorities in this proposed new system that there can be a necessary flexibility instead of a hard-and-fast holding to one policy or another.

The key argument against 5 for me comes back to something that I’ve been talking about already, namely questions of finance. 5, I think rather happily, does not involve bond issues of any sort, but it does involve what appears to be a huge commitment of fixed budget funding on state and local levels. Right now, I think, just isn’t the historical moment for such a commitment on top of everything else going on. Ten years ago, perhaps — perhaps ten years in the future, who knows. Now, though?

In summary, a quandary. I think the importance of rehabilitation, of recognition that the idea of punishment is something that is rarely meant to be a full ‘life sentence’ in the broad sense — how many times has the ‘lock ’em up, throw away the key’ canard been invoked over the years? — cannot be understated, and I also think there needs to be at base a better sense of drug law in particular. I don’t know if Proposition 5 is fully the right solution, though it has aspects of interest. But I do think, with admitted regret, that it’s the wrong time — there may never be a right one, I realize. But there can be a better one.

A hesitant NO, in the hopes that something more practical may be suggested soon instead.

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