December 20, 2009
The CNN headline today reads “Obama gets an ‘A’ for effort from Schwarzenegger“. I had a good laugh at this one.
When Swarzenegger was running for Governator, I was of the opinion that he had a good environmental and fiscal platform and that he had a large multi-partisan base. I found myself at odds with others on the right who were voting for him because of his ‘character’, and because he was going to go in there and clean house, squeeze some pencil-neck bureaucrats, etc. Clearly, this wasn’t the case.
Swarzenegger found out in short order that the legislature was dug in and had no obligation to do what he wished. He has turned out to be a slightly better than average governor on the sense that he has done little harm; done little of anything in fact. It’s not for lack of trying, but the way our government is set up.
One branch of government can do very little without the cooperation of at least one other branch. I had higher hopes for Obama. He went into this with an extremely strong mandate and a knack for finding common ground between opposing groups. Thus far, his failings have been the opposite of those of the Governator; he has been too trusting and willing to compromise. He has passed some of the most massive legislations in history, but only after all that is good in them has been sucked out and replaced with corporate welfare, and done so by his own supposed allies.
I found the above headline funny because I get the feeling both of them are looking at each other and saying, “wow, this isn’t as easy as it looks”.
June 29, 2009
Obama seems to be testing out what I imagine will become another great speech soon. In today’s speech he set the stage for the destruction of the DADT policy, saying, “I’ve called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination“, and “I’m also urging Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, which will guarantee the full range of benefits, including healthcare, to LGBT couples and their children.”, and finally, “I want to say a word about “don’t ask, don’t tell.” As I said before — I’ll say it again, I believe “don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t contribute to our national security. In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security. Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we’ll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.“
I think of DADT as good manners, but lousy policy. One’s sexual orientation is not relevant to the job at hand; it’s a distraction. Making an issue of it while on duty should be punishable by reprimand rather than discharge. I feel the same way about religion.
On a separate note, women will never have equal rights in this country until they have equal responsibilities. This includes registering for the draft. The government either needs to do away with it or apply it without discrimination.
June 6, 2009
A few weeks back when Obama had yet to publicly pick a nominee for the Supreme court, CNN put up a picture on their front page of a large grid of faces, each a likely choice for the nomination. In a fraction of a second, before I even recognized any of their identities, I picked Sotomayor as the obvious political choice. I find this troubling. It’s true that she could be the best of the bunch, but I think that is improbable for reasons I’ll go into below.
Pat Buchanan has repeatedly referred to her as an affirmative action pick. While I can see how he would think that, I think it is more complicated than that. Obama got two thirds of the Hispanic vote, and 56% of women. He might be trying to directly appeal to his base. As much as it may have been one of his greatest obstacles at many points on the path, I’m of the belief that Obama’s ethnicity was a positive for him in the final presidential vote. He could arguably claim that he has a mandate to shake up the old white guy club that is Washington D.C.
Obama has both the Constitutional background and the advisers to tell him the history and expectations connected with a Supreme Court nomination. There has been something of a tradition of ‘reserved seats’ on the courts for various groups, such as Catholics (Catholics now make up two thirds of the court). I don’t like such traditions. I think the appointment should go to the most qualified individual, based on impartiality, and an understanding of the Constitution and our legal system. I don’t think we should legislate this, but I do think a strong legal background is a plus. I think as much as possible, the government should be blind to race, gender, and religion.
“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
The above quote doesn’t come from anyone I’d confirm for for such a position. I’ve yet to hear anyone say that they think a white guy making the inverse statement would have any chance of confirmation.
I’ve heard the Obama administration’s statement that if she were to make the statement again she would have used different wording. This wasn’t some offhand comment she made after a few drinks. This was in a published speech for a law review, specifically Law Raza Law Review, a play on La Raza, or ‘the race’, a term of Hispanic pride. She is a member of The National Council of La Raza, a group dedicated to the advancement of Hispanics. She has used the above quote in many speeches and many places over a nine year period.
I’ve heard it suggested that the quote was just taken out of context. After reading the context it was in, I found it to be even worse. I find the quote inexcusable, and I see three possibilities for explaining it:
- It was poorly stated and not what she meant, in which case she is unqualified for a position in which all of her statements will be picked over for decades or centuries to come by lawyers and judges deciding people’s futures.
