Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Third Party Candidates

Rarely if ever do voters get a chance to hear from third party candidates. The Florida governor's debate today featured a three-way debate between the Republican, Democratic and Reform Party candidates and politiala activists at a Connecticut college invted all of that state's gubernatorial candidates to campus and, taking every chance they can get, the third party candidates for the Green and Constitutional Parties accepted the invitation. They wouldn't get any press coverage otherwise. The Republican and Democratic Party candidates, naturally, declined to show up knowing to well that (a) such an appearnance would give the third party candidates press coverage and (b)such an appearance isn't worth much when the voter turnout among college students isn't that high.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Voting Preference Part 4: Webb for Virginia

"The greatest military victory of our time -- bringing an expansionist Soviet Union in from the cold while averting a nuclear holocaust -- was accomplished not by an invasion but through decades of intense maneuvering and continuous operations. With respect to the situation in Iraq, they are conscious of two realities that seem to have been lost in the narrow debate about Saddam Hussein himself. The first reality is that wars often have unintended consequences -- ask the Germans, who in World War I were convinced that they would defeat the French in exactly 42 days. The second is that a long-term occupation of Iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of force levels elsewhere, and could eventually diminish American influence in other parts of the world." - former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb, the Democratic candidatic challenger for Virginia's senate race (scroll down to the pasted op-ed)

Six years ago, George Allen, then Virginia's govenor, ousted one-term incumbent Chuck Robb from his senate seat. Mr. Jim Webb, a former Undersecretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, endorsed Mr. Allen in that race. Today, the Republican-turned Democrat is running against him.

His prescience should earn Virginia's voters support. The former military commander and Reagan administration official opposed the Iraq War from the start. In a 2002 op-ed he wrote in The Washington Post, the Democratic challenger questioned two critical neoconservative assertions: (1) that we'd be greeted as liberators and (2) that the Iraqi people would unite behind a U.S. - backed Western secular-oriented democrat.

Not all pro-war supporters were fulled. The PoliticalHeretic doubted their claims but ultimately deferred to the president because his appointed advisors were involved in successful war campaigns before. Colin Powell, the president's Secretary of State at the time, once served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, successfully pushed for a 500,000 plus Ameircan troop deployment during the first Persian Gulf War. Donald Rumsfeld, the president's defense secretary, served in the same capacity under former President Gerald Ford. Though he pushed for a troop cuts as a Secretary of State, no one expected him to shortchange his administration's strategy and underestimate the number of troops needed to keep the peace.

We were wrong. Mr. Webb said we'd need more troops, one significant enough to undermine our commitments elsewhere, to win the peace. The Democratic candidate challenged neoconservative claims that we'd be greeted as liberators and warned us that our troops would be confronted by many, (some anti-American) ethnic factions.

"Nor is Japanese culture in any way similar to Iraq's. The Japanese are a homogeneous people who place a high premium on respect, and they fully cooperated with MacArthur's forces after having been ordered to do so by the emperor. The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam. Indeed, this very bitterness provided Osama bin Laden the grist for his recruitment efforts in Saudi Arabia when the United States kept bases on Saudi soil after the Gulf War.

In Japan, American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. In Iraq, they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets."


Senator George Allen stands by his vote for the Iraqi War and would not directly answer Tim Russert's question concerning his probable vote had he known then that Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons program was already dismantled. Mr. Allen says this hypotheical question shouldn't concern us. What's done is done and he made the call based upon the information he, most pro-war supporters, and our allies (both those who supported us and those who did not) had at the time the decision was made.

But it should concern us. Mr. Allen's answer would offer his voters a clue into his thinking of what standards would be required before preventive warfare is undertaken.

The incumbent's answer to the loyalty question is even more troubling. Mr. Allen wouldn't deny his opponent's assertion that he voted for the war out of loyalty when questioned on it on "Meet The Press".

MR. RUSSERT: Before I let Mr. Webb respond, did you say to Jim Webb you were voting for the war so as to not be disloyal to President Bush?

SEN. ALLEN: I was supporting our efforts of our administration. It was bipartisan support for this resolution, because I thought we needed to show unity of resolve so that Saddam Hussein, it was my hope, would see how resolved, how unified the United States was, as well as the United Nations, and would actually comply with the weapons inspections.

MR. RUSSERT: The, the concern being if in fact you cast that vote out of loyalty to President Bush...

SEN. ALLEN: No, it’s loyalty to this country, and making sure that our country is unified in, in this, in this effort to disarm Saddam Hussein. That was the point.


Bipartisan unity in times of war should be commended but that unity and loyalty should not excuse a senator or congressman from his fundamental duty to consider the potential ramifications that would follow by commiting American troops to battle for an indefinite amount of time. The costs in terms of manpower, lives, relationship with the allies, and finances may outweigh the benefits gained through preventive warfare. Senators must ask if such benefits an be achieved at a lower cost or if the benefit itself is obtainable.

Mr. Allen failed on this crucial point. The PoliticalHeretic no doubt endorsed Kean over Mr. Menendez and Lieberman over Lamont and Schlesinger in no small part because of their continual support for the war. But that support is in part contingent upon the campaigns being waged in those states.

The race in Connecticut must be viewed as nothing less than a referendum on the continued war in Iraq and his party's break from the Vietnam past. Democratic primary voters ousted Mr. Lieberman in no small part because he calls for the return of the Scoop Jackson Democratic values that honor this country's past commitment to a strong , assertive American foreign policy. A vote against Mr. Lieberman would only strenthen the McGovernite wing of the party and weaken chances for bipartisan cooperation in times of future political crises.

His opponent too, jonnnie-come-lately Ned Lamont, offered no such constructive criticism when it counted. He never had the credentials in national security or military strategy that would have given him a reason to question the president. Mr. Lamont's criticism is offered now, at a time when the president is fighting what had become a politically unpopula losing war. And what solution does Mr. Lamont offer the American public? The time table for an American troop withdrawal with no real appreciation of the geopolitical ramifications that will follow once our troops leave Iraq.

Senator Robert Menendez voted against the war, and in hindsight that was the right decision but it is hard to separate his vote from his excessively partisan voting record in New Jersey and his call for a one-yaer time table for a withdrawal even more irresponsible than the one proposed by Mr. Lamont.

Mr. Webb, to his credit, does not call for such a time table. He would tie such a withdrawal to the growing involvement from Iraq's neighbors. That support from Iran, Turkey and Syria might develop over time given the right conditions. Neither state want an independent Kurdistan that emboldens Kurds in their territories to make similar claims. The former Undersecretary of Defense said Iran would be strenthened by Saddam Hussein's demise. He was right. Iraq no longer rivals Iran in political and military strenth. The Iraq that fought to a draw in the Iranian-Iraqi War has been replaced by a confederation with an inept, weak central government. But this may come at a price to the Iranians. Like Iran, Turkey, and Syria, Iran has a sizable Kurdish population that could rise up against them and might be emboldened to do so if Kurdish nationalist aspirations in norther Iraq are not kept in check.

Mr. Webb's reliance upon the neighboring states might require the support from Iran and Syria and that might come at a price which we cannot accept. As a senator, Mr. Webb will have to speak out in favor of or against such an overture.

His prescience and informed opinions, however will serve his colleagues well into the future should this president or future presidents opt for selective warfare again. Mr. WEbb's background as a former Undersecretary of Defense and Secretary of State heavily involved in military strategy, will help him ask ask the informed questions at the appropriate times. Virginia's voters should opt for Mr. Webb and should he pull off the upset, the Democrats should put him on the Armed Services and Foreign Relaitons Committees.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cartoons for the Week

The Republicans' real fencing plan, the Vatican's saunas and the relationship between North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il and the seismic spike make it in this week's Bad Reporter.

Other prize-winning political cartoons for the week:

Political ads as Halloween ghost tales by Tom Toles at The Washington Post.


Dan Wasserman's
recent cartoons are pretty good. Fav goes to "D.C. Daycare."

and Halloween drag at Phillies' gayborhood newspaper.

