Politics: June 2011 Archives

The Orwellianly named Marriage Equality Act, now the law in the State of New York, further solidifies the state's power to restrict who can get married, and who cannot. Far from granting marriage rights to all people equally, it merely broadens the category of whom may marry.

And it's not merely an oversight: the law states explicitly that the intent is to only allow homosexual marriages that would be otherwise legal, if not for the fact of the two partners being of the same sex. So other marriages are intentionally and explicitly left out of this legislation. There is no actual equality here: the marriage of gay brothers -- despite the fact that there is absolutely no more reason to restrict their marriage than there is that of any other gay couple -- is still illegal under New York law.

If we want to talk equality, then let's be honest and truly equal; otherwise, as in this case, "equality" is just a synonym for selfishness.

At least New York went through the legislature, rather than trying to shoehorn anti-equality rules into the 14th Amendment, such as David Boies and Ted Olson are doing in the federal case against California's Prop. 8. If you want to discriminate against incestuous marriages, fine, but don't pretend the 14th Amendment says it's not OK to discriminate against gays, but it is OK to discriminate against siblings.

Thank You, Mike Kelly

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This is a fantastic statement by Rep. Mike Kelly to the Education and Workforce Committee.

John Yoo and President Obama

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Once upon a time, John Yoo, legal scholar and former official of the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, wrote a memo.

Well, he wrote several memos. Most of them were uncontroversial. But some of them did not escape notice by opponents of the Bush administration's policies, as Yoo basically said that Bush had, from the Constitution, whatever authority he wished to have to defend the nation, and Congress was incapable of limiting this authority by statute.

Most scholars and citizens, on all sides of the political fence, think that's silly. The Constitution explicitly gives Congress the power to limit the President in most matters, especially those pertaining to the use of the military. The Constitution says nothing about a "shift" to the executive branch during a time of war: and indeed, it gives Congress the sole authority to determine when we are in a time of war.

Apparently Mr. Yoo now works for the Obama administration, because it would take exceptionally novel thinking such as Yoo's to come up with the notion that when the War Powers Resolution says the President may only "introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities" under certain circumstances -- none of which exists in Libya -- it only limits the use of sending actual soldiers into hostilities, not the use of the armed forces generally. Even though that's what it says.

(Oh, and by the way, everyone who says the War Powers Resolution doesn't require the President to get prior authorization to go into Libya is wrong. That would only be true if Libya consituted a "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." Absent that, the President needs a declaration or war, or some other statutory authorization, from Congress. The 60-day requirement presumes that the initial requirement for the use of force was met.)

Ignore the words of the law, says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: that's not what the people who wrote the resolution had in mind. And besides, this is going to "be over before you know it" and everyone supports it. But if everyone supports it, why invent such an obviously controversial interpretation of the War Powers Resolution instead of just complying with it? It's, at worst, not much more difficult to comply with than it is to fight with.

There's only two reasonable possibilities: either Obama simply wants to defend what he sees as the legitimate powers of the President whether he needs to or not, or he fears what will happen if he complies with the War Powers Resolution.

The former, while perhaps noble, isn't likely here. Obama and his people certainly have never been big believers in broad executive power, though, granted, that changed when he took office. But this sort of defense of executive power usually comes from presidents who want to protect that power for those presidents that follow, and there's no reason to think Obama's very interested in that.

Worse, however, it is even less likely that Obama sees this as a legitimate use of executive power: even if he believes, as many do, that the War Powers Resolution is unconstiutional and needs not be complied with in the first place, the way to fight that in terms of defending executive power is to actually make that case, not to invent a ridiculous legal argument that literally means the President can launch an unprovoked nuclear attack against Canada without congressional approval, as long as there's no American soldiers actually in Canada.

So no, Obama doesn't believe this is a philosophically necessary case to make. That leaves us with believing he fears the result of bringing this to Congress. The question is: why? I leave that to your imagination.

McKenna and Math

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So speaking of how Robert Reich can't add, I wonder whether Rob McKenna can. He says we should spend the same amount of money -- as a percentage of our budget -- should be the same now as in 1980. I don't have all the numbers (and would greatly welcome them if someone's got them), but I suspect this might end up giving us much more money, even adjusted for inflation, for education than we had in 1980.

Where is the significance, except in pure symbolism, of a percentage of the budget? I can see none at all. And what especially bothers me is that, as I understand it, per-pupil spending for K-12 has increased dramatically since 1980. So where's the actual need for more spending on education at all?

And don't even get me started on higher ed: we should slash it to the bone. We shouldn't fund any of it, at all.

But even if you disagree with me about relative levels of spending on education ... can we at least agree that tying those levels to the size of the budget makes absolutely no sense whatsoever?

