Observations on the world today.

Friday, February 27, 2004

More on the Value of State's Rights 

Yesterday, I commented that state's should have the rght to decide their own marriage laws. I noted that it is a tradition that states be given the right to act individually in the interest of their citizens. But there is another, more pragmatic reason that I failed to note.

State's are often on the cutting edge of creative social advance. For example, the midnight basketball program started as a local program someplace. Vermont is testing the workability of civil unions. The community of San Fransisco is testing the bounds even more.

If we delegate all decision making to the federal government, we all lose. If we had deferred to the federal authority in the mid-nineteenth century, it is very possible that they would have declared slavery legal in all US States. This would have effectively quelshed any movement for abolition, and slavery would still be legal today.

The Devil Can Cite Scripture for His Purpose.  

Constitution Restoration Act of 2004

I commented on this bill once before, but I recently had an interesting thought and decided to comment on it again. Once more, here is the text of the bill's purpose:

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'.

Okay, here is my thought. As Shakespeare noted in the Merchant of Venice, biblical passages can be used to argue almost any objective. The Book is more full of conflicting themes than a kilt factory. (Think about it - you'll get it.)

So here is the thing, suppose a liberal judge in - say - Massachusetts was to have made a favorable same-sex marriage ruling with a reference to First Samuel, Chapter 18: verse one:

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

Think about it - you'll get it.


Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Non-Distinction 

Eschaton made a very good point today on the difference between marriage and civil union.

This distinction was always a sham, because it's a distinction without a difference. Unless the candidates can articulate what the difference is, it's a losing strategy. Until they can articulate the difference, the press will keep asking.

This is why I support a different strategy. What we should all be saying is this: Marriage needs a new legal definition. And since marriage started as a religious institution, that is what it should remain. However, each church should decide for itself what it will condone as a marriage, and each state should decide for itself what it will legally recognize as a union. So if Unitarians in Vermont want to marry gay couples, that is their business, and the state can recognize it. Also, if Unitarians in Ohio wish to marry gays, that too is their business, and the state is free to not recognize it.

The corollary to this is that civil weddings can no longer be called marriages. They are legal unions. Period.

The reason that state's should be given the prerogative to decide whether or not they will recognize gay unions is the same as the reason that states get to decide if their electoral votes will be all-or-nothing or parsed out by districts; and the same reason that states set their own speed limits and drinking ages. States need some autonomy in order to keep the federal government from usurping all individualism from our communities.

On Second Thought 

CNN.com - Democratic candidates blast Greenspan comments

Greenspan warned a House committee Wednesday that growing federal budget deficits and the retirement of Baby Boomers will require future cuts in Social Security and Medicare to avoid tax increases that would damage the economy. Since that population will begin to draw Social Security benefits within the decade, he said Congress has a "reasonably short" time to head off a crisis.

After taking some time to reconsider this, perhaps we democrats can think of a way to make this work for us. After all, what Greenspan seems to actually be saying is that he supports the continued Bush tax cuts for the temporary relief they may represent for the economy. He also seems to be saying that the long-term harm of this short-term benefit is only a peripheral concern. Of course, if you look at the guy, you can see that this is probably because he will be dead long before the damage catches up to us.

So, as the party who opposes the tax cuts, we now have the voice of fiscal conservatism basically coming out and saying the-future-be-damned, the present needs a fix. Bush has already tried to distance himself from this vision of his tax-cut program, but the damage has been done. The word is out.

Hey kids, you know that SSN money they take out of your check every week? Well, because Bush cut your boss' taxes so that he could buy a new boat and collect even more dividends on his Evinrude/Johnson stock, that money you put in for your future is now going to be used to pay off the debt. The president thinks it would be a good idea for you to also start investing in stocks which may or may not be worth anything by the time you retire -- if you ever get to retire that is.

By the way, 9/11, terrorism and the freedom to marry whoever you choose is bad. Vote republican.

And Now My Song Is Done 

Bush/Cheney '04

This is from the official Bush/Cheney '04 site. For the love of all that's good and pure, why - oh why - would they have a link for FoxNews at the top of their page along with links to their position on the environment, the economy, the war on terror, their Foreign Policy and the significant members of their cabinet? How, oh how does FoxNews fit there?

It's like that old Sesame Street song.

One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong. Can you guess which thing just doesn't belong here?