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET): The Maryland Senate Debate: Representative Ben Cardin (D) squares off against Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R) for retiring Senator Paul Sarbanes' seat.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET): The mid-term elections. (a) an interview with Senate candidate Representative Harold Ford (D-Tennessee) on the controversial ad and the latest developments in his race for the seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennesee). (b) an interview with Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) about his plan to bounce back in the polls and maintain his senate seat. (c) a discussion about their parties' prospects on election day with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Republican Senatorial Campaign Chairman Elizabeth Dole (R-NC). (d)FOX News Sunday Panel will discuss the impact this week's events in Iraq and the United States will have on the elections held in two weeks. Expected panelists will include The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, NPR National Correspondent Juan Williams, NPR Political Correspondent Mara Liasson, and US News and World Report Senior Writer Michael Barone.

3. "CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN(11:00 AM ET): topics include (a) deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq and (b) the mid-term elections. Guests include Senators Richard Lugar (R-Indiana)and Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) of the Foreign Relations Committee, Iraqi Ambassador to the US Samir Sumaidaie, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), Representative Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), Ret. Major General Paul Eaton, The New York Times chief military correspondent Michael Gordon, American Enterprise Institute scholar Norm Ornstein, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield, and CNN Political Analyst Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.


4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET):
(a) Sunday Exclusive - Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on the war in Iraq, Mark Foley, and the chances for keeping the House. (b) Sunday Exclusive - Actor Michael J. Fox on his role in the midterm Congressional elections. (c) Sunday's Roundtable - ABC News' George F. Will, Time Magazine's Jay Carney, ABC News Senior National Correspondent Claire Shipman, and The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne. (d) Voices Sunday - Sarah Jessica Parker on trick-or-treats for UNICEF.


5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET):
(a)winning the war in Iraq - guests include Representative John Murtha (D-PA) and Representative and Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Duncan Hunter (R-CA). (b) the upcoming midterm elections and hte impact the war in Iraq will have on control in the House and senate. Guests include Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.


II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Sat at 6:00 PM ET): the mid-term Congressional elections. (a) Republican turnout strategy. (b) stem cell research vote in Missouri.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Sat at 6:30 PM ET): (a)White House seeking media advice on how to recraft its Iraq effort. (b)Midterm madness - the media's heroes and villains. (c)Madonna's adoption controversy - blaming the media.


3. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sun at 10:00 AM):
(a)President George W. Bush's coattails. (b)Nancy Pelosi's control of the House should she get it. Guests include Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post Writers Group, Howard Fineman of Newsweek, Anne Marie Cox of Time Magazine, and Chip Reid of NBC News.

III. OTHER NEWS AND POLITICAL INTERVIEW SHOWS


1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Sat at 5 PM ET):
(a) the latest on the wildfires raging in California. (b)countdown to midterm elections - Democratic Party's regaining of House. (c)the real time table for a withdrawal from Iraq.

2. "Heartland w John Kasich" on FOX News (Sat. at 8 PM ET): (a) real estate with TLC's Kristen Kamp. (b)money maven Jean Chatzky. (c)midterm election countdown. (d)live at the scene of California's wildfires.

IV. FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS


1. "20/20" on ABC (Fri. at 10:00 PM ET):
(a)"Behind Closed Doors" - son videotapes his father's physical abuse. (b)beautiful but dangerous wild animals.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Sat. at 10:00 PM ET): "A Question of Faith" - whether a mother's belief in scientology and its opposition to some forms of medical treatment contributed to her own death.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sun. at 9:00 AM ET): (a) Cover Story - "Seeing is Believing?". (b) Sunday Almanac - ballpoint pens. (c)Time - watch closely. (d) Movies - magic in the movies. (e)Sunday Passage - last Ford Taurus. (f) Halloween - monsters in the movies. (g) What's Next? - tattoos. (h) What's So Funny? - Tony AWard winner Neil Simon. (i) Opinion - Ben Stein on the war in Iraq. (j) Bill Geist - a one woman town.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sun. at 7:00 PM ET): (a) Fighting Chance - new technologies give today's wounded soldiers a better chance of living through their wars. (b) explostion at a Texas City - evidence that oil executives were aware of safety issues that led to an explosion 16 years ago that killed 15 and injured 170.(c) Big Man on Campus - Notre Dames head football coach Charlie Weis and his expletives is motivating the Fighting Irish.


V. ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (11:25 PM ET): Guest Hugh Laurie and musical guest "Beck"


2. "Law and Order" on NBC (Fri at 10:00 PM ET):
"Profiteer" excutive of an armored vest company is gunned down. Police suspect a soldier whose vest failed him but the investigation leads to a supply of faulty vests that were being resold to a charity.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sun at 9:00 PM ET): a 1968 suicide of a DJ turns out to be a murder on second review.

Voting Preferences Part 3: Lieberman for Connecticut

Connecticut’s Democratic Party voters stunned the party establishment when they ignored their party’s leaders, and replaced incumbent and one-time vice presidential nominee Senator Joseph Lieberman with telecommunications business owner and former Greenwich selectman Ned Lamont as their standard-bearer.

Mr. Lamont earned the support of liberal activists on the blogosphere and at MoveOn.org by running as the anti-war candidate. In their July 6 face-off, Mr. Lamont attacked Mr. Lieberman for his pro-war record and his vote for the largely Republican-backed energy bill while the incumbent senator fended off unfair and misleading comparisons to President George W. Bush by touting his “90%” Democratic voting record and his efforts to protect Connecticut’s jobs

But he fought an uphill battle. Connecticut’s Democratic primary voters, like most Democrats, opposed the war. The commercial featuring President George W. Bush’s embrace of Senator Joe Lieberman ran on Connecticut’s airwaves and won front page coverage in The New York Times.

The three-term incumbent has not backed down however. In his concession speech, he vowed to file the necessary petitions so he could run as “an independent Democrat.” Today, in an effort to win Connecticut’s Republican and independent voters, he touts his bipartisan credentials.

He faces Democrat Ned Lamont, Republican Alan Schlesinger, Green Party candidate Ralph A. Ferrucci, and Concerned Citizens’ candidate Timothy A. Knibbs in the general election held in 12 days.

The PoliticalHeretic urges Connecticut’s voters to return Senator Joseph Lieberman to Washington on Election Day.

The Democrat

On the war, Mr. Lamont would have us give Prime Minister Nouri Kamel al-Maliki a timetable for our troops’ withdrawal from Iraq. The Democratic Party’s new standard-bearer says their country’s leaders won’t settle their political differences as long as American troops are still patrolling Iraqi streets. He promises to serve as a check on the president. Mr. Lamont blames Mr. Lieberman for cuts in urban homeland security funding.

He says President Bush should press Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table, a position that requires the very trust-building measures Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has failed to support, and provide logical support to any United Nations sanctioned peacekeeping force in the Sudan.

On trade Mr. Lamont aligns himself with the protectionist wing of the Democratic Party on trade. He says we should push China to provide American businesses the same level of access we give to their companies here and opposes agreements that do not include strong environmental and labor protections. Mr. Lamont offers us no means by which we can win China’s cooperation on this issue.


The challenger with the “plan for change,” however, is otherwise running as a typical Democrat on the entitlements, immigration, labor, and the social issues.

He opposes social security and medicare “privatization,” and health savings accounts in favor of “modest” undefined reforms but does not offer any solution to the entitlement problem.. To his credit, he would scrap the bloated Medicare Part D program which President George W. Bush signed (and Senator Lieberman voted for) in favor of a Medicare-based drug plan negotiated by the United States. He would also expand or support the expansion of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage to “moderate income children,” (the PoliticalHeretic would oppose this) and mandate employer “core benefit” health insurance coverage for their full-time workers.

Like many Democrats and suburban Republicans, Mr. Lamont opposes school vouchers and favors increased public school spending. His $6.45 billion spending on “community schools” offering after-school activities, Head Start, and other social service programs 15 hours a day, seven days a week at urban “at-risk schools” is ambitious, but like many potentially worthy programs, prohibitively expensive when spending on the war, and entitlement programs are factored in.

His support for his to spend up to $20,000 a year in education scholarship programs, and spend $500 million in competitive grants to universities to develop two year master degree programs in math and science is too expensive and wasteful. Universities that want to cater to those who would teach math and science would develop the programs and provide the grants that draw the students to their schools. Mr. Lamont opposes school vouchers and dismisses President George W. Bush’s reliance upon standardized testing in his campaign literature.

