Saturday, May 31, 2008

Noonan at Bush and McClellan

"Mr. McClellan's portrait of Mr. Bush is weird and conflicted, though he does not seem to notice. The president is "charming" and "disarming," humorous and politically gifted. He weeps when Mr. McClellan leaves. Mr. McClellan always puts quotes on his praise. But the implication of his assertions and anecdotes is that Mr. Bush is vain, narrow, out of his depth and coldly dismissive of doubt, of criticism and of critics.

If that's what you think, say it. If it's not, don't suggest it.

When I finished the book I came out not admiring Mr. McClellan or liking him but, in terms of the larger arguments, believing him. One hopes more people who work or worked within the Bush White House will address the book's themes and interpretations. What he says may be inconvenient, and it may be painful, but that's not what matters. What matters is if it's true. Let the debate on the issues commence."

When the conservatives are saying this ...

The Big News from Michigan

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York), through her man, Harold Ickes, threatened to continue the fight through to August. Will they? Who knows, but the threat is out there.

My reaction: Michigan and Florida got more than they deserve. Florida's delegation will be seated in full but their voting power was cut in half. Both states forfeited their delegation rights by holding their primaries earlier than permitted. Prudence dictated however a compromise in Florida since both remaining candidates had their names on the ballot. I'm sure Rules Committee members in hindsight thought the Republicans had it right when they stripped Florida of 1/2 of its voting power.

The Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to restore 1/2 voting rights to Michigan's pledged delegates (I guess its super delegates won't have voting rights?) and gives Clinton 69 delegates (34.5 votes), and Obama 59 delegates (29.5 votes). I don't know if the state could accurately give Obama those delegates. A portion of those uncommitted voters might have pulled the lever for John Edwards or for any of the other Democratic nominees whose name did not show up on the ballot. Likewise, voters who might have pulled the lever for Obama might have voted for their second pick, Senator Clinton because they considered a vote for "uncommitted" the anti-Hillary vote they did not want to make.

That said, this solution beats Ickes' suggestion that Clinton get her "pledged delegates" and the uncommitted delegates function as super delegates (didn't Clinton campaign staffers once claim that their is no difference since all must vote for the person they consider the best nominee). The uncommitted vote functioned as the Obama and/or John Edwards vote and did not reflect the will of an undecided or wavering voting public.

Clinton Vying for Trash Talking Voters

"you bet your ass..." - Harold Ickes, live.

very high class don't you think? West Virginia, Arkansas and Kentucky voted. Move on.

Obama v. Trinity United

CNN reports on Senator Barack Obama's decision to leave Trinity United Church of Christ. My thought - it took him way to long to make this decision. He should have resigned from his membership when Reverend Jeremiah Wright's comments were aired on tv. Nothing which the visiting priest said at the Church could have reflected poorly on Senator Obama because he was just that - a visiting priest. The media rightly held Obama accountable for Reverend Wright's comments since the reverend was his pastor.

This obviously was done because it was the politically expedient thing to do.

I say this as one who stated his preference for Obama over his remaining rival, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Column - Proposal on Michigan and Florida

Joe Conason hints at one possible solution - seat Florida and Michigan's pledged delegates but strip the super delegates from voting.

"Fashioning a solution that permits both states to be represented at the Denver convention without tilting the contest should be the committee's objective. And if they really must punish somebody, perhaps they should inflict the party's wrath on the Florida and Michigan party bigwigs -- now known as superdelegates -- who created this mess in the first place." - Joe Conason

Not a bad idea though again I wouldn't let the Michigan vote as it is stand for the very reason Conason himself noted in his article:

"In truth, Michigan is the example that tempts comparison with dubious exercises abroad, where only one candidate's name is on the ballot and dissent is expressed by not voting, spoiling ballots or, in this case, voting "uncommitted." And Clinton should not demean herself by trying to claim the fruits of such a farce are not tainted."

Even if Obama was in the wrong by stalling efforts to have Michigan and Florida conduct re-votes (and this of course assumes Clinton's negotiators were playing it fair and that the states would pay for them) the fact remains that Michigan and Florida were not entitled to do-overs.

And why not penalize the people for the conduct exhibited by their legal representatives? Stripped of their seating rights, voters in Michigan and Florida might turn on Republicans and Democrats that voted to put them in the situation they now find themselves in. Seating the delegations in full could only encourage them and future states to defy party rules concerning the primary calendar.

Free Speech Column

The Political Heretic hasn't linked to the First Amendment Center in a long time so Charles C. Haynes' latest column on the need to encourage public school students to exercise their free speech rights provides a great opportunity to do so.

"Here’s a concept: Freedom works. Freedom and democracy, not censorship and repression, create safer schools for students — and ensure a more secure society for us all.

Freedom also takes work. Many school officials complain that in this era of high-stakes testing they don’t have time for such “extras” as supporting meaningful student government, promoting student journalism or creating opportunities for student engagement in public policy and service.

But if we can send young people to fight and die in the name of freedom and democracy abroad, surely we can take time to practice freedom and democracy at home."

Good article but note the balance - he took one issue and defended the right of two students who, though they hold opposing views on the topic, their right to free speech.


"Clinton's Mnemonic Device"

As promised, Mr. Oliver's take on Senator Clinton's RFK and Zimbabwe comments.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not a Bad Idea But Don't Count On It

I like columnist David Brooks' focus on governance. We spend way too much time talking about the vice presidential running mate's ability to bring a state into the fold and not enough time speaking about president's governing needs.

The Dumbest Move obama Could Make

This caught my eye. - columnist Maureen Dowd, putting words in obama's mouth.

“Yes, Michelle. She’ll have you on a much shorter leash, Bill, and it’s not so fun. There’ll be no more Ron Air, no Burkling and Binging. Eight long years of Michelle watching your every move. No eruptions of any kind. And that big telescope in the Naval Observatory is off limits. We’re going to be a family-values administration. And in the campaign, we’ll use you the way Al Gore did: Not at all. No more Bill YouTube meltdowns.”

I don't think Obama would be dumb enough to leave his wife with Bill Clinton.

Meyerson Gets It

"Not a single Clinton campaign official or DNC Rules Committee member, much less the candidate herself, said at the time that the sanctions imposed on Florida or Michigan were in any way a patriarchal plot or an affront to democratic values. The threat that these rules posed to our fundamental beliefs was discovered only ex post facto -- the facto in question being Clinton's current need to seat the delegations whose seatings she had opposed when she thought she'd cruise to the nomination." - columnist Harold Meyerson at The Washington Post

He gets it.

"Seating Michigan in full would mean the party validates the kind of one-candidate election (well, 1.03, to give Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel, who also remained on the ballot, their due) that is more common in autocracies than democracies. It would mean rewarding the one serious candidate who didn't remove her name from the ballot when all her rivals, in deference to the national party rules, did just that."

"Awesome" Skit from The Daily Show

John Oliver's skit poking fun of Senator Clinton's RFK gaffe should go down in the record books as one of the best skits devoted to a politician's gaffes. Tasteless but ultimately funny. I'll post the link once it is up.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Fair Way to Handle Florida and Michigan

Both Florida and Michigan broke the rules so both have to be punished, but the DNC does not want to offend the voters in those states too much, lest they lose those states in the general election.

Voters in Florida had the right to vote for the two remaining Democrats in the race since both, Senator Clinton's and Senator Obama's names were on the ballot. Michigan's voters had to vote for Senator Clinton, Representative Dennis Kucinich, or "uncommitted."

Attributing all of the "uncommitted votes" to Obama would be unfair. Former Senator John Edwards did have a following hovering around 15% but we can't say how many of those voters could be attributed to him and how many could be attributed to Obama. Both were running as "change candidates" with Edwards emphasizing populist-driven class issues that might have given him a boost in Michigan which held its primary before Edwards dropped out. Clinton's popular vote claim lies in part in granting Obama none of those votes, a remarkable failure for the candidate now considered the Democratic Party's front runner.

