Election Day ’09

Interesting is the word for it. Somewhat disappointing for me, although not as you might think because Democrats lost (or did not win) governorships, but because here in Ohio, that damned casino thing finally passed after four tries. I have a moral loathing of gambling as an industry, so as you might imagine the thought of casinos coming to Ohio bugs the crap out of me. At least it failed in my own county; the majority of Darke Countians voted against it. Go, Darke County.

I’m also sad it appears that bigotry won the day in Maine, as regards the same-sex marriage vote there; it’s depressing when people vote to deny other people the same rights they have — not that Ohio, which bans recognition of same-sex marriages, has anything to crow about in this regard. I’m sanguine that this sort of thing is a rear-guard action, and that sooner than later same-sex couples will be able to marry in more states than not, but then again, I can afford to be sanguine, because I can be (and am) married to the person I choose. No one’s telling me that I’m a second-class citizen.

As for the New Jersey and Virginia: Well, I think the New Jersey vote is what you get when you have an unpopular incumbent; Corzine got what was coming to him, it looks like. As for Virginia, it’s not terribly surprising they might vote in a Republican. The governorship there trades off between Democrats and Republicans pretty evenly: Since 1970, the commonwealth has had five Republican and five Democratic governors, not counting McDonnell, who won the election last night but is not yet seated. Whether either of these wins has national implications I’ll leave to others to decide, but I think they probably have more to do with what’s going on in those states.

The interesting “national implication” race for me was the one in the 23rd Congressional District of New York, in which outside political forces (including Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh) decided the woman the local GOP chose to run for the vacant seat there was not conservative enough for their tastes, so they backed the candidate of the Conservative Party (which is a third party in NY) and essentially drove the Republican candidate out of the race. Her response was to throw her support to the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, who won, becoming the first Democratic representative in that district (or so I am told) since the mid-19th Century.

What does this tell us about the state of politics? Well, I think, one, national party leaders, elected and otherwise, probably ought to listen to the local folks about who is a good fit; if they had, this seat would probably be in GOP hands still. Two, it appears local voters don’t take kindly to outside interference. Three, stabbing one’s allies in the back has negative repercussions. Four, listening to people whose personal fortunes are not tied to legislative victory is not necessarily a smart thing for a political party to do.

For all that, I suspect Owens ought not become too comfortable in the seat, since he’ll have to run for it again a year from now, and the district will still be what it is: largely GOP territory. But for the moment, his victory is a big fat middle finger in the eyeball of the national conservative movement. That this middle finger was jammed in there by a disgruntled GOPer is rich, creamy irony of the sort I expect Palin, Beck, Limbaugh et al to steadfastly pretend didn’t actually happen from this day forward.

That’s what I’ve got for you the day after election day, 2009.

173 thoughts on “Election Day ’09

  1. I was actually pulling for a Hoffman victory, I’m of the school of thought that it would embolden the fringe-nuts in the Republican party and hasten its splinter/demise.

  2. I try to put myself in the other guy’s shoes. As a result, even though I am a Conservative Christian, I see the value of gay marriage. It is what I’d think was both fair and right if the shoe were on the other foot, and I get that. That has not been an easy observation for me to draw, but I think it is the right one, and I neither draw it nor resist it based on public pressure.

    With that said, if you oppose gambling as an industry on moral grounds, can’t you imagine that other sensible people may oppose gay marriage on moral grounds?

    This is difficult for me because I can understand both sides. It is akin to having disparate friends arguing with each other in the comments of one of your Facebook posts. It’s awkward and troubling and ultimately, I just wish everyone could get along.

    (As a note to my friends across the metaphorical aisle, before you flame me, please put yourself in my shoes, as I try to put myself in yours. That’s all I ask.)

  3. re: Ben –

    Let’s keep the knee-jerk Palin-bashing to minimum, please. There’s enough to talk about without having to go in that direction.

    Johne Cook:

    “if you oppose gambling as an industry on moral grounds, can’t you imagine that other sensible people may oppose gay marriage on moral grounds?”