Yes, Bob, I can.


CNN.com - Democratic candidates blast Greenspan comments

Well, it looks like when the new president takes charge of the country, we are going to have to get us a new Fed. Chairman. So, as part of my ongoing project to help select the cabinet of the new commander-in-chief, I hereby nominate ABG (Anybody But Greenspan.) Actually Paul O'Neill. Hey, I know he's a Republican, but he's our kind of Republican. And face it, those guys understand money.

And, yes, I realize that technically the Fed is not part of the cabinet, but its an important position. Too important to ignore. More important than Secretary of Transportation, for cryin' out loud.


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

You Know, If I Wasn't Already Married ... 

Yahoo! News - Garofalo gets laff book gig

Simon & Schuster will publish a collection of political essays by comedian Janeane Garofalo (news).

S&S vice prexy and editor-at-large Rob Weisbach picked up world rights for "For Those About to Salute, We Will Rock You."

I love Janeanne Garofolo. This is a book that I might just have to actually buy when it comes out in October. Usually, I just borrow them from the library. Of course, if somebody was trying to come up with the perfect birthday present for me...

For the record, my birthday in November 2.

Democrat or Asshole? You decide 

Senator Zell Miller: Floor Speech on
‘Deficit of Decency’ in America

Please, Zell, just convert to the Republican party so that we can run someone against you next time.


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Note to Ted Turner: 

Wouldn't it be great if Ted Turner was to make it a point to show all of the great movies depicting the insanity of the Vietnam war in the weeks of the presidential debates. No matter whether Edwards or Kerry gets the nomination, the taint of Bush's record supporting the war/opposing the war and defaming men like Kerry and Cleland will be not-so-subtly reinforced if every time you try to change the channel you are confronted with the gore and lunacy of that ill conceived show of American force. Not only that, but since we are still "in country" in Iraq, the message of Bush's hypocricy will also shine through like a maglite covered in gauze.

What do you think Ted? Can you make it happen? Here's a brief list of movies for your consideration.

The Anderson Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, A Bright Shining Lie, Casualties of War, Coming Home, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, The Deer Hunter, First Blood, Full Metal Jacket, Gardens of Stone, Good Morning, Vietnam, Hamburger Hill, The Hanoi Hilton, Heaven & Earth - Oliver Stone Collection, In Country, Platoon (Special Edition), Return With Honor, Uncommon Valor, The War, We Were Soldiers

And what the heck, toss in Three Kings too for good measure.

It's magic! 

Bush Assertion on Tax Cuts Is at Odds With IRS Data

Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and John Edwards (N.C.) have pledged to restore the top two income tax rates to a maximum of 39.6 percent if elected president, but Bush and Republican allies say such a move would disproportionately punish small businesses, most of which pay individual income tax rates on their profits.

"If you're worried about job growth, it seems like it makes sense to give a little fuel to those who create jobs, the small-business sector," Bush told a gathering of the nation's governors at the White House. "So I'll vigorously defend the permanency of the tax cuts, not only for the sake of the economy, but for the sake of the entrepreneurial spirit."

Internal Revenue Service statistics cited by a Democratic senator this month show that the vast majority of small businesses do not earn nearly enough money to fall into the highest income tax bracket. According to IRS data from the 2001 tax year, 3.8 percent of the 18.2 million business tax returns filed that year reported taxable income of $200,000 or more. The top tax bracket last year kicked in at $311,950 of taxable income.

In contrast, 62 percent of business filers reported incomes of less than $50,000, putting them at most in the 15 percent tax bracket, the second lowest. Nearly 88 percent of business filers reported income of less than $100,000, keeping them comfortably below the top two tax brackets of 33 percent and 35 percent, which Kerry and Edwards propose to raise.

Republicans point to a different statistic: Of the 750,000 tax filers that pay the top rate, more than two-thirds receive some (emphasis mine, Mister)small-business income from sole proprietorships, partnerships or small businesses incorporated as S corporations, according to the Treasury Department and the Republican staff of the congressional Joint Economic Committee.

Oh, 3.8% receive some income from small business, so tax cuts on some of the income of 3.8% of business people will magically create so many jobs that it justifies burdening the next three generations with a massive national debt. I get it now.

No I don't.