In Florida both names were on the ballot but the primary was held at the time Senator Clinton's eventual victory was all-but certain. Clinton no doubt had a built-in advantage in that state. Her strongest support comes from senior citizens, Latinos, and women but Obama forfeited whatever chance he had to make some inroads in that community because followed the rules which forbid the candidates from campaigning in that state.

The Rules Committee would have to issue a statement discounting Senator Clinton's popular vote lead claim along with any deal that is made by noting that (a) Obama was not on the Michigan ballot and (b) he did not campaign in Florida while Clinton was considered the expected winner.

As to the seating of the delegations, the following should be adopted by the Committee.

(a) Florida's delegation should be divided proportionately in accordance with the way the people had voted but their delegation vote will be cut in half. Super delegates would be free to endorse either candidate but their voting power will be stripped in half as well.

This allows Clinton's supporters to have the victory they feel they have earned in a state where both candidates were, at the very least, on the ballot while allowing the DNC the right to enforce its rules.

(b) Michigan's delegation should be divided in half since the voters in that state did not have a choice between the three major candidates in the race. An unknown and unverifiable number of Michigan residents said they were "uncommitted." We don't know how many of those residents would have voted for Obama or Edwards had their names on the ballot and how many of those residents were truly uncommitted at the time. An unknown number of Clinton's voters might have voted for her by default they didn't like Representative Dennis Kucinich and considered pulling the lever for "uncommitted" a wasted vote.

The Rules Committee of course is well within its right to deny Michigan and Florida the chance to have their delegates seated at the convention. Both states forfeited their right to participate in the primary season when their governments flagrantly ignored the Rule Committee's warning that they would have their delegations stripped of their voting power if they held their unauthorized primaries early.

Senator Barack Obama and the Rules Committee, however, overplayed their hand by refusing to seat their delegations in their entirety. The Republicans offered the wiser course when they cut the Michigan and Florida delegations in half. The Rules Committee could, in the claimed interest of reconciliation, offer Florida that deal since the remaining candidates had their names on the ballot but it cannot offer the same deal to Michigan. Doing so would be unfair to Senator Barack Obama and his supporters who would think it unfair if their candidate had his win stripped from him (assuming the remaining uncommitted super delegates base their votes on who won the popular vote) by a state where his name was not even on the ballot.

An Editorial I Could Agree With - Do Tell

The worst thing one can expect of someone in the military - being gay. Moral waivers will be granted to convicted felons, but gays? Nope.

Dowd Does It Again

Maureen Dowd rips Clinton again!

"Hillary knows that in politics, bimbos erupt. Tapes leak. Husbands disappoint. Friends commit suicide. Rivals get sick. Her Senate race against Rudy Giuliani suddenly turned in her favor when he got prostate cancer and dropped out."

Where is she going with that? Hmmmm.

"Hillary knows that in politics, bimbos erupt (Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinsky). Tapes leak. Husbands disappoint (Bill Clinton with Jennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky). Friends commit suicide (Vince Foster). Rivals get sick. Her Senate race against Rudy Giuliani suddenly turned in her favor when he got prostate cancer and dropped out."


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Biden on the Obama-McCain Spat on Negotiating With Iran

"Beyond bluster, how would Mr. McCain actually deal with these dangers? You either talk, you maintain the status quo, or you go to war. If Mr. McCain has ruled out talking, we're stuck with an ineffectual policy or military strikes that could quickly spiral out of control.

Sen. Obama is right that the U.S. should be willing to engage Iran on its nuclear program without "preconditions" – i.e. without insisting that Iran first freeze the program, which is the very subject of any negotiations. He has been clear that he would not become personally involved until the necessary preparations had been made and unless he was convinced his engagement would advance our interests.

President Nixon didn't demand that China end military support to the Vietnamese killing Americans before meeting with Mao. President Reagan didn't insist that the Soviets freeze their nuclear arsenal before sitting down with Mikhail Gorbachev. Even George W. Bush – whose initial disengagement allowed dangers to proliferate – didn't demand that Libya relinquish its nuclear program, that North Korea give up its plutonium, or even that Iran stop aiding those attacking our soldiers in Iraq before authorizing talks.

The net effect of demanding preconditions that Iran rejects is this: We get no results and Iran gets closer to the bomb."
- Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware)in The Wall Street Journal

He's right of course, as I noted earlier. Why the media dismissed this foreign policy expert as an also-ran is beyond me.

The Weekend Preview

1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Clinton's Democratic Primary strategy and goals, the Republican and Democratic strategies for winning or maintaining control of Congress, punditry on the potential vice presidential picks, and the interview with the director of "The President's Own."

(a) Senator Clinton's Uphill Battle for the Nomination: Clinton campaign chairperson Terry McAuliffe on Clinton's strategy for winning the primary, her outlook as a potential vice presidential running mate, and her chances of winning the fight to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates when the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee meets next week.

(b) The Battle for Congress:
Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and Representative Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) on their strategies for winning this November.

(c) FOX News Sunday Panel:
Brit Hume of FOX News, Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on the potential vice presidential nominations.

(d) Memorial Day Honor:
U.S. Marine Band Director Colonel Michael Colburn interviewed.

This show, which Chris Wallace hosts on Sunday mornings, is repeated on the FOX News Channel at 6:00 PM ET.

2. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET on New York Philadelphia newspaper):

Topics This Week - the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees' general election strategy, punditry on this week's major political headlines.

(a) General Election Strategy: not sure if the two guests are interviewed separately or together as in a debate but the guests are senior Obama adviser David Axelrod and former Bush strategist Karl Rove.

(b) "Roundtable:" Dee Dee Myers of Vanity Fair, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, Matthew Dowd of ABC News, and George Will of ABC News on the major political news stories of the week.

(c) In Memorium: names of fallen combat soldiers, noted celebrities, and politicians are released.

(d) Sunday Funnies:
the funniest jokes from the late night talk shows are repeated

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.

3. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - the general election

(a) Insight and analysis into this week's top political stories: the fight for the Democratic Primary and Senator John McCain's repudiation of two pastors backing him - from a panel that includes senior national correspondent David Brody of Christian Broadcasting Network, columnist Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, correspondent and host Gwen Ifil of PBS, editorial writer and columnist Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post, and Editor John Meacham of Newsweek.

(b) "Meet The Press" Minute: former Carter White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan appeared on "Meet The Press" in July of 1979.

This show, which is hosted by Tim Russert, is repeated on MSNBC at 6:00 PM ET.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - race for the White House.

(a) Clinton's Democratic Campaign Strategy:
Clinton Campaign Director of Communications Howard Wolfson on Senator Clinton's latest strategy to win the nomination and a potential shot at the vice presidency.

(b) General Election: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) on the race for the White House.

This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - U.S. troops in the Middle East, the campaigns on the economy.

(a) Memorial Day Weekend for Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq: Major General Mark Hertling, the commander of Multi-National Division North, on the troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(b) Back from Baghdad:
U.S. Representative Jane Harmon (D-California) and Representative David Dreier (R-California) on their visit to Baghdad.

(c) The Candidates on the Economy:
Clinton economic Gene Sperling, McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and Obama Supporter Robert Reich.

This two-hour show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer on Sunday mornings.

Olbermann forgot Some Clinton Wrongs

First, the list of things we have given the senator a pass on (actually I don't quite agree with this part since the media in general had gone after her, rightly, in my view, for these tactics):

"Not a word about the inappropriateness of referencing assassination.

Not a word about the inappropriateness of implying -- whether it was intended or not -- that she was hanging around waiting for somebody to try something terrible.

Not a word about Senator Obama.

Not a word about Senator McCain.
Not: I'm sorry...

Not: I apologize...

Not: I blew it...

Not: please forgive me.

God knows, Senator, in this campaign, this nation has **had** to forgive you, early and often...

And despite your now traditional position of the offended victim, the nation **has** forgiven you.

We have forgiven you your insistence that there have been widespread calls for you to end your campaign, when such calls had been few.

We have forgiven you your misspeaking about Martin Luther King's relative importance to the Civil Rights movement.

We have forgiven you your misspeaking about your under-fire landing in Bosnia.

