Berkeley's Conservative Voice

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Free Market Environmentalism

The Daily Caller just printed an op-ed of mine describing a controversial idea: that humans will never run out of resources. That thesis is conditional, however, on a free market, with defined and enforced property rights. Check it out!

If you're in the mood for a giggle, you might also take a peek at the comments following the article. My personal favorite is "Carbon tax? I’m all for it. Internalizes the damage of CO2 emissions, let the free market do the rest." Apparently the typical environmentalist didn't get the message: taxes are the very kinds of economic distortions that 1) reduce freedom, and 2) impede the efficient functioning of markets. Carbon taxes are antithetical to a free market.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Equality Strikes Again

Just this afternoon, Chancellor Birgeneau e-mailed UC Berkeley's staff, students, and alumni to announce the administration's plan for a "sustainable financial future". Citing rising athletics program costs, he described a new fiscal plan that would reduce athletics funding by about 60% by 2014 and reducing the number of Intercollegiate Sports to 24, from 29. On the chopping block are lacrosse (women's), rugby (men's), gymnastics (men's and women's), and the timeless American pastime, baseball (men's). He commented only that rugby was a club sport at Cal until the early '90s - something of a cold comfort to the rugby team, and no consolation whatsoever to the others:

"This will allow rugby to compete at and maintain the same high level of national and international excellence which it currently enjoys while becoming self-sustaining. We are working through the details of this transition. These complex decisions also take into account the requirements of Title IX and of our ability to provide our student athletes with the support programs and facilities that they need to succeed and excel on and off the field."

A few thoughts come immediately to mind. Why these five, especially baseball? If rugby can not only survive, but excel, in a "self-sustaining" environment, why can't the more heavily subsidized football?

But perhaps more importantly, note the vacuous reference to Title IX, presented in typical Birgeneau fashion. As usual, he implies a problem while avoiding anything that might be construed as politically incorrect. So we'll do what he won't and just say it: the elimination of baseball and rugby is at least in part due to Title IX, proving once again that when government tries to make things fair, the unintended consequence of the policy is simply to make everyone worse off.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Starcraft DECal

Over at The Politicizer, I recount some memories of the Starcraft DECal offered at Cal in 2009. The article describes what was taught in the class, and - surprise! - it wasn't all fun and games. Those with an interest in economics or education should check it out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bearcardo Watch - ASUC In your Bedroom

It's been a while since we've had an installment of bearcardo watch. Perhaps you may have started to think that all this blog's concerns about him using his office for radical causes were overblown.

Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.

Indeed, we now have confirmation, by way of the September 1 Senate meeting (reported just now because the Senate's meeting minutes take forever to produce because they last so long) that bearcardo has not only been using his office to promote radical beliefs, he's been using your money. From the minutes:

Mr. McLeod said he wanted to thank Mr. Gomez for his work against the cyber university. He asked about the Disorientation Guide, how the distribution went and how much it cost. Mr. Gomez said they had 3,200 copies and it cost $1,300 to print them. They brought together campus constituencies, students, workers, alumni, and faculty to help. The copies went really quickly and the reaction has been good. If there's enough demand, they'll probably do it again in the spring. The Web site received 4,500 hits in the last few days. In comparison, it costs about $1,600 to send seven people to a UCSA conference. The Guide cost $1,300 and went to thousands of students. Mr. Gomez said a goal of his office was to find cost effective ways to engage students and have them ask questions and come up with solutions.


And what is this "disorientation guide?" At the risk of inflating Mr. Gomez's traffic levels and thus his ego a little bit more, check out the web version.

Most of it is the predictable revolutionary garbage we talked about in the first installment. But there is one article in particular that is interesting for a completely different reason. And remember, this was printed and distributed to thousands of students using MANDATORY student fees (warning, not PG-13 - or R for that matter):

If I had the power to give you a homework assignment, I’d ask you to partake in some weird sex, either by yourself, with a partner or more, or vicariously over the internet. But alas I have no such power. The thing is: weird sex tends to feel really good and be enjoyable on an mental level as well. So try something new. If you’re nervous to try with a partner, try it on yourself when you get a spare moment alone. Also, if weird sex to you means fantasizing or masturbation, you’re not the only one. It’s not a race to be hardcore the quickest, it’s about having the most pleasurable journey possible.

Uh, thanks Ricardo? I'm sure this is exactly the kind of service to the student body the founders of the ASUC had in mind when they created it in 1887. But wait, there's more. Apparently your ASUC sponsored bedroom fun need not be restricted to one person (no word on whether it is also ADA accessible):

Q: Does having several lovers make things more complicated?

A: In all honesty, I think that if it’s not complicated, you’re doing it wrong. Luckily, complicated does not necessarily equal dramatic, so long as people can be open-minded, communicative, understanding and patient. This of course is not always possible.

Q: Isn’t casual dating for young people who will grow up and settle down?

A: Not necessarily. There comes a point when the idea of a monogamous relationship just feels downright oppressive, and one would no sooner go back to that than to the dreadful years of middle school. People can sustain emotionally invested multiple relationships for years, longer than some marriages.

Look, I have no problem with talking about sex. The Daily Cal's Sex on Tuesday is totally fine. Even if this was a student group doing this as opposed to an ASUC official, I'd probably have no problem with this.

