Politics: September 2003 Archives

Howard Dean

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It amazes me that anyone respects this guy.

He can't keep his story straight on any major issue. He was for NAFTA, now he's against it. Against Medicare, now for it. For tax cuts, now against them. Against death penalty, now for it.

He's not a thinker, he's a dullard. His views on the death penalty are adequate proof. He was against the death penalty because it is possible to make mistakes in convictions, and because people can be rehabilitated. But now he is for the death penalty in cases of terrorism and child abuse. Does he actually believe that in such cases, mistakes cannot be made? If he does, he is a dullard; if he doesn't, then he is pandering. Neither option is attractive to me. And who says terrorists and child abusers can't be rehabilitated, but serial killers can? Who decides this, and based on what?

His view on gay marriage is similarly obtuse. He supports civil unions because it is the right of all people to have such rights, yadda yadda yadda. But he opposes gay marriage, because "it's the church’s business to decide who they can marry and who they can’t marry." The interviewer replies, but the government decides who they can marry and who they can't marry. Dean responds, "We have civil unions in Vermont," his equivalent to, "this one goes to 11."

And he's a jackass to boot. In the recent debate, Dick Gephardt (quite correctly) said that Dean sided with Newt Gingrich's plan in regard to Medicare. Dean's response? "Don't compare me to Newt Gingrich. No one deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich."

First off, regardless of what you think of Gingrich, he's not Hitler, and a comparison, when linked to a specific issue, is not an affront to a reasonable person. Second, Gephardt didn't compare Dean to Gingrich. Third, Dean sounds like a whiny little baby. Dude, grow up. Who frelling cares who he compared you to? You might as well say, "Dick's touching me! Stop touching me! I'm telling! MOM!"

I have to think that most of the people who like Dean haven't seen him in one-on-one interviews (such as two on Meet the Press and one on This Week) and the debates, where he just sounds horrible. He denies he ever said things he said, he is constantly explaining away things he admits he said and did, and he is constantly reversing himself.

Howard Dean, you're a dull-witted and freaky little monkey, and I dislike you. slashdot.org

Recall Followup

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After hearing some of the oral arguments today in the Ninth Circuit, I am leaning the other way.

My argument before rested on the fact that the State of California has determined that the punchcard machines wil be decertified as of a certain date, that they will not be used as of March 2004, that they are not adequate for use in a statewide election.

However, one thing struck me today, in regard to that. Judge Kozinski of the Ninth Circus^WCircuit (a slip of the tongue made today by ACLU lawyer Mark Rosenbaum) noted that while the Secretary of State did agree to decertify the machines, and replace them for the March election, there was no finding made that there was an unacceptable error rate in those machines. ACLU lawyer Laurence Tribe agreed.

What does this mean, in relation to my argument? I contended that the state said the machines were found to be inadeqaute. That isn't the case. The state never said they are inadequate. The state said that they will not be used as of March 2004.

The ACLU case was pretty weak, I think. I can't see them winning the case. They did argue persuasively that the machines are inadequate, but not at a level where the federal government should step in. They tried to link it to the voting rights act, but couldn't show that this is related to discrimination of minorities, in my opinion. It was a stretch, at least. slashdot.org

Recall Delay

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I am outraged that the liberal Ninth Circuit would dare say that voting machines that were good enough to elect Gray Davis are not good enough to recall him. Those judges should be recalled too.

OK, that's what I imagine many of you thought I might say, being a conservative Republican and ex-Californian who voted for Bush and supports defeating Davis. But no, I essentially agree with the decision.

I've not read the decision, but I've read about it, and as I understand it, the court asserts that certain balloting systems which have -- since the most recent election -- been legally determined as inadequate. It would be one thing if the reliability of the systems were not already judged as inadequate, but that has already happened. At this point, it is a matter of fact.

When the Bush campaign filed in federal court in November 2000, I was annoyed. I thought it was none of the federal court's business. That is, until I read the filing, when I was swayed by the simple argument that to recount some people's votes, but not others, or to apply different recount standards to different votes, would violate the Constitution.

And now we see the same basic thing happening in California. There are differences, of course.

The Supreme Court in 2000 did not say any balloting systems were unconstitutional, for example. However, that is unrelated to this decision here, as they have already been ruled as inadequate in a separate case.

Further, the Supreme Court in 2000 did not stop a vote, and likely would not have. But just because they did not in 2000, does not mean this court should not. The court is required to weigh competing principles: that of allowing the people to vote on their chosen day, and that of protecting the rights of a minority of voters. While the first principle is an important one, it is not significantly damaged, in my opinion, by making them wait, if the reason is a good one. And in this case, the reason is a fine one.

Most interestingly to me, the Supreme Court in 2000 allowed a legally defined date to dictate the boundaries in which the rights of the voters would be protected. In December 2000, the court ruled that despite potential irregularities, there was not the time to do whatever was necessary to get it "right," because the law set up the deadlines that needed to be hit. And here, the court is saying the opposite: that the legal deadlines should be overruled to make sure people's rights are not abridged.

But the difference in decision is magnified by the difference in consequence. By delaying the recall, you are delaying an essentially arbitrary date for an arbitrary vote, and the only negative consequence anyone can forsee is that the elected governor remains the governor for another few months.

By delaying the final tally in 2000, they would have been doing something far more significant, disrupting history, precedent, and possibly the functions of government themselves. It was a step the court was unwilling to take.

The delay wasn't worth it in 2000, but in my opinion, it is now. slashdot.org

Polls Questions

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I have a ton to say about polls, but this is one thing that's been happening a lot lately that really annoys me. One typical example happened on Meet the Press this week.

The latest Zogby poll asks, "Do you think President Bush deserves to be re-elected, or do you think it is time for someone new?" When Tim Russert quoted the results on Meet the Press, he said the question was, "Would you vote to re-elect President Bush?"

That is so wrong it's hard to know where to begin. It's not the same thing. In answer to the second question, I would vote to re-elect Bush, without question at this point, because he is going to be the nominee, and I see no Democrat candidates who I would possibly vote for. However, I am very likely to answer the first question saying I would prefer someone new,, because I have never been a fan of Bush, and I can name in short order many people I'd rather have in that office.

And it is not even about my preference, it is about if I think he "deserves" to be re-elected. The question itself is odd. What does "deserve" mean? No one deserves to be re-elected, unless they get enough electoral votes to be re-elected, and if they do, then they deserve it. Isn't that how our system works? What other standard could there be? I suppose you could say he doesn't deserve it if he has committed crimes against the Constitution, but that would be an odd meaning to imply in such a question. So I couldn't even answer the question until I knew the results of the election.

Yes, I am being pedantic. But polls are supposed to be very specific and clear. The only way you can get reasonable polling data is to ask very clear, very brief questions that can only be answered reasonably in a set number of ways. And you can't arbitrarily change the wording of the question so significantly.

In this case, "if he is the GOP nominee, would you vote to re-elect President Bush in the Nov. 2004 election" is a perfectly good question, but it is not what was asked. Frankly, I don't really know what the actual question is supposed to mean; though Russert's replacement question is a fine one, it is not what was actually asked, and it is wrong of him to say that it is.

Russert is not the only one to do this, but he does it somewhat frequently, and I see it happening more and more as the elections start coming around again. And while in this case Zogby is more to blame than Russert, because the original question is so poor, it's not always poor questions that get unreasonably modified by the media.

And I am not going off on Russert just because he ended the show by saying "Go Bills, beat the Patriots." Well, not entirely. slashdot.org

Doing Your Job

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On this week's This Week, George Stephanopoulos read a letter from a viewer who asked, "With nearly all of the nation's governors, nearly 80 senators and a majority of Congress supporting emergency funding of AmeriCorps, how can President Bush sit by and do nothing as a vital program he profresses to support is being wiped out by his budget?"

Perhaps I am missing something, but if a majority in both houses support it, what's the problem? It's not like Bush will veto a bill that calls for "emergency funding for AmeriCorps."

I am continually amazed and saddened by the overemphasis on the President in the budgetary and lawmaking process. This is the job of the Congress. The job of raising revenue, specifically, belongs to the House.

So what if the President is "sitting by and doing nothing?" It is not his job to do something, it is Congress' job, and if nothing is getting done on this front, it is because they are sitting by, and doing nothing. I really wish Congress would one day just completely ignore the President's budget requests and do their own. That would make me happy. slashdot.org


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I am watching News Hour tonight, and Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, says, "we had some neocons early on saying this would be a cakewalk; it is not and will not be ...".

The problem is that the "neocon" in question was Ken Adelman in the Washington Post last February, who said it in a specific context, and gave his own definition of the term:

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.

The U.S. forces had fewer deaths in 2003 (129) vs. 1991 (148) and won in much less time: it took 25 days until the last major city, Tikrit, was "liberated,"in 2003, and in 1991 it took 40 days until Kuwait was declared "liberated."

Now, it depends on what you mean by "cakewalk," but Adelman told us what he means: he means that the first time around it was a cakewalk. That's a part of his definition of the word. By that definition, the mission -- demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq [from Hussein's power] -- was a cakewalk.

Dorgan wouldn't like you to know these things. He would like you to think that because people died it therefore cannot be a "cakewalk" (ignoring the context and standard being used in the use of the word), and that the "neocons" were really talking about the entire Iraq mission, not just the initial part of it. That way it's easier for him to make the "neocons" look bad. But now you know better, and knowing is half the battle! slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from September 2003.

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