We have forgiven you insisting Michigan's vote wouldn't count and then claiming those who would not count it were Un-Democratic.

We have forgiven you pledging to not campaign in Florida and thus disenfranchise voters there, and then claim those who stuck to those rules were as wrong as those who defended slavery or denied women the vote.

We have forgiven you the photos of Osama Bin Laden in an anti-Obama ad...

We have forgiven you fawning over the fairness of Fox News while they were still calling you a murderer.

We have forgiven you accepting Richard Mellon Scaife's endorsement and then laughing as you described his "deathbed conversion."

We have forgiven you quoting the electoral predictions of Boss Karl Rove.

We have forgiven you the 3 A-M Phone Call commercial.

We have forgiven you **President** Clinton's disparaging comparison of the Obama candidacy to Jesse Jackson's.

We have forgiven you Geraldine Ferraro's national radio interview suggesting Obama would not still be in the race had he been a white man.

We have forgiven you the dozen changing metrics and the endless self-contradictions of your insistence that your nomination is mathematically probable rather than a statistical impossibility.

We have forgiven you your declaration of some primary states as counting and some as not.

We have forgiven you exploiting Jeremiah Wright in front of the editorial board of the lunatic-fringe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

We have forgiven you exploiting William Ayers in front of the debate on ABC.

We have forgiven you for boasting of your "support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans"...

We have even forgiven you repeatedly praising Senator McCain at Senator Obama's expense, and your **own** expense, and the Democratic **ticket's** expense.

But Senator, we cannot forgive you this.

"You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."

I would add the following:

"We have forgiven you" the numerous references to Obama's admitted prior drug use in particular:

a. Bill Shaheen's assertion that the media and voters may wonder if the senator
sold drugs at college.

b. Mark Penn's backhanded defense of Obama while on "Hardball" concerning his
prior cocaine use (yes he mentioned the drug by name at least twice)

c. Robert L. Johnson's cynically more frigtening description of Obama's drug use
(Obama was "doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was
doing but it is written in his book")

"We have forgiven you" your assertion that the pledged delegates should move African Americans to the back of the bus since they allegedly cannot win without the predominantly white-populated West Virginia.

"We have forgiven you" misleading statements concerning Obama's invocation of late President Ronald Reagan.

"We have forgiven you" your comparison between the failure to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations to the Zimbabwe dictator's refusal to honor that country's election results and step aside.

"We have forgiven you" the threat to challenge the caucus process in Texas.

"We have forgiven you" and the Nevada teachers supporting you their legal challenge of Nevada's caucuses.

"We have forgiven you" your claim to experience when you had (a) no national security clearance and (b) no major role in the Northern Ireland peace settlement. (This the media really did forgive her for)

And finally:

"We have forgiven you" the pardons granted to a former drug dealer and a couple charged with bank fraud on your brothers' behalf.

Olbermann concludes his statement as follows:

"Because a senator -- a politician -- a **person** -- who can let hang in mid-air the prospect that she might just be sticking around in part, just in case the other guy gets shot -- has no business being, and no capacity **to** be, the President of the United States."

No business at all. No business at being the president of the United States and no business being a U.S. senator.

Poor Taste from The Corner

"Countdown" host Keith Olbermann really excoriated Clinton on her RFK remarks so there is really no need to go there. Note however, the reaction from Andy McCarthy at The National Review.

"I'm betting Hillary's unbelievable Bobby Kennedy gaffe is why Rush laughed off all those critics of Operation Chaos who fretted that he was inadvertently helping her get elected. Yes, USOpChaos has used Hillary's tenacity to batter Obama; but, as CINC-USOC has always known, the flip side of that tenacity is that Hillary can't help herself: Every now and then, she's inevitably going to give us a self-disqualifying when-they-shot-at-me-in-Bosnia-type moment. Like today.

OpChaos — the best friend McCain ever had ... whether he deserves it or not."

Thank the Lord Jesus! Let's hear Senator Clinton will speak about her prospects of winning the nomination should Obama get assassinated. Way to go Rush.

For better or For Worse: Dialogue With Iran A Must

I agree with Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on this one. The Bush strategy is not working and it probably can't work as long as the Russians and Chinese are not on board. We could always say "no" to the Iranian government's counter-offer or find an agreeable compromise and even if we fail to reach a common agreement these negotiations might at the very least, lesson tensions between Iran and the United States.

Doing nothing, as the Bush administration seems to be doing, won't get United Nations inspectors into Iran. Doing nothing won't get the Iranians to cease its support for Hamas and Hezbollah and doing nothing won't get them to lower their support for the Iraqi militias in Iraq.

Illegal Immigrant Crackdown

Now this is what our government should be doing on an on-going basis in every city, town or village in the United States, its commonwealths, and territories. If we threaten these illegal immigrant with serious time, they might be deterred from coming back.

Now, if only we could get our prosecutors to go after those who traffic them into this country and those who hire them on a consistent basis.

There is a right way and a wrong way to enter this country. Let's welcome those who come here the right way with open arms by teaching them how to learn English and welcoming their children in our public schools. The others can either be shoved out, fined, or thrown in jail for border violations.

Friday, May 23, 2008

McCain's Pastor Problem

Yesterday the Republican Party's presumptive nominee for the White House, Senator John McCain, finally rejected Reverend John Hagee's endorsement after Bruce Wilson of Talk To Action found a new video suggesting that Adolf Hitler was doing God's work by hoarding them to Israel.

The prophet Jeremiah, Hagee, asserted, said God would find some fishermen and hunters to lead the Jewish people back to their divinely assigned homeland. The fisherman was an Israeli Zionist who tried but failed to lure the Jewish people to present-day Israel."

"Those who came founded Israel" Hagee said. "Those who did not went through the hell of the Holocaust."

As if his comments could get any worse:

"Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and forces you. Hitler was a hunter.

And the Bible says - Jeremiah righty?

"They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and out of the holes of the rocks:" meaning there's no place to hide.

And that will be offensive to some people. Well, dear heart: be offended. I didn't write it. Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen. Because God said: "my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel."

"Offensive to SOME people?" What an understatement! The Nazis committed what can only be described as a moral atrocity. Men, women, and children were herded like cattle into unsanitary concentration camps, forced into slave labor, then killed. Some died of hard labor. Many by the gun and still yet others through gas chambers. Most Gentiles looked the other way when their occupiers deported their loathed Jewish neighbors and looked the other way when they were killed.

McCain no doubt had to reject Pastor Hagee's comments. The god Hagee worships is a hateful and spiteful God that uses his people for an end. Six million Jews must die so the others would return to the land he gave them. Thousands of men, women, and children must sit on their roofs as Hurricane Katrina drowns New Orleans since gays were going to hold a gay pride parade one week later.

Last week, William Donohue of the orthodox Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights accepted the pastor's apology for comments he considered anti-Catholic (referring to the Catholic Church as "the great whore.". Senator McCain distanced himself from the Hagee's "anti-anything" remarks but did not at the time "denounce and reject" this pastor's endorsement. No such apology was issued to New Orleans' African American and gay communities, two groups that would find the Cornerstone Church founder's remarks offensive for two different reasons (the African Americans for being god's disposable victims and the gays for being the cause of God's wrath).

McCain disingenuously tried to deflect the media's attention away from his pastor problem to Obama's - Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr of the Trinity United Church in Chicago:

"I have said I do not believe Sen. Obama shares Rev. Wright's extreme views," McCain said. "But let me also be clear, Rev. Hagee was not and is not my pastor or spiritual adviser, and I did not attend his church for 20 years. I have denounced statements he made immediately upon learning of them, as I do again today."

As the Political Heretic noted in the past, McCain's attempt to downplay his association with Hagee doesn't make him look any better than Obama did while sitting in Wright's pews on Sunday mornings. He sought the endorsement of an pastor that could vouch for his conservative credentials and held on to his endorsement even after he was pressed, on "This Week" about Hagee's "great whore" and Katrina statements. After hearing those statements, he didn't need to sit in on one of the Cornerstone founder's sermons.