Mr. Lamont would have to forgo spending, as he should anyway, on 10,000 science and math teacher recruitment plan, in which he offers prospective teachers $20,000 a year ($60,000 for a four-year bachelor’s degree) and the $5 million in grants to 100 universities to set up the education programs that go with it. The teachers’ union would like it, but the United States could not afford it.


He backed the McCain-Specter-Kennedy amnesty bill that would provide illegal immigrants with a “pathway” towards American citizenship and allow for more legal immigration.

On the social issues Mr. Lamont clearly sides with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He is a self-described “pro-choice” Democrat who would have voted against Samuel A. Alito’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. He supports affirmative action, supports gay marriage, and says he would have voted against the misnamed “Defense of Marriage Act” signed into law by former President William Jefferson Clinton.

The “Independent Democrat”

Joseph Lieberman won his seat in 1988 ousting the incumbent, liberal Republican Senator Lowell Weicker, with the help of conservative Republicans and Cuban Americans who were fed up with his pro-Castro voting record

The moderate Democrat earned his bipartisan independent credentials for his generally hawkish voting record on national security, foreign policy, his support for free trade and affiliation with the Democratic Leadership Council’s pro-business targeted tax cut policies, and his condemnation of Hollywood values (and sponsorship of such measures as the v-chip and higher FCC fines).

He voted for the first Persian Gulf War aimed at removing Iraqi troops from Kuwait and called for Saddam Hussein’s removal from power at that time. He also backed former President William Jefferson’s Clinton’s air strikes aimed at halting the Bosnian Serbs’ ethnic cleansing campaign and the Serbians’ brutal campaign to effort to protect Bosnia’s Muslims from the Bosnian Serbs’ ethnic cleansing campaign and again when he authorized air strikes designed to halt the fighting in the Yugoslav breakaway province of Kosovo. He and Republican Senator John McCain both pressed the former president to threaten Serbian officials with the threat of a ground invasion if they didn’t back down from their brutal campaign in renegade province Kosovo.

The incumbent, like many Democrats and Republicans voted to authorize military force in Iraq again in 2003 but unlike many Democratic senators, he did not retreat from his stance and back a proposal for a time troop withdrawal..

On one act of bipartisan legislation we could do without, the senator voted with the president - the misnamed US Patriot Act, and recently for its reauthorization.

However, on most fiscal and social issues, incumbent generally votes with the other members of the Democratic Party. He supported increases in the minimum wage, the illegal immigrant amnesty bill and affirmative action.

Mr. Lieberman has compiled a good pro-environmental voting record during his 18 year tenure earning him the League of Conservation Voters’ endorsement and recognition as a 2006 Environmental Champion. Like most Democrats, Senator Lieberman voted to oppose oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and for Low-Income Home Energy Program Amendment which added $2.92 billion in funding. The senator also voted for an independent peer review panel charged to inspect costly, controversial or environmentally critical Army Corp of Engineer projects.

He voted against personal retirement account legislation in 1998 and when it was backed again by President George W. Bush and voted for the ten year $500 billion + Medicare Part D program which extends prescription drug coverage to senior citizens in part through corporate subsidies designed to encourage them to offer prescription drug plans and like Ned Lamont offers no solution to the entitlement programs’ fiscal crisis.
.
Connecticut’s junior senator voted with the Democrats on public education issues. He voted to increase the maximum Pell Grant awards by $200 to $4,250, a budget waiver to allow $3.96 billion in additional funding in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Amendment, and another budget waiver for an additional $5 billion in Title I educational funding.

Mr. Lieberman at one time expressed support for school vouchers but reversed course in deference to former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign for the presidency.

On the social issues, Mr. Lieberman generally votes with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He consistently voted against partial birth abortion bans since 1995 and for removing restrictions barring abortion procedures from military hospitals, earning him a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and the endorsement from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Senator Joseph Lieberman has generally sided with the gay rights cause, earning him the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign. He voted consistently for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) – which adds sexual orientation to the list of basic job nondiscrimination protections offered to racial, ethnic and religious minorities – and for the Hate Crimes Bill, which adds sexual orientation to the list of covered characteristics.

The senator opposes gay marriage in favor of civil unions. He voted for the misnamed “Defense of Marriage Act” that allows each state to refuse recognition of gay marriages performed in another state, but against the constitutional amendments banning gay marriage nationwide.

He voted against Samuel A. Alito’s confirmation as moderate swing Justice Sondra Day O’Connor’s replacement in the Supreme Court but against the filibuster and against the nominations of California Supreme Court Judge Janice Brown and Texas Court of Appeals Court Priscilla Owen to the federal circuit courts.

Senator Joseph Lieberman has a mixed record on gun rights issues. He voted against the Firearms Manufacturers Protection Bill of 2004 that shielded weapon manufacturers from lawsuits aimed at those who sell guns to those who commit crimes in the future but unfortunately reversed course one year later.

The Republican

Senator Joseph Lieberman and Ned Lamont have won the press’ attention at the expense of three other candidates in the race – Republican Alan Schlesenger, Green Party candidate Ralph A. Ferrucci, and Concerned Citizens’ Candidate Timothy A. Knibbs.

Republican candidate Alan Schlesenger – an attorney and former Derby, Connecticut mayor - is running without the national party’s backing. Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, a Republican, has called for his withdrawal from the race. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, beleaguered Congressman Chris Shays, and conservative media establishment papers like The New York Post, The Weekly Standard, and The National Review are now backing Senator Lieberman. The self-described moderate conservative ran into some trouble when his gambling habits came to light. Republicans abandoned him after Senator Lieberman lost the Democratic Primary and news reports concerning Schlesinger’s alleged card counting practices at gambling establishments under a pseudonym came to light.

The Republican challenger has fallen behind Senator Lieberman and Ned Lamont in the polls but offers Connecticut’s conservatives would have offered conservative voters a viable alternative. Mr. Schlesinger supports Republican proposals like health care savings accounts and tax cuts. He would vote for the elimination of the estates tax and back the measure making the president’s tax cuts permanent while increasing the tax on cigarettes, alcohol, and gas.

He offers a mixed record on environmental issues. Mr. Schlesinger would back tougher emission controls legislation and support investment in alternative energy sources but he also supports oil drilling in Alaska weaker logging restrictions on federal lands.

While Senator Lieberman and Ned Lamont support the McCain-Kennedy “comprehensive immigration reform” package that grants illegal immigrants a “pathway to citizenship,” Mr. Schlesinger offers a reasonable compromise – an 8 month renewable working visa program for those already here with no chance for American citizenship and increased National Guard patrols along the border.

While supporting first trimester abortion rights, the former mayor of Derby supports parental consent laws, a ban on partial birth abortion, and restrictions on second and third trimester abortions. He opposes gay marriage and the constitutional amendment proposals designed to ban it. Mr. Schlesinger opposes the hate crimes bill adding sexual orientation to the list of characteristics protected by it.

He backs stem cell research on both, new and existing embryonic stem cell lines.

Like his Democratic opponents, Mr. Schlesinger opposes the individual savings account package offered by President George W. Bush but to his credit, the Republican offers an alternative – invest FICA revenue in mortgage paper. The media’s focus on the Lieberman-Lamont race unfortunately deprives Connecticut voters (and Americans in general) of a thorough examination of the one proposal on the table.

Ultimately, however, Mr. Schlesinger’s stance on the national security issues is a work in progress. Mr. Schlesinger says he would have voted for the Iraq war based on the information that was provided at the time but now calls for a 50% troop withdrawal. The war we can’t win with the troops we have most certainly can’t be won with less. He says this troop withdrawal would allow us to focus our military resources on Iraq’s next door neighbor, Iran but the costs in terms of manpower and financing would be far more vast in that case than it would in Iraq. Our best hope to contain Iran lies with the creation of an economically and politically viable Iraq. Mr. Schlesinger’s half-hearted commitment to the war in Afghanistan is equally troubling. The Taliban is waging a battle to reclaim what we took from them after they harbored the terrorists that hit us on September 11, 2006.


