Friday, February 20, 2004

rexblog: Rex Hammock's Weblog (via InstaPundit) describing a private meeting with President Bush: "He is definitely not a wonk, but he knows clearly what he believes needs to happen for the country and its eocnomy to prosper. I don't think the circular arguments regarding 'what ifs' and 'what abouts' interest him. Nor me, for that matter."

Exactly. Anyone reading this blog knows that I've done some wandering and soul-searching regarding my support for our President over the past few weeks. This blog really spoke to me because where I really fell in love with W was when I had dinner with him. I think I'd forgotten that. I'm still bothered by his big-government conservatism which he tries to play as true fiscal conservatism. I wish he'd reign in Congress a little better. I wish I didn't feel like he and his staff are botching their defense of the several very good things they have done for this country. But none of that really matters.

W is a man of conviction. You can't meet him and doubt that. He knows what he believes, and he'll stick to it. He genuinely wants the world to be a better, safer place and for Americans to have more and better opportunities. So, here it is. No one but me will know who I actually end up voting for, BUT... Running for the Right now proudly endorses George W. Bush for President of the United States.

OpinionJournal - Taste: "That is not how Ahmadis see themselves. Members of the Ahmadiyya Community profess to be Muslims. They believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908)--a reformer who lived in a remote village in Punjab, India, and taught his followers to wage 'jihad' against Islam's opponents with the pen and not the sword--was the messiah foretold by the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century."

I need to learn more about Islam. I had no idea that such a sect existed. This could help my theories that the major religions are all different expressions of the same faith, as this Ahmad brings the Muslim goal of converting the world much closer to the Christian form of the same. I need to think about this some more.

OpinionJournal - Taste: "SMOKE GETS IN THEIR EYES: Though California already bans smoking in restaurants, bars and office buildings, there is one haven of liberty left: most of its state prisons. But that's all about to change if a bill that just passed the state Assembly becomes law. It's a second-hand smoke issue, say state authorities, who claim that the bill would improve inmate health and save the state a small fortune in related medical costs. But when the San Diego Union-Tribune asked a group of prisoners what they thought, they said it was the worst idea since the state abolished weight-lifting equipment a few years back. As one prisoner told the paper: 'I'm very hard to get along with when I can't smoke.' "

OK. Pure and simple: California has lost it. You really want to take away a calming influence from the prisoners? How about we take away their cable TV first?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Dean Blog Booty Call: "Donovan in SF . . . I wasn't kidding about the crush! :-) You've made me laugh through my tears more than anybody today, and that's pretty damned attractive. . . I was a little miffed that you sent a hug and kiss to EVERYONE here today, though. ;-)
(PS. You're not, like, 15 are you?)"


Hilarious.

Michael Ledeen on Iran on National Review Online: "Demonstrations five days ago in the western city of Marivan were so potent that the regime sent helicopter gunships to shoot down protestors, and there are reports that members of the regular armed forces joined the demonstrators."

Go Iranians! I met the Shah of Iran (the son of the Shah who was forced out, who died a few years ago) two years ago. What he described as the state of his people, and what I've seen in the blogosphere has me fully behind Iranians fighting for their own freedom. It also reminds me a bit about what my cousins (in the Elizabethan sense) in Hungary did in 1956, only there's no Soviet Empire to crush these voices. I'll be praying mighty hard over the next few weeks that these protests continue with some success. These people deserve freedom.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "'When my son Matthew used all his passes, he was then told he couldn't go to the bathroom,' parent Susan Gregory told The Times of Trenton. 'We called the school and were told the bathroom is a privilege, not a right. Then we were told if a child has to go to the bathroom more than three times a day, we need (to bring them) a doctor's note."

Here's one for the ages: if you decree that using the bathroom is no longer a right, how do you plan to enforce it?

The Volokh Conspiracy: "Many people are outraged by the New Mexico proposal to require all cars to be equipped with breathalyzer interlocks, so that a car owner would have to be breath-tested before he can use his car. The bill has passed the New Mexico House of Representatives, but the ACLU and others are strongly objecting to it. How different is this, though, from some of the proposed 'smart gun' requirements under which new guns would have to be equipped with fingerprint (or grip) recognition interlocks, so that the user would have to be checked to make sure his fingerprint matches the authorized print?"

Good point. Worth reading the rest.