I am a huge Boston Bruins fan. I haven't missed a game in more than a decade. I spent most of my life in Massachusetts, and love all four of the major sports teams there.

But now I've lived in Washington for nearly a quarter of my life (how time flies!), and I've come to a conclusion: Seattle is a horrible sports town.

I don't mean to belittle the fans and players and teams themselves. I've met a lot of great fans here, and the teams ... well, they try hard. And I am not talking about public financing of stadiums (although if I were to do that, I'd note that the homes of the four championship teams from Boston are all privately funded: if you're going to steal Boston's terrible idea of the Big Dig, Seattle, why not also steal Boston's great idea of private financing of sporting venues?).

I am talking about the fact that not every Mariners game is televised. In a true sports town, that's anathema.

I am talking about the fact that KING 5 won't show the Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 -- even when the Canucks are in it! -- and instead show local news, Evening Magazine, Inside Edition, and Jean Enerson's "Northwest Newsmakers." Honestly, I've been watching KING 5 for my news for years, but I'm giving up. I'll still record Up Front with Robert Mak, but that's it. And even then I'll probably record the rebroadcast on KONG 16 (where KING relegated the Cup broadcast to).

I was back in Boston for the Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Not only did they show the game on the main NBC affiliate, WHDH 7 (because why wouldn't they?), but tornados were sweeping the region that evening, and Governor Deval Patrick held a news conference during intermission, and WHDH cut off the governor's news conference to get back to the game. Would a Seattle station cut off Gregoire to get back to a hockey game? Heck, would Gregoire wait to give a news conference about a public emergency declaration until intermission of a hockey game?

And, OK, here's where I'll criticize the fans a bit: I am also talking about the fact that the fans usually don't seem to care when they lose. "We're just happy to be here" seems to be the Seattle sports motto. Seattle fans, you need to grab the bull by the horns and demand victory. No excuses about being in a small market: defeat is failure!

Of course, this isn't nearly as bad as Vancouver, where losing is justification for tearing your own city apart. At least when I lived in L.A. County and Rodney King's attackers were acquitted, those idiots had a real gripe about their civil liberties and government failing to provide justice.

But the morons up in Vancouver, their team got beat by a superior team. That's all. It's cause to be depressed for a day, or week, or even decades, but to trash your own city ... I'd say it's senseless, but that would be doing an injustice to nonsense, which makes more sense than that.

Granted, my Boston -- and in terms of sports, it will always be my Boston -- has been the most successful city in American sports history over the past decade, but I remember the lean years well: being swept by Oakland twice while I lived a half hour from Oakland Coliseum; the Celtics' future literally dying twice (with Len Bias and Reggie Lewis); the Patriots going 1-15 my senior year of high school, and 2-14 my first year of college; the Bruins winning the President's Trophy only to lose to amazing goaltending by Bill Ranford and a hard-nosed Edmonton Oilers team (much like the Canucks lost to Tim Thomas and the Bruins this year).

From February 2002 to now, though, Boston's seen three Lombardi Trophies, two Commissioner's Trophies, a Larry O'Brien Trophy, and now a Stanley Cup. I'm happy. And that some sore losers -- who are fans of a team full of miscreants and thugs who bite and flop and are generally hated around the league -- are trashing their city over losing to my Boston Bruins only makes the victory sweeter.

And, frankly, Vancouver makes Seattle look like a great sports town by comparison.

Robert Reich is a Moron

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"The Truth About the Economy" is a classic video from MoveOn and Robert Reich. In it, Reich -- an "economist" -- complains that since 1980, our wages (excluding the super-rich) have "barely increased" despite a much larger economy.

There's a lot that can be said about his arguments, such as the fact that he doesn't factor in the rise of the size of the labor force, and that staying flat according to inflation is actually pretty good. But the funniest part is when he later in the video argues that our "anemic recovery" is caused by a reduction in "purchasing power." But he just said we have a "barely increased" purchasing power.

I could spend a lot longer than two minutes and 15 seconds ripping this video apart. But have it yourselves. You might want to cover his assertion that low tax rates created low revenues, even though they are the same tax rates we had before, with higher revenues. Or his awesome assertion that rich people have all the political power which means lower taxes and less money to go around, which means massive cuts ... even though we are spending more money than ever.

My favorite part would probably be that he blames civil unrest between different groups on high taxes, as the middle class fights over "scraps" (where "scraps" means "barely increased" of what was available in 1980, apparently).

Reich, if you're reading this: you disprove your own claims when you admit that our wages have increased. We are better off. The problem is that government -- which has continued to live off debt and deficit increasingly since 1980 -- is now incapable of continuing on its path. And you want to scare people into thinking that soaking the rich will solve the problems, when we know it can't.

1, 2, 3, Go!

<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."

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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from June 2011.

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