Category Archives: Politics

I despise politics, but sometimes I rant anyway.

Proposition 8: The Aftermath

California, which voted overwhelming for Barack Obama and which passed Proposition 2 (requiring better living conditions for egg producing chickens) somehow also passed Proposition 8, which removes the right of same sex couples to marry in California. To my way of thinking, this is ludicrous. I’ve stated before, and I’ll state again, that in a democracy, you don’t get to vote on civil rights; otherwise, you don’t have a democracy. And Proposition 8 is an amendment to the state Constitution; and, honestly, a Constitution is not the place to define terms like “marriage” or whatever, but rather to protect the rights of the minority from the whims of the majority. Sometimes the people are foolish, and the courts end up stepping in to make sure this aspect of the Constitution is properly implemented (which is why interracial couples can get married anywhere in the country instead of just the 38 states where it was legal when Barack Obama was born).

Unsurprisingly, there has been serious backlash against the passage of Proposition 8. And equally unsurprisingly, the backlash has been targeted largely at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — the Mormons. The Mormon church — which has traditionally and historically always upheld the traditional notion of marriage as strictly between one man and one woman — poured a lot of money into the “Yes on 8” campaign. There are petitions to encourage the IRS to revoke the Mormon Church’s tax exempt status; I’m in favor of this, but what the church done is not, unfortunately, a violation of federal law, no matter how little business the church has in meddling in the affairs of California. The fact that the Prop 8 campaign utilized mostly fearmongering and blatant lies to move its message only makes me feel even more queasy. I try not to be prejudiced against any group, but I’m going to find it very hard, the next time Mormon missionaries arrive at my door, to not shout, “Get the hell away from my house!” at them.

There is also a movement to boycott Utah, the home of the Mormon church. I approve of this as well though I’m not sure how well it will go over. I’d personally also like to see a boycott of California, which was stupid enough to pass this particular bit of idiocy in the first place. This probably also won’t happen, though it would do my heart good to see, say, some major celebrities announce that they will no longer work in California because of this. This would certainly have an impact on California’s economy, and, in this case, that could only be a good thing. The state is probably already going to feel a financial impact from this anyway.

I think the most promising challenge to the passage of Proposition 8, though, is the legal challenge. In California, there are two methods for changing the state’s constitution; according to Article 18, Section 3 of the Constitution, the electors may amend the constitution by a majority vote, but there are questions as to whether this is the proper sort of procedure for such a major change to the Constitution. After all, this proposition effectively redefines the notion of equal rights in California, something which is guaranteed in the Constitution. It will be interesting to see how this goes. I’m not a lawyer, but I do think that the passage of Proposition 8 sets a very dangerous precedent.

We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully saner heads will prevail. There’s a protest rally at the State Capital right now. I dropped off Jennifer and I was going to go myself but there was literally no parking within a half mile. And since I was going to have to leave early anyway, I just headed on home. There were hundreds of people there even half an hour before the rally began; hopefully the turnout will be huge.

It will be interesting. The gay rights movement has had decades to work on creative and snarky means of civic action within the state. I can only hope that the state gets its collective head out of its collective ass and does the right thing.

(On another note, I read a very disturbing article suggesting that African Americans in California are being targeted as scapegoats for the passage of Proposition 8. While it’s true that minorities voted overwhelmingly in favor of the initiative, I think that targeting anyone as a scapegoat is misguided and counterproductive. So if you’re doing it, stop it right now, you bad person you.)

Brainz

I took a quick break from writing my zombie story to browse the web, and saw this picture of John McCain:

It seriously looks like McCain is about to chow down on a helpless baby.

We seriously need to vote for Barack Obama. I, for one, do not relish the idea of cannibalistic zombies in charge of the country.

'80 vs. '08?

Looking at the current Presidential election, I can’t help thinking of parallels with the 1980 Presidential election. Not that I remember a whole lot, since I was 12 years old at the time and more caught up in other interests besides politics, but I’ve read some history on line and I do have some memories. Consider:

  • In both years the incumbent party was saddled with a major international crisis involving the Middle East; Carter and the Democrats were facing scorn for their handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, and this year Bush and the Republicans can’t seem to get out from under the shadow of the Iraq war.
  • In both years, the main challenger to the incumbent party had a well-run and well-executed campaign, while the incumbent party’s campaign was disorganized and shoddy.
  • In both years, the main challenger was an unlikely candidate. Ronald Reagan was an actor, for crying out loud, and even though he’d served as governor of California, he was still better known as an actor, not a politician. And Barack Obama will very likely go down in history as the nation’s first African American president.
  • In both years, the incumbent party was reduced to nothing but negative campaigning. I seem to recall that Carter’s ads toward the end of the campaign focused pretty much on the fact that Reagan was an actor, not a politician. I’ve seen ads from that period and they’re pretty nasty. In 1980 this tactic arguably led to a landslide victory for Reagan, and McCain’s negative advertising will very likely lead to a landslide victory for Obama (according to many sources and in my own humble opinion).
  • Reagan seemed to be made of Teflon, and Obama does as well. And not just Teflon, but Teflon infused with heavy amounts of rubber. Not only are McCain’s charges against Obama not sticking, but they’re bouncing back and sticking to McCain himself.
  • Finally, in both years the challenger brought with them a positive message about change and renewal. Reagan’s slogan was “It’s morning in America”, and Obama’s is the inspiring “Change we can believe in”.

I’m not a political scientist or analyst by any means. These are just some random thoughts I had, and I’m interested in some feedback.

Voting No on Proposition 8

Here’s what happens if Proposition 8 fails:

  • Homosexual couples will retain the right to marry in California

Also:

  • Churches will NOT lose their tax exempt status if they choose not to perform same sex weddings

I haven’t been keeping up on the “Yes on 8” literature and advertising, but I understand that the fear of churches losing their tax exempt status if they refuse to perform same sex weddings has been the centerpiece of their campaign. It is, however, not true. In fact, from the state ruling: “no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.”

  • Schools will NOT be required to teach children about same sex marriage

Nothing in the text of Proposition 8 mentions this anyway. Nor does the ruling which legalized same sex marriage. Furthermore, California state law forbids the teaching of anything about health and family issues without their parents’ consent.

There’s quite a bit more, which you can find at the No on 8 website. Ultimately, though, the only reason to object to same sex marriage is the “ick” factor. It’s what’s driven anti-homosexual sentiments in so many societies throughout history, even in societies which were nominally atheistic (I would NOT want to be a homosexual man in China, for example, or in the Soviet Union before it collapsed). In all honesty, I get icked out by the thought of homosexual sex myself. But that does not matter. What it comes down to for me, and what it has always come down to, is that you don’t get to vote on rights in a democracy. Especially in a democracy, I would say.

Anyway. Vote no on 8.

…and while I'm at it (more politics)

May I just say that Palin’s other new tactic — implying that women who don’t vote for her are going to Hell — utterly unimpressive, and downright offensive? I suspect most of the women I know would feel the same. “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t support other women,” Palin said, quoting Madeline Albright. Although Albright — one of the most distinguished Secretaries of State that the US has had in recent decades — never actually said that. What she said was, “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women.”

It’s also a very curious tactic, coming from someone who, as former mayor of the town of Wasilia, voted against a measure that would have made the police pay for rape kits and leaving that burden with the victims, and who seems to be opposed to a number of ideals which are demonstrably good for women, including proper sex education and legal abortion.

More glass houses, more stones.

Political Playing Cards

I wonder if McCain really listens to himself when he talks, or does he, like Peter Griffin, just sort of drift in and out every now and then? More to the point, does he listen to Palin?

The McCain/Palin ticket, languishing in the polls at 42-50, has announced that they’re going to go really negative and attack Obama’s character. I guess they didn’t take into account the fact that announcing their new strategy gives the Obama campaign — never ones to let something like this slide — a chance to launch a pre-emptive counterstrike. Before McCain’s new set of ads come out, Obama’s campaign has already launched an ad emphasizing McCain’s erratic behavior during the recent economic crisis. Expect Obama to put out more such ads.

Meanwhile, Palin has decided to play the terrorist card, attacking Obama’s association with William Ayers, one of the founding members of the Weather Underground. Never mind that Ayers has been, since the 60’s, a respected professor of philosophy and an ardent politician (having worked closely with the Chicago mayor’s office to bring about school reform, for example), or that Obama’s association with Ayers was limited to working on two fundraising boards with him and living in the same neighborhood. These facts are supposed to be irrelevant; the point is, Palin insists, that Obama was “palling around” with terrorists.

