All posts by Political FUD

What is “traditional marriage”?

Many Republicans have this whole “defense of traditional marriage” thing they believe in. It’s code for “no gay marriage” of course, and just about everyone understands that.

I’ve always wondered though, just what is “traditional marriage”? If I remember my history correctly, marriage traditionally has included such rules as:

  • The wife is considered chattel. She’s not a person, she’s a possession.
  • No interracial marriages. Unless you wanted to end up in jail, or dead.
  • Underaged marriages. Because 14 is old enough to bear children.

I’m not being fair, of course. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone defending “traditional marriage” using these examples. But it highlights my point: “traditional marriage” has no lasting meaning. What’s traditional today is likely to be considered “outdated” tomorrow.

With the number of “traditional marriages” failing, and people like Britney Spears getting married and divorced twice in two years, one month and 55 hours, why are people looking to stop the union of couples who’ve been in monogamous, committed relationships for decades? People who have raised children together. People who, were they different sexes but still gay, would be considered something of a role model.

My mom, social conservative that she is, doesn’t like gay marriage. She believes they should have all the rights of heterosexual couples, it just shouldn’t be called “marriage”. That word, she says, should be have some traditional meaning.

To me, that meaning is “bigotry”.

A man can dream.

Every week I listen to Meet The Press, generally via podcast (since MSNBC’s video sucks with no support for Macs), sometimes on KCBS. This week, Barak Obama was a guest, and he was as literate, intelligent and forthright as he always appears to be.

When he was first elected a couple years back, he appeared on Meet The Press and pledged to serve out his full six-year term as Illinois’ junior Senator.

On this appearance, when asked if that’s still the case, he said, forthrightly, that he’d undergone a change of mind, that his positive reception across America had caused him to rethink his pledge, that he’s now thinking of a run for the presidency.

He noted that he wasn’t announcing a run, only that he’d moved away from I’m not going to do it to I may think about doing it. That is, he can no longer say with full honesty, “I pledge to serve my full six year term as Senator”.

You’ve got to respect that. And I think it’s great. In all the times I’ve heard Obama speak, from his national introduction at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 to his appearance on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me!, I’ve always been extremely impressed by his ability to connect with an audience.

My mom thinks he’s great.

My girlfriend thinks he’s great.

I think he’s great.

And yet his chances of becoming president are slim. See, we live in a country that may not be ready to elect a black president. Or a woman president, or a Jewish president, while we’re at it.

But in particular, a black man.

If you ask, many white voters will probably say they won’t cast their vote based on the color of the candidate’s skin, but on the content of their character.


Privately, when they’re behind the curtain, ready to push the button, they may change their minds:

[A] Yale political economist found that white Republicans are 25 percentage points more likely to cross over and vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP candidate is black.New Media America, October 25

The study, found in The Quarterly Journal of Economics (available for free (with registration) from the National Bureau of Economic Research), also notes the expected corollary:

Democrats also desert their party when its candidate is black, Washington found. In House races, white Democrats are 38 percentage points less likely to vote Democratic if their candidate is black.—Washington Post, April 14

It’s not that the country is racist per se, but perhaps a perception that people think the other countries are racist. I wouldn’t mind having a black president, these folks might say to themselves, alone in the voting booth, but Germany? Iraq? China? France especially? They may not feel comfortable dealing with a black president. In the interest of international relations, I’ll vote for this white guy over here.

What’s a little bit of justification to assuage one’s racial guilt, eh?

This is all to say that I would love to see Obama run, and be elected, President of the United States. I’m just not sure the country’s ready to agree with me.

One of the talking heads on Meet the Press (along with my girlfriend) noted that Obama has the “hot hand” and that with his popularity as high as it is, it might be better to run in 2008 than wait until 2012 or later. The talking head also suggested that Hilary Clinton won’t run in 2008. In truth, I’m not sure she’s electable anyway.

I’d love if the country would surprise me and elect a black president. The country’s 230 years old with a huge minority population.

Frankly, we’re overdue. A man can dream, right?

The Culture of Life (and Death)

President Bush did something he’s never done since taking the Presidency. No, not tell the truth! Silly rabbit.

No, he issued his first-ever veto, choosing to go against research geared toward find cures for several deadly diseases (using stem cells). In doing so, he and his various mouthpieces issued some fantastically quotable items which seemed destined for greatness among the land of contradictions.

Let’s visit, shall we?

What the President has said is that he doesn’t want human life destroyed. — Press Secretary Tony Snow, July 18 2006.

Unless they’re a terrorist and just had a bomb dropped on them.

[S]pecial operation forces … delivered justice to the most wanted terrorist in Iraq….  I congratulate our troops on this remarkable achievement. Zarqawi’s death is a … victory. — President Bush’s statement, June 8 2006.

What else can we find among these plentiful lands?