But it shouldn't be funded by mandatory student fees. If bearcardo and the rest of whomever he is working with want to publish a magazine, they should either raise the money themselves are at the very least go through the same ASUC application process as everyone else. I also don't see how this has ANYTHING to do with the mission of the External Affairs office. Even if you accept the position that the EAVP can use his office to advocate on behalf of anything he or she pleases, I fail to see his this accomplishes any change for the student body.

If you want to represent the students, you have to speak FOR them, not AT them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The good of the ASUC

As you might have noticed, I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the ASUC. On the other hand, I don't hate it. Indeed, it serves a very important purpose on campus by distributing funds for student groups. I have benefited personally from ASUC funds that have been invaluable to student groups I have been a part of. So I agree with its purpose.

However, there is a serious problem of lack of oversight in the ASUC. Once upon a time (3 years ago) there were several blogs that kept an eye on the ASUC from all over the ideological spectrum (Beetle, Cal Stuff, and the predecessor to this blog just name name a few). Before we relaunched this blog, there were zero. Granted the Daily Cal occasionally digs stuff up, but they rely on the ASUC to lower their rent and thus are fundamentally not independent. As a result, the ASUC has felt that there has been no one watching their day to day activities and thus there have been some disturbing abuses of power over the past couple of years. So we are here not to villainize the ASUC but hopefully to keep them focused on their two main missions, distributing student activities funds and advocating for the student body on issues that affect us as a group (for example, fighting fee increases, not divesting from Israel).

In accordance, I wanted to take the time as the school year begins to highlight some individuals within the ASUC who are doing a good job and deserve a shout out. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Executive Vice President Nanxi Liu. The EVP's main job is presiding officer of the Senate. While time will tell whether we can avoid the 13 hour meets of the past couple of years, it appears Liu is serious about keeping the Senate running smoothly. She's posted several times already on the significantly under-viewed ASUC blog, which she has used to update the general student body about the happenings of the Senate. She hosted by what all accounts was a stellar orientation for the new senate, and sent them several homework assignments over the summer. So there will be no excuse the first time the Senate is caught breaking the by-laws.

Senators who have utilized the ASUC Blog: In the past few years, a big problem with the ASUC has been lack of transparency. The aforementioned ASUC elected officials blog, if it's actually used, should help to fix that. So far six senators - Alabastro, Del Rosso, Freeman, Goldstein, McLeod, and Montouth have posted in addition to Nanxi. The other 14 senators and four execs should get off their rear ends and write something to justify their titles.

Nad Permaul: The real power of the ASUC lies not with the president or the senate, but with the ASUC Auxiliary. Once upon a time this was not the case and students controlled virtually everything regarding student life, including the hiring and firing of the football coach (imagine how long that Senate meeting would take - the Senators would miss the next week of class). Like most quasi governmental organizations however, the student leadership eventually got into the habit of spending beyond its means and by 1997 ran up a huge debt to the university that it simply could not pay off (sound familiar California?). Instead of shutting down the place, the university administration was nice enough to let its operations continue under the new auxiliary organization, essentially a hybrid between the ASUC and the university.

For the past few years, the director of this organization has been Dr. Nad Permaul, also a poli sci and rhetoric lecturer. I've known Nad almost from the moment I set foot on campus two years ago. He cares deeply about the university and its students (he earned his bachelors, masters, AND Ph.D from Cal) but more importantly is an extremely capable administrator. In an association filled with partisan egomaniacs, he has risen above the fray and as the adult in the room has advocated what is in the best interest of the student body, not the vocal minority that seems to dominate the ASUC.

That's all for now, but there will be more to come.

Friday, September 3, 2010

PBS Visits ASUC Senate

According to a blog posting by Senator Elliot Goldstein, PBS was scheduled to visit the ASUC Senate meeting this week (don't know if they actually did or not) to get some film for a documentary. If it did happen, we are guessing a large purple dinosaur was in attendance - his show would be most appropriate for a showcase on the ASUC. Or maybe a big yellow bird. Indeed, ASUC could be the word of the day! A for Annoying, S for Spending (too much), U for Utopian worldviews, and C for Chaos!

In other news, said meeting apparently lasted over 6 hours. They aren't off to a good start. No word on whether Barney stayed till the end.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Did State Treasurer Bill Lockyer Lie to the Daily Cal?

Last night, California state Treasurer Bill Lockyer (Democrat) came back to his alma mater to talk about the budget crisis. In the midst of his visit, he sat down and talked with the Daily Cal. One of the questions was about what students who are having financial difficulties can do to improve their situation. The last part of his response is as follows:

The University of California needs to find a way to maximize aid to
students, and the students need to keep lobbying. Proposition 25, which is on
the November ballot, could also help students and parents, seeing as the budget could be determined by two-thirds of voters rather than the politicians


Proposition 25, for those that are unfamiliar, is a ballot measure in November's election that would lower the threshold to pass a budget to a majority instead of two thirds, thus ensuring one party rule in Sacramento. It is perhaps the most important "No" vote you should cast this year.