    I don’t make an equivalence between commercialized gambling and basic civil rights, first off. Second, I’m quite aware people oppose same-sex marriage on moral grounds. I feel sad for them that they feel their morality requires them to act in bigoted fashion.

  4. We’ve been grumbling at work today over the casinos as well. On the happier side, our local library levy passed, so we may all be able to get our books on a regular basis again!

  5. Marriage was defeated in Maine, but here in WA we beat out an attempt by the conservatives to void legislation that allows for domestic partnership to be “everything-but.” Hopefully it’ll lead to actual marriage just as they fear.

  6. Funny. I also dislike gambling and casinos. And I’m in favor of gay marriages.

    But in neither case, I believe it’s any of the government’s business.

  7. @5
    Sorry, it’s hard, and I have problems with civility concerning certain public personalities and their “points of view”. I’ll just think it REALLY loud next time.

    Also, we’ve been fighting the gambling thing in Maryland too, only it looks like we’re probably going to lose. The mall just down the road from me is about get have something like 2,000 slot machines installed (I assume in a neighbooring facility, not the mall propper, but who knows).

    This is coming as a not so pleasant surprise to the residents near the mall who, until recently, had every reason to believe they lived in a nice neighborhood that would continue to remain that way.

    Hopefully all the warning about crime rate and spiking traffic are overblown, but I doubt it.

  8. I don’t see the appeal of gambling, but it doesn’t bother me. I witnessed the surge in Indian casinos in Southern California (San Diego, specfically), and honestly, I don’t really see how it harmed anything or anyone.

    I have lived in VA for the last 11+ months, and I can honestly say that Creigh Deeds was a bland candidate. I lean heavily left, and even I couldn’t get excited about Deeds. He kind of reminds me of John Kerry in that way. Overall, I’m not too concerned by his loss. VA is a state with unusual demographics (it’s purple because the north leans left and the south leans right), and I suspect it’ll always flip back and forth between the two parties. I’m satisfied with having a Democratic POTUS and a Republican governor.

    As far as Maine goes, eventually we’re going to realize we can’t allow people to vote other citizens out of their civil rights. We’ll get there, but it’s going to take some time. What the Right doesn’t realize is that they’ve already lost. Younger people overwhelmingly support gay marriage, and as the old folks die off, their backwards ideas will also die off. Unfortunately this means it’ll take years and possibly decades, which is obviously unfair to those people who want to get married now, but it IS going to happen.

  9. I’m disappointed Pawlenty, who normally sounds like a reasonable guy, stuck his nose in the NY Congressional election. I do believe the Dems are going to lose there 60-vote majority next year, but the GOP is going to get a major, major spanking in the House when they realize most people don’t love the hard right like they love themselves. (Actually, they seem to loathe themselves, too, since they whine incessantly even when they’re in power.)

  10. Howard @8: You do realize that the only marriages that matter in any legal sense are the marriages recognized by the state, right? You can get married 47 times in a church with a religious ceremony, but unless you fill out the paperwork with your state, none of them count. So yes, marriage is in fact the government’s business. One can argue that it’s actually none of religions’ business, since there isn’t a single state that requires religion be a part of marriage.

    In the US, marriage has always been a civil institution, and religion has only been periferally involved.

  11. Agree with some of the other commenters on the default freedom. There are many things I find morally repugnant and do actual harm to individuals and families, but at the same time I’m very hesitant to bring in the heavy hand of government to try and control people. This is most likely because I have fairly libertarian tendencies; pro-gay marriage, anti-drug laws, anti-death penalty, anti-gambling laws, etc. (As a side note, I also believe in slow change, very few things should be done in a sweeping fashion, e.g. drug laws should be phased out over years.)
    As for NY-23, I think I probably would have voted for the Democrat too. This is one comment over at Althouse that strikes me as a logical analysis:

    A few points about the Congressional race from someone who lives in upstate NY (not in district 23, but nearby.)