The presumptive Republican nominee also sought out the support of the late Reverend Jerry Fallwell, the founder of Liberty University, even though he once referred to the pastor as "an agent of intolerance." This "agent of intolerance" blamed the 9/11 attacks on the pagans, gays, lesbians, feminists, abortion rights activists, and members of the ACLU. "God lifted the veil," he said on Pat Robertson's show.

McCain certainly heard of these remarks and if he forgot about them, his advisers would have brought them up before he decided to visit Liberty University. McCain's desire to meet the late Falwell, in spite of this, suggests that he does not consider hate-spilled speech disqualifying when seeking a coveted endorsement.

Thursday, May 22, 2008



"The horror. The horror."

So much horror that we see rioting in the street. Miami-Dade was burnt down to crisp. The elderly are rioting in the streets. Cars were overturned. Women are burning their undergarments. Glass shattered everywhere. Tourists are fleeing to Disney World.

Um. No.

Did Clinton get the memo? The voters in Zimbabwe are mad because their preferred candidate was denied the win he obtained in accordance with the law. Here, Clinton may or may not be the preferred candidate of the majority but she is losing according to the rules which the Democratic candidates have to adhere to.

Faulty Comparison

Senator Clinton tied her quest to have her "victory" in Florida count to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to stop the recounts, and consequently solidify President George W. Bush's narrow win in that state.

Her claim is disingenuous at best. No such outcry was made when the Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to strip Florida of its delegation last August in response to that state's decision to flout the party's rules concerning the time primaries are held. She first spoke out for the Florida delegation's cause (if it can be described as such) three days before voters went to the polls, long after she lost Iowa and beat Obama by the slimmest of margins in New Hampshire.

Nor can she claim Florida's voters as victims. They, through their legal representatives, voted to move their primary election up in flagrant disregard for the rules agreed to by the candidates vying for the party's nomination.

Mrs. Clinton says her party should nominate the candidate who is leading in the popular vote but as Jonathan Alter notes her math is faulty. Relying upon the popular vote is flawed when official votes in caucus states are not counted and the will of the people cannot be accurately assessed when one candidate's name was not on the ballot. (Alter presumes too much since the vote for "ucommitted" might be divided between John Edwards and Barack Obama). We don't know how many of those "uncommitted" votes were cast for Obama but Senator Clinton's contention (through her math) that Obama won not one vote is highly doubtful.

She might overtake Obama's lead in the popular vote with the expected lop-sided win in Puerto Rico but the commonwealth residents who vote in the primary can not participate in the general election. Basing her popular vote victory on a group whose vote won't count in a general election is questionable.

Were she to steal the nomination from the candidate who has all but earned it (if the rules are upheld he would obviously win this nomination), she won't have the overall popular vote to bolster her campaign for the White House. We may go to the polls, but our votes are not counted equally. Victories in some states count more than victories in others. She will have to win state-by-state unless, of course, she challenges the constitutionality of the electoral system before the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Justice Kennedy's Promise

"One century ago, the first Justice Harlan admonished this Court that the Constitution "neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens." Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 559 (1896) (dissenting opinion). Unheeded then, those words now are understood to state a commitment to the law's neutrality where the rights of persons are at stake. The Equal Protection Clause enforces this principle and today requires us to hold invalid a provision of Colorado's Constitution." - Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the Supreme Court in Romer v. Evans

Yesterday marked the twelfth anniversary of the first gay rights victory before the Supreme Court of the United States. In Romer v. Evans, a six-justice majority voted to overturn an amendment to Colorado's constitution barring the state or any of its subsidiary units from enacting and implementing legislation that would protect its citizens from sexual orientation-based discrimination:

The amendment, which was adopted in a 1992 referendum, read as follows:

"No Protected Status Based on Homosexual, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation. Neither the State of Colorado, through any of its branches or departments, nor any of its agencies, political subdivisions, municipalities or school districts, shall enact, adopt or enforce any statute, regulation, ordinance or policy whereby homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships shall constitute or otherwise be the basis of or entitle any person or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination. This Section of the Constitution shall be in all respects self-executing."

The Court's ruling was narrow. Though did not invalidate all laws which discriminate on account of one's sexual orientation (one need only look at laws barring same-sex marriage, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the failure to incorporate employment nondiscrimination statutes in the majority of states), the Court did, for the first time, outlaw a state's attempt to single out for special disapproval, a group of people across the board on account of their sexual orientation.

"To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability upon those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint. They can obtain specific protection against discrimination only by [ ROMER v. EVANS, ___ U.S. ___ (1996) , 9] enlisting the citizenry of Colorado to amend the state constitution or perhaps, on the State's view, by trying to pass helpful laws of general applicability. This is so no matter how local or discrete the harm, no matter how public and widespread the injury. We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These are protections taken for granted by most people either because they already have them or do not need them; these are protections against exclusion from an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civic life in a free society."

"Central both to the idea of the rule of law and to our own Constitution's guarantee of equal protection," Kennedy noted,

"is the principle that government and each of its parts remain open on impartial terms to all who seek its assistance. "`Equal protection of the laws is not achieved through indiscriminate imposition of inequalities.'" Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 635 (1950) (quoting Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 22 (1948)). Respect for this principle explains why laws singling out a certain class of citizens for disfavored legal status or general hardships are rare. A law declaring that in general it shall be more difficult for one group of citizens than for all others to seek aid from the government is itself a denial of equal protection of the laws in the most literal sense. "The guaranty of `equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws.'" Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942) (quoting Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 369 (1886))."

With that ruling, Justice Kennedy offered gay America a promise. He would consider gay Americans' claim to equal rights with the utmost respect due from a Supreme Court justice. That day, a wrong was righted, and the marginalized people were vindicated.

Let's hope that the next Supreme Court justice appointee won't help undo what was done.

Score One for Against Obama

I largely agree with Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) approach to dealing with Iran if only because (a) we don't know what the Iranians are ready to concede in exchange for closer ties and (b) the current strategy of merely isolating Iran won't work as long as the Russians and Chinese support the Iranians.

Nevertheless, Obama used a poor choice of words when he referred to Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela are "tiny compared to the Soviet Union" that "do not pose a serious threat."

I know where he was going with this statement but this was a definite gaffe. I'm sure his potential negotiating partners from these countries won't care for his choice of words.

As Supreme Court Justice?

Please. What credentials does she have? Did she ever argue a case before the Supreme Court? No. Did she ever serve as a judge in a district or appeals court? No. Did she argue a case before one of those types of courts? No. Did she submit briefs on behalf of clients before any of these courts? Not that we know of.


Vito Fossella. Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Obama's Speech

Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois), the front runner for his party's nomination, delivered a strong, forceful presentation expected from the Democratic Party's standard bearer. He hit all of the right notes, offered a glowing tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy's (D-Massachusetts) hard work in the senate, and congratulated Senator
Hillary Clinton for her hard-fought campaign for the White House.

Obama is no doubt, a gifted orator, who inspires millions of young voters to go out and vote for him. But he is helped by the message he offers - one centered on democratic self-empowerment. Hence, his tribute to the "few who stood up," the "few more who stood up," and the millions who consequently "stood up" to be counted.

At this time, when most Americans who have been polled say they believe we are headed in the wrong direction, Obama's call for change has great appeal. Many Americnas believe we have bogged our troops down in the wrong war. They believe we shouldn't go to war alone and bear the full costs that it would entail. They question whether our president's strategy of isolating rogue states like Iran and North Korea has worked. Many were disgusted when corporate executives from the likes of Enron held toga parties while others lost their retirement savings.

But Obama's promise to unite this country may not happen unless he is willing to reach out to the Republicans in Congress every now and then. He cannot bring this country together unless he is willing to incorporate some of their ideas into his agenda.

The Democratic Party's front runner offered a litany of priorities that appeal to the Democratic Party as would be expected of one who expects to be his party's standard bearer. He spoke of reconfiguring our tax code so that America's middle class gets the most relief while shifting the tax burden on the richer Americans, and rewarding companies that create jobs in the United States while penalizing those who ship their jobs overseas.