It is an utter mystery where Lockyer gets the claim that Prop 25 would empower the voters in any way. It also doesn't take power away from the politicians - indeed it gives power to them by allowing them to pass a budget without consulting their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. The only thing it does do is dock legislators' pay if the budget is late. It doesn't take any power away from them. Read the text for yourself. There is nothing there about giving power to voters or taking it away from politicians. Not even proponents try to claim it does. Lockyer's statement can't be defended as political spin - it simply has no factual basis at all.

Either the treasurer was ill informed (unlikely, in which case he needs to issue a correction), was misquoted by the Daily Cal (possible, yours truly has been misquoted by the DC not once but twice, but if this is the case then Lockyer needs to request a correction) or he is trying to mislead Cal students into voting for Prop. 25 based on false pretences. In any case, the treasurer owes us an explanation.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Public Employee Union Wins, People Suffer

As you may recall a few weeks ago AC Transit, our lovely bus provider, asked its highly paid employees to share in some of the sacrifices that we are all making in this tough economy. They said no, and eventually a judge let them have their way. Keep in mind that the average BUS DRIVER gets paid $98,800 in pay and benefits BEFORE overtime just for the privilege of scowling at you when you board their bus.

So it's natural that in a time like this these drivers would be asked to sacrifice. Unfortunately the Amalgamated Transit Union, which also represents the BART employees who came within hours of stranding riders list year over a refusal to help that agency with its budget crisis, has refused to put in its fair share. So now riders will suffer, with many lines being cut and overnight service facing near elimination.

It's another example of public employee unions getting their way at the expense of the public they serve.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paging Protesters

This morning's Daily Cal has a story about the ASUC teaming up with Kaplan to sponsor lectures notes and green books. Sounds good - good for Kaplan, good for the ASUC.

BUT it's a private company, which of course means it must be evil. So I'm soliciting guesses, how long before someone starts a facebook group, "Stop the Privitization of the ASUC - Say no to Kaplan!" My over/under is 6pm tonight. And I'll further guess that it's started by someone in the ASUC, either a CalSERVE or Cooperative Movement senator or our lovely EAVP.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Check out this video from the ASUC Auxillary narrated by president Noah Stern. Fast forward to about 3:30. See if you can find the error.

If you guessed the claim about students paying $27.50 per year for the ASUC, you are a winner! That's actually per semester. And if you count the fee tacked on for Lower Sproul redevelopment, essentially for the sole benifit of the ASUC, you are really paying $135 per year for your student government.

Do you get $135 worth each year? It kind of makes you miss high school ASB. At least that was voluntary.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Your Professors Can be Wrong

This seems like a good post for all the new students entering Cal this week. After walking to your first 700 person class and discovering that your professor is a genius, you might be tempted to take his (or her) word as gospel. Don’t. While their arguments may sound irrefutable (and sometimes they are), occasionally they will be just as fallible as your average argument. You just have to dig through the high rhetoric to get there.

Consider this post by UC Berkeley Public Policy Professor Michael O’Hare. The jist of it is that because Californians refuse to pay higher taxes, students are being cheated. It has been widely circulated on Facebook and was even reposted by UC President Mark Yudof. It sounds great, but once broken down is highly questionable.

Welcome to Berkeley, probably still the best public university in the world.
Meet your classmates, the best group of partners you can find anywhere. The
percentages for grades on exams, papers, etc. in my courses always add up to
110% because that’s what I’ve learned to expect from you, over twenty years in
the best job in the world.

Ok, that’s probably true, I can get behind that. Go Bears! But wait…

That’s the good news. The bad news is that you have been the victims of
a terrible swindle, denied an inheritance you deserve by contract and by your
merits. And you aren’t the only ones; victims of this ripoff include the
students who were on your left and on your right in high school but didn’t get
into Cal, a whole generation stiffed by mine. This letter is an apology, and
more usefully, perhaps a signal to start demanding what’s been taken from you so
you can pass it on with interest.

I’ve been swindled? Allright, pitchforks at the ready, now go on!

Swindle – what happened? Well, before you were born, Californians now dead
or in nursing homes made a remarkable deal with the future. (Not from
California? Keep reading, lots of this applies to you, with variations.) They
agreed to invest money they could have spent on bigger houses, vacations,
clothes, and cars into the world’s greatest educational system, and into
building and operating water systems, roads, parks, and other public facilities,
an infrastructure that was the envy of the world. They didn’t get everything
right: too much highway and not enough public transportation. But they did a
pretty good job.

Young people who enjoyed these ‘loans’ grew up smarter, healthier, and
richer than they otherwise would have, and understood that they were supposed to
“pay it forward” to future generations, for example by keeping the educational
system staffed with lots of dedicated, well-trained teachers, in good buildings
and in small classes, with college counselors and up-to-date books. California
schools had physical education, art for everyone, music and theater, buildings
that looked as though people cared about them, modern languages and ancient
languages, advanced science courses with labs where the equipment worked, and
more. They were the envy of the world, and they paid off better than Microsoft
stock. Same with our parks, coastal zone protection, and social services.

