Election Thoughts

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

As Michael Harrington told me back in 1984–hoping for a Mondale victory–if he wins, tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow we start organizing to keep him honest. Like Jimmy Carter and John Kennedy, I fully expect Obama to talk a much different game than he plays.

For all the wingnut fears about a vast left-wing liberal agenda over the next four-eight years, it’s worth remembering that like Clinton before him, Obama is slightly to the right of Richard Nixon. In any other Western democracy he’d be considered somewhere from a moderate to a hard right-winger. That Obama’s considered a liberal is simply a measure of how far to the right this country has swung in the last 30 years. Not that this isn’t a victory, or an important one, but it’s small change in direction, not a large one.


Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Voting in California is sure a lot more exciting than in Brooklyn. There’s a lot more to vote for here, and the outcome doesn’t seem like a foregone conclusion. (In my Brooklyn district, the Democratic machine just wins, every single time, with perhaps one notable exception when a quirk of election law briefly put control of the nomination in the hands of a murdered city councilman’s mother.) Here in Irvine we get to vote on 14 different propositions.

Of course they’re the statewide propositions. You’ve all heard about Prop 8, I’m sure, but there are 11 others on the ballot. In California various interest groups get together to buy laws with disinformation. For instance, T. Boone Pickens is pushing Prop 10, a measure to give about five billion dollars of taxpayer money to natural gas and trucking companies. Of course, if you phrase it like that no one would vote for it, so instead it’s disguised as an environmental measure. It isn’t. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Prop 7 is another weird one that seems to be about the environment. This one I don’t really understand, but the Sierra Club says no, so I’ll vote against it.

The Freedom to Oppress Others

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Not quite a quote. See if you can figure out which word I changed, and if it really makes a difference.

Diament and other panelists cited a number of scenarios in which Americans’ religious rights might be infringed on when they clash with legal recognition of “interracial marriage.” They questioned if accommodations or exemptions would be permitted for religious adherents or institutions in the following situations, among others:

  • County clerks who oppose issuing marriage licenses to interracial couples.
  • Employees who disapprove of diversity training programs that endorse “interracial marriage.”
  • Insurance company workers who do not want to sell policies or process claims for interracial couples’ partner benefits.
  • Owners of small hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns who refuse to serve interracial couples.
  • Lawyers who decline to provide estate planning for interracial couples.
  • Psychologists and psychiatrists who refuse to counsel interracial couples.
  • Doctors who will not provide some services, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), for interracial couples.
  • Religious colleges that will not open married student housing to interracial couples.
  • Religious institutions that refuse requests from interracial couples to hold wedding receptions in their buildings.
  • Christian bookstores and other parachurch organizations that decline spousal benefits for “interracial marriage” partners.


You Can’t Fool All of the People All of the Time

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

From the L.A. Times:

Proposition 98
  • Yes 39.1%
  • No 60.9%
Proposition 99
  • Yes 62.4%
  • No 37.6%

Prop 99 was actually weaker than I would have liked–I would have preferred a measure that banned eminent domain for private development, period, not just for owner occupied residences–but 98 was just over the top.

Of course now we get to miss the fun of watching the courts sort out the mess that would have resulted if both had passed, since they actively contradicted each other.

First Nonwhite Louisiana Governor? Not Hardly

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

According to the Associated Press, Bobby Jindal, “is to take office as the nation’s first elected Indian-American governor and the first nonwhite governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction.” Indian-American I’ll grant him, but “non-white”? Only someone who doesn’t understand Louisiana could say that.

Politics as Culture

Monday, March 26th, 2007

There’s a fascinating article in the L.A. Times today about Why the right goes nuclear over global warming. It’s not your typical piece about global warming so much as it is about the irrational beliefs and attitudes behind the debate. You get the feeling it’s more like high school debate than any sort of rational discourse: the opposing team says “white” so therefore we must say “black”, regardless of what’s true. You contort your beliefs to fit your chosen side rather than the other way around. If you want to support the issue without changing teams, you have to figure out a way to rationalize white as black.