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Archives for Gay Marriage

San Francisco Values


My local newspaper carried a banner headline Friday, informing me that “San Francisco values” were the new dirty word of politics. I guess it’s the new code, designed to scare all those people who will choke on the phrase “Madam Speaker” when they address the woman who might run the U.S. House of Representatives.
That’s not exactly surprising. For some folks it’s better to have a dumb man in the job than a smart, er, competent woman. That’s business as usual, regardless of where you live or what you do for a living. Of course, there’s an undertone of homophobia here that’s delicately unspoken, given the current headlines. Former Republican Congressman Mark Foley lives in Florida and Karl Rove confidant Ted Haggard was pastor of a Colorado church and, gosh darn, we can’t have them in Washington.
The headline popped up the same day I got mail from a non-resident of this city – one of those guys who probably buys into the “San Francisco” value stuff – and provided a nice contrast between my so-called lack of moral values and the writers’. Generally, I ignore this sort of stuff but the timing on this was too good to let pass.
First off, this guy calls me “Mr. Nolan.” When I pointed out that I’m not a man (and even though I live in San Francisco, have no plans to become one) he wrote to tell me that he “made an assumption based on the limited information available (your first name).” Well, there’s plenty of evidence on this site that I’m not a man. Score one on the side of the curious.
This dude, let’s call him “Mr. Jersey” ’cause that’s where he’s from and, honestly, I don’t want to embarrass the man – I just want, on this election day, to ridicule him and everything he stands for – was writing to chastise me for my views on stem cell research. He was writing – this week – about a piece I wrote in May, 2005, calling President George Bush’s stand on federal funding of such research, short-sighted.
Okay. So he’s also slow. But here’s the real kicker. He says he’s in favor of adult stem cell research because that’s being conducted by doctors, not biologist. “Who would you rather be working with human tissue, a person who studied the human body & problems specifically, or someone who studied them generally?” Mr. Jersey asks.
Hello? Is this the question: Would I rather have my nice, caring family doctor (Hi Marilyn!) using her spare time – she can run an hour late for a basic check-up – doing research on diseases because she sees live human bodies and treats them? Or would I rather have that work done by a Phd molecular biologist, trained in scientific protocols, steeped in research, funded by the taxpayers of largest economy in the world, working in a state-of-the art lab with all the resources he or she could need to do their work?
Hmmm. This is tough. You know, I like my GP – she’s smart. But, smart as she is, she doesn’t always know what’s wrong with me (yeah, I know…rim shot). That’s why she, on occasion, refers me to specialists. The specialist I saw this summer does research but, whattaya know, he’s at a hospital here in San Francisco awash in federal grant money. And its federal money that comes with, as this page demonstrates, federal oversight and regulation – the very reason I think embyronic stem cell research should be funded by the federal government.
It gets better so I’ll let Mr. Jersey speak for himself.


Posted by Chris Nolan at 5:15 AM | Permalink

Voting Early and Often


Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal contained a story that goes a long way to explaining why George Bush and Karl Rove have a spring in their step going into next Tuesday elections.The story talked about “absentee” ballots and advance voting and how Republicans have pulled more ballots in advance of the election than Democrats.
Long-time readers of this here website know this trick. It’s what got Gavin Newsom elected mayor of San Francisco. And it is – with the advent of Internet-based voting – the balloting wave of the future.
In 2003, Newsom’s campaign organizers – well funded and determined to “take back” city hall for moderates and the business community – used California’s absentee balloting system to register voters, get them to vote well ahead of election day and return those ballots to the polls. It was almost impossible to attend any large-scale Newsom event without someone asking you if you were registered (and giving you the paperwork then and there to do so) or asking you if you’d like to cast an absentee ballot (and giving you the paperwork then and there).
Jim Ross who was Newsom’s organizer during the election, even wrote about the strategy.


Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:57 AM | Permalink

Trying Hard


I am trying hard to get excited about the idea of Rep. Nancy Pelosi – my very own Congress person – being Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. A woman third in line to the presidency! It’s my feminist dream-come-true.
Ya gotta admire Pelosi’s staying power. And her career path as a working mother. A life-long politician – Pelosi’s dad, Tommy D’Alesandro was the mayor of Balwmer, Merlin. Her brother, also Tommy and also a Bawlmer mayor – went to college with my Dad. So for me, there’s something nice about that slight Balwmer accent, hon, in Pelosi’s speech patterns. It’s not sound-bite as usual. And it should go without saying that, Pelosi’s worked hard enough and long enough in the trenches to get the job. And, yes, of course, her high profile role will make it a lot easier to folks to start thinking about the possibility of a woman in the White House.
But, still, every time I try to think about Democrats running the House of Representative, I sigh.
Part of the problem is I’m not sure they’re gonna get the job done and actually take the House. Yes, yes, I know. Polls show Republicans in tighter-than expected races and there are more of those races than anyone expected. The Republican party is at war with itself. Conservatives and evangelicals are staying home. The war in Iraq has taken a toll on the nation’s patience not to mention changed hearts and minds in those areas – Ohio, Kentucky, parts of Pennsylvania, much of the south – where the economic draft has cost men and women lives and limb. Factories in the upper MidWest – many of them places like Ohio where the Republicans did well two years ago – are shutting down. For many of these voters, it is time for a change. That’s good for the Democrats but, sad to say, it’s not true nationally.
House races arem more han anything, local races. For all the wailing and moaning out there about Congressional corruption, the war and President Bush’s honesty or proud lack thereof, it’s local issues – economics foremost – that determine how folks behave in the ballot box. Often local politics – stuff we don’t hear about ’cause it doesn’t carry national interest – determines who wins or loses. On top of that, Congressional districts are drawn to keep the folks who hold those seats in those seat. So while the Democrats might do well, there’s no guaranteed they’ll get to claim victory.
Besides, there’s plenty of evidence that voters can parse out the Democratic Party rhetoric. That’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger is romping to victory instead of being dragged down – as his unimaginative Democratic challenger Phil Angelides would like – by his close association two years ago with the Republican Party and President Bush. It’s also, by the way, why Sen. Joe Lieberman is going to get re-elected. And it’s why the Democrats may well take the Senate, where there are lots of new candidates, some with new ideas.
Even if I’m wrong, I’m still not sure that’s a good thing to see Pelosi running the House. Yeah, I know, she keep the troops in line. And yeah, it’s high time someone did. But, I’m one of those old codgers who remembers the waning days of Democratic control of the House and Senate way back in 1994. And well, I gotta tell you, it wasn’t anything to get excited about. What’s worse, some of the same geezers who ran the show all those years ago have been hanging around Capitol Hill for 10 years waiting to get back in power. That’s not what you’d call a healthy situation. Can you imagine hanging around in a job for 10 years waiting to get promoted?


Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:19 PM | Permalink

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