This deal held until about thirty years ago, when for a variety of
reasons, California voters realized that while they had done very well from the
existing contract, they could do even better by walking away from their
obligations and spending what they had inherited on themselves. “My kids are
finished with school; why should I pay taxes for someone else’s? Posterity never
did anything for me!” An army of fake ‘leaders’ sprang up to pull the moral and
fiscal wool over their eyes, and again and again, your parents and their parents
lashed out at government (as though there were something else that could replace
it) with tax limits, term limits, safe districts, throw-away-the-key
imprisonment no matter the cost, smoke-and-mirrors budgeting, and a rule never
to use the words taxes and services in the same paragraph.

Wait, I’ve been swindled because I didn’t get what my parents got? So if, hypothetically, my grandparents were really rich and bought my father a Mercedes when he turned 16 and if I didn’t get one when I turned 16 then I was swindled? Even if my not as rich parents couldn’t afford it? But go on…

Now, your infrastructure is falling to pieces under your feet, and as citizens
you are responsible for crudities like closing parks, and inhumanities like
closing battered women’s shelters. It’s outrageous, inexcusable, that you can’t
get into the courses you need, but much worse that Oakland police have stopped
taking 911 calls for burglaries and runaway children. If you read what your
elected officials say about the state today, you’ll see things like “California
can’t afford” this or that basic government function, and that “we need to make
hard choices” to shut down one or another public service, or starve it even more
(like your university). Can’t afford? The budget deficit that’s paralyzing
Sacramento is about $500 per person; add another $500 to get back to a public
sector we don’t have to be ashamed of, and our average income is almost forty
times that. Of course we can afford a government that actually works: the fact
is that your parents have simply chosen not to have it.

Yeah old folk pay yer $500 you greedy SOBs! Never mind that about half of you are either children, on welfare, unemployed, or otherwise would never be able pay $500 more per year. So it’s actually at least $1000 per taxpayer, or $2000 per two adult household. Of course, when we take that $2000 from them the first thing they will stop spending it on is discretionary expenditures, most of which are taxable. So when you factor that the economic loss will make the deficit even worse, you are probably looking at (guesstimating) around $3000 per family, to say nothing of the deficits that local governments, most of which rely heavily on sales taxes, would still have. But still, pennies!

I’m writing this to you because you are the victims of this enormous cheat
(though your children will be even worse off if you don’t take charge of this
ship and steer it). Your education was trashed as California fell to the bottom
of US states in school spending, and the art classes, AP courses, physical
education, working toilets, and teaching generally went by the board. Every year
I come upon more and more of you who have obviously never had the chance to
learn to write plain, clear, English. Every year, fewer and fewer of you read
newspapers, speak a foreign language, understand the basics of how government
and business actually work, or have the energy to push back intellectually
against me or against each other. Or know enough about history, literature, and
science to do it effectively! You spent your school years with teachers paid
less and less, trained worse and worse, loaded up with more and more mindless
administrative duties, and given less and less real support from administrators
and staff.

Because $8564 is less than $7047, obviously.

Many of your parents took a hike as well, somehow getting the idea that the
schools had taken over their duties to keep you learning, or so beat-up working
two jobs each and commuting two hours a day to put food on the table that they
couldn’t be there for you. A quarter of your classmates didn’t finish high
school, discouraged and defeated; but they didn’t leave the planet, even if you
don’t run into them in the gated community you will be tempted to hide out in.
They have to eat just like you, and they aren’t equipped to do their share of
the work, so you will have to support them.

True, though increasing their taxes by $3000 a year isn’t going to help their situation.

You need to have a very tough talk with your parents, who are still voting;
you can’t save your children by yourselves. Equally important, you need to start
talking to each other. It’s not fair, and you have every reason (except a good
one) to keep what you can for yourselves with another couple of decades of
mean-spirited tax-cutting and public sector decline. You’re my heroes just for
surviving what we put you through and making it into my classroom, but I’m
asking for more: you can be better than my generation. Take back your state for
your kids and start the contract again. There are lots of places you can start,
for example, building a transportation system that won’t enslave you for two
decades as their chauffeur, instead of raising fares and cutting routes in a
deadly helix of mediocrity. Lots. Get to work. See you in class!

See you in class indeed. You have a lot of learning to do yourself professor.

The point here is not to rag on Professor O’Hare. Indeed, I happen to agree with him that the state’s education system is broken, but it is because of money being spent ineffectively, not a lack of it. See my last post for an example. I’m sure there are conservative professors who have made just as bad assertations. The bottom line is that even though your professors are the smartest people in the world (literally) they can still make bad arguments.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where the Protests Should Be

Forget occupying Berkeley or the freeway, someone should occupy this new public school in LA. It was built - in the midst of teacher layoffs and the financial crisis - for the bargin price of $578 - million. For comparison, that's about 2% of the state's annual budget for K-12 education.

Exhibit number one of why you shouldn't believe anyone who tells you we have gotten rid of all the wasteful spending in California. Also exhibit A for why we don't need higher taxes, just smarter spending.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nanny State Wins

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the controversy concerning the completely voluntary and anonymous DNA sampling offered to incoming freshman. Well, today the state Department of Public Health put an end to the project. Apparently they were concerned freshmen might misinterpret the results.

Of course, they could have simply required the school to put a disclaimer on the results advising not to take the results as a medical diagnosis. But that wasn't enough for the nanny state. Nope, citizens, including the best and brightest who are admitted to Cal, aren't responsible enough to make their own decisions. So instead, no one gets to see the results, even if they want to.