    1) We have been inundated with TV commercials here. On TV, Hoffman comes across as exceedingly weird, skinny and overeager with googly eyes, bright yellow teeth, and an odd, halting way of speaking.

    He kept repeating a slogan that he was a common-sense Reagan conservative and common sense isn’t so common any more. It got annoying.

    Owens, by contrast, is big and rugged-looking. He’s an Air Force veteran and he has that military solidity, calm and self-possession.

    He seems like a country guy, and this is a rural district. He presented himself as a centrist. On the human level, Owens is the kind of person voters around here feel comfortable with. Hoffman’s not. Neither was Scozzafava.

    2) On the numbers — as of this morning, with 93 percent of the vote counted, the math-challenged local newspaper is reporting that the split is 46 percent Hoffman, 49 percent Owens, and 6 percent Scozzafava, who was still on the ballot, not having quit until Saturday. (Adds up to 101 percent, but who’s counting?) In any event, Scozzafava’s vote is bigger than the split, which seems to put most attempts to diagnose the Owens/Hoffman outcome into guesswork territory.

    Owens came across as to the right of Ms. Scozzafava, whose ads emphasized her support for such lefty favorites as card check. Hoffman, by contrast, seemed to belong pretty far over on the right. Upstate NY has traditionally been rock-ribbed Republican but has been trending Democratic recently, with the result that Blue Dog Democrats and other center-tending politicos have been doing well. I don’t think the Owens win has as much to do with the candidates’ political parties, though, as it does with who they are personally and with their ad presentations.

    Please disregard the comment on math, I don’t think the commenter was taking into account rounding.

  12. Conservatives don’t lose when changes become normal. That’s because the core value isn’t gay marriage any more than it was divorce or Jim Crow or slavery or whatever.

    The core value is conservatism.

    Delany had it right in “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”. It’s change that bothers conservatives. That’s why they don’t try to get rid of divorce (even though it is a much bigger threat to traditional marriages than gay marriage is) – we already have divorce as part of our society.

    The hard part with politics is in realizing what are our core values and what are the core values of the swing votes.

    Obama is trying to get the swing voters to associate Fox with Republicans, and the right wing says “great”, not realizing that swing voters are comfortable with Fox’s values.

  13. Howard Brazee:

    “Obama is trying to get the swing voters to associate Fox with Republicans, and the right wing says ‘great’, not realizing that swing voters are comfortable with Fox’s values.”

    Not sure I buy that graph there, Howard.

  14. Re: NY-23 – Scozzafava and Owens were both Democrats. Owens at least had the decency to put a (D) next to his name. And from what I read, Hoffman was a crappy candidate who flubbed lots of answers to basic questions (cue the “no wonder Palin endorsed him” jokes). There were enough people who still voted for Scozzafava left over (6,000 votes at least) that makes me think a more competent candidate could have pulled this off. But I agree that smoke-filled back-room choices lead to electoral clusterfucks, and electoral clusterfucks lead to suffering. Primaries are the way to go. (Personally, I’d like to see both parties get out of the business of choosing or endorsing/supporting primary candidates altogether, but given how screwed up our campaign finance system is that’s not really possible.)

    Virginia – McDonnell’s going to be sending a muffin basket to the Washington Post this morning. Their lame-ass hit piece about the McDonnell’s 20-year old red-meat college thesis gave Deeds the bright idea to turn the election into a referendum on hot-button social issues when most people were concerned about traffic jams and school quality and their next paycheck.

    New Jersey – Corzine (he of Goldman Sachs) was supposed to be some kind of financial genius. NJ’s still deep in debt, has some of the highest tax rates in the nation, is in hock to state employees (who are the largest employer in the state), and is leaking residents to lower-tax Pennsylvania and Delaware like a sieve. (And calling your opponent fat? What is this, 6th grade?)

