Thursday, February 5, 2004

Tipping the scales

As everyone knows, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court has explicitly rejected the concept of "civil unions" as a possible solution to the court's earlier ruling that preventing gays from marrying is against the state constitution; nothing short of full marriage will rectify the situation. Because of the rather arcane way that Massechusetts handles amendments to the state constitution, the earliest date a vote could be held would be 2006, while the court's decision will go into effect as soon as May of this year.

Dean and Rosemary Esmay have a rousing debate on this subject (profanity alert; those with delicate sensibilities will wish to avoid the link). I'm with them; the backlash this latest decision will engender is going to be very ugly. Further, if Bush pushes for a constitutional amendment (such as the odious Federal Marriage Amendment, which would invalidate existing civil unions if passed in its current form), I will not vote for a presidential candidate this year. I cannot support any of the Democratic Party's offerings, and I will not vote Green, Libertarian, or Natural Law, but I also will not vote for anyone who actively supports the FMA.

In the comments at the Dean's World thread, Mrs. Du Toit notes that only one change to the "civil unions" proposal would make it pass muster; eliminate the gender restriction. Sounds kinda familiar, as I have proposed the exact same thing. This is the third post I ever made, and it explains my views pretty thoroughly; this post has even more detail). I still stand by such a proposal. All the people who scream that allowing gays to marry would destroy the concept of marriage would have their rhetorical legs kicked out from under them by such an arrangement, as it puts marriage in houses of worship, and civil unions in a secular environment. It's the best of all possible worlds, since it strengthens and tightens the concept of marriage, while allowing for an alternative for those who do not qualify otherwise.

Bush is not my idea of a dream candidate by any stretch of the imagination, but I currently plan to vote for him because of his views on the WoT. However, my support is rather tenuous, and something like this (coupled with his anti-free trade views, his astonishing expansion of the federal government, his unwillingness to rein in pork-barrel spending, and his lukewarm support of the second amendment) would be enough to push me out of his column, and I doubt that I am the only person who feels this way.

posted at 08:55 AM | permalink | Comments (1)

I can't say I agree with an FMA, either. But at least Bush is pushing for an amendment to the constitution, rather than having a judge rewrite the document.

posted by Rob on February 7, 2004 09:22 AM

Monday, February 2, 2004

Another Presidential Selector

Andrew Sullivan (who got it from Daniel Drezner) pointed out this selector, which produced interesting, if somewhat flawed, results for me.

My results:

Bush 100
Lieberman 70
Clark 55
Kerry 53
Edwards 52
Dean 51
Sharpton 44
Kucinich 36

While I believe the test got the candidates right as far as order, I think some of the scores are off. Addtionally, there was essentially no way to express displeasure with out-of-control federal spending (my biggest beef with Bush), and the test lumped environmental issues and economic issues into one category (when rating their importance). They're NOT the same! Nonetheless, the test is interesting. Take a look at it.

posted at 11:35 PM | permalink | Comments (2)

Perhaps the reason that there is "no way to express displeasure with out-of-control federal spending" on the test is that all of the candidates listed advocate massive increases in federal spending. To "express displeasure with out-of-control federal spending" you would have to vote for "none of the above."

posted by Michael Gersh on February 3, 2004 08:33 AM

Heh. Scored me as Kerry (100%)-Clark-Edwards-Dean-Sharpton-Bush (72%). I wouldn't vote for Sharpton for dogcatcher. Clark, maybe, if I didn't like dogs. Thanks to their off-the-scale-fecklessness/cluelessness/naivete in foreign policy, Kerry, Clark, Edwards, and Dean are out. In the real world, this hawkish Democrat votes Bush or not at all.

So much for their methodology in my case.

posted by AMac on February 6, 2004 10:21 AM

Opening Lines

Dean Esmay has an interesting post on memorable first lines of novels, and provides 15 of his favorites. He then invites his readers to guess the novels, and suggest their own favorites. Most of the ones that I can recall immediately were already in the list, but this was not:

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderlay.

The answer can be found in the extended entry.

HINT: Think Hitchcock.

The book is Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier.

Alfred Hitchcock directed the first (and definitive) version of the movie, with Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, and Judith Anderson.

posted at 09:28 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

Don't count Dean out

Last night on CNN, Governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), noted that while Dean has faded badly (especially since the New Hampshire primary), he may still have a significant number of votes on absentee ballots. Arizona has been receiving absentee ballots since the day of the Iowa caucuses, and there may be a large number of Dean votes from voters who now have second thoughts. Regardless of how those people feel now, the votes have already been cast, and cannot be changed.

FWIW, Napolitano did not imply any support for any candidate; she simply noted that Dean's support (in Arizona, and elsewhere) was much higher 10 days ago.

posted at 05:53 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

a question for John Edwards

John Edwards was on the campaign trail yesterday, seeking Black votes in the Tuesday primary in South Carolina, a state he considers to be a "must win" state. In a speech given in a primarily black church, he assailed drug companies for running advertisements for their products. Does he suggest that they should not be permitted to run ads? Does he suggest the same for lawyers who infest the airwaves with their ads? (He made his fortune as a trial lawyer, suing tobacco companies for damages.) Does he support banning political ads as well? Where does he draw the line?

posted at 05:28 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

Agreeing with Al Sharpton

I did something last night which I very rarely do—I watched TV. AFN News was broadcasting CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, and one of the people he interviewed was Al Sharpton. I was startled to find myself in agreement with one of Al Sharpton's answers.