Thank you government.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bearcardo Watch - Free Speech Only for Me

As you may recall, a couple of weeks ago we brought you the first installment of what I fear will be an ongoing series, Bearcardo Watch (not becasue we are after the guy but because he keeps giving us easy material).

As you may recall, Bearcardo is a self proclaimed radical who got himself elected External Affairs Vice President of the ASUC. Like most radicals, he believes in free speech, even if that speech interfeers with the rights of others. He has posted in support of those who occupied Wheeler Hall last spring and has complained that the university actually has a plan to deal with civil disobedience, as if there is no difference between that and lawful demonstration. He's the ultimate free speech advocate.

Or at least I thought until I recieved an invitation to this Facebook event. It is from George Beier, a candidate for Berkeley City Council. It isn't an event so much as an event within an event - he plans to meet with and register students to vote at the annual Calapalooza festival.

Scrolling down the page, Bearcardo apparently has other ideas:


I'm Ricardo Gomez, the External Affairs Vice President of the
ASUC. I appreciate that you want to engage with students at Cal. I was one of
the people in charge of voter reg in 2008 when we registered over 10,000
students on campus and the EAVP voter registration team will be registering
students as it always does a...t welcome week events. Calapalooza is a space for
students to connect to other student groups. As one of the primary points of
contact on campus in regards to both voter registration and public officials, I
don't know if it is appropriate for candidates to register students to vote at
an event that is uniquely student-to-student, and I strongly urge you to
consider different ways of engaging with students.
Uh-oh, looks like someone feel off the free speech wagon.

Seriously, how can Ricardo Gomez object to a candidate walking around and talking to students during a public event? Especially after apparently having no problem with students taking over buildings and doing things that are actually destructive? Is Calapalooza an adult free zone? What could prompt such a sudden turn against the first amendment?

It couldn't possibly have anything to do with Bearcardo's outspoken support of Mr. Beier's opponent, could it?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Same Sex Marriage Ban - Time to Give it Up

If you've been under a rock today, you might not know that a federal judge in San Francisco issued an opinion finding California's same sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The ruling itself is fairly inconsequential as it has been stayed and is expected to be appealed all the way up to the US Supreme Court.

To be clear, I don't agree with the ruling. I don't think that the right to have the label marriage applied to a relationship, especially when domestic partnership rights are almost a mirror of marriage rights, trumps the right of the people to decide how to govern their state. That said, I do believe it is time for conservatives to move on.

In the end it comes down to a simple issue: Is there any harm caused by allowing same sex couples to marry? Not is it right or wrong, but does it cause any harm? After years of gay marriage being legal in several other states (and for a few months in our own) I think we can generally say the answer is no. There may be some technical issues to work out - like making sure no entity is forced to perform such marriages, for example - but that can be done easily by statute and does not necessitate banning same sex unions alltogether.

There is great harm being done to the conservative movement, however. Young people who generally support same sex marriage rights are refusing to vote for candidates becasue of their position on this one issue. I have spoken personally with many of them. They may support our opposition to higher taxes, efforts to streamline government and create jobs, and even right to life stance but simply cannot vote for our candidates because they see opposition to same sex marriage as discriminatory and irrational. Although there are no studies on this subject, my guess is that we lose 5-10% of the youth vote based on this one issue, enough to swing some elections (and even more as those youth get older and vote more).

So it comes down to this, what do we value more? Keeping the word marriage from being applied to same sex relationship or moving our country forward? For better or worse, they do seem to be mutually exclusive.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jerry Brown Slapped by CA Supreme Court

The California State Supreme Court yesturday rejected a frivillous challenge to California's landmark anti-Affirmative Action law by a 6-1 margin. As the constitutional officer tasked with defending the state's interests in court, you might expect Attorney General and Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown to be pleased with the decision. But Brown was on the other side, against the people's vote:

The city's argument was that Prop. 209 stacks the deck against minorities and women by passing restrictions that can be dislodged only by another ballot measure, while groups like veterans and local businesses remain free to lobby
lawmakers for preferential treatment.

Attorney General Jerry Brown endorsed the argument, saying in a court filing that Prop. 209 fosters the discrimination it was supposed to eliminate. But the justices were unpersuaded.

This marks at least the second time that Attorney General Brown has gone against the will of the voters. He endorsed a challenge to Proposition 8 in 2009, after previously saying he would defend the people's vote. In that case as well, his opinion was rejected by the court.

Fortunately, even without the Attorney General's cooperation, these measures have been defended by other entities. However, that might not be the case if he is elected governor. The governor has a great deal of power to affect litigation involving the state. The 1994 Proposition 187 was never implememnted not because of a federal court ruling, but becasue then Governor Gray Davis refused to appeal. As governor, Brown could kill ballot measures he disagrees with simply by refusing the defend them in court. Given his actions as Attorney General, that seems like a very real possibility.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Keith Carson is a Racist

So I was reading the Old York Times over the weekend when I came to an article about the upcoming downfall of Oakland mayor Ron Dellums and the upcoming battle to see which ultra liberal will replace him. Buried towards the bottom is this quote from Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, who unfortunately also represents Berkeley:

“As an African-American, I’d like to see another African-American mayor,” said Keith Carson, an Alameda County supervisor politically aligned with Mr. Dellums.“Is there an emerging charismatic black representative? At this point, I don’tthink that I believe there is in Oakland.”