Third Party Nominees


Green Party candidate Ralph A. Ferrucci, a truck driver and former sales representative does not offer Connecticut’s voters the prerequisite experience. He served as a state coordinator, media advisor, and ballot access coordinator for Ralph Nader’s Green Party presidential campaign in 2004. Mr. Ferrucci offers constituents the Green Party’s Social Democratic vision for the United States, while supporting gay marriage rights, and a troop withdrawal from Iraq and condemned Israel’s retaliatory strikes against Lebanon in August. His association with the fringe group, “Food Not Bombs,” an organization whose worthy goals for a starvation-free society are undermined by its peacenik, generally anti-war values, are not shared by The PoliticalHeretic.

Challenger Timothy A. Knibbs, a receiving trainer at Federated Department Stores and former Dairy Manager at ShopRite, also lacks the political gravitas for the job. He presents the Christian Reconstructionist vision espoused by the Concerned Citizens Party, the state affiliate for the Constitution Party. We could do without his theocratic vision for this country.


Senator Joseph Lieberman


In this election, The PoliticalHeretic favors the incumbent. Mr. Lieberman’s whiny moralizing may bother him, but the senator alone has the political experience and the resolve to see us through the war in Iraq. Whether this was the right war or not, we are now in Iraq. Leave now and Iraq will fall into further disarray. The Saudis, Iranians, Syrians, and Turks could be drawn into a regional war as they fight for the protection of their favored minority or religious group.

Mr. Schlesenger may offer the better approach to immigration reform and the only plan for entitlement reform but this race ultimately could be viewed as a referendum on the war in Iraq and our determination to finish the task at hand. Challengers Ned Lamont, Alan Schlesinger and Ralph A. Ferrucci call for troop withdrawal we cannot afford. Senator Lieberman does not. Connecticut’s Democratic Primary voters should not have the last voice. Connecticut’s independents, Republicans and moderate Democrats should put their partisanship and whatever misgivings they have for the incumbent to the side and vote for Senator Lieberman.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What New Jersey's Gays Earned

The Supreme Court (This is a PDF file) for New Jersey cited numerous rights that are not covered by New Jersey's Domsestic Partnership Law that gay couples would now be entitled to:

1. a surname change without petitioning the court

2. joint property ownership, thereby allowing automatic transfer upon death and protection upon severance or divorce.

3. surivotor benefits under New Jersey's Workers' Compensation Act

4. back wages owned to a deceased spouse

5. compensation avaialbe to the spouses, children and othe relatives of homicide victims under the Criminal Inquiries Compensation Act

6. free higher education tuition now offered to spouses and children of National Guardsmen killed

7. tuition aid to the spouses and children of volunteer firefighters and first aid responders

8. tax deductions for sposal medical expenses

9. realty transfer fee exemption (between spouses)

10. spousal witness testimony privilege (relief from testifying against spouse)

11. Fewer workplace protections

a. health insurance coerage for the domestic partner

b. Family Leave Act protection

12. Wills (automatical revokation upon separation) - but not so under domestic partnership law

13. Family Law Protections

a. no presumption of dual parentage. Costly second-parent adoption proceedings
needed to provide that.

b. no mandatory child support from the non-biological parent

c. no equitable distribution of property during separation

A Brief Reaction to the Gay Marriage Ruling

Give New Jersey's Supreme Court some credit. It waited until the last day of this term, and the last day of Chief Justice Poritz' term to issue its long awaited ruling on the gay marriage claims turned down by the lower courts. Gay Americans challenging their state's heterosexual-exclusive marital definitions won civil unions in Vermont, and gay marriage in Massachussetts but after that it was all downhill in the courts. The highest state courts in New York and Washington rejected gay union rights (though neither outlawed state-approved legal recognition).

New Jersey broke that losing streak and joined Vermont as the only other state's court to split the difference. Gay New Jersey couples, the Supreme Court said, are entitled to all of the rights straight New Jersey couples take for granted from the time they take their vow and sign a legal certificate declaring their union to the time they die (or divorce) and everything in between.

No justice challenged this bold claim. No justice said gay couples said New Jersey could ignore its gay couples. No justice left gays at the mercy of the political whims of the most passionate. Four justices said they could find no right to gay marriage in the state's Constitution, but ordered the state to provide them with the same rights straights take for granted. Three justices said the state had to offer gay couples marriage licenses.

The PoliticalHeretic will not comment on the constitutional aspects of this opinion, an opinion which has yet to be read. It had, in ruling for gay equality without the name, offered the gay community and those who believe marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples with the sensible compromise state legislators did not offer. This ruling in effect will force the state legislators to either pass a civil union bill offering gay couples economic parity or a marriage bill offering gays economic and social equality.

Some gay marriage supporters will now press their state legislators for gay marriage. They shouldn't add fuel to the fire burning in the social conservatives' hearts. Conservatives would use that to rally the anti-gay marriage voting public to their cause. A conservative legislator might vote for gay marriage legislation in order to inflame the public to their cause for a bill that outlaws any and all legal recognition.

Gay couples could settle for a civil unions bill that offers them everything but the name for now. The public opposes gay marriage and it has voted for gay marriage bans in every state where such referendums and constitutional amendments were offered. Better to settle with the moderates now and wait for a future generation that has no hangup with gays to carry that torch.

Gay Marriage Quotes - New Jersey

1. "I would obviously look forward to having our relationship recognized," former Governor James McGreevey on the New Jersey Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling.

Aww, how sweet. I'm sure he'll get down on one knee and propose to his partner. "Will you marry me?"

So where was Mr. McGreevey when the gays pushed for marriage in the legislature. Last I recall, the former governor signed a domestic partnership bill which gave couples like his a few rights. Not the civil unions bill ordered by the Vermont Supreme Court or the one that passed Connecticut's legislature and signed by that state's Republican governor. Not the near-civil unions' California domestic partnership bill passed by that state's legislature and signed by Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger. And not the gay marriages ordered by Massachusetts' Supreme Court.

2. "The court subverted the Constitution and they subverted the definition of marriage...We will now move for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman." - John Tomicki of the far-right League of American Families.

Earth to Mr. Tomicki. The Court did not re-define marriage. It forced the state to either (a) offer gays marital recongition or (b) offer them the benefits that go with that recognition without actually recognizing their unions as marriages. He no doubt will offer an amendment that does more than define "marriage as a union between a man and woman." Count on language forbidding any recognition granted to gay couples, whether it be marriage, civil union, or for that matter the domestic partnerships gays successfully won through the democratic process.

3. "Those who would view today's...ruling as a victory for same-sex couples are dead wrong,...Marriage is the only currency of commitment the real world universally understands and accepts." - Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality

Yes it is Mr. Goldstein, but this is the sensible compromise and perhaps the only one New Jersey's voting public as a whole could live with at this moment. Civil rights struggles are never won in a day. Future generations could always revisit this issue and vote for gay marriage.

4. "I think in any civil rights movement, it's a step-by-step," - Reverend Elizabeth Goudy - a gay marriage proponent who offers a realistic assessment.

5. "I feel they were listening and paying attention to us as human beings who wanted to have the same rights," - Saundra Toby-Heath

6. "People know if you call something different it's not the same. If it's not the same, it's not equal," - Cindy Meneghin

7. "Labels set people apart as surely as physical separation on a bus or in school facilities. Labels are used to perpetuate prejudice about differences that, in this case, are embedded in the law," - New Jersey Chief Justice Poritz (as quoted in The Courier News

8. "As a gay man, I have no desire to get married ... I just want equal rights. Marriage is just a word." - Rivendell Media president Todd Evans, as quoted in The Courier News

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

InterPalestinian Fighting

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may be planning a military operation against Hamas loyalists it holds responsible for the assasination of several local Fatah leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This renewed warfare, if it does occur, would test Mr. Abbas' viabllity as a negotiating power. The moderate saw his negotiating position undermined when his rivals in the anti-Israeli, Islamist Hamas party was voted into power in the last Palestinian elections. The Islamist party has called for the destruction of Israel and it has not retracted its statements after its victory.

If he wins and Hamas is forced to back down, Mr. Abbas could go before the world and Israel and say he can deliver the cease-fire and peace Israel seeks. A victorious Mr. Abbas could also request his American and European backers to give the financial aid suspended after the Palestinian elections.