Clearing things up (from today's Political Diary): "Just when Bush's support and his poll standings are shrinking, here come San Francisco's city-county sanctioned gay marriages -- almost certain to be declared invalid anyway -- to rouse Bush's base. Bill Clinton learned painfully that wading into the gay front of the culture wars in his first days in office is not a good way to begin. . . . . Couldn't [S.F. Mayor Gavin] Newsom have done his fellow Democrats a favor and waited a year before adding fuel to the fire?" -- Peter Schrag, former editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee, in a February 18 column predicting that the gay marriage issue will hurt Democrats even in liberal Northern California.

There seems to be some degree of misunderstanding regarding my stance on gay marriage, so allow me to outline it here more clearly:
Effectively, I don't care. I'm not strongly in favor of it (except as a conservative in favor of individual rights) and I'm not at all opposed to it. I believe that marriage is a religious institution, not a governmental one, and, ideally, there would be no such thing as civil marriage. Unfortunately, as our society has deemed one necessary, and we haven't developped a different word for it, "marriage" must be allowed for any couple, gay or straight. I'm just tired of hearing about it.

Which brings me to the reason that some have come to believe I'm against expanding marriage to homosexuals:
From a strategic point of consideration, I have serious reservations about the means through which the gay community is pursuing this privilege. (I continue to believe that marriage is not a right, but if the privilege is granted to one group, it must be granted to another). In my opinion, 1 couple is a statement, 5 is a protest, 2,600 (or whatever number they're up to now) couples 'illegally' marrying in San Francisco is absurd. Beyond the first 10 or 20, all this is serving to do is anger large tracts of the political landscape. It is a sign that very few within the gay community are thinking about the movement, or securing the "right" to marry for their entire minority, but rather that most are concerned only with themselves.

Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense for that one lesbian couple who has been together for 50 years to be the only one to receive a license in San Francisco? And then for these other thousands of couples to pool their money and fight a court challenge? Don't you think that would be more powerful and effective than this mass rush for everyone to get his/her/its license before the door is shut? Instead, what we get is such an absurd spectacle that represents exactly what the extreme right fears from the left. We have such a show that even moderate Americans are a bit taken aback. On top of Lawrence, on top of Goodridge, even on top of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, these moderate Americans are finding themselves increasingly assailed by a lifestyle that, while they don't disapprove of it necessarily, they are still not quite comfortable with. Not everyone has had the benefit of a Yale social education.

The result may surprise a lot of people: we may very well end up with the FMA passing. I'm not saying this is a certain result, but can you argue that pursuing gay marriage so aggressively doesn't at least make it more likely? Anti-gay public sentiment is at an all-time high (since polls have been taken) and it's on the rise. Now, you could chalk this up to the advance of conservatism, or some other anti-gay trend, but I firmly believe it is nothing more than a backlash to the pro-gay trend. It is political fight or flight: the gay bludgeon is hitting Americans over the head, and their reaction is to strike back, even though they may not have a natural aversion to homosexuality or the "right" to marry.

Effectively, just as we could elect John Kerry in an increasingly conservative society, we could end up with the FMA in an increasingly gay-friendly society.
I'm not saying that gays should stop pursuing marriage "rights," and I'm not saying that it's possible for a movement like this to have any real coordination. We just have to realize that comparing this movement to civil rights in the '60s is a spurious connection: there is no coordination, there is no specific piece of the Constitution working in our favor, the gay community is not being beaten back with firehoses (to visibly inspire public support), and, as a result, outside of the community the public does not have any sense of urgency. It's too hard to make the case to the general public that not being able to marry is a form of oppression that must be rectified now. And, as evident by the public's lack of outrage over W's response of "We are all sinners," they aren't even close to buying that argument.

The best parallel I can draw is: what if Brown v. Board of Ed had been decided in 1920? Do you think desegregation would have begun in the 20s? Not likely. More likely, the two sides of the debate would have become even more entrenched, and desegregation may have been postponed even further.
I'm not against gay marriage. I'm not against the right to civil disobedience. I just urge the gay community: take your time, have a little patience. The country will support you, but you have to give them time. Hunker down, let the backlash roll over you, and then renew your efforts in a more welcoming environment.

To anyone reading this, I encourage you to click the comments link below and email me your opinion. If you give me a first name and location, I'll gladly post your opinion alongside mine.