Well, okay, I suppose that’s fine. But if they’re going to play the terrorist/anti-American card, they should expect to have it played back at them. For example, there’s John McCain’s association with G. Gordon Liddy, one of the men convicted of crimes surrounding Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Liddy served four years for his crime, and extolled more crimes in the name of subverting the Constitution. Said scandal, of course, led to Richard Nixon’s resignation. Liddy is now a conservative radio host, and McCain and Liddy apparently have a close relationship. Of course, Liddy’s radicalism never led to more than a breakin and time served.

Then, of course, there’s Palin’s association with the Alaskan Independence Party. The McCain/Palin campaign has delivered Palin’s voter registration history, showing that she was never a member of the party, but so what? Obama was never a member of the Weather Underground, but that hasn’t stopped Palin. Joe Vogler, founder of the AIP, made a number of statement extolling his hatred of the federal government and the “damn flag”. Palin was never a member, but the fact is her husband was a member for seven years, and she herself contributed to them.

Personally, I don’t care. Ayers’s radical past is behind him. Liddy has served his time. Palin’s association with the AIP ended several years ago. People and their ideologies change, and what matters in an election is the candidate and who they are now. Are any Republicans ever going to disallow Lieberman because he once embraced Democratic ideals? No, I didn’t think so.

Glass houses, stones. That’s all I’m sayin’.

More anti-gay weirdness

Right here in Sacramento there is a young couple, Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding, who have gotten themselves caught up in California’s tussle over gay marriage. They recently decided that signing a marriage certificate with the words “Person A” and “Person B” is somehow offensive, and they want to be recognized as “bride and groom” on the legal certificate. Until that happens, they feel that can’t get married at all.

At all. Did you get that? They’ve chosen not to get married rather than sign a piece of paper that says “Person A” and “Person B”.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Further puzzling the matter is that they seem to believe that they now can’t get married, and because of that, they cannot get the marriage benefits that other people who are married — like myself — enjoy. “We just feel that our rights have been violated,” said Bird. A very puzzling statement, because they haven’t been. Furthermore, Codding says, “We feel that some things are worth fighting for.” Like, the right to refuse to sign paperwork that doesn’t have the words on it that you want. And as the article states, “Because their marriage is not registered with the state, Bird cannot sign up for Codding’s medical benefits or legally take his name.” They worry that if, say, Bird gets very sick, she won’t be covered by Codding’s health care benefits. Or if Codding winds up in the hospital, then Bird won’t be allowed to visit him.

Gee, what’s that like?

Ask a few hundred thousand gay couples in the United States, and they’d be happy to tell you.

Says Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, “Those who support (same-sex marriage) say it has no impact on heterosexuals. This debunks that argument.” I’m not a lawyer, but I did study philosophy in college, and took several courses in logic and critical reasoning, and I don’t understand Dacus’s position at all. I really mean that. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s just plain stupid. What’s affecting this couple is not a change in wording in legal documents regarding marriage in California, it’s just their own bullheadedness.

California now legally allows gay and lesbian couples to get married, though Proposition 8, if passed, would deny that right to them. I’ve already made my own position quite clear: Vote No on 8. There are some things in a democratic republic like the United States that you don’t get to vote on, and among those are peoples’ rights. In this case, judicial opinion simply trumps popular vote, no matter how much the right wing bleats about “activist judges”. The recognition of this truth is part of the reason we have a Constitution in the first place. It’s not a matter of state rights (and, frankly, the fact that Obama says it is is one of the very few qualms I have with him). You just don’t get to vote on this. The fact that it’s on the ballot is not “democracy in action”; it is, pure and simple, intolerance in action.

Of course, among the rights that we don’t get vote on in a democracy is the right to be stupid. Bird and Codding have chosen to exercise that right. That’s fine if it works for them; but the rest of us, including the thousands of gay and lesbian couples in California, shouldn’t have that stupidity shoved down our throats.

ETA: I also recommend this entry on ‘s blog about the subject.

New scan email making the rounds

There’s a new scam email making the rounds. If you receive it, just ignore it and delete it. Don’t fall for the scam. Here’s the text of the email as I’ve seen it:

From: Minister of the Treasury Paulson

Subject: REQUEST FOR URGENT CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully
Minister of Treasury Paulson

(Wil Wheaton deserves a hat tip for this one.)

Les Misobamas FTW!

Today’s mashup of Les Misérables and the 2008 political season comes to you from Jib Jab:

I especially liked McCain as Javert. I thought that was truly inspired.

Edit: Whoops, turns out that was Ultimate Improv. The video was just hosted at the Jib Jab site. Still, it’s pretty funny, don’t you think?