Should Mr. Abbas lose, Israelis who genuinely seek a two-state negotiated settlement would have to wait until they find someone who can win Palestinian support for peace.

The president's backers say he is trying to assert Fatah control and stop Hamas-led political assassinations but that may only be one of two or three reasons why he might confront Hamas. Mr. Abbas might use these attacks as a cover to legitimize a rescue operation for Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier whose capture eventually led Israel to bomb Lebanon, and spare his country and his poltiical standing from a major Israeli offensive.

The unnamed senior Palestinian official quoted in The Jerusalem Post says Quatar, Egypt, and Jordan have warned his government of a potentially massive Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip if efforts to release Cpl. Gilad Shalit fail.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Real Denager from North Korea

Granted, the source for the uranium in this case is in doubt (Russia and North Korea are mentioned) but an impoverished nation with corrupt officials pressed for cash may very well try to sell their weapons or vital ingredientts.

Unilateral Disarmament from South Korea Once Sought?

"Government officials said the reason why the request for eliminating the term was made was that North Korea promised to give up its nuclear program in the six-party talks on its nuclear program in September last year, just before the SCM. “We were concerned that the North would resist if the term appeared in the SCM statement,” one said. North Korea already announced it has nuclear weapons in February last year. That means government officials pushed to eliminate the nuclear deterrent here, the guarantee for our safety, on a mere promise from the North and without verifying that it was really dismantling its nuclear facilities.

Over the decades, North Korea has consistently demanded that the nuclear umbrella be removed, that our National Security Law be scrapped, that there should be changes in the structure where the U.S. and South Korea jointly exercise wartime operational control, and that the Northern Limit Line should be revised. In doing so, it tried to disarm us militarily and psychologically."


The administration over there had since changed its mind.

I guess this would undermine any push for nuclear disarmament for a while.

North Korea: US Shows its Guns when Asked

We're sending the tactical nukes back in.

South Korea and American troops

“The agreement forced the CFC to live on borrowed time and it will greatly weaken the joint defense preparedness of the two allies,” says former presidential adviser for national defense Kim Hee-sang. “It could send the wrong message and make North Korea more confident after it went ahead with its nuclear test in defiance of warnings from the international community.” from The Chosun Ilbo

Yes, the North Koreans may be emboldened by such a maneuver, but would they defy China, their one and only major trading partner other than South Korea? The PoliticalHeretic doubts it. No American troop withdrawal is expected, But who knows? An impoverished state with an insecure leader might be desperate enough to invade his southern, democratic neighbor.

But here's the paradox. Giving the South Koreans control over their own forces may actually strenthen our diplomatic hand. As Mr. Kim Hee-sang is quoted as saying: the South Koreans are living on borrowed time, which means that South Korea's appeasement-oriented "sunshine policy" may also be living on borrwed time.

The editorial blames Seoul for an agreement which it believes helps us more than them.

Here's the money quote:

"Had this administration and president not brought up the issue for propaganda purposes, pretending the joint exercise of wartime operational control infringed on our sovereignty and stoking anti-American sentiment by doing so, the U.S., for the sake of expanding the strategic flexibility of its forces the world over, would have asked for Korean cooperation and given additional security guarantees in return."

Perhaps, but our demands may not have pleased the administration that has invested its prestige and money in a "sunshine policy" we may have asked it to put on hold.

Or Maybe No Apology

One South Korean newspaper repot suggested that North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Ill was sorry that he detonated a nuclear weapon and hinted that he might return to the negotiation table if the United States stopped its campaign to isolate his country through economic and military sanctions.

A conflicting report can be found at The Japan Times.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Voting Preferences Part 2: Casey for Pennsylvania

New Jersey's voters may have been deprived of a real substantive debate on the important national political issues of the day but their neighbors to the west can make a better informed substantive choice. The Republican incumbent and Democratic challenger have squared off on the key political issues of the day, offering the voters a chance to make a well informed decision come Election Day.

The race for the junior senate seat pits a well polished and intellectually acute incumbent with a vision Pennsylvania and the United States in general could do without against a less polished political novice, State Auditor General Bob Casey Jr., who failed to present himself to the voter as a knowledgeable intellectual heavy weight we could all use in the senate in his past two debates.


Third Party Candidates


Libertarian candidate Tom Martin, who is also running for a state senate seat, subscribes to the anti-regulatory economic and cultural sentiments associated with the Libertarian Party. He supports abortion rights and opposes any federal involvement in this issue. Opposes marriage discriminatory funding, supports gay privacy rights, nondiscriminatory regulation-free ballot access, gay marriage rights, the abolishment of the Federal Reserve and a return to the Gold Standard and an end to the drug war. He offers Republicans who oppose the religious conservatives' growth a protest vote. Green Party Candidate Carl Romanelli offers liberal Democrats disenchanted with Mr. Casey's moderate positions a protest vote as well.

Incumbent Senator Rick Santorum is in the fight of his political life. He is trailing in the latest polls and is considered by many pundits one of three or four Republican incumbents in serious danger of losing his seat. Since he ousted former Democratic Senator Harris Wofford in 1995, Mr. Santorum has aligned himwelf with the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.


The Cultural Issues


The junior senator from Pennsyvlania opposes abortion rights and has been one of the chief spokes persons in the senate for the "pro-life" point of view, earning him a 100% voting record from The National Right to Life Committee and the support of social conservatives everywhere. He voted for partial birth abortion ban legislation proposed every time it came up, the failed Fetal Tiessue Research Amendment barring the use of federal funds for research involving fetal tissues or cells and against legislation that would allow military servie women a chance to have their privately funded abortions at military hospitals.

The junior senator from Pennsylvania voted to confirm Justices Samuel A. Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court of the United States and expressed his support for the repeal of Roe v. Wade. On "Meet The Press" he came out against the Federal Drug Administration's plan to let Plan B, the morning-after pill, be sold over the counter because it is an abortifacient.

His oppoenent also opposes abortion rights because he believes life begins at conception and said he would like Roe v Wade repealed but got in trouble when he consistently stated, during the "Meet The Press" debate, that Plan B functions as a contraceptive (it does, but in some cases it does terminate a fertilized egg). (A case for support of abortifacients and opposition to abortions can be made but only if one holds to the view, as the PoliticalHeretic does, that the moral worth of a fetus substantially outweighs that of a zygote or early-stage embryo).

Mr. Casey supports the emergency contrapective education that Mr. Santorum voted against in March of 2005.

Mr. Santorum also opposes gay rights legislation. He voted against legislation that extends hate crim protections to gays, and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act which would have barred hiring and promotion practices that discriminated against people who are gay even though he has stood behind a recently outed gay staffer of his. And he got in trouble when, in reaction to the news that the Supreme Court was going to reconsider its ruling of Bowers v. Hardwick he grouped the constitutional right to gay sex with the "right" to pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, adultery and incest.

Mr. Casey also opposes gay marriage but said he favors civil union legislation, the Emmployment Nondiscrimination Act, and for legislation extending hate crime protection status to those who are gay.

When Congress was voting on the president's No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, the senator unscucessfully tried to insert language requiring public schools to discuss the controversy surrounding evolution and present children with an alternative theory - "intelligent design." Mr. Casey would keep the intelligent design and creationism viewpoints where they belong - in a the religious and not the science classrooms. Mr. Santorum supports school vouchers while his opponent emphasizes the publicly funded education system.

Trade

Mr. Santorum would vote for the US-Oman Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA, the US-Chile Free Trade Agreement, the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the Africa Free Trade Bill and the US-China Relations Act of 2000 which gave China normal trade relation status. Mr. Casey said he would


Fiscal Issues and the Entitlements


Neither candidate offers Pennsylvania residents or American citizens in general a solution to the impending financial crisis surrounding the entitlement programs. The Democratic candidate said economic growth would help us "grow out of" the social security solvency crisis while repealing the Bush estate tax cuts and the tax cuts given to those making $200,000 and over "for the top 1 percent." Mr. Casey said he would probably vote against a commission-recommended reform to means test social security or raise the retirement age.