- She said it because she was pandering to Law Raza, in which case she doesn’t have the ethics for the job.
- She believes what she said, in which case she is guilty of ethnic discrimination, and doesn’t have the impartiality to be any kind of judge, much less on the Supreme Court.
The reason Barack gave for voting against Roberts was the he had the impression that Roberts most often ruled for the strong over the weak. This is a statement that brings me to the core of my beliefs about affirmative action. If Hispanics tend to be poor, should we give Hispanics some help? No. If you want to help the poor, help the poor, not the Hispanic. To do otherwise isn’t fair to the poor who aren’t singled out by their ethnicity, or to those Hispanics who are already successful, and it breeds resentment and the impression that people gained their positions through something other than their own merit. If Sotomayor is confirmed without addressing that quote, all of her decisions on discrimination cases will come with an asterisk.
As for her past work, she has twice ruled on Second Amendment cases as if it did not exist.
I’ll be interested to hear what she has to say for herself in the confirmation hearings. The Democrats have control and it is expected she will be confirmed. The Republicans don’t have the cojones to vote against a swing demographic, but who knows, it could yet get ugly enough to be contested.
May 3, 2009
A doomish title if ever I’ve penned one. As seen in the video below, a recent poll has shown a strong link between churchgoing and the approval of torture.
While this comes as no surprise to those of us who have been paying attention, I think it deserve some further scrutiny. The obvious conclusion would be that religion causes a desire to torture, but I think that may be backwards. Another recent study showed the religious as being far more likely to seek extreme life prolonging measures when deathly ill. What does all this have in common? A fear of the unknown extreme enough to lead people to oppose the values they claim to have, just to scrabble at a scrap of hope. It is religion that is an irrational safety blanket for some very rational fears, that provides the self righteousness and justification for the commission of atrocities that were already desired by those susceptible to it’s pull of absolution. It is the dichotomy of hope and fear that got both Bush and Obama elected by the same electorate. While hope and fear are polar opposites, they are two sides of the same coin.
It is as if the whole country is in a Kübler-Ross model of the stages of grief.
- Denial: This is where we were between WWII and the Bush years. We were the greatest country on earth. It was our birthright, not just a side effect of being the last manufacturing power standing after the war due to the distance of our homes from the front lines.
- Anger: We clearly transition from denial to anger early in the Bush years. We believe all of our problems are external in nature, that it isn’t our fault. The Axis of Evil is the source of our pain. Wars ensue on multiple fronts.
- Bargaining: Hope. Perhaps if we elect a Democrat, they will fix everything. We will give the banks whatever they want, bail out the manufacturing industry, borrow money, whatever it takes. The final days of Bush and the first 100 days of Obama.
- Depression: This is where we are now. consumer confidence is low, the parties are fragmented, the future unclear.
- Acceptance: This is where we are going. We need to accept that our problems are fundamental and widespread, that the middle east won’t have peace, China isn’t going away, and the Dollar isn’t intrinsically strong. Our economy isn’t in a downturn, it has seen a correction, and we aren’t going back to the golden age of the 1950′s any time soon. It is time to pick up the pieces, make some hard choices, and begin to move forward.
We are a government of the people, by the people. It hasn’t led us here, we have led it here. We can take it back, but we can’t do it without a majority. Our next president should be a Ron Paul.
February 17, 2009
In this interview Ron Paul talks a bit about the stimulus bill, and the process by which it was introduced. Ron Paul is an honest guy, so I’ll take him at his word until I see strong evidence otherwise. Obama made a campaign promise to publish all legislation five days ahead of time to allow congress and the public to peruse it. He didn’t do this for the stimulus. It could be argued that the stimulus is an emergency measure and should be exempt, but he also didn’t do this for children’s health insurance, which was hardly an emergency since it doesn’t kick in until mid-year. But this was more than a simple broken campaign promise; according to Ron Paul, the bill wasn’t revealed until the midnight before the vote, and was 1,000 pages. This was made worse by making only five hard copies available, which seems to me to be a clear tactic to prevent the opposition from being able to work together to get it read and discussed before the vote. Lets get this info out to the public at large. I want to see either a denial, an explanation, or a loss of credibility over of this one. If it is true, it is disappointing.