Friday, October 31 2003
Sorry for the intermittent blogging this week, but it's been a rough one. Today's is an abbreviated blog as well, but we'll be back on track next week. I'm going to finally review Austin Bay's new book and we're hoping to get back the answers to questions we submitted to Ken Mehlman, manager of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign. Happy Halloween.

DR. DOOM: Krugman does his best to dampen any enthusiasm over the announcement of the astounding 7.2% economic growth last quarter. To be fair, he raises some legitimate questions about whether yesterday's number is an aberration or whether it means we've really turned the corner. We'll have to wait and see.

Still, it's hard to take anything Krugman says seriously these days - even when he discusses economics - because everything he thinks and writes is filtered through a lens of absolute loathing for President Bush.

WHO'S WRITING THE HEADLINES?: Check out these two paragraphs from a story in today's Cincinnati Enquirer:

"Well, we've got a few days to go, we're a few points up so we're going to press," said Fletcher in a reference to independent statewide polls that have shown him leading Democrat Ben Chandler by as many as nine points.

A charged-up Chandler told supporters his campaign's internal polling shows the race "dead even."

So what's the headline to the story? "Chandler, Fletcher neck and neck." For the record, the last three polls have Fletcher up 8.3% on average two of the three are beyond the margin for error. I know the Cinci Enquirer wants to dramatize the race to sell papers, but portraying this contest as a dead-heat is grossly misleading.

In other election news, new polls have Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour leading their respective races. Which means that after the recall in California, the GOP is poised for a clean sweep of governorships this year. This doesn't really mean much of anything for the Presidential race next year (all of these states were solid Bush wins in 2000), but it does highlight the Dems continued slide in the South.

It will be fun, however, watching Terry McAuliffe do his best "Comical Ali" routine and try to convince everyone that Dems' losing governor's mansions in three states is a bad sign for Bush next year. - T. Bevan 8:48 am

Thursday, October 30 2003
BORK ON GAY MARRIAGE AND THE FMA: Peter Robinson, former Reagan speechwriter and host of the television show "Uncommon Knowledge" interviewed Robert Bork on the program last week. If you have the time to read the entire interview, it's worth it. Here is an excerpt of the discussion concerning the Lawrence decision, the future of homosexual marriage and chances of the FMA:

Peter Robinson: "Do not believe it," says Scalia. "Today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions." A decade from now, will the Supreme Court have mandated homosexual marriage?

Judge Bork: I think it's less than a decade. Could happen in two ways. One is Massachusetts is about to announce a constitutional right under their constitution to homosexual marriage. At that point, people will come to Massachusetts, get married, go back to their home states. There is the full faith in credit clause, which says the other state, must give credit to the Massachusetts--there will be a fight about the constitutionality and an attempt to stop that. The other route--and that may spread across the country by state court action and by full faith and credit clause. The other route is direct appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, which I think, is ready to give a right to homosexual marriage, at least will be ready in a few years.

The only way to stop this is--there is a proposed constitutional amendment saying that marriage is something between a man and a woman. And you--and no statute or constitutional claim may be interpreted to say same sex marriages is a marriage. Now it doesn't try to stop civil unions. If legislatures want to approve civil unions, it's up to them. I would oppose that but it's up to them.

But marriage itself is too important I think to be sacrificed in the way that homosexual marriage would do. Now it must be said that heterosexuals have already done enormous damage to the marriage with their laws about no-fault divorce and that kind of thing so that the whole blame for the damage to the current situation of marriage and the family is certainly not to fall on homosexuals. But this would be a decisive step I think.

Peter Robinson: Unless there's an amendment to the Constitution, the Court will indeed mandate homosexual marriage?

Judge Bork: I think so.

Peter Robinson: Do you then support such an amendment?

Judge Bork: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: You do? And do you think that such amendment is likely to pass?

Judge Bork: It's iffy. The fact is that the opposition to homosexual marriage is eroding in the public. There's still a majority doesn't like it, thinks it's bad. But percentages are not as high as they used to be. And that is, in part, because of a brilliant campaign homosexual activists have waged to convince us that homosexuality is just like heterosexuality, just a question of taste, question of preference and no difference. I think that's not true but it's having its effect and it may be that the public will not be sufficiently alarmed to adopt a constitutional amendment.

Peter Robinson: So it's iffy?

Judge Bork: Yeah.

I want to expand on Bork's last comment, because I think it gets to the heart of why gay marriage is (and will remain) a wedge issue in the country.

By and large, America is an incredibly tolerant country. But the country remains overwhelmingly "traditional" as well, and gay marriage is obviously an issue where tolerance and tradition meet head on.

Andrew Sullivan has spent a great deal of time recently villifying social conservatives for wanting to "criminalize" homosexuality. Certainly, there are some religious conservatives who feel this way, but I think Andrew terribly "misunderestimates" the degree to which people of faith are tolerant of homosexuality (love the sinner, hate the sin) and perhaps doesn't fully appreciate that the FMA, far from being some sort of reactionary evangelical maneuver, represents a much broader sentiment among the public and the natural urge of a largely conservative, yet exceedingly tolerant country wanting to protect one of its most sacred traditions.

Which is to say most Americans probably don't believe homosexuality is "normal"(which it certainly isn't by an empirical definition) and many Americans still view homosexuality as immoral. But the vast majority of Americans nevertheless respect the right of adults in our society to make the decision to engage in their own chosen, private sexual behavior.

For large parts of the country, increasing tolerance for gays and lesbians coexists more or less peacefully with a strong sense of tradition about the concept of marriage and family. But what bothers some - or at least me in particular - is the idea that we must accept, and our children must be taught at younger and younger ages in public schools around the country, that homosexuality (getting back to the words of Judge Bork) "is just like heterosexuality, just a question of taste, question of preference and no difference."