Mr. Santorum has voted for oil drilling in Alaska and for the transportation of nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada,

Mr. Santorum's answer isn't much (if at all) better. He pulled back from the more realistic position he took in 1994 when he said the government could either raise taxes, cut benefits, or raise the retirement age and backed a plan to have the surplus put into individual retirement accounts that future retirees would own. These accounts would not and could not be touched by the federal government (in effect creating a lock box) but the incumbent's plan is still dependent upon the same expectation of growth Casey's plan needs.

The senator has also provided the America public with no plan to balance the budget and continues to support the tax cuts we cannot afford to preserve in a time of two wars, mounting debt and entitment obligations to fulfill.

Key Issues

OMr. Santorum has supports the law-and order approach on immigration reform. He voted against the S2611, one of several bills that offer illegal immigrants a "pathway to citizenship" and has aligned himself with those who are calling for stricter immigration enforcement. He voted for the symbolic halfway measures on fence construction his colleagues pulled out of the hat just before the November elections but those

His challenger offers the other piece to the puzzle - tougher fines on the employers who hire illegal aliens and more audits.

On the war Senator Rick Santorum has voted for the war in Iraq and continues to support his decision to go to war this day. He says we cannot give in, embolden our enemies, and give al Qaeda a new base of operations to launch future attacks upon the United States and its allies but unfortunately has repeated some of the less credible claims made by the president to justify this backing. To this day, the senator from Pennsylvania says our presence in Iraq has diverted the enemy from attacks on our soil when ther eis nothing but speculation to back that up. Our war in Iraq did not deter several Birith-born terrorists from their ultimately unsuccessful effort to hijack several airplanes and crash them into the ocean.

Mr. Casey said he would have voted for the war in Iraq with the information we had in 2003 but would not have done so with the information we have today. Mr. Casey, like Senator Rick Santorum and Senate hopeful Thomas Kean, believes we have to finish what we started. Both support tough sanctions against Iran.

The Senator has backed the president on the Patriot Act, his wiretap program, the covert CIA interrogation operations oversees, and the indefinite detention of administration-declared "enemy war combatants" without a fair trial. He voted to substantially raise the FCC fines on indecent programming. Mr. Casey, on his "Meet The Press" unfortunately, distanced himself from the civil liberties wing of his party and voiced his support for wiretaps and the Patriot Act.


War Not an Issue When Both Candidates Support It


The PoliticalHeretic believes the war is the most important issues, but believes Mr. Casey has the edge. The Democratic candidate said he would have voted for the war and does not regret it but said he would have opposed it if he was presented with the evidence he has today. Mr. Santorum voted for the war, said he did not regret it and would not vote against it even now. Both candidates rightly say we have to finish what we started and asince both oppose these calls for an immediate withdrawal going forward and have willingly ceded to President Bush's push to weaken constitutional habeus corpus rights, the PoliticalHeretic urges Pennsylvania voters to focus on the economic and cultural issues. Neither candidate offers the voters a fiscally prudent policy but the incumbent had voted to raise the debt limit and voted for an extension of the president's budget crippling tax cuts while the Democratic challenger at the very least said he would support a repeal that at minimum would return one source of revenue needed to fund two wars.

Casey

On the cultural issues, Mr. Casey offers the better vision for this country that is more compatible with a freedeom-affirming voters. He supports privacy rights and rejects abortion based upon the principle of civil rights (as I had explained on numerous occasions during the Supreme Court debate, this is by far the least encroaching upon the right to privacy) and while the Democratic challenger opposes same-sex marriage, he does support the gay rights measures Mr. Santorum admantly opposes. Come Novemember, Pennsylvania's residents should cast their ballot for Mr. Casey.

Voting Preferences Part I: Kean for New Jersey

Kean for Senate

The average American who goes to the polls on Election Day rarely expects to vote for the perfect candidate. They will vote for the candidate whose views most closely mirror their own knowing all to well that the winner will more than likely break his or her promises as soon as he gets to office.


A Poor Selection


New Jersey voters’ unfortunately did not even get a chance to hear the candidates make the promises they eventually will break. Incumbent U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, and NJ State Senator Tom Kean Jr. have traded cheap shots reminiscent of the Torricelli-Bennett debates eons ago. Mr. Kean says Robert Menendez broke conflict of interest rules by renting his property to a federally funded charity while the incumbent in turn accuses the Republican from Union County of trading campaign contributions for votes on tax exemptions.

Neither major candidate offers New Jersey’s voters a reason to vote for them. Mr. Menendez says his opponent will vote for President George W. Bush’s agenda, while he will stand up to the president and withdraw American troops from Iraq within the year but says nothing about his post-Bush term in office. Mr. Kean says he, unlike Senator Menendez, as if that would somehow distinguish him from the 8.7 million New Jersey residents who are not running for the senate seat.

The voters deserved better and might have if the press some ideologically-driven third party candidates in the one debate. Had they participated, these candidates would have pressed the senator and his opponent to address a whole wide array of political, social, and cultural issues.

But whether we like the candidates running or not, we must go to the polls and fulfill our civic duty.. If the Hungarians could riot on the street and call for the head of the prime minister who lied to them about their country’s fiscal crisis, we could vote those who fail us out of office.


Tit for Tat


Mr. Robert Menendez has compiled a 15-year combined voting record that aligns him with the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party on the environment, trade, labor abortion, war policy, and a host of other issues.

His opposition to oil drilling offshore and within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, his votes against the logging industry and his support for key environmental causes like the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1995 and an Everglades ecosystem restoration project, have earned him the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.

Mr. Kean did not win their endorsements and notably failed to obtain the endorsement of his own party’s environmental activist group, Republicans for Environmental Choice, but the state senator from Union County said he too, would vote against proposals to lift the ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also promised to support (probably through tax credits) efforts to boost hybrid car purchases as well as investments in renewable resources like ethanol, solar power and wind power. Mr. Kean said he would vote to allow windmills on the Jersey Shore if they are economically feasible, something Senator Menendez has ruled out. Score one for Menendez.

Senator Mendez offers the firmer approach on the Oyster Creek Generating Plant in Lacey, New Jersey. He would tie AmerGen Energy Company’s application for a 20-year operation renewal to an independent review commission, something Mr. Kean would only do if the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s report generates more questions than answers.

On trade, the incumbent has generally voted against the president’s efforts to increase free trade. He voted against NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement), the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, most-favored nation treatment for China (an emerging superpower and economic powerhouse in its own right) and Vietnam. He supported a bill that established free trade with several African (and another with Chile) countries contingent upon improved human and labor rights standards.

Kean says he believes in and will vote for free trade. Score one for Mr. Kean.
.
Neither candidate offers New Jersey voters a reliable plan to save the hemorrhaging entitlement programs. Senator Robert Menendez voted against President George W. Bush’s social security “privatization” plan but offered no alternative save to balance the budget and remove troops from Iraq. (This latter cost saving would at best, merely return us to the financial crisis that existed before the war started).

Mr. Kean says he too opposes social security privatization and offers no alternative. No means testing, no rise in age eligibility. Nothing.

Both, Senator Menendez and State Senator Kean would vote for measures that would increase the national debt. Senator Menendez, to his credit, has voted to repeal the tax cuts we cannot afford at this time, but then undoes that momentary act of good judgment by voting to extend federal employee health care coverage to all Americans and voted against efforts to means-test Medicare and Medicaid and education loan cuts that would have saved $39.68 billion in savings.

Mr. Kean would vote for the health savings accounts plans that are fine for those who can afford to save money from their paycheck and offer small businesses to join together to buy health insurance coverage.

Mr. Kean says U.S. taxpayers could use another tax cut. We could, of course, but he offers no means to offset the loss in revenue needed to fight two wars, save the entitlement programs and save social security.

The Republican challenger says he identifies with the culturally moderate wing of the Republican Party that Northeasterner suburbanites, moderate pragmatists, and liberals can live with. He is pro-choice on abortion but his position on any number of related issues, like partial birth abortion or the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act that criminalized efforts to evade parental consent laws by crossing state lines is unknown. He voted for one of two bills funding embryonic stem cell research (he opposed the one that would have used cigarette taxes to finance it), so he won't be beholdened to the Christian right of his party.