[W]e would not use federal taxpayers’ money to destroy life. — President Bush, May 25 2005

OK, I suppose we could go back to the dead terrorist, but let’s try to play fair find another target… hm… Iraqi bombings? Too easy… how about… capital punishment? OK, only a three people in recent history (all since President Bush became President, interestingly, and the first since the 1960s)…. I suppose we’ll have to rely on the inherent contradiction of not using public funds to destroy life coming from the man who, as Governor of Texas, oversaw over 140 executions (See the list, from 1995-2000; see the totals at The Touchstone).

You’ve got to appreciate the complexities of the man’s mind.

Republicans running scared

Every so often, a blog entry writes itself, I merely act as the conduit. Here’s an example.

I’m a staunch Liberal. I identify with the Democrats. I’m fervently anti-Bush. So it will come as no surprise to anyone that I received a letter from Mr. Bush, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (M.D.)

…recogniz[ing] the wonderful folks like [me] who are the backbone of our party.

The letter, an invitation to “The President’s Dinner” on June 19, is filled with many such ironic gems. It goes on, for example to honor my “commitment” the Republican cause. Which cause is that? Raping the environment? Eroding civil liberties? Killing innocent civilians?

It gets better.

The invitation wants to

recognize [me] for the role [I] played in electing President Bush and our Republican Congress […] as we head into this critical election season.

Because these elections will be among the most momentous, historic, and crucial of a generation.

There’s so much at stake—our economy, our culture, our children’s future… our freedom.

And if we don’t come together and run the best campaign of our lives, all that we’ve worked for over the last six years will be lost.

The letter exposes the deepest fears of the Republican party. It goes on

[The Democratic Party has] no agenda whatsoever, other than saying they are against everything you and I are trying to accomplish.

Unfortunately, they do have one thing: cash. And lots of it. [Emphasis theirs.]

It appears the Republicans are worried about the cash hordes of the Democrats. This is particularly amusing considering the cost of attending this dinner: $2,500 a person or $25,000 for a table of ten (which includes a photo-op with Mr. Bush. Ooooh.).

Let’s see what else they are worried about.

While we’ve been working to confirm conservative judges,

Anti-government, pro-business judges.

make President Bush’s tax cuts permanent

ensuring the wealthiest Americans receive the massive bulk of those cuts while normal Americans receive almost nothing.

and give our military and intelligence agencies everything they need to win the War on Terror…

Define “win”. Does it include killing all the terrorists? Having them surrender to you?

Define “everything”. Does it include body armor? Full health benefits?

… the Democrats and their allies have been busy raising money and attacking our leaders to bring down our approval ratings.

Oh! So that’s why they’re dropping! It has nothing to do with a poorly managed war, illegal wiretapping and data gathering or repeated indictments of top Republican officials. Nope. It’s the Democrats fault.

What else scares the Republicans?

The Democrats need only SIX seats to take the Senate, and there are exactly FIFTEEN Republican seats up for grabs! (Capitalization and underscores theirs.)

And in the House, we have just a 15-seat majority to defend with everything we’ve got.

They then go on to quote “Non-partisan political expert Charlie Cook”

If … the political environment continues to tilt decidedly in their favor, Democrats have enough candidates … to make a 15-seat pick up possible.

And the point of that quote?

That’s why we need to fight back right now for our values.


Now is the time for us to remind the American people why they’ve entrusted us with a majority in Congress.

Because you redrew electoral districts in your favor, and used the Department of Homeland Security to bully Democrats who stood up against your jerry-mandering?

Now is the time to stick to our guns and stand up for our principles—cutting taxes,

For the wealthy.

reducing the size and bureaucracy of the federal government,

Because a smaller FEMA will be much more effective in the next disaster.

protecting private property,

Unless it’s needed for “the common good” (perhaps they forgot to tell the Supreme Court about this one?).

defending traditional values

Of a man and a woman able to marry and divorce in a week, but not a 20-year relationship of two men to be legally binding.

and fighting the War on Terror with every tool in our arsenal.

Including the illegal ones like prisoner abuse and spying on law-abiding Americans.

It closes by pleading for my donation. If I can’t make the premiere donation of $2,500, I’m promised a personal note from the President and a “limited-edition, matted photograph” for only $150, and an additional “special collector’s limited-edition Presidential Plate” for only $500.

A deal of a life-time, no doubt.

All that said, I understand, of course, that much of what was written is meant to fire up The Base, so scare tactics are de rigueur.

But besides all of this wonderful rhetoric, I must wonder how bad the Republican mailing list must be to have someone like me on it. I don’t mind, of course: I welcome all the ammunition I can get, and I certainly don’t mind them wasting the few cents needed to send it to me.

What’s our Exit Strategy in the War on Terrorism?

Mr. Bush and the Republicans constantly talk about this ongoing “War on Terrorism”. Putting aside the ability to wage war on an idea (that’s been beaten to death), how do we know when we’ve won this particular war?