Obama said he will offer teachers better pay and recruit an "army of teachers" by offering them four years tuition-free if they "serve their community." Left unsaid is whether he would be willing to incorporate measures that encourage school districts to reward teachers who spend more time tutoring students and penalize teachers who fail to teach their students how to read and write.

Mayor Marion Barry (D-Washington, D.C.) said he now supports a school voucher program. Would an Obama presidency be open to such trials in districts that fail to provide their students with a decent education and would he, in the alternative reward other, neighboring public school districts, with some funding should they take those students in?

An Obama presidency that incorporates ideas from both parties could go a long way toward healing the divide.

Posted in its entirety below is Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) speech. My comments were inserted in bold.

"You know, there is a spirit that brought us here tonight – a spirit of change, and hope, and possibility. And there are few people in this country who embody that spirit more than our friend and our champion, Senator Edward Kennedy. He has spent his life in service to this country not for the sake of glory or recognition, but because he cares – deeply, in his gut – about the causes of justice, and equality, and opportunity. So many of us here have benefited in some way or another because of the battles he’s waged, and some of us are here because of them. (A very moving tribute to Senator Kennedy - couldn't have been said any better)

We know he is not well right now, but we also know that he’s a fighter. And as he takes on this fight, let us lift his spirits tonight by letting Ted Kennedy know that we are thinking of him, that we are praying for him, that we are standing with him, and that we will be fighting with him every step of the way. (wow)

Fifteen months ago, in the depths of winter, it was in this great state where we took the first steps of an unlikely journey to change America. (time to revise your script; we've heard this before)

The skeptics predicted we wouldn’t get very far. The cynics dismissed us as a lot of hype and a little too much hope. And by the fall, the pundits in Washington had all but counted us out. (it almost seems like a tape recording)

But the people of Iowa had a different idea.

From the very beginning, you knew that this journey wasn’t about me or any of the other candidates in this race. It’s about whether this country – at this defining moment – will continue down the same road that has failed us for so long, or whether we will seize this opportunity to take a different path – to forge a different future for the country we love. (definitely this must be a tape recording)

That is the question that sent thousands upon thousands of you to high school gyms and VFW halls; to backyards and front porches; to steak fries and JJ dinners, where you spoke about what that future would look like. (I think this is new)

You spoke of an America where working families don’t have to file for bankruptcy just because a child gets sick; where they don’t lose their home because some predatory lender tricks them out of it; where they don’t have to sit on the sidelines of the global economy because they couldn’t afford the cost of a college education. You spoke of an America where our parents and grandparents don’t spend their retirement in poverty because some CEO dumped their pension – an America where we don’t just value wealth, but the work and the workers who create it. (not bad; speaking for the little people)

You spoke of an America where we don’t send our sons and daughters on tour after tour of duty to a war that has cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars but has not made us safer. (definitely the way to speak of the war in Iraq) You spoke of an America where we match the might of our military with the strength of our diplomacy and the power of our ideals – a nation that is still the beacon of all that is good and all that is possible for humankind.

You spoke of a future where the politics we have in Washington finally reflect the values we hold as Americans – the values you live by here in Iowa: common sense and honesty; generosity and compassion; decency and responsibility. These values don’t belong to one class or one region or even one party – they are the values that bind us together as one country.

That is the country I saw in the faces of crowds that would stretch far into the horizon of our heartland – faces of every color, of every age – faces I see here tonight. You are Democrats who are tired of being divided; Republicans who no longer recognize the party that runs Washington; Independents who are hungry for change. You are the young people who’ve been inspired for the very first time and those not-so-young folks who’ve been inspired for the first time in a long time. You are veterans and church-goers; sportsmen and students; farmers and factory workers; teachers and business owners who have varied backgrounds and different traditions, but the same simple dreams for your children’s future. (definitely think this focus on the voters' concern is good)

Many of you have been disappointed by politics and politicians more times than you can count. You’ve seen promises broken and good ideas drown in the sea of influence, and point-scoring, and petty bickering that has consumed Washington. And you’ve been told over and over and over again to be cynical, and doubtful, and even fearful about the possibility that things can ever be different.

And yet, in spite of all the doubt and disappointment – or perhaps because of it – you came out on a cold winter’s night in numbers that this country has never seen, and you stood for change. And because you did, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And tonight, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people, and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. (Inspiring appeal to the power of one activist).

The road here has been long, and that is partly because we’ve traveled it with one of the most formidable candidates to ever run for this office. In her thirty-five years of public service (sorry, Obama but you are relying upon some really fuzzy math here), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has never given up on her fight for the American people, (or herself) and tonight I congratulate her on her victory in Kentucky (you seem to be the candidate willing to give his rival his or her due). We have had our disagreements during this campaign, but we all admire her courage, her commitment and her perseverance. No matter how this primary ends, Senator Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and yours will come of age. (not a bad way to appeal to her supporters; reaching out is usually a plus)

Some may see the millions upon millions of votes cast for each of us as evidence that our party is divided, but I see it as proof that we have never been more energized and united in our desire to take this country in a new direction. (maybe a little of both, Obama, given the expressed opinion of many Appalachian voters saying they would never vote for you). More than anything, we need this unity and this energy in the months to come, because while our primary has been long and hard-fought, the hardest and most important part of our journey still lies ahead.

We face an opponent, John McCain, who arrived in Washington nearly three decades ago as a Vietnam War hero, and earned an admirable reputation for straight talk and occasional independence from his party. (glad to see you offer some kind thoughts to your general election opponent)

But this year’s Republican primary was a contest to see which candidate could out-Bush the other, and that is the contest John McCain won. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans that once bothered Senator McCain’s conscience are now his only economic policy. (bingo) The Bush health care plan that only helps those who are already healthy and wealthy is now John McCain’s answer to the 47 million Americans without insurance and the millions more who can’t pay their medical bills. The Bush Iraq policy that asks everything of our troops and nothing of Iraqi politicians is John McCain’s policy too, and so is the fear of tough and aggressive diplomacy that has left this country more isolated and less secure than at any time in recent history. (bingo) The lobbyists who ruled George Bush’s Washington are now running John McCain’s campaign, and they actually had the nerve to say that the American people won’t care about this. Talk about out of touch!

I will leave it up to Senator McCain to explain to the American people whether his policies and positions represent long-held convictions or Washington calculations, (ouch) but the one thing they don’t represent is change. (nice line - very powerful, emphatic statement)

Change is a tax code that rewards work instead of wealth by cutting taxes for middle-class families, and senior citizens, and struggling homeowners; a tax code that rewards businesses that create good jobs here in America instead of the corporations that ship them overseas. That’s what change is.

Change is a health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants; that brings down premiums for every family who needs it; that stops insurance companies from discriminating and denying coverage to those who need it most.

Change is an energy policy that doesn’t rely on buddying up to the Saudi Royal Family and then begging them for oil – an energy policy that puts a price on pollution and makes the oil companies invest their record profits in clean, renewable sources of energy that will create five million new jobs and leave our children a safer planet. That’s what change is.

Change is giving every child a world-class education by recruiting an army of new teachers with better pay and more support; by promising four years of tuition to any American willing to serve their community and their country; by realizing that the best education starts with parents who turn off the TV, and take away the video games, and read to our children once in awhile.

Change is ending a war that we never should’ve started and finishing a war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan that we never should’ve ignored. Change is facing the threats of the twenty-first century not with bluster, or fear-mongering, or tough talk, but with tough diplomacy, and strong alliances, and confidence in the ideals that have made this nation the last, best hope of Earth. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy. (forceful presentation of Democratic talking points but the question Obama must answer is how this will bring the independents and Republicans into the fold. Why not reach out and name one area where Republicans and Democrats may come together? show some bipartisanship. Point out one area where you think the Republicans might have some merit)

That is what change is.

That is the choice in this election.

The same question that first led us to Iowa fifteen months ago is the one that has brought us back here tonight; it is the one we will debate from Washington to Florida, from New Hampshire to New Mexico – the question of whether this country, at this moment, will keep doing what we’ve been doing for four more years, or whether we will take that different path. It is more of the same versus change. It is the past versus the future. It has been asked and answered by generations before us, and now it is our turn to choose.

We will face our share of difficult and uncertain days in the journey ahead. The other side knows they have embraced yesterday’s policies and so they will also embrace yesterday’s tactics to try and change the subject. They will play on our fears and our doubts and our divisions to distract us from what matters to you and your future. ("they will" or "they have?")

Well they can take the low road if they want, but it will not lead this country to a better place. And it will not work in this election. It won’t work because you won’t let it. Not this time. Not this year.

My faith in the decency, and honesty, and generosity of the American people is not based on false hope or blind optimism, but on what I have lived and what I have seen in this very state.

For in the darkest days of this campaign, when we were dismissed by all the polls and all the pundits, I would come to Iowa and see that there was something happening here that the world did not yet understand.

It’s what led high school and college students to give up their vacations to stuff envelopes and knock on doors, and why grandparents have spent all their afternoons making phone calls to perfect strangers. It’s what led men and women who can barely pay the bills to dig into their savings and write five dollar checks and ten dollar checks, and why young people from all over this country have left their friends and their families for a job that offers little pay and less sleep.

Change is coming to America.

It’s the spirit that sent the first patriots to Lexington and Concord and led the defenders of freedom to light the way north on an Underground Railroad. It’s what sent my grandfather’s generation to beachheads in Normandy, and women to Seneca Falls, and workers to picket lines and factory fences. It’s what led all those young men and women who saw beatings and billy clubs on their television screens to leave their homes, and get on buses, and march through the streets of Selma and Montgomery – black and white, rich and poor. (may I add Stonewall since you didn't?)

Change is coming to America.

It’s what I saw all those years ago on the streets of Chicago when I worked as an organizer – that in the face of joblessness, and hopelessness, and despair, a better day is still possible if there are people willing to
work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it. That’s what I’ve seen here in Iowa. That’s what is happening in America – our journey may be long, our work will be great, but we know in our hearts we are ready for change, we are ready to come together, and in this election, we are ready to believe again. Thank you Iowa, and may God Bless America."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Supreme Court Headline

I haven't read the Supreme Court's ruling as of yet so comments on this case will have to wait. As one who nearly opposes any viewpoint restriction of First Amendment rights, this obviously would have me concerned but Eugene Volokh finds the silver lining. Time will tell whether his restriction holds in future cases.

For those of us who oppose morally-based First Amendment censorship violations, this is just one more reason to vote for the candidate who will not continue the Court's turn to the right.

And for those who want us to move to the court to the right on property rights and guns and to the left on the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, well, we have a dilemma.

Addendum: Look to Scotus blog for a brief if complicated synopsis on how the Supreme Court considers First Amendment claims concerning pornography and the court case at issue.

From the SCOTUS summary this ruling doesn't seem like a big deal - for now. Bold-faced my emphasis:

"The Court began by giving the Act a narrowing construction, interpreting the Act to require, among other things, proof that the defendant subjectively believed that the materials he was either soliciting or purveying constituted materials that are either obscene or involve real children (i.e., materials that are not protected by the First Amendment). The Court, moreover, emphasized that as applied to materials that do not involve real children, the statute applies only to “sexually explicit conduct” which, the Court made clear, does not reach instances where “sexual intercourse . . . is merely suggested” – as in many R-rated movies – but instead applies where the “portrayal must cause a reasonable viewer to believe that the actors actually engaged in that conduct on camera.”

So construed, the Court concluded, the statute only prohibits solicitations or offers relating to materials that the defendant believes, and intends others to believe, are materials Congress could constitutionally prohibit anyone from possessing. The fact that the defendant might sometimes be mistaken and that the materials might actually be constitutionally protected, the Court held, does not matter."

So a scene in which two teenagers engage in sex in a movie scene might pass legal scrutiny if we believe they are merely acting and not actually engaging in sex?

The Curse in Our System of Government

"There is a complicated interaction between court decisions and the workings of democratic politics. On the one hand, there are times when only the courts can vindicate the rights of minorities. On the other hand, rights are more firmly rooted when they are established or ratified by democratic majorities. In the case of gay marriage in California, a majority could still overturn this decision by amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage -- and a proposition to this effect is likely to appear on this fall's ballot." - E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post

One branch of government is charged with righting wrongs but the confidence in it and the result is undermined when the people and those who are charged with catering to them, do not believe it is right.

A Good Symbolic Endorsement

Think of the symbolism. Whatever one may think of his pork barrel politics, Senator Robert Byrd, the former KKK member endorsed the African American candidate running for office. Shhh. Don't tell the West Virginians but I think this story will be used by those who think Obama brings people together.

Nice story except that I believe Obama has all but won the nomination (I say "all but" because May 31 is just around the corner and who knows, even if she isn't successful in changing the rules Senator Hillary Clinton might win by default if a new, explosively damaging story about the party's front runner is exposed before delegates vote on the convention floor).

Une saison pour des hypocrites a attrapé dans des scandales de sexe ?

Gay blogger Mike Rogers is known for in-the-closet hypocritical gays who either are or work for politicians with strong anti-gay voting records. On The Bilerico Project's website, he apologized for his absence by noting that he is "currently investigating four members of and two candidate for Congress."

Memorial Day is just around the corner. One senator was caught soliciting sex in a public bathroom. A governor once known for his assertive, do-good legal skills resigned after a story concerning his payment for a "high class hooker" (is there such a thing) broke. His successor said he and his wife cheated on each other.

And New Jersey's one-term ex-governor and his beard wife have made the front pages of that state's major newspapers again since their divorce trial began.

Let the outing season begin.

Getting the Argument Logic Right

The Sacramento Bee's editorial board, not surprisingly, supports the California Supreme Court's ruling overturning Proposition 22 so in one respect it is not really newsworthy. However, this editorial, unlike many that have been written one day after the Court publicized its historic ruling, addresses one argument many would consider reasonable in a democratic system like ours - that such issues should be made by the people - and uses another proposition in California's history to refute it.

"An instructive example is housing discrimination. In 1963, California legislators passed the Rumford Fair Housing Act to end housing discrimination by property owners who refused to rent or sell their property to "colored" people. In 1964, with a 65 percent vote, Californians approved Proposition 14, which repealed that law and amended the California Constitution to give a property owner "absolute discretion" on renting, leasing or selling property.

The courts could have let that vote by the people stand and waited for public opinion to evolve. But they didn't. They overturned Proposition 14 in 1967."

Courts are bound to issue rulings guided by precedent and law. Prudence may have called for the more cautious approach adopted by one of the dissenters (the one advocating for the status quo) but the justices are bound to dismiss concerns relating to the people's expected reaction if it conflicts with the the law as they interpret it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Two Polls

Okay. I have two new polls basically asking whom the leading candidates for the two major parties should pick as their running mates. Just for kicks I added people who belong to the opposing party.

A Headline That Isn't Newsworthy

Shouldn't this be considered a "dog bites man" headline? Aside from that "Brokeback Mountain was a love story, not a porn flick.
Cute anecdote.

"At 11:16 a.m., Rick texted Tom: "Will you marry me?"

Also at 11:16 a.m., Tom replied to Rick's e-mail message with his own question: "Will you marry me?"
from The Desert Sun.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Weekend Preview

Presidential Candidate: Senator Hillary Clinton on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer"

1. FOX News Sunday on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Obama v. McCain in the General election, the Republican brand in retreat, Kentucky Derby winner.

(a) General Election Match Up Predictions: Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) of the McCain Campaign and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) of the Obama campaign talk about their candidates' positions on national security, the economy, taxes, and health care.

(b) The State of the Republican Party:
former senior Bush White House adviser Karl Rove talks about the state of the Republican Party after the Republicans' three special Congressional election losses in a row.

(c) Power Player of the Week:
Kentucky Derby winner and Big Brown's trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. has his eyes set on the Triple Crown.

This show, which is hosted by Chris Wallace on Sunday mornings, is repeated at 6:00 PM ET on the FOX News Channel.

2. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET on New York affiliate):

Topics This Week - Bush's speech to the Knesset, Republican loss in Mississippi, political punditry.

(a) Interview with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairperson: Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) on Bush's remarks to the Israeli Knesset, the president's role in the upcoming election, and the GOP's troubles at home.

(b) A Republican Loss in Mississippi: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on the Republicans' loss in Mississippi and its potential meaning for the upcoming elections in November.

(c) Roundtable:
Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal, Matt Bai of The New York Times, and Donna Brazile and George Will of ABC News on this week's political stories.

(d) In Memorium: tribute to the soldiers, celebrities, politicians, and other known people who have died.

(e) Sunday Funnies:
a brief look at the political jokes that have caught the host's attention this week.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.

3. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Webb on the Democratic race, a general election fight in full swing.

(a) Super delegate on the Democratic Primary Race: Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) will be asked how Senator Clinton's decisive win in West Virginia and former Senator John Edwards' (D-North Carolina) Barack Obama endorsement will influence the vote for the undeclared super delegates.

(b) General Election:
Democratic Leadership Council Chairman Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN), former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas), Republican strategist Mike Murphy and Democratic strategist Bob Shrum on McCain's general election priorities and Bush's speech to the Knesset. Did the general election fight begin?

This show, which Tim Russert hosts, is repeated at 6:00 PM ET on MSNBC.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - the Republicans' latest defeats, the battle for the Democratic nomination.

(a) Republicans in Turmoil:
Governor Charlie Christ (R-Florida) and Republican strategist Ed Rollins on the three Republican losses in Congress.

(b) The Democratic Primary Race: former Governor Mario Cuomo (D-New York) and former Governor Roy Romer (D-Colorado) on the fight for the Democratic Party's nomination.

This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Clinton's campaign, Bush's Knesset speech, Republican loss in Mississippi.

In no particular order, and in all likelihood, the presidential interview is broken up.

(a) Democratic Nomination: Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) on her strategy for winning the White House with the remaining primaries within site.

(b) Bush's Knesset Speech on Negotiating with Terrorists:
reaction from some unidentified McCain, Clinton, and Obama campaign associates.

(c) Interview with former Senate Majority Leader: outgoing Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) on the general election race and the Republicans' loss in his home state.

(d) The Economy: Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez

This show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer on Sunday mornings.

The Speech Before the Knesset

President George W. Bush delivered what could otherwise have been an unremarkable but good speech before Israel's Knesset.

He spoke in favor of a stable and democratic Middle East where the Israelis and Palestinians live peaceably side-by-side in two, independent, and democratically-governed countries.

He vowed to continue the fight against Al Qaeda while repudiating those who kill innocent bystanders in their quest for power (or more accurately, in some cases, religious validation).

He spoke of an era where Iran and Syria are no longer considered international pariahs.

"Israel will be celebrating the 120th anniversary as one of the world's great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved -- a democratic state that is governed by law, and respects human rights, and rejects terror. From Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy and tourism and trade. Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, with today's oppression a distant memory and where people are free to speak their minds and develop their God-given talents. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause."

So far, so good.

But then he said the following:

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)"

As "Hardball" host Chris Matthews noted on his show yesterday, negotiation is not appeasement. The former merely requires a talk among adversaries and friends representing different interest groups while the latter involves the complete surrender of one negotiator in his or her effort to buy the good will or cooperation of the other.

Bush's analogy fails because the Iranians have not invaded its neighbors nor had it extracted any demands from its neighbors. No White House candidate, to date, have asked us to abandon our Israeli ally and no one, as of now, says we should negotiate with a recalcitrant, terrorist-affirming Hamas. Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois) say they will negotiate with the Iranians with Clinton suggesting she would have her advisers speak to the Iranians before there is any public one-on-one talks between the two heads of states and Obama suggesting that such one-on-one talks might come sooner rather than later.

We can distinguish between negotiations conducted with terrorists and those who sponsor them since the latter might be persuaded to abandon the former if the deal is right.

Hewitt the Perfect Strawman

"Today's decision by the California Supreme Court is yet another judicial putsch. It is appalling. Incredibly, a feverish will to power on the part of small numbers of judges is rapidly eroding a citizen's standing as the ultimate lawgiver. Courts unbound by any sense of limits, by any sense of restraint, threaten the basic understanding that has long undergirded the Republic --that the laws proceed from the open consent of the people, and that the ultimate laws, the federal and state constitutions, are documents of fixed meaning and structure, not merely window dressing on the rule of judicial elites or empty phrases waiting for elites to fill them with meaning." - Hugh Hewitt

Except that a Supreme Court's function is to challenge the will of the people and the legislators they elect to see if they are playing by the rules. And it gets far more complicated than that, Justice Robert's (justices are like empires at a baseball game ) statement made when the senate was considering his nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court. More often than not, justices on the Supreme Court will interpret the rules differently. Broadly-worded phrases respecting one's right to equal protection or liberty will be interpreted in light of their own perspectives.

This "malady," (assuming conservatives don't like this subjectivist impulse) afflicts all, even the most conservative justices.

"Mr. Black’s own brand of strict constructionist rulings led him to author the opinion solidifying the separation of church and state, vote to ban teacher-led classroom prayers and most religious school funding programs, protect the free speech rights of the most unpopular controversial groups in his day and other causes dear to the hearts of liberals as well as dissent (with conservatives) when the Court said married and un-married couples have a general right to privacy.

But as we saw in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Mitchell v. Helms, and Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, the strict constructionists themselves have difficulty interpreting the Framers’ intent. And like the more liberal justices they criticize, the strict constructionists are not immune from the criticism of “creating” or “finding” new rights in the Constitution."

California Ruling

I guess this should, for me be a moment of celebration but the backlash we can expect from the conservative community dampens my enthusiasm. Perhaps the Court should have sided with Justice Corrigan (page 154 of this PDF file) on this one and granted the gay Californians everything save the name. Granted, California's domestic partnership law might have provided everything already but at least those gains would have been constitutionally protected from that state's initiatives.

Our track record in defeating these amendments has not been good.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Super delegates Election Question/Thought

Anyone watching the political talk shows knows that Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) cannot overtake her rival, Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) lead with pledged delegates alone (unless of course, she convinced them to change their mind and disregard the will of campaign that sent them there to honor the will of the people who voted in the primaries and caucuses). She will have to convince the remaining super delegates to either vote for her or, in the alternative, convince those who already declared for Obama to switch their allegiance to her.

Barring some unforeseen event, like a new scandal, this, we are told, probably won't happen. These super delegates, it is asserted, do not want to overturn the will of the pledged delegates whose participation was determined through the primary and caucus races in each U.S. state and territory.

I wonder how much of this, if true, was inevitable or if the Clinton's perceived cynical use of the race card contributed to this reluctance. The African American voters in all likelihood would have voted for Obama whether Bill Clinton marginalized Obama's expected victory in South Carolina by noting that Jesse Jackson, another black American who ran for the White House, won that state but did he, Mark Penn, Robert L. Johnson, Bill Shaheen, and other Clinton surrogates forfeit the African American community's good will by playing the race card?

In other words, did Senator Clinton and those around her forfeit the African American community's acquiescence to an arrangement in which their preferred candidate's expected lead in the pledged delegates was overturned by the super delegates?

Would the super delegates have been any more receptive to her (the we need the blue collar voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia to win) argument if the race were not so polarized by one's race?

Your thoughts, as always, appreciated.

By the way, watching Pat Buchanan defend the overwhelmingly race-conscience white West Virginians on Chris Matthews' show was quite interesting. Expect the script to be posted tomorrow.

Illegal Immigration and The New York Times: Where Common Sense Is Not Allowed:

"The government should fix the law so spouses get their money. It is a technical repair that even this Congress should manage. But why shouldn’t undocumented immigrants with taxpayer numbers get the cash too? The checks are not rewards for good behavior; they are taxes returned as a means to an end. Illegal immigrants constitute about 5 percent of the work force and earn much less than the native-born. They are just the sort of group the stimulus should be aimed at, if the purpose is to get the most economic bang for every rebate dollar." editorial from The New York Times

Did it not occur to the writers that by offering the illegal immigrants already in this country a $600 rebate we could invite into this country a third wave of illegal immigrants? Yes. Let's have more third world people pilfering what remains of this country's entitlement program.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hagee's Apology

John Hagee, the founder and head pastor at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, had been spared from the media's scrutiny while the journalists focused their attention on the Democratic primary fight. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) sought and won Hagee's endorsement. He was asked if he would disassociate himself from any of Hagee's remarks, which can be construed as anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, or anti-gay. McCain said he disagreed with any of Hagee's remarks which were "anti-anything."

But Reverend Jermiah Wright's incendiary comments drove the coverage in no small part because there was a question concerning his impact on the ongoing race for the Democratic Party's nomination. Would his remarks, drive down Obama's support among white Americans? Would the disenchanted suburban white moderate Republicans turn on him after hearing about his remarks? Did Obama do enough to drive a wedge between himself and his former pastor?

These questions, while newsworthy, stifled any debate concerning McCain's dubious judgment in first, seeking this pastor's endorsement and then, refusing to distance himself from them.

As the focus of journalists, however, shifts to the general election, McCain's questionable supporters could get more scrutiny. Pastor Hagee's (warning PDF) letter to the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, should be viewed as a preemptive attempt to weaken the scrutiny surrounding him.

‘I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful,' Hagee said in his letter to the conservative group, though, like most who offer public apologies, he casts it in terms of a misinterpretation that requires a clarification. The Cornerstone pastor said his "great whore" comment was taken out of context, and noted his collaboration with Catholics on matters pertaining to abortion and gay rights (opposition to both). In his letter, Hagee said he emphasized the Catholic Church's prior sins without saying enough about its good works.

Hagee did not apologize to this nation's gay community, which he blamed for Hurricane Katrina. He may not need to, unfortunately. Bashing gay people is permissible in today's Republican Party.

Clinton's Expected Day

Senator Hillary Clinton handily beat the Democratic party's front runner by a 41% margin in West Virginia's primary held yesterday. Her expected victory nets her approximately 145,000 votes (using the popular vote that isn't used to determine a primary winner) and some nine or ten delegates.

While not surprising, her margin of victory will concern the super delegates and the Democratic establishment. If the exit polls neither candidate could rely upon the voters from the other side joining them in any general election match-up against Senator and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain (R-Arizona). Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) the front runner in the Democratic primary, probably can't win this state of lower-income, socially conservative, older white Americans who did not go to college.

Senator Clinton says West Virginia is a toss-up state that she, but not Obama, can win but tossing Senator Obama's eventual win in the delegate race aside will hurt the party's standard among African American voters who, for obvious reasons, will resent any move to have them move to the back of the nominating bus in order to placate the rural whites who are not comfortable voting for a black man.

Obama will have to forge his winning state coalition from the west while holding onto Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And the Libertarian Is?

Republicans may fret (secretly of course). Democrats will cheer. Why?

Former U.S. Representative Bob Barr (L-Georgia) will enter the race for the White House as the Libertarian's prohibitive favorite nominee. Barr might actually pull a significant number of Republican votes away from Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) because he opposes most gay rights measures (he co-authored the misnamed "Defense of Marriage Act," voted against hate crime legislation and civil rights statutes), he supports gun rights, opposes abortion rights, supports deregulation across the board, and does not support environmental cap-and-trade proposals like the one crafted by Senators McCain and Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut). Oh and McCain hasn't sealed the deal with the conservative base yet.

But where do the Libertarians go? Would they accept this tilt to the right? Sure, Barr is in line with their views concerning deregulation, smaller government, gun rights, the war in Iraq and the misnamed Patriot Act but he's to their right on abortion and gay rights.javascript:void(0)
Publish Post

So Another "Family Values" Hypocrite Tries to Hold On

"As far as the party people are concerned, [the nomination] is his if he wants it," - an unnamed Republican official, quoted about U.S. Representative Vito Fossella (R-New York) in The Staten Island Advance - very low standards for a man who (a) broke the law and (b) proved himself to be a hypocrite and (c) cheated on his wife

"Vito Fossella built a career as a staunch "family values" pol, polishing his image in his predominantly Catholic district with a string of anti-gay votes.

He even shuns his gay sister, Victoria Fossella, refusing to go to family events if she and her partner attend, a source close to the family said." - excerpt from The New York Daily News - pray tell me what she did that was worse than what he did?

Why can't the Republicans just dump him and find someone else?

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Hard to argue with this one.

SNL Gay Skit

Last night, Will Forte and Shia LaBeouf poked some fun at "conversion theraphy," and the anti-gay prejudice which fuels it on Saturday Night Live. The two added a twist to the MacGruber films in which Forte regularly plays the role of an unusually resourceful action hero who ultimately fails to save himself and the clueless assistants around him from a deadly explosion. Why? A trivial or seemingly trivial distraction.

In this case, MacGruber, his son, and another female assistant are trapped in a chemical warfare silo. "One person's problem is another person's 'no problem at all'" calmly notes. Remember that quote. MacGruber asks for a battery, a bottle cap, rubber band, and a "petroleum-based substance." His son, played by LaBeouf throws him anal lubricant and when asked confesses when he is "experimenting" and when MacGruber asks who "the lucky girl" is, the son says "Scott." MacGruber's shock and disgust delay him from defusing the explosion.

In the second film, MacGruber and the same assistants have to defuse a chemical weapons bomb at a rebel training camp. His assistant is once again, panicking but MacGruber says we can "do and", looking to his son, "undo anything." MacGruber asks his assistant, as usual, for the various household items in plain site while quizzing his, it is thought, sexually re-oriented son. With time running out, he asks his son to recite a Biblical verse condemning homosexuality, then corrects him for naming one of only two sexual parts of the female body he (the son) presumably likes.

LaBeouf, as the unnamed son obviously had enough and starts to walk out but MacGruber prevents him from doing so. Seconds before the training camp explodes, a dildo falls out of the son's bag.

Finally, we see the same three individuals trying to defuse an explosive at an angel dust lab. The son tells MacGruber half-heartedly tells a now skeptical but still disapproving MacGruber that Scott is a "platonic friend" and that he really loves "Vicki." To "prove" his newly found heterosexuality, the son tells his father, who should be defusing the explosive, that he is going to pretend that Scott (his boyfriend) is Vicki and kiss him. MacGruber would have none of that and has him kiss his female assistant. Seconds before the angel dust lab explodes, the son throws up before he could kiss the female assistant.

Some gays might not find the writers' use of one anti-gay stereotype- their obsession with sex and the use of sex toys like anal lubricants and dildos - amusing, but they should overlook this imperfection and commend the writers for its overwhelmingly pro-gay message.

Careful observers could not miss the irony when MacGruber expresses shock and disgust at his son's homosexuality after calming his female assistant's nervousness surrounding the chemical bomb by informing her that "One person's problem is another person's 'no problem at all'". His misplaced problems should be apparent to all, given the result. The joke was on those, like MacGruber, who cannot distinguish between a problem that everyone needs to solve and matters that are of varying concern to every one.

The conversion therapy obviously did not work since the son wanted to kiss Scott and puked while kissing his father's female assistant and his mindless recitations to the contrary reminded the viewers of a brainwashing technique that ultimately failed because it required the son to lie about his real feelings. MacGruber's obsession with his son's homosexuality was portrayed, quite accurately, as a needless distraction from far more pressing matters.

This obviously was a comedy skit but the parallel situation in real life is obvious. We are in two wars - one against Islamic terrorists in the mountain regions bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan and one against various insurgent groups in Iraq. We should be utilizing every legal resource we have to stop Al Qaeda's affiliates and yet, at a time we need every troop we can get, the military discharges those who are found to be gay. There are also, unfortunately, a group of disturbed individuals who consider homosexuality to be a threat equal to the threat of Al Qaeda.

Were this not true, the skit would merely be funny and not funny but damning.