  15. Quoting “Howard @8: You do realize that the only marriages that matter in any legal sense are the marriages recognized by the state, right? You can get married 47 times in a church with a religious ceremony, but unless you fill out the paperwork with your state, none of them count. So yes, marriage is in fact the government’s business. One can argue that it’s actually none of religions’ business, since there isn’t a single state that requires religion be a part of marriage. ”

    Sure – but marriage shouldn’t matter to the state. I should be able to pick my brother as my social security beneficiary. A marriage contract should be treated as any other contract. Don’t give special legal benefits to married couples.

  16. Everytime something like this happens, I am glad I left the mormon church and its bigoted leaders. They and their front organizations beara large part of the blame for the defeat of civil rights in Maine. I know, other “conservative” religious groups were there too, but we all know who provided the large majority of the money.

  17. I’m not sure what the talking heads are going on about, in terms of “Republican for 100+ years”. Do they not have access to Wikipedia too?

    I see a lot of Democrats holding the seat over the last 100 years.

    John:
    What about the heavy campaigning and support the President lent to Corzine? When things really started looking down (Christie at ~+12), the White House sent staffers to help the Corzine campaign. Most of Corzine’s advertising either 1) painted him on the side of Obama and had pictures of the President all over the place or 2) tarred Christie with the “Bush brush”, trying to tie him to the previous administration’s policies and philosophies.

    And in VA, Deeds tried to make the campaign a negative one in which he focused on cultural issues as per Mcdonnell’s college thesis. Mcdonnell ran fairly straight-ahead as a fiscal conservative and wiped the floor with Deeds.

    All told, I take a very different set of messages from the election.

  18. Quote: ““Obama is trying to get the swing voters to associate Fox with Republicans, and the right wing says ‘great’, not realizing that swing voters are comfortable with Fox’s values.”

    Not sure I buy that graph there, Howard.”

    I meant they aren’t comfortable with Fox’s values.

  19. @ben #9

    Well, slots are a step down from full-blown casinos. Originally the slots were going to be for designated areas like the race tracks, where people would be gambling anyway. It seems that the casino lobby found a loophole, didn’t it? Which mall is getting slots (just to be clear, I’m a Marylander)?

    I’m torn on the idea of casinos in Maryland. We’re a state with a lottery and an important horse race. Whether we like it or not, gambling has always been here. Video poker is huge in my area (Dundalk). There’s one in every liquor store, bar, and pool hall in my town. I know for a fact that the majority pays out. I don’t really have a problem with a corner store putting a slot machine in their store since that money just goes back into the community anyway. That money will go to the convenience store owner, who will use it to expand his business, which will in turn help the community. However, if a casino were to open up in Canton, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with that. The casino isn’t going to give anything back to my community. It’s only going to take.

  20. 2nding #10 on VA. I too lean left and Deeds was just not an interesting candidate. Also, VA has a tendency to elect governors from the party not in the White House, and governors here are term limited to one 4 year term. McDonnell, who is a social conservative, worked hard to downplay that aspect in the campaign. I don’t think the win here really means anything in the big picture.

  21. Doug,

    I wonder if perhaps redistricting has caused the boundaries of NY-23 to jump about, and perhaps the rough geographical area hasn’t been represented by a D in over 100 years (i.e., perhaps a lot of the areas was NY-22 or -24 or something at one time)?

  22. That this middle finger was jammed in there by a disgruntled GOPer is rich, creamy irony of the sort I expect Palin, Beck, Limbaugh et al to steadfastly pretend didn’t actually happen from this day forward.

    Indeed, almost as good as what Sen. Lieberman continues to do to the national Democrats who stabbed him in the back a couple years ago.

    12 Keri: The point Howard was making is that he thinks that shouldn’t be the case. (Presumably, anyway, as this is what I think as well.)

  23. I lived in Maryland in the mid 1960s and remember some counties had slot machines even then – not my county though. Those were the first slot machines I ever saw except for a trip through Nevada.

  24. I’m actually most interested in seeing what happens with Ken “I am the law” Cuccinelli now that he’s been elected as attorney general in Virginia. I have this vision of Pennsylvania state troopers arriving at a car crash in Philly and discovering the hypermoral Mr. Cuccinelli drunk and in the company of a woman not his wife; who is in this country illegally.