In my mind there's a big difference between a laissez-faire, live-and-let-live philosophy of tolerance toward gays (and in fact all Americans) and the aggressive indoctrination taking place at the institutional level in our society which promotes the behavior (and sexual behavior at that) of a very, very small minority of people in the country and mandates that we must accept it as equal in every respect to the behavior of the vast majority.

I think it's fair to raise the question, without automatically being branded as a homophobe or bigot, whether we should be forced as a country to change the centuries-old definition of one of our most important civic and cultural institutions because an incredibly small percent of the population wants us to.

Here's a story to help illustrate the point: last week a five year-old boy turned to his mother and said when he grew up he wanted to marry a boy. If you have kids you know that this sort of thing isn't altogether strange; our four year-old has said on a number of occasions he wants to marry his mom, his teacher, and any number of other things including cartoon characters.

The question is: what do you say in response? If you were the parent of that child what would you say?

If you respond, "That's silly, boys don't marry boys," does that make you a bigot? Or are you required by diktats of tolerance and political correctness to tell your child, "That's perfectly normal, son, it's okay for boys to marry boys. Whatever makes you happy." Forgive me if I'm not willing to go there, but I don't think that makes me intolerant, a homophobe, or anything else.

In the end, we're back to the clash between tolerance and tradition. The former can only go so far without taking its toll on the latter. I think great majority of the country would like to see us have both; a respect for the rights and freedoms of others without having the small minority of people who choose to exercise those rights and freedoms demand we restructure the institutions of our entire society to promote them. - T. Bevan 8:35 am

Monday, October 27 2003
I didn't watch the debate last night but I did read through the transcript this morning. It seems clear that the recent vote on Iraqi reconstruction money has become the prominent dividing line between the Democrat candidates for President of the United States.

They can discuss repealing tax cuts and healthcare as much as they want, but in the end their positions on the war and reconstruction will be the defining criteria for each of their candidacies in the early primaries and - should they win the nomination - the general election.

A couple of weeks back David Brooks noted the three distinct camps among Democrats in Congress and their views on the vote for Iraq's reconstruction. There are also now three distinct camps among the nine candidates for President on the issue of Iraq:

  • The "Iraq Was Wrong From the Beginning" Camp. 4 Members: Kucinich, Braun, Sharpton, Dean.
  • The "I Don't Agree With Bush's Approach But Iraq Was the Right Thing to Do" Camp. 2 Members: Lieberman, Gephardt.
  • The "I Was For the War But Now I'm Just Against the President" Camp. 3 Members: Kerry, Edwards, Clark.

Whether you agree with them or not, six of the nine candidates on the stage last night hold principled and consistent views on the war. Gephardt's defense of his vote on the $87 billion last night was not only consistent and principled, but compelling:

"I think we all try to do what we think is right. That's what I try to do. I thought the right thing to do, even though I want part of it to be alone and have a lot of other suggestions about where the money could come from, in the end you're presented in the Congress with a vote, up or down on the $87 billion. And I can't find it within myself to not vote for the money to support the troops, our young men and women who are over there protecting us, dodging bullets in a very tough and difficult situation. And so, I felt the right thing to do was to do that."

Even far-left liberals in Iowa can understand and appreciate this view, even if they don't agree with it. More importantly, Gephardt's statement crystallizes the issue and the illogical, opportunistic, and irresponsible strategy pursued by Kerry, Edwards and Clark.

"In the end you're presented in the Congress with a vote, up or down on the $87 billion." In the end, regardless of how much you might oppose the particulars of the bill, the money for the troops wasn't separate and the vote was about supporting them every bit as much as it was about rebuilding Iraq.

You can excuse John Edwards for being a slick politician with little or no conviction, looking to polls to divine some sort of advantage for his faltering candidacy. But it absolutely boggles the mind to watch John Kerry and Wesley Clark, who serve up their own military service as a credential for the office of president, try and convince America that cutting off funding for our brave men and women in Iraq is the best way to protect them.

Here's the best Wes Clark can do:

"I think the best form of welfare for the troops is a winning strategy. And I think we ought to call on our commander in chief to produce it. And I think he ought to produce it before he gets one additional penny for that war."

This is a great sound bite, but it's absolutely inane as a matter of policy. We're supposed to tell the terrorists to stop attacking our troops while we take a "time out" and come up with a better plan to kill them? Clark should know better. Now that we're in Iraq, there isn't a whole lot of middle ground or time for extra planning. Either we stay or we go. How a former commander can advocate a position that cuts off funding for U.S. troops and will end up costing more American lives is beyond me. But hey, as long as it can get him a 4th place finish in New Hampshire, what the heck.

John Kerry is trying to have the same cake and eat it, too. Here he is last night responding to Joe Lieberman on the issue:

Well, Joe, I have seared in me an experience which you don't have, and that's the experience of being one of those troops on the front lines when the policy has gone wrong.

And the way you best protect the troops is to guarantee that you put the troops in the safest, strongest position as fast as possible. Our troops are today more exposed, are in greater danger, because this president didn't put together a real coalition, because this president's been unwilling to share the burden and the task. And I will tell you, the American people understand that.

The reference to Vietnam and the promise to "put the troops in the safest, strongest position as fast as possible" is a wink and a nod to the anti-war base of the party and about as close to calling for a full-out retreat as possible without actually using the words. They don't call John Kerry "French-looking" for nothing.

My gut tells me we will see two candidates with consistent views on the war square off for the nomination. Thanks to the vote on Iraq, that only leaves two choices: Dean vs. Gephardt. - T. Bevan 10:01

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