Saturday, November 27, 2004

Stone Cold Politics
Rolling Stone Magazine has a great election review interview with some experts in the field. It repeats some things that I've been saying, which I always like to point out. They are:

They're not all fundies anymore
The Christian Right is gaining in size and strength, if you define it as the number of Christians that vote Republican, but it's not among evangelicals, or "fundies" as the Left have taken to calling them. Rolling Stone bears me out: "We also know that half of all the votes that George Bush got this year came from people who go to religious services on a weekly basis. We're not just talking about fundamentalists -- we're talking about Catholics, Jews, black Baptists, everyone."
Before the election, I said that Catholics would vote increasingly Republican, and afterwards I said they did.

Lawrence v. Texas
It all started with the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision, legalizing sodomy nationwide. The gay rights community saw and opening, and leapt into it with a little too much vigor. I predicted back then that it would come to bite them in the rear. "My impression is that the country was moving toward a much greater tolerance of gays -- and, indeed, an embrace of alternative lifestyles -- that went far beyond what we saw, say, twenty years ago. Many voters were perfectly happy in their communities with gays living next door. Had that been left undisturbed, we would have seen far more support for gay unions ten years from now. But the decisions to approve gay marriages in Massachusetts and San Francisco may have spurred voters to make a decision about the issue before they were ready."

The youth vote did turn out
What I said starting the day after the election. "One of the misperceptions about the election is that young people didn't turn out. In fact, the number of voters under the age of thirty increased substantially."

What's the plan, John?
Throughout the campaign, and especially the debates, I pointed out that Kerry had a plan, or so he told us, but I had no idea what it was. "Ruy is right. Kerry kept talking about the plan, the plan, the plan, the plan -- but the public never knew what the plan was. It would be equivalent to Martin Luther King Jr. saying, 'I have a dream,' but never spelling out the dream that he went on to describe so vividly."

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving
Today is a beautiful day, when you think about it. Across this great country, every citizen (or pretty close to it) is pausing. We all get a day of rest (and stress), a day with family and friends, whose entire purpose is to reflect on the blessings of life. Sure, we eat too much, and we all know the stories about uncles who get too drunk and angry, or about women doing all the work and men passing out on the couch in front of a football game. Family is stressful, as is cooking for 20 people, and when you add alcohol and football, you're sure to have some issues. But when you come right down to it, we are extremely lucky as a nation, and we have a lot for which to be grateful.

I won't turn this into a political message by listing the things that I'm thinking of specifically. But in your thanks today, reflect on the things that you love about this country, and include those. Thank God with all your heart, because by just putting you in this country, He has done you a great service.

At the same time, it's important today to think of those who are not quite as fortunate as Americans. In that spirit, I forward you to Heifer International. This is a spectacular organization that has long been one of my favorite charities. As a poor college student, it's tough to give them much, but I toss a few dollars out when I can, and my parents and church have given to them in the past. So what do they do? They give a goat, or a water buffalo, or rabbits, or whatever livestock the people of a certain region need for self-sustainability. Take a look through their site, and if you've got some extra money you can spare, why not make Thanksgiving a day of charity as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. And remember, among my thanks today, I will include the small but hearty bunch of you that have been loyal readers. So thanks!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Finally, Congress is making itself useful
CNN reports: Foreign aid subject to parking fine deductions: "Frustrated by deadbeat foreign diplomats, the U.S. Congress has voted to cut aid to their countries by about the sum they owe in unpaid parking tickets.
At the urging of New York lawmakers, Congress tucked the measure -- to cut aid to countries next year by 110 percent of the amount their diplomats owe in parking tickets and penalties -- into the huge $388 billion spending bill lawmakers approved over the weekend."

I watched the West Wing episode where this issue came across the President's desk. The end result was his yelling at the Secretary General of the UN's secretary to pay the damn tickets, and that there are big signs pointing out where you can and cannot park.

All I can say is, this is a much better solution. Maybe now they'll start paying the tickets. Oh, and respecting that if it weren't for our permission the UN wouldn't exist.

This is scary stuff has more liveblogging from former Congressman Bob Schaffer in Ukraine. As someone of Hungarian descent who has studied the 1956 uprising extensively, I'm frightened by how similar Russia's assertion of authority seems to be in this case. Just look:
"An Assistant Secretary of State (U.S.) told the Russians the U.S. is upset Putin prematurely congratulated Yanukovich. The Russians responded with a statement the U.S. is out of line in objecting.

The presence of Russian troops here is a very serious international incident. This causes great tension between the U.S. and Russia.

There is simply no way these soldiers should be deployed here[...]

The guards are now being called the "internal army." There are Ukrainians and Russians in the ranks. The Ukrainian soldiers seem sympathetic to the crowd, but the Russians who comprise the third row and others behind, look ready to fight."

Disturbing. Let's hope this is resolved soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

This is not good
According to former Congressman Bob Schaffer, currently in Ukraine to oversee elections there, posted by Clay Calhoun (via InstaPundit): "Russian special forces dressed in Ukrainian Special forces uniforms are in Kyiv. Ukrainian militia have been instructed by the mayor to protect the people from the Russian troops."

Sounds to me like we've got two groups in Ukrainian uniforms standing ready to battle. NOT good.

Is there an echo in here?
I love it when smart people sound like me. Eugene Volokh has a post up on a topic that you'll notice has become a pet interest of mine: "I keep hearing evangelical Christian leaders criticized for 'trying to impose their religious dogma on the legal system,' for instance by trying to change the law to ban abortion, or by trying to keep the law from allowing gay marriage. I've blogged about this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again.
I like to ask these critics: What do you think about the abolitionist movement of the 1800s? As I understand it, many -- perhaps most or nearly all -- of its members were deeply religious people, who were trying to impose their religious dogma of liberty on the legal system that at the time legally protected slavery.
Or what do you think about the civil rights movement?
[...]Or how about religious opponents of the draft, opponents of the death penalty, supporters of labor unions, supporters of welfare programs, who were motivated by their religious beliefs -- because deeply religious people's moral beliefs are generally motivated by their religious beliefs[...]"

Religion cannot be divested from government. There are too many people for whom such a separation is an impossibility. Obviously Volokh says these things much better than I can. Seriously, read the whole thing—it's worth it.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Continuation
My friend Alex challenged me in some comments recently, on the point of abortion. I am opening this thread so the discussion can continue in a dedicated comments section.

Doing the wrong thing with the best intentions
Ironic, isn't it, that a call for greater religious tolerance would result instead in a systematic effort to wipe out religious expression? "Outgoing Air Force Secretary James Roche issued a statement Friday backing the academy's effort. 'Our policy is clear. Tolerance of gender, racial, ethnic and religious diversity is required at our Air Force,' Roche said.
In September, academy officials issued a memo explaining the government's e-mail policy after some staffers put biblical verses at the bottom of their e-mails. Some cadets were admonished in March for using academy e-mail accounts to encourage other people to see 'The Passion of the Christ,' Mel Gibson's movie about the crucifixion."

Basically, they're saying "we want greater tolerance, so we're going to make everyone shut up about religion." Mmmmmm. I love tolerance from the school of Stalin. (Author's note: that last sentence is sarcastic. I am not a Stalinist in any way shape or form. But please feel free to put a hammer and sickle on my window.) (Author's note: please do not put a hammer and sickle on my window, that sentence was also sarcastic.)