Blitzer questioned Sharpton about this New York Times editorial on the primaries, which contained this paragraph:

Representative Dennis Kucinich has every right to keep campaigning despite his minuscule vote tallies, but he should not be allowed to take up time in future candidate debates. Neither should the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is running to continue running, not to win. Sponsors should also consider whether Senator Joseph Lieberman will continue to be a credible candidate. Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Clark both skipped Iowa to concentrate on New Hampshire, without making much of a dent. But Mr. Clark's supporters have a right to hope that his candidacy will improve with experience. Since Senator Lieberman has already run for vice president, he appears to have hit his ceiling.

Sharpton was justifiably upset by the editorial. He took the Times to task for assuming to know his mind (which is excusable), but really laid in to them by pointing out that neither Iowa nor New Hampshire is demographically representative of the rest of the country. Both states are overwhelmingly white (Iowa 94% white, New Hampshire 97% white) and have a large proportion of rural votes (Iowa's capital and largest city, Des Moines, has fewer than 200,000 people). Sharpton is relying on urban blacks to give his campaign momentum, and by excluding him from debates based on the results of only two states, the NYT is in effect advocating the disenfranchisement of his supporters before their candidate even gets a chance to start.

While I don't think that the bottom tier of candidates have a chance (and I wouldn't ever consider voting for either of them), I do not think they should be blocked from the debates. They should be allowed to air their views, just as minor party candidates should be allowed to participate in the debates later this year. Barring them from the debates (especially the primaries, which may be used to shape the [party's platform) is in effect dictating who is and who is not an acceptable candidate. It's fundamentally un-democratic, and it's wrong.

posted at 02:40 AM | permalink | Comments (2)

I agree with you on the general election, but not on the primaries. The parties have the right to nominate whomever they wish. It seems to me that the public gets more involved in the party's nomination process than is healthy for our democracy. There is no mention of parties in the constitution, and it is hard for me to understand why we have to publicly finance primary elections at all, since these are held merely for the convenience of the parties, to help them to pick their nominees.

Since the early debates are held merely for the convenience the parties, the parties should be allowed to expose their pretenders to the nomination however they wish.

Those who are running in the presidential election, however, should all have unrestricted access to public debates, without regard for the popularity of their parties. Recently Jesse Ventura and others have won election from third parties. Earlier in our history, presidential candidates from third parties have won. But the appearance of Dennis Kucinich or Al Sharpton in a primary debate should be the democrats' call.

posted by Michael Gersh on February 3, 2004 08:55 AM

But the appearance of Dennis Kucinich or Al Sharpton in a primary debate should be the democrats' call.

I'll agree to that, but it's not the role of the New York Times to advocate who is and who is not an acceptable candidate.

The rest of your argument is unimpeachable; I hadn't thought of that at all.

posted by timekeeper on February 3, 2004 11:18 PM

Sunday, February 1, 2004

More doublespeak from Kerry

Via Yahoo! News, we learn this:

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who has made a fight against corporate special interests a centerpiece of his front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years, federal records show.

Kerry has been a vociferous critic of Bush's contributions from lobbyists, especially those in the energy industry and pharmaceuticals, implying that Bush's policies are being dictated by those companies. Of his own collections from lobbyists, however, the Kerry campaign says:

"Senator Kerry has taken individual contributions from lobbyists, but that has not stopped him from fighting against special interests on behalf of average Americans," said Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "If anyone thinks a contribution can buy Kerry's vote, then they are wasting their money."


Cutter said her boss would have no problem fighting Bush on the issue because "Kerry has spent his career fighting against special interests, while Bush has never met a special interest he doesn't like. While Kerry was fighting to keep oil companies from drilling in ANWR [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], the White House was inviting them in to tea."

Because, you know, Democrats are so much more honest than Republicans. </sarcasm>

Kerry's rivals are given ample time to pound him in the article; both the Dean and Clark campaigns were asked for statements, and two watchdog groups get their jabs in as well.

In any case, it's ridiculous to bash "special interest groups", because all groups are special interest groups. Groups are founded for some reason or another, and (presumably) give money to a candidate because his or her views are congruent with the ideology of the group. Money can influence someone, but most of the more famous political waffles have nothing to do with campaign contributions.

posted at 02:50 AM | permalink | Comments (1)

This goes to the crux of the campaign finance reform hysteria in this country in recent years. It has long been my contention that the money goes to support those candidates that are committed to support the money's interest, while the reformers claim that the candidates are for sale.

Although some reformers (John McCain) claim that they know the truth because they themselves were for sale. In McCain's case, I am inclined to believe him. But as much as I disrespect politicians, I do not believe that most of them are for sale. (At least not for the puny amounts of cash that seem to be available)

I remember back to the Abscam case, where they caught a few pols taking money (I know that I am dating myself here). They never caught any of those pols actually doing anything after they got the money. Harrison "Pete" Williams, Senator from Pennsylvania, sure looked guilty when he was taped taking an attache case full of cash, but the judge would not allow the defense to present evidence that Pete never did anything to deserve the cash.

Of course he wouldn't allow that evidence... they wanted a conviction, and they got one. Poor, misunderstood Pete.

posted by Michael Gersh on February 1, 2004 03:20 PM

Speech Police at college

Read this, and understand why universities and colleges are becoming the least likely places for open and informed debate, unless you are debating degrees of a liberal pet issue. When it comes to conservative voices on ant topic, those that are not suppressed by the faculty are silenced by militant students who are even more intolent of dissent than their professors.

Later in the same post, the writer (a college student, assisted by her father) explains why she supports the war, and why she believes that Islamofascism is holding back an entire region of the world, AND does so in a way that is neither racist or fascist, despite what her detractors have claimed.

Go read it now.

(Link courtesy of VodkaPundit, where there is an interesting discussion about Joe McCarthy in the comments.)

posted at 02:23 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

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