Mr. Mendez’s “pro-choice” credentials are unassailable to a fault,however, winning him the endorsement from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. The senator has voted against the partial birth abortion ban, a procedure in which a late-term fetus’ head is severed from the rest of its body, and the child interstate abortion notification, which preserves the parents’ right to participate in their child’s own health care. Score one for Kean by default.

Both say they oppose both, gay marriage and a federal constitutional amendment banning it. Senator Menendez says it would be discriminatory, though no more discriminatory than the ban he supports. He has voted for the hate crime enhancement statutes and a law outlawing sexual orientation based discrimination.

Mr. Kean says this is a state issue and provides us with a mixed gay rights voting record. He voted against domestic partnership legislation in 2004 but voted for a narrower bill providing spousal survival benefits and funeral arrangement rights after a well-publicized case of a dying police officer’s partner was denied spousal benefits led to an outpouring of sympathy and demands for changes in New Jersey’s laws. Score one for Menendez.


Key Issues Favor Kean


On the most important issues confronting Americans, however, the PoliticalHeretic believes the differences could not be any sharper. Senator Menendez says we have to cut our losses and withdraw our troops from Iraq within a year, a move that could only embolden the enemy, give the Iranians a foothold in Iraq, and draw NATO ally Turkey closer to Iran’s orbit as both work together to suppress an emboldened country-hungry Kurdish population. State Senator Kean says we have to stay and finish the job and deny those who want Iraq to break a part from the chance of doing so.

On immigration reform, Senator Menendez favors the legislation passed by the Senate, legislation that provides illegal aliens with “a pathway to citizenship” but does not include any real border enforcement mechanisms designed to mitigate the increased wave of illegal immigration that would follow. Mr. Kean may not have told us what the United States should do with the illegal immigrants already here, but the state senator from New Jersey said he will oppose legislation offering illegal aliens a chance at citizenship.

Moreover, on some fundamental constitutional liberty issues, flag burning amendment aside, Senator Menendez cast his vote for the wrong side of the civil liberties political divide. He voted for the USA Patriot Act that allows government officials to track your book reading at the library and, after unsuccessfully amending it to include some more civil liberties protections, for its renewal. He voted to increase the fines for indecent programming substantially and for a bill that substantially loosens the restrictions on media ownership and voted against a bill that barred federal funding for any project that involved tax-revenue supported eminent domain practices.

Mr. Menendez has offered New Jersey residents and the United States in general an uninspiring 14-year record in Washington, and should not be sent back. He should be replaced by a senator who offers a slightly better position on the important issues confronting this nation today. Vote for Tom Kean.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

North Korea's Apology

North Korea's communist officials said the United Nations approved military sanctions imposed upon their country this week amounted to a "declaration of war," and vowed retaliation if further sanctions were imposed. American intelligence officials spotted activities near the site where last week's nuclear detonation took place, causing them to think another test was underway.

Yesterday, however, Chinese representatives met with North Korea's administration and their diplomatic efforts and their banks' decision to cut its tiese with North Korea may have paid off if a South Korean newspaper's account of that meeting is correct.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Ill reportedly told some Chinese delegates that he regretted his decision to test a nuclear device and was ready to return negotiating table (bilateral or mulilateral) if the United States backs off from its threat to financially isolate his country.

The State Department to date has dismissed the report and does not believe Mr. Kim Jong Ill is sorry and genuinely ready to return to the negotiating table. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice wisely rejected the North Korean dictator's possible offer and insisted upon the country's unconditional return to the eix-party talks.

Kim Jong Ill may be trying to break the coalition that voted for the United Nations military sanctions apart. Some Chinese officials balked when we asked them to inspect vehicles entering North Korea. By capitulating, the North Korean dictator may be counting upon China's withdrawal from that coalition and win their support in the negotiations that follow or at minimum, the suspension of the sanction regime now in place.


The Bush administration should reject any proposal that removes the newly-enacted suspensions and insist upon North Korea's unconditional return to the six-member talks. Mr. Kim Jong Ill might not be dissuaded from further testing if he believes any punishment inflicted upon his country in response would be short-lived. Pyongyang must pay for its openly provacative act of defiance. The North Korean dictator must be forced to buy the lift of United Nation's imposed sanctions for a higher price.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Surprise Endorsement

Rare is it when The San Francisco Chronicle endorses a Republican. Rare indeed.

Dan Asmussen

Voting machine turnout and Halliburton's Tara Reid reconstruction efforts make it in this week's "The Bad Reporter.

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY POLITICAL INTERVIEW SHOWS


1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET): (a) Senator Barack Obama - domestic politics, foreign policy and his book "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream." (b) Special pre-election Roundtable on the new NBC Wall Street Journal poll and Republican troubles with David Broder of The Washington Post, Charlie Cook of The National Journal and the Cook Political Report, John Harwood of CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, and Robert Novak of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

2. "Fox News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET and repeated on FOX News at 6 pm ET):(a) the Senate's top foreign policy experts on the global hotspots (Iran, Iraq, North Korea) - Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), Senator John Warner (R-Virginia), Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan). (b)Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. (c)FOX Sunday Panel with the regulars - Fox News Managing Editor Brit Hume, The Weekly Standard Editor Editor Bill Kristol, NPR Senior National Correspondent Juan Williams, and NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson. (d) Power Play of the Week: not mentioned.


3. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET):
The Mid-term Elections. Guests include Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina) of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Senior Editor Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET):
(a) Sunday Exclusive - President George W. Bush on the war in Iraq, the nuclear weapon standoff with North Korea, and the Congressional mid-term elections. (b) Sunday Exclusive - Senator and former Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry (D-Massachussetts) offers a Democratic response to the war on Iraq, the nuclear weapon standoff with North Korea and the Congressional mid-term elections. (c) Sunday's Roundtable - ABC News' George F. Will, Cokie Roberts, and Sam Donaldson on all of the latest news and politics. (d) Voices Sunday - Kelly Kulick on her passion for bowling and on being the first woman to qualify for the on the professional tour.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET):
The mid-term elections. Guests include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) of the Armed Services Commmittee, Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzzezinksi, scholar Norm Ornstein of The American Enterprise Institute, Mike Allen of Time Magazine, and CNN Congressional Correspondent Andrea Koppel.

II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS

1. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday - 10:00 AM ET and repeated on CNBC at 8:30 PM ET): (a)Race for the White House: Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) potential. (b)The Democratic Party - potential to win voters in the conservative southern states. Guests this weekend include Joe Klein of Time Magazine, Clarence Page of The Chicago Tribune, Katty Kay of the BBC and Norah O'Donnell of MSNBC.

2. Beltway Boys on FOX News (Saturday - 6:00 PM ET and repeated at 11:30 PM ET): (a) The Republican's political damage control plan. (b) Corruption charges against Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). Co-hosts are Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

3. FOX News Watch on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET and Sunday at 2:00 AM ET): (a)Mid-term Congressional elections - pessmimistic predictions from the media. (b)Video of insurgent snipers - whether CNN made the right call to air the killing of American soldiers. (c)Madonna's adoption - media cynicism. Regular panelists are Jane Hall, Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Neal Gabler, and host Eric Burns.


III. OTHER WEEKEND NEWS/POLITICAL TALK SHOWS



1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday at 5 PM ET):
(a)North Korea - whether Kim Jung-Ill is really sorry for detonating a nuclear device. (b)Illegal Immigration - Representative J.D. Hayworth (R-Arizona). (c)Mid-term Congressional election countdown - will the Democrats retake the House and Senate?

2. "Heartland w John Kasich" on FOX News (Saturday at 10 PM ET): (a)North Korea Standoff - whether North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Ill is really "sorry" for detonating a nuclear device. (b) John Ratzenberger from "Cheers."


IV. FEATURE NEWS SHOWS


1. "CNN Presents" on CNN (Saturday and Sunday at 8 PM ET): "Immigrant Nation, Divided Country." - the lives of four families on the front lines of the illegal immigration debate.

2. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10 PM ET): Not in any particular order - (a)"The Bridge" - controversy surrounding a film that captures 24 people committing suicide by jumping off The Golden Gate Bridge in California. (b)"Mindless eaters" - why some people "zone out with food." (c) Mary Poppins hits Broadway. (d) Geralyn Lucas on surviving breast cancer.


3. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10 PM ET):
"Scientology - A Question of Faith" - a look back at a 2003 murder in which a schizophrenic named Jeremy Perkins kills his scientologist-believing mother, Elli Perkins, by stabbing her 70 times. Her refusal to provide him medical treatment may have contributed to her downfall.


4. "CBS' Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9 AM ET):
The Health Issue (a) Cover Story - Pill Nation. (b) The Name Game. (c) Food Allergies. (d)Marathon Man - Dean Kanarzes, running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. (e) Fat Nation - Japan. (f)Status Report. (g) Commentary by Mo Rocca. (h)Pet Project. (i) "Doctor, Help!" (j) TV Doctors. (k)"It's a Snore." (l)Essay by Joe Sarfore.

5. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7 PM ET, or whenever the CBS football game ends): (a) "The Mother of All Heists" - more than $1/2 billion earmarked to fight the insurgency stolen from the Iraq's Ministry of Defense. (b) "Two Heart Beats Away" - Minority Leader (and potentially, future Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi (D-California) profiled. (c) "Searching for Jacob" - a child who left his schoolbooks and parents behind while Darfur's people are butchered.

6. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Saturday at 9 PM ET): a twisted teen love triangle - two girls, one boy, jealousy, and murder.

V. PURE ENTERTAINMENT

1. "Saturday Night LIve" (Saturday at 11:25 PM ET): Host John C. Reilly with musical guest "My Chemical Romance."

2. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): "Public Service Homicide" - tabloid news show outs pedophiles and one turns up dead. A neighbor with an 8-yr old daughter is suspected first until his alibi checks out. A former girlfriend claims self-defense and the prosecution must find the true culprit and the real motive. Guest stars for this episode include Remy Auberjonois and Zoe Lister-Jones.


3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9 PM ET):
Lilly mixes business with boyfriend. 2003 case about the murder of an autistic boy's parent's is re-opened.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Iraq

It's a start. but only a start. Will Mr. Maliki confront Mokhtada al-Sadr? Not if he needs his party's votes.

Monday, October 16, 2006

More Gay Baiting

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, says the secretary's comments were "profoundly offensive" and fly in the face of the Bush administration's endorsement of a federal marriage protection amendment, though that backing be less than enthusiastic.

"We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," says Sprigg. "But even beyond that, the deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner's family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing."

We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," says Sprigg. "But even beyond that, the deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner's family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing."

Sprigg says in light of the Foley scandal, "it's inexplicable that a conservative administration would do such things." He also notes that Rice's comments defy an existing law on the books protecting traditional marriage. "So, for her to treat his partner like a spouse and treat the partner's mother as a mother-in-law, which implies a marriage between the two partners, is a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act," the FRC spokesman states.
- excerpt from The American Family Association web site.

Mr. Spriggs says it is"profoundly offensive" for a secretary of state to be polite and include that significant other that brings added meaning to Mr. Dybul's life in the swearing in ceremony or, to refer to "partner Jason Claire's" mother in the terms that most accurately reflect her relationship to Mr. Dybul. It may not be a legally recognized one, but it is nevertheless a relationship of profound importance to them.

The Concerned Women for America spokesperson criticizes Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice for her failure to yield to his politically correct attitude. His ideological soulmates gathered in Boston this Sunday to oppose gay rights (and not just gay marriage) and listen to White House aspirant Governor Mitt Romeny "warn" them of the political correct attitudes which would be imposed upon them.

I'm sorry but labellin but calling a disease that can afflict anyone as the gay person's disease is "profoundly offensive." Branding gay Americans everywhere as sexual predators, as Mr. Spriggs and Mr. Perkins did on TV, is "profoundly offensive." Acting civilly towards an employee's loved ones is not.

Friday, October 13, 2006

MIsapplied Criticism

Here's the story behind Dan Asmussen's joke on Mr. Pete Wilson. The Political Heretic doesn't listen to this show so he cannot say whether Mr. Wilson said anthing bad against lesbian, gay, and transgender parents but from what he sees here, the Political Heretic sees nothing wrong with what he said. In fact, he wonders why gays would defend a person (Supervisor Bevan Dufty) who chooses to live and raise a child with someone he isn't even attracted to (Rebecca Goldfader) and why they didn't they go after Mr. Dufty for treating this child-raising experience as an "experiment?"

Crass Political Exploitation

1. After former Represntative Mark Foley (R-Florida) was outed as a gay with predatorial proclivities, the debate shifted to the House's role in hiding this scandal. While the jury is still out, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia), a potential candidate for the White House, said the Republican House leadership probably didn't want to rush to judgement. He said they didn't want to appear homophobic.
Whatever merit there is to that argument (there is little if any), Newt Gingrich isn't deterred by such thinking. He says voters should still vote against Representative Nancy Pelosi's (D-California) "San Francisco values." Hmmm. What does everyone in the "hartland" think of when San Francisco comes to mind?

2. Then, lsat night on Larry King, we had this exchange between gay conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan and liberal talk show host Ed Schultz of "The Ed Schultz Show:"

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO HOST, "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW": Well, Larry, I see it differently. I do believe that there is going to be a political fallout to all of this because I think it's part of a pattern that has taken place within the conservative movement.

You know, you can nitpick this or wordsmith it anyway you want. The fact is they knew about Foley a number of years before he ran for office in 2004 and they didn't do anything about it.

The fact is Karl Rove said in January of '04 that he needed to get four million evangelical Christians out to vote and that was going to be the difference. Now, I just wonder if the evangelical Christians had known about this story would they have voted for George Bush and bought into this full line of GOP about how the Democrats are Godless and about how the Democrats aren't the party of moral value.

So, they went around putting up these vote value signs in South Dakota and went after Tom Daschle and his faith and it worked. But I think if this gay story had come out the way it was, I think it would have been different. And it is a gay story and it is about pedophilia and it is about not telling the truth to the American people.

And, I think the American people right now are politically exhausted. They just want to know what the truth is. They just want an investigation and they just want to get to the bottom of it and they want to know when they go in that booth that they're voting for somebody that's going to be honest with them.

SULLIVAN: Excuse me but this is not a gay story.

KING: Amy Holmes -- Amy.

SULLIVAN: This is not a gay story, Larry. I'm not going to let him get away with that.

HOLMES: Yes, I agree, Andrew.

SULLIVAN: This has absolutely nothing to do with gay people.

KING: Nothing?

SULLIVAN: It has everything to do with the abuse of power. If this had been done to a girl page, it would have been just as appalling. And to tie gay people with a pedophile brush from the left is really disgusting and I think you need to withdraw that remark.

SCHULTZ: Well, the point I'm trying to make, well I'll use you as an example, what are you doing in the Republican Party? Do tax cuts mean that much to you?

SULLIVAN: I'm not a Republican.

SCHULTZ: This is a party that -- this is a party that has thrown you under the bus. This is a party that has totally disregarded. This is a party that has kept this story in the closet and they've run around the country putting the gay marriage amendment on eleven states, one of them in Ohio, and told the people that they were the party of moral value. I think that's wrong and I think the people have got this figured out this time and there will be a political fallout.

HOLMES: But I'd like to jump in here.

KING: Let Amy say a word -- Amy.

HOLMES: I'd like to jump in and agree with Andrew that to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia is a very nasty charge and I think totally irresponsible. And, by the way, there is no evidence... SCHULTZ: Well, I wasn't doing that.


So let me get this straight. Mr. Schultz says this is a gay story (which it is in part since Representative Foley is gay) but does nothing to distinguish between gays who are predators and gays who are not, does not apologize or say he agrees with Mr. Sullivan's response, and then tells gays to vote for the Democrats since they don't belong to the party that hasn't "thrown" them "under the bus."

First, go after the gays. Then, on the same show, tell them that no matter what you say, they should stick with you since the Republicans are worse. Thank you.

and who were the voices of reason on this show?

Gay independent conservative Andrew Sullivan and Republican strategist Amy Holmes.

Dan Asmussen

The Bad Reporter on serial killers, "normall people" and gays adopting children. Then pre-emption in schools.