Why is the skin color of the candidate an issue, especially in Oakland? I might understand if we were dealing with a situation where the one race has been shut out of the political process. But that isn't the case in Oakland. In fact, when it comes to recent mayors, African Americans are overrepresented. Three out of the last four have been African American despite only about 30% of the population being black.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not oppopsed to another black mayor of Oakland if he or she is the best candidate. But that is what they should be judged on, their ideas and leadership skills, not the color of their skin. Apparently Keith Carson disagrees.

Supervisor Carson, Dr. Martin Luther King on line 1. He'd like to have a word with you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clueless Bill Alert

As you might have heard, UC Berkeley recently began offering incoming freshmen a chance to have their DNA analysed as part of the On the Same Page program. Opposition began to spring up almost immediately, generating headlines on Drudge and Fox News among other national outlets. This prompted Assemblyman Chris Norby, a Republican (unfortunately) from Orange County to introduce AB 70, which would ban CSUs from requesting (key word) genetic information from students and ask the UC regents to follow suit.

Unfortunately, this bill and other opposition to the On the Same page program is based entirely on fear mongering. True, it would be a serious problem if any university required its students to send a gene sample before enrolling. But this program is completely voluntary - students are not penalized in any way if they decline to participate. In fact, the results are barcoded so that no one except the student will know the identity of their test results or even whether they decided to participate.

The other main scare tactic has been that insurance companies and others with an interest in finding out about a student's genetic makeup may offer to buy the data. As mentioned earlier though, even if the university were evil enough to want to make a buck or two off of its student's DNA, it couldn't. Unless insurance companies are interested in samples from completely annonymous individuals.

To the contrary, there are definate upsides for students that decide to participate. They will get a chance to examine their own DNA and may be able to spot risk factors that could help them avoid problems down the road. It's almost worth being a freshman to participate.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bearcardo Watch

Last year, this cute little bear started showing up randomly on the sidewalks of Berkeley. Turns out it belonged to one Ricardo Gomez, affectionately known as "Bearcardo." Bearcardo was best known as the founder of the group Berkeley Students Against the Cuts. That was until he decided to run for the ASUC's External Affairs Vice President (EAVP) position. He won by 32 votes thanks to a Daily Cal hit piece on his primary opponent.

All was well and good until I checked my e-mail this week and up comes an e-mail from Noah Stern, ASUC President entitled "Greetings from your ASUC Executive Officers." Since I was bored, I opened it instead of relegating it to the spam file like the other 99% of the student body. Sure enough, it was a lot of the usual 'Thank you for letting me serve you and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you!' until I got to Ricardo:

"Hi! I'm Ricardo "Bearcardo" Gomez and I'm your 2010-2011
External Affairs Vice-President!

What does this mean? I am responsible for organizing
and mobilizing students to engage in direct action
and direct advocacy. This year the External Affairs
Office will be a laboratory for social justice organizing
against budget cuts, discrimination, and unjust wars and
for democracy, justice, and peace. If you are interested
in becoming a social justice organizer, the EAVP office
is for you! Internships are available starting in the Fall.
To learn more about how to get involved and issues affecting
the campus community, check out
First of all, it's obvious Ricardo hasn't actually read his job description, or if he has he simply doesn't care. I won't waste space posting it here, but you can find it in Article II Section 4 of the ASUC Constitution. Anyone who can find "responsible for organizing and mobilizing students to engage in direct action and direct advocacy" or anything similar wins a prize for creative interpretation. The EAVP is supposed to represent the position of the ASUC to external groups and lobby to that effect, nothing more. That might have something to do with budget cuts, but certainly not the other five out of six items on Ricardo's list.

That wouldn't be the worse crime though. Indeed, many past ASUC officials have believed themselves to have much more power than they actually do (which is about as much power as Hamid Karzai has over 95% of Afghanistan). But at the end of his message he directs readers to a website which in turn redirects to the blog Among the things posted on this blog: That Oscar Grant was killed because he was black, that UC Berkeley is trying to keep latino students away, that the university's deal with BP will somehow lead to higher fees, that the university is trying to steal student's DNA through a voluntary program, and that a divestment from Israel is in order. On none of these items has the ASUC taken a position - indeed on the last one they specifically declined to take a position.

My beef isn't with Ricardo's radical views - indeed, his right to express them is protected by the very system he deplores - but with his use of ASUC resources in promoting them. The blog he linked to in a student body wide e-mail is clearly only a personal blog. Being elected EAVP should not give the officeholder a soapbox to espouse his or her personal beliefs. Doing so is, if not illegal, completely unethical.

That's not the most troubling thing on Ricardo's site though. He includes a link to an internship application. It's all pretty typical until you come to this question:

If you had to choose, what area are you most interested in working on?
Direct Action Organizing (mobilizing students through protests, strikes, sit-ins, teach-ins, educational events, occupations, etc.)
It gets worse with the next question:

Are you willing to engage in non-violent civil disobedience?
Based on this, it seems that Bearcardo is planning to use his office not only to express his personal views, but perhaps to act on them as well. Which is especially troubling considering his office receives $13,000 in mandatory student fees each year. Is he planning to spend that money on civil disobedience ie, breaking the law? Might things like the Wheeler occupation of last fall and running onto freeways during rush hour become "ASUC Sponsored and ADA Accessible?"

Time will tell. But we will keep watching. In the meantime, here is a musical representation of how Ricardo Gomez plans to spend his time as EAVP.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is Mark Williams Over the Top? Yes. Racist? No

You may have heard about a controversy over the weekend regarding Mark Williams, spokesperson for the Tea Party Express (pictured left, far opposite his political views). Last week, he posted this satirical letter from the leader of the NAACP to Abraham Lincoln on his blog, in response to the absolutely ridiculous accusation by that organization that the tea party is in some way racist. The post has since been taken down:

Dear Mr. Lincoln

We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the 'tea party movement'.

The tea party position to "end the bailouts" for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn't that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us coloreds! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds.

And the ridiculous idea of "reduce[ing] the size and intrusiveness of government." What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The racist tea parties also demand that the government "stop the out of control spending." Again, they directly target Colored People. That means we Colored People would have to compete for jobs like everybody else and that is just not right.

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government "stop raising our taxes." That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.


Precious Ben Jealous, Tom's Nephew National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Head Colored Person

This letter is racist, but its author isn't. The intent clearly is to satirize the NAACP's apparent opposition to policies that would wean all Americans off the government dole. The logic then goes that if they oppose that, they might have opposed abolishing slavery. The underlying message Williams is trying to get across is that the NAACP, not the tea party, is racist. Calling the NAACP racist doesn't make one racist themselves. That's just a logical fallacy.

Now, whether the satire is accurate and the NAACP truly is racist is a different matter entirely. I personally don't think that is the case. But the fact that Mark Williams made that comparison, albeit slightly misguided, should not be used as proof that there is racism in the tea party. He may be guilty of extreme misjudgment and making an inappropriate comparison, but not the racism he has been accused of.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


As you might have noticed since you are reading this, we are back. After a year and a half or so hiatus, the California Patriot Blog is back and better than ever. Let the good times roll.

For those of you new to the Patriot, allow me an introduction. The California Patriot is the conservative magazine at UC Berkeley. The magazine was founded in 2000 by a group of students interesting in balancing the journalism scene on campus, with a blog starting soon after. Our founding fathers' (and mothers') efforts were wildly successful, with the magazine soon commanding national attention. In 2002, it broke the story of a ban on patriotism at an ASUC Sponsored 9/11 memorial. Later, the Patriot blog became a primary news source when the Berkeley City Council decided to insult our men and women in uniform. In between, the Patriot has consistently provided conservative viewpoints to an otherwise liberal campus. The magazine is published six times per year and is distributed free on the Cal campus and by subscription anywhere in the United States.

So what are we doing here on the blog? Well, two things. First, we are going to provide the same conservative/libertarian viewpoint that you see in the magazine, only more often and without the printing delay. Second, we are an alternative news source for the UC Berkeley community. The days of the Daily Cal monopoly are over. As we get going, expect some original stories and reporting. From the ASUC, to the university administration, to the Berkeley City Council, we've got it covered.

We invite you to continue the conversation in our comments section below each post. Whether you are a conservative, libertarian, centrist, liberal, or marxist, we would love to hear your thoughts and have a good discussion. The only thing we ask is that you keep it respectful and appropriate for a wide audience.

We would love your feedback on the site. It is still in the development stage and we could use your ideas regarding backround, layout, features, etc. You can e-mail me at avnevis -at- We are especially looking for a catchy tag line to go under the Patriot logo at the top of the page. If your idea is chosen, you win a prize!*

Speaking of feedback, we would be very grateful if said comments came attached to a monetary donation! It hasn't cost us a dime (yet) to set up this blog site (can't you tell?) but it does cost us thousands of dimes to produce and print six magazines each year. You can donate over at the main Patriot site. On that page you can also find information about how to subscribe to the magazine.

In addition, we are also always looking for good student writers for both the blog and the magazine. If you are or soon will be a student at Cal and are interested in contributing, drop me a line and I'll fill you in on all the details.

We hope you enjoy your time here at the California Patriot Blog. Welcome!

*Prize is a reply e-mail with the word "Thanks!" in the body.

Whitman Opponents Use Nazi References - Again

As you may recall, about a month ago California Attorney General and current candidate for governor Jerry Brown got into a little bit of trouble last month for comparing opponent Meg Whitman's media strategy to that of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. You might have thought that he and his union allies would have learned their lesson.

Apparently not. This time the offender is the California Nurses Association (CNA), telling Politico in an interview about Whitman's campaign trackers:

"As part of her war against California nurses, Queen Meg has been sending out her 'Whitman Youth' guys to stalk and harass nurses, in concert with all her other attacks (last count: junk mail, crank calls, push polls, online dirty tricks, and privacy invasions)[...]"
Whitman youth? Really? And isn't this highly ironic considering that CNA has spent over $50,000 of members' union dues to stalk Whitman around the state? What does that make CNA, the KGB?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

BART Police Use Guns to Protect Themselves

For all those who don't think that BART needs to have armed police, I present you with this:

Oakland and BART police officers shot and killed a man this morning near the Fruitvale BART station after an alleged confrontation with police, authorities said.

Details about the shooting were still emerging, but authorities said the man was armed with a knife and threatened officers.

I hear John Burris is filing a lawsuit already.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chicago, the Supreme Court is on the line...

About three years ago, back in the good old days of high school, my United States History teacher tasked each student in the class with a unique term paper on the topic of their choice. Given my family's immersion in "the gun culture", I thought it would be exciting to study Second Amendment case law, which was interesting primarily because by and large it didn't exist. The last time the Supreme Court had touched gun rights was about 70 years prior, and the decision itself was more remarkable for what it didn't say than what it did. I didn't see that trend changing any time soon, and remarked to my teacher that the 2008 case Parker v. District of Columbia would never see the Supreme Court.

Ah, the things kids say.

In 2008, the Court did hear that case (renamed Heller v. DC) and affirmed that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right, not a "collective" one - meaning that, like all rights, the moral sanction on the ownership and use of arms for self-defense, recreation, hunting, and other purposes was vested in individuals, not in broad groups like "the militia" (which, tragically, no longer exists).

The Supreme Court has since gone further and "incorporated" the Second Amendment in the recent case McDonald v. Chicago. Under "incorporation", State and local governments are prohibited from violating provisions in the Federal Constitution. That means that the Second Amendment is no longer a second-class right; it cannot be dismissed on hazy "public welfare" grounds or ignored outright by States and municipal governments. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the case is that it was not the usual 5-4 with Kennedy as the swing vote. This time, Clarence Thomas was the critical vote. The distinction between him and the rest of the pro-liberty bloc of the decision was Thomas' argument that the Second Amendment should be incorporated by the "Privileges and Immunities" clause rather than the "Due Process" clause favored by the other four. The former would declare that the ownership and use of firearms is a fundamental right of all Americans, firmly rooted in our way of life and our legal tradition.

Apparently, Chicago didn't get the message. reports that the city has voted 45-0 to instate a new gun ban. In classic Chicago style, the city is desperately looking for a way to ignore the law and foist their own vision for the city's residents onto the newly enfranchised population: "...we're struggling to figure out a way in which we can limit the guns on our streets and still meet the test that our Supreme Court has set for us." The ban would prohibit gun owners from even stepping out of their homes and require that they wade through red tape - including taking training courses that are not even available! - and create a registry of city gun owners for potential future confiscation or police harassment.

Despite the City's rather predictable violation of the Court's judgment, it is still rather heartening to see gun rights, the palladium of liberty, finally elevated to their proper place in Constitutional law, and humbling to think that the case that the Court would never touch has already grown into one of the greatest triumphs for liberty in modern history.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lights Out Eshleman!

As you may remember there was a little protest here at Berkeley a couple of months ago over the new Arizona anti-illegal immigration law. Seeing as they had no other more important problems to deal with, the ASUC Senate decided to unanimously and mindlessly pass a resolution boycotting Arizona. The important part of the resolution is as follows:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the ASUC will no longer purchase any goods manufactured in, assembled in, or distributed from the State of Arizona or produced by companies headquar-tered in the State of Arizona.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the ASUC Senate urges the University of California, Berkeley and all University of California, Berkeley affiliates, to no longer purchase any goods manu-factured in, assembled in, or distributed from the State of Arizona or produced by companies headquartered in the State of Arizona.
It appears that the ASUC is already in violation every time the lights are turned on in the Senate chamber, or at least will be by 2012.

Seems that PG&E struck a deal last year to begin importing some of its power supplies from a solar plant in the state of Arizona. The plant is expected to be operational by 2012.

Although the ASUC Auxiliary foots the power bill for the ASUC owned properties, every time an ASUC officer or student group turns on a light in one of the ASUC properties, they are forcing someone else to buy a product partially manufactured in Arizona. Even if it does not violate the letter of the resolution, it certainly violates the spirit of it.

Bottom line: Senate meetings by candlelight in 2012! And a new game: Will they finish the meeting before the wax burns out?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Free Mehserle

As you probably heard, a verdict was reached yesterday in the BART shooting case and some folks weren't too happy about the jury's involuntary manslaughter decision.

Given that there has been absolutely no evidence of anything legally wrong with the jury's decision (indeed most rational people saw it as correct) you might expect public officials to either say nothing or reassure constituents that the verdict was in line with the rule of law. Of course, you'd be forgetting that rational politicians don't exist in Oakland.

Predictably, most public officials sided with the mob over the law. Some even joined it. Congresswoman and former black panther Barbara Lee, apparently unfamiliar with the concept of double jeopardy, called the verdict "an outrage" and called for the federal government to retry Mehserle. She didn't mention her reasoning - probably because there is none. She was joined in her irrational pursuit of double jeopardy by Oakland mayor Ron Dellums.

Some have said that anyone not a cop would have been treated differently. I agree on that point. If Mehserle wasn't a police officer, public officials wouldn't be demanding his lynching. There is absolutely no basis for the justice department to intervene. Mehserle has had a fair trial and was convicted. Despite what the mob says, justice has been served.

Don't expect Barbara Lee to understand though.