In most conventional warfare, there’s an exit strategy, something that one side strives toward to show that they’ve succeeded and were victorious. Usually, it’s surrender of the opposing armies or government, a truce or cease-fire agreement, or, in extreme cases, total destruction of the enemy.

Who, in this “War on Terrorism” would surrender? Which army? The Iraqi army? We already defeated them. The Iraqi insurgents? OK, that’s possible, but what about Afghanistan? Iran? North Korea?

Perhaps, you suggest, it’s Al Qaeda that would represent a victory in this “War on Terrorism”. Who is the leader of Al Qaeda who would negotiate the terms of a truce, and does this person have full authority over all people acting on Al Qaeda’s behalf?

Well, maybe it’s when we’ve eliminated all terrorists from the globe, and the world’s a safer place because of it. A laudable goal, indeed, but it seems to me that when we destroy a village in Iraq and kill dozens or hundreds of fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins, it’s likely that there’s a 10-year-old boy buried under a pile of debris who will dedicate his life to destroying “the victors”. When we kill him, his mother, aunt or sister will ensure the memory lives on for generations. How to we kill everyone who might want to kill us?

So I ask: what is our exit strategy on the “War on Terrorism”? I have never heard any of our politicians give a straight answer to this question.

I wonder why that is.

Response from Senator Feinstein on illegal wiretapping.

Below is the email I received from Senator Feinstein’s office in response to my email encouraging the continued investigation of the illegal wiretapping programs authorized by Mr. Bush. (Better late than never.)

Thank you for writing to me about recent revelations that the United States Government has engaged in domestic electronic eavesdropping without appropriate legal authority. I welcome the opportunity to respond.

On February 6th, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first of a series of hearings into this matter, at which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified about the legality of the program. He provided none of the documents the Committee required for proper oversight, and his assurances alone did not allay my concerns. Instead, he propounded a radical legal theory of presidential power largely unrestrained by either Congress or the courts.

I have carefully reviewed the Constitution and the laws relating to this domestic intelligence activity, along with the President’s statements and those of the Attorney General and other Administration officials. I believe that the electronic surveillance program was not conducted in accordance with U.S. law. The program, as described, violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires a court order for surveillance of Americans. Congress has updated FISA many times since 9/11 in order to provide our nation with all the necessary tools to fight terrorism. The Administration has never asked for the authority to conduct this program.

I believe the Administration also violated the National Security Act, which requires all members of the Intelligence Committee to be fully and currently informed of all significant intelligence activities other than covert actions. I am a member of the Intelligence Committee, and yet I was not told about this program until it was made public.

There will be further hearings in the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Once the facts are clear, we can decide on appropriate corrective action.

Again, thank you for writing. I hope that you will continue to write to me on issues of importance to you. Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Baseball’s “boo birds” are back.

Spring is here and with it, the national pastime, baseball. Baseball fans are a dedicated and knowledgeable bunch, and they will boo you lustily for any reason or no reason at all.

And so it was Tuesday. The team in our nation’s capital is called the Nationals, and in Washington, DC they called on a very familiar figure, Vice President Dick Cheney, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at their first game at home.

And the fans were ready to let him know just what the thought of him. The boo birds of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium ripped into the VP, loudly and repeatedly. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the sustained booing was what caused the VP to bounce his pitch into the dirt, several feet in front of the catcher.

I love baseball.

Italy has us beat.

It’s sad really. Turns out the next two days are election days in Italy. Yep, I said the next two days. Strike One. Then, they stop any kind of election advertising for a few weeks before the vote. Strike two. Then, they expect an 80% turn out of registered voters, and they’re complaining because 80% is considered low.

Strike three, you’re out America! Grab some pine, meat!

Without Delay.

Tom Delay quits. And good riddance to the man who, among other things, asked the FAA to track a plane with Texas state Democratic legislatures when they protested his redistricting plan, and faces money-laundering charges. It apparently took him “months of prayer and contemplation” to make this decision.

My biggest concern? Who do the Democrats rally against now?

Response from Senator Boxer on Senator Feingold’s censure resolution.

Below is the email I received from Senator Boxer’s office in response to my email encouraging her to support Senator Feingold’s resolution of censure of Mr. Bush.

Thank you for contacting me regarding Senator Russell Feingold’s (D-WI) resolution to censure President Bush. I want to you know that I appreciate hearing from you, and I am a co-sponsor of this resolution.

On March 13, 2006, Senator Feingold introduced Senate Resolution 398, which would admonish President Bush for his unlawful authorization of the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, his failure to keep Congress fully informed of this program as required by law, and his efforts to mislead the American people about the legality of the program and the legal authorities relied upon by his administration to conduct it.

The Feingold Resolution has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee at the request of Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Senator Feingold has called for the Committee to hold hearings, debate, and then vote on the resolution. I share Senator Feingold’s strong objections to the administration’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program, and I intend to vote for Senator Feingold’s resolution should it come before the Senate.

Again, thank you for writing me.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator