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Friday, November 20, 2009

Politicking

Here are some issues I've been musing about,. some happened a couple weeks ago but are still in my head.

New York State passed a no texting while driving law that became effective November 1. While I'm very much in favor of people not multitasking in that fashion, I'm not all that excited by the passage of more legislation that can be routinely ignored. Perhaps those who always follow the law will abide, and maybe those who've decided even before the law that texting while driving is unsafe. But, based on the (non-)enforcement of the no cellphone law, the only benefit will be something to charge a driver with ifwhen an accident occurs, the authorities will be able to charge the driver with additional violations.

Racialicious had an interesting article I’m for gay rights, but...; the topic was also discussed on the podcast Addicted to Race, episode 125, which describes the "oppression Olympics": essentially who is more oppressed, blacks or gays, and why that whole mindset is so wrong. In the episode, the panel discussed Martin Luther King Jr's daughter's recent declaration that her father "didn’t take a bullet for same-sex unions." Meanwhile the late Coretta Scott King had shown support for the rights of all, including gays. As the show notes ask: "Why is it that marginalized people fight each other over scraps, instead of uniting to work toward justice for all?" Sounds like a reasonable strategy to me.
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Only recently did I get to watch the Sunday morning talk shows from two days before Election Day. It is very instructive to listen to most of the predictions in the House race in NY-23, which "everybody knows" was going to the Conservative. Except, of course, it didn't. One Republican operative in particular was complaining how 11 Republican county chairpersons could pick a candidate, suggesting that it's undemocratic. Well, it is, but it's also the way the Democratic candidate was picked. When Kirsten Gillibrand replaced Hillary Clinton in the US Senate, the county chairs in her district picked the candidates, but the winner stands only until the next election, in 2010. (For that matter, Gillibrand also has to run in 2010, and if she wins, in 2012, when the seat would normally be up.)

That race was a perfect example of why Instant Runoff Voting would have been helpful, as I noted here. For that matter, IRV would have clarified the New Jersey governor's race. One pundit noted that the third party candidate faded, "as they always do." But the reason isn't their qualifications, it's their perceived win-ability.

Speaking of Election Day, Jason at 2political, among others, noted this peculiar trend in Virginia gubernatorial races. In the last three decades, when there is one party elected President, the very next year, the Virginia governor is elected from the other party:
CARTER 1976 (D); John N. Dalton 1977 Republican
REAGAN 1980 (R); Chuck Robb 1981 Democratic
REAGAN 1984 (R); Gerald L. Baliles 1985 Democratic
BUSH 41 1988 (R); Douglas Wilder 1989 Democratic
CLINTON 1992 (D); George Allen 1993 Republican
CLINTON 1996 (D); Jim Gilmore 1997 Republican
BUSH 43 2000 (R); Mark Warner 2001 Democratic
BUSH 43 2004 (R); Tim Kaine 2005 Democratic
OBAMA 2008 (D); Bob McDonnell 2009 Republican
So it's difficult to see any repudiation of Obama in the Virginia race. Not to mention that the Democrats picked a lousy candidate.

Speaking of repudiating Obama, I was baffled that Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News were baffled by two recent polls. One showed about a 57% support for the public option; the other showed that the majority of Americans oppose Obama's handling of the health care issue. They seemed to assume that opposition to Obama on the issue would only come from the right. In fact, if I had been asked, I would have said the same thing: that I oppose Obama's handling of health care, not because it contains a public option but because single payer got taken off the table much too easily. And, absent single payer, I support the public option.

As for the bill that DID get passed by the House, what SamuraiFrog said, particularly with regards to abortion, applies to me too. And there's no guarantee that the wuss of a House bill will even make it through the Senate in any meaningful way.

I got an important e-mail this week:

Become a Charter Member of the Bush Presidential Center
Dear ROGER,
I don't have to remind you how America was tested time and again-at home and abroad-during the eight defining years of the George W. Bush presidency.
The difficult decisions President Bush made in the face of each challenge were rooted in the core principles he held throughout his years of public service—the fundamental values that have guided America since her founding: Freedom . . . Opportunity . . . Responsibility . . . Compassion.
Now President and Mrs. Bush—with the support of many patriotic Americans like you—are taking on a new challenge. They are continuing their personal commitment to advancing these enduring principles through the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
The Center will uniquely integrate the records of a national archive, the thematic exhibits of a presidential museum, and the intellectual capital of a research-based policy institute to transform ideas into action.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center will continue to advance the ideals and core principles that shaped his presidency during a defining period in America's history.
Please accept this invitation to stand with President and Mrs. Bush by becoming a Charter Member of this vibrant, multi-disciplinary Center.
Thank you for your support.
Sincerely,
Hon. Mark Langdale
President
George W. Bush Foundation


"Principles"? Er, thanks, but no thanks.
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A lot more pictures like the ones above can be found here.

ROG