UPDATE:The Village Voice: Cartoons: Mark Fiore: Attack of the Gay Agenda! by Mark Fiore (via Andrew Sullivan): This is the point "uh, could you just leave us alone?" If the single couple had gotten a license in San Francisco, that would have been the message. Thousands getting the licenses screams "We're Here!! We're Queer!! We're Everywhere!!" As I said above, large portions of America are not going to respond positively to that.

Now Here's a Good Idea (from today's Political Diary): "John Kerry is strongly hinting he wants to bring back the discredited 'Fairness Doctrine,' a New Deal-era FCC regulation that forced broadcasters to provide 'equal time' for opposing points of view. Ronald Reagan dropped the doctrine, leaving only a watered-down rule that exempt news and interview programs. Ending that exemption could force popular hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly to provide free response time to those they criticize."

How could this ever be enforced? Rush and Sean are perfectly happy to have liberals on their show--the liberals just won't ever show up. I heard Sean Hannity spend 20 minutes last fall try to convince Teddy Kennedy to come on his show. Kennedy refused emphatically again and again. When you'll chain Teddy down and let Sean interview him, then I'll support this idea.
I also oppose this on the grounds that I don't think American society is bipolar. For example, despite my being a rabid (yes, I can admit it) Republican, most of the Democrats I run into at school are surprised by how much our opinions coincide. Similarly, if I expressed some of my true views to Republicans I associate with, I might be shunned. So, how do you determine what an "opposing point of view" that warrants "equal time" is, exactly? Take, for another example, Bill O'Reilly. An opposing viewpoint to him would be someone who comes on the show just to say "I'm wrong about everything I've ever thought. In fact, I'm probably even wrong about this. I know nothing. Nothing at all." Now where are you going to find someone like that in politics?

Oregon Daily Emerald - University of Oregon news and sports - 'Vagina Monologues' draws large crowds as well as protesters: "About 10 people gathered in front of Agate Hall on Friday to protest what they called a lack of representation of different kinds of women in 'The Vagina Monologues' production, which ran Thursday through Saturday at the Agate Hall auditorium. "

The Left is now protesting the Vagina Monologues. I think we may be starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel for protests here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

ScrappleFace: "The North Carolina Senator also captured 95 percent of the votes of people who had seen Mr. Kerry speaking on TV.Mr. Kerry won big among former Al Gore supporters who believe that 'talking slowly without moving one's face' is the key to defeating Mr. Bush."

The Simpsons might want to go back to the old episode and change the talking Al Gore doll to a talking John Kerry doll: "You are hearing me talk."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

yaledailynews.com - Search is still on for 'Fling' band: "Adam Presser '06, who owns a Third Eye Blind CD, said he would go see the band if it performed at the University.'I would certainly be excited if they came,' Presser said."

You've got to love the killer instinct and investigative journalism found at the YDN.

Student accused of blackface use (via The Volokh Conspiracy: "Even though the student claimed that he was going to attempt a burglary instead of dressing in blackface, DPS officers will continue to research both scenarios, Hall said."

I have to agree with Eugene Volokh on this one. The tone of the article strongly suggests that wearing blackface would be more severe than an attempted burglary. All I can say is: WHAT??!! If people really feel this way, then we are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

The New Republic Online: Say Anything

Andrew Sullivan fisks John Kerry.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's cigar-smoking governor, is to tear a roof off the state capitol so that smokers can enjoy their vice inside the legislature. The Austrian-born actor, elected governor last November, is facing protests for deciding to turn a courtyard in the building into a 'smoking plaza'. It will include a drinking area. Part of the roof will be removed to get round a California law banning smoking in offices, bars and restaurants. "

I hereby nominate Arnold Schwartzenegger for the position of Dean of Yale College. If he gets the position, I'll happily join him for a Cuban.

And on the Left, I'm the Washington Post
Can someone explain to me why the Washington Post, which completely ignored the possible Kerry infidelity story last week, published front-page story about her denial this week? All the bureau chief can say (via today's Political Diary) is: "All we have at the moment is that the woman's parents, who are Republicans, don't like Senator Kerry. In any case, nobody would be too shocked if Kerry lied about an affair. Even if someone came to us with photographs we still wouldn't run it. Lying to Don Imus is not a federal offense."
It seems to me that the Washington Post's only mandate is not shocking people. I don't think that anyone was "shocked" when Kerry won New Hampshire, but they covered that, didn't they? Now, I don't want to start shouting "Liberal bias," before I give the Post time to respond, BUT, since the Post doesn't read this blog, LIBERAL BIAS, LIBERAL BIAS, LIBERAL BIAS.

Dean's Honesty Issues (From today's Political Diary): "Remember, he told contributors that Wisconsin was 'must win' and that he'd drop out of the race if he didn't finish first. He also said he needed $700,000 to mount his do-or-die TV campaign. In fact, his fundraising came up with closer to $1.5 million, according to the campaign, but most of this money is now being held back. His team will spend only about $227,000 to get his message out to Wisconsin voters, less than either of his major rivals."

He's not quite lying, persay, and yes, he's only doing this because his campaign has pretty much run out of ideas. Still, Dean seems to be having problems telling the truth.

OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts: "The 'Evil Empire' Acquires A-Rod: The Yankees finally live up to their reputation. "

That's it. I'm declaring it here and now: by not showing any sympathy, ever, the Yankees have officially declared the Curse of the Bambino null and void. Any loss the Red Sox incurr from here on is due to legitimately better baseball-playing, and not the curse. You heard it here first.

Mars Rover's Drive Falls Short of Goal (washingtonpost.com): "The Spirit rover went for its longest trip yet on the surface of Mars, traveling just over 88 feet but stopping short of the distance NASA had hoped it would cover, scientists said Monday. Engineers had hoped the rover would travel 164 feet on its way to a crater known as 'Bonneville' to examine rocks and soil for evidence that water may have existed on the Red Planet, mission manager Jim Erickson said. The rover did not cover the full distance because it spent more time than initially planned studying rocks and soil along the way, he said. "

Can I ask a question here? Is anyone else bothered that this rover is doing things that the NASA scientists don't expect it to do?

Political Wire: In South Dakota, Daschle Has Slim Lead Over Thune: "In South Dakota, Sen. Tom Daschle (D) 'holds a narrow 3-point lead' over challenger John Thune (R), according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey."
How exciting would it be for the GOP if they managed to unseat the Senate Minority Leader?

OpinionJournal - The Western Front: "Fighting terrorism, however, is increasingly dividing this country--and not always along party lines. There are two distinctive camps developing. One comprised of Americans who don't think the war is something that should touch their everyday lives. And another that sees combating terrorism as a fundamental struggle not just between good and evil but also over the soul of this nation--a struggle over who we are, as a people, and what we will tolerate on the world stage. "

Into which camp would you place yourself?

Op-Ed Columnist: The Zarqawi Rules

I linked to this on diet coke for breakfast too. This is amazing, and I don't know how I haven't read about it anywhere else before now. Read it.

CNN.com - More gays, lesbians marry on eve of court hearing - Feb. 17, 2004: "By noon Monday, 140 couples -- nearly all of them gays or lesbians -- had married at City Hall, and a city worker vowed that the day's total would rise to 650 before the weddings stop at 8 p.m. "

Wow. I thought 50 was too many and would create an undesired backlash. 650 is another matter entirely. I wish there was some sort of statistic regarding the age of the newlyweds and the duration of relationships prior to the marriages. I find it hard to believe that all of these 650 are long-term devoted relationships, and that more than a few aren't "ooh look, let's be protesters and get hitched" marriages. If that's the case, this isn't going to help the "we're as legit as staright couples" argument a bit. Here comes the backlash...

UPDATE: Beth has coined a new phrase to describe the gay rights crowd, or any other group in politics, who is uncompromising and spits upon anyone else who does compromise: "it's like political middle school hell."

Two great points along the same track (via InstaPundit):
The Corner on National Review Online
Keep and Bear Arms - Gun Owners Home Page - 2nd Amendment Supporters

Both raise the question of why it's ok for the mayor of San Francisco to unilaterally decide which laws he'll obey and which he'll ignore. This is what bothers me so much about the campaign to legalize gay marriage, and what could end up swinging back to destroy the movement, or at least restrain it for a while. Rather than follow the legislative process (which, by the way, is moving in their favor, however slowly), the gay rights movement has decided to attack on all fronts at once. This, in turn, has frustrated portions of the public that might otherwise support the movement, and it is beginning to show signs of a cultural backlash.

After taking Presidents' Day off (since I don't get it off from school), I'm back with a vengeance.