Ask, and You Shall Receive 

Yahoo! News - Leaked Pentagon report warns climate change may bring famine, war: report

A secret report prepared by the Pentagon (news - web sites) warns that climate change may lead to global catastrophe costing millions of lives and is a far greater threat than terrorism.

The report was ordered by an influential US Pentagon advisor but was covered up by "US defense chiefs" for four months, until it was "obtained" by the British weekly The Observer.

On Sunday I was lamenting the fact that the major media had not picked up on this story, then lo and behold, Tuesday morning there it is big as life on Yahoo's front page.

Will wonder never cease?


Monday, February 23, 2004

Didn't These Guys See "Soul Man?" 

HoustonChronicle.com - Group offers scholarships, parodies affirmative action

Parodying affirmative action policies, a conservative student group at Texas A&M University will offer scholarships next year to students who pen winning essays about "overcoming" affirmative action.

The scholarships -- for $5,000, $3,500 and $1,500 -- will be awarded next year in the "Overcoming Affirmative Action Essay Contest," sponsored by the Young Conservatives at Texas A&M and the conservative Texas Review Society, a nonprofit organization that publishes the Austin Review, Texas Education Review, the Houston Review and the Examiner (at Texas A&M).

Earlier this week, the College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Conn., announced a $250 scholarship available only to white students. That scholarship requires an essay on "why you are proud of your white heritage" and a picture to "confirm whiteness."

My blonde-haired blue-eyed son is a junior in high school. I think I'm going to have him submit an essay for this scholarship. I've written the first paragraph myself. I don't think that will disqualify him. After all, most people who "overcome affirmative action" do it with daddy's help, don't they? Anyway, here is the first paragraph. The rest will be up to him.

You ask me, how did I overcome affirmative action? Well, first I wrote this condescending essay, and then a bunch of stupid bigoted rednecks gave me a suitcase full of cash.

Hopefully, honesty counts for more than penmanship, since I was laughing so hard when I wrote this that it's almost illegible.

Of Special Interests and Voting Records 

Yahoo! News - Kerry Blasts Bush Over Attacks on Record

Democrats have a different way of looking at the budget than republicans. We see the military as part of the budget, republicans see the military as the reason for the budget. Seems to me there is a certain irony in the attacks being levied on Kerry. First, republicans take an awful lot of special interest money from government contractors and war profiteers, yet Kerry is being criticized for both taking special interest money AND for not voting to support war profiteering.

October May Come Early This Year 

Yahoo! News - CIA chief in secret visit to Pakistan

Western diplomats said there appeared to be new urgency in Washington to step up the hunt for Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and other al-Qaeda members ahead of this year's US presidential election.

Okay, here is the thing. We know where bin Laden is. We basically have him cornered. We have members of the military AND the government telling us that he will definately be captured by the end of the year if not sooner. And we have the Pakistani president suddenly becomming very cooperative after Bush helped him skate on a sensitive cover-up of leaked nuclear secrets. Many people on the left are suggesting that this will lead to an "October Surprise." I agree, but I don't think Bush will wait until October.

Bush's poll numbers have been going steadily down. He had been hoping for several bounces lately, but did not get them. His lackluster performance at the SOU Address, paired with his dull performance on Meet the Press added in with the AWOL controversy, and suddenly Bush is even down in the latest FoxNews poll -- and that never happens.

Also, he had hoped of getting some bounce in June with the hand over of power in Iraq, but now that isn't going to happen. His options are wearing thin. Heck, people have even already lost interest in Hussein. Also the democratic race is turning out to be a real headline grabber, and the convention could turn out to be even more exciting still. This is why I think we may see the capture of Osama around the end of July or early August. This would take them into their own convention with a bang.

Get ready for it. Don't be caught off guard. Tell everyone you know to expect it no matter their affiliation. Expose it for the dog-wagging that it is. Don't let our convention be their Christmas in July.


Sunday, February 22, 2004

Behold, The Paradox of Federalism 

Yahoo! News - SF Files Suit Challenging Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The city argues that the ban is unconstitutional. Meantime, Governor Schwarzenegger has vowed to vigorously defend the state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

States run by republican governors like Arnie are constantly arguing the idea that they have a sort of paramount autonomy. Yet, paradoxically, they seem to want to keep municipalities completely under their thumb.

Here in Ohio, there is a wide variance of political ideologies to be found. Cleveland and Cincinatti might as well be in two completley different nations, and Youngstown could stand to have its own planet. Then there is the peculiar situation in Cloumbus where the whole city could be divided into four quarters along the interstate routes of I-70 and I-71 with each quarter being declared a seperate duchy.

So if the philosophy that states need idiological protection from federal oversight has any validity, why doesn't the logical conclusion follow that communites within the states deserve the same right? Obviously the flavor and philosophy of San Fransisco is different from the flavor and philosophy of Bakersfield.

My neighboring state of West Virginia came to be when they ceded from Virginia because the powers-that-be in the capital were ignoring their needs. It would be a shame if SF had to take that drastic measure to assure that it's individuality was not usurped by an Austrian with Nazi sympathies who came to power in a bloodless coup, but if that's what it takes, I say go for it.


Side-stepping the Constitution 

What the heck is this??

Constitution Restoration Act of 2004

Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God (my emphasis, Mister) as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'.

So if this idiotic law passes, it will not be permissable for the Supreme Court to review decisions at levels lower than the federal level when the issue is to decide whether the establishment clause was violated when an official or governing body invoked their interpretation of God's law?

However, if such officer or body was to decide based on Hindu law, or Buddhist law or natural law, this bill says nothing.

Look, Mr. Aderholt - whoever you are, it's pretty simple. I cannot run for governor and make atheism the law of the state, and neither should I be able to. Likewise, neither can a Jew, Muslim or Christian take office and decide that their religion should guide the state, or the county or the city or the schoolboard or any public governing body in America.


Where Is the Major Media? 

This has me completely stunned. Apparently the Pentagon has been writing the script for the next Mad Max movie, and we are all expected to play the part of frightened villager. Yet, for some unknown reason, the mainstream press has completely ignored it.

The story first appeared in Fortune Magazine:

The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare

Global warming may be bad news for future generations, but let's face it, most of us spend as little time worrying about it as we did about al Qaeda before 9/11. Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.

The threat that has riveted their attention is this: Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade -- like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over. Scientists don't know how close the system is to a critical threshold. But abrupt climate change may well occur in the not-too-distant future. If it does, the need to rapidly adapt may overwhelm many societies -- thereby upsetting the geopolitical balance of power.

Though triggered by warming, such change would probably cause cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to longer, harsher winters in much of the U.S. and Europe. Worse, it would cause massive droughts, turning farmland to dust bowls and forests to ashes. Picture last fall's California wildfires as a regular thing. Or imagine similar disasters destabilizing nuclear powers such as Pakistan or Russia --it's easy to see why the Pentagon has become interested in abrupt climate change.

I have no idea why it was in Fortune Magazine, but it seems to have been ignored by everybody except for Tom Paine:

Climate Change Alert

(Andrew) Marshall has just blown the lid off another Bush administration can of worms—namely, its unwillingness to acknowledge and address the massive threat posed by global climate change.

Marshall is the founding director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, a quiet but powerful think tank within the Pentagon. In 2001, Marshall was tapped by George W. Bush to lead the Pentagon’s military review that largely defined the scope of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s "transformation" agenda. Marshall, whose ONA has served every president since Nixon, introduced the term "revolution in military affairs."

In an article published Jan. 26 in Fortune magazine, Marshall released the findings of an unclassified report—written by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of the Global Business Network—entitled "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security."

Global Warming Happens

Until now, the debate over climate change in the United States has focused on whether global warming exists and if so, whether it can be attributed to human activity. In their report, Schwartz and Randall close that debate and raise the stakes. They write that "the IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] documents the threat of gradual climate change," deftly allowing Marshall to implicitly acknowledge that the IPCC findings have sufficiently established what the report calls "the scientifically proven link between CO2 and climate change"

Then, I suppose because no other mainstream media wanted to touch it, concerned insiders took the story to the liberal British press.

Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

The story has even been reported by the Pakistani Online media:

Secretive Pentagon report forecasts climate wars

Growing scientific evidence of faster than imagined climate change means the United States needs to begin planning how to repel waves of hungry environmental refugees from Mexico , South America and the Caribbean, according to a Pentagon report.

But that seems to be as far as it has gotten. Hey, note to ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, NPR, Time, Newsweek and all the rest of the mainstream print and broadcast media: Wake the f**k up!


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