  25. In re #27:
    …The heck are you on about? Is there something in Mr. Cuccinelli’s past that I’m not aware of that you’re referring to? And what’s with the Philly dig?

  26. Master Thief @16 – dismissing McDonnell’s views as a mere “college thesis is more than a little handwavy. Yes, it would be handy to say that this was just a undergrad paper written when he was a dumb kid. It’s not. McDonnell wrote his master’s thesis at conservative Regent University espousing the view that women who hold jobs are detrimental to the family, among other wingnutteria about “fornicators” and so on, and he wrote it when he was a middle-aged married father.

    So you can certainly argue that the election should have also focused other more day-to-day issues. But things like “not being fired because the boss thinks you’re gay” and “getting a promotion because you earned it, rather than being passed over because your co-worker is a man who ‘supports a family and needs the income'” are, in fact, day-to-day concerns for many people. How lucky for you that you seem to be above them.

  27. I don’t think this election is the be all indicator of national political thought that people want it to be. Obama polls have took a historic nose dive which given how high it was is not surprising.
    While people might be afraid of the drunken spending that has happened with no real effect or they are seeing that Obama has really done nothing since taking office (SNL had funny skit on that) are important I dont think they came into place with this election.

  28. Sorry to hear about the casino bill. That’s been a big issue here in NH, with people talking about it like it’s some kind of miracle cure for the economy — to hear the proponents talk, you’d think it was free money just there for the taking.

    I sympathize with the argument that people are doing it anyway, so we might as well keep the money in-state. And yet, it just seems like the wrong reason, and when the government does something for the wrong reason, it tends to do it the wrong way. If Ohio (or NH, for that matter) does this to keep revenue in the state, then it would “only make sense” to spend taxpayer money advertising those in-state casinos, right? And it would “only make sense” to give casinos tax breaks to move in-state, right?

    I think I would be much less unhappy if the people arguing for casinos were only arguing that it’s the right thing to do for civil liberties, and letting the decision be made on that basis. Acting with that mindset, I would expect the state to at least attempt to impose sensible curbs.

  29. @ mythago: It was also written 20 years ago. A lot of things can change in 20 years, including political views. And you have to worry about a) having a job and b) being able to get to said job without being stuck in traffic cause some BANANAs* in Arlington don’t want I-66 widened before worries about getting fired from your job because you’re gay are relevant.

    *Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone

  30. “That this middle finger was jammed in there by a disgruntled GOPer is rich, creamy irony of the sort I expect Palin, Beck, Limbaugh et al to steadfastly pretend didn’t actually happen from this day forward.”

    I think you under (or over) estimate them. They’re not the sort of people who can resist screaming and howling at things that inconvenience or annoy them. It’s what makes them both entertaining and scary.

  31. I can sympathize with the casino thing. Here in Michigan we had a few casinos on reservations, but in 1996 they allowed the first casinos to go into Detroit in order to boost the economy (and cut into the flow of people going to Canada’s casino).

    As is pretty obvious, it sure hasn’t helped Detroit or Michigan thrive much as other problems drag us down. The Windsor, Canada casino is still going strong, half of Detroit is a ghost town, we’ve been #1 in unemployment for years, and our state budget is being massacred. (I work at MSU and with the annual cuts in state funding and snowball loss of various matching grants and matching federal money, we’re looking to layoff hundreds of staff and professors, as well as close several departments.) Oh, are don’t forget that we are having to keep increasing funding levels to fight the steady rise in compulsive gambling. Yay Michigan!! Yay gambling!!

    The only people who have benefited from the casinos are the owners and bus companies who ship people from all over the state into the casinos.

  32. Master Thief @33, a lot of things can change in 20 years. Sometimes they don’t. That’s why it’s a reasonable subject of inquiry, not a “hit piece”. I’m also not following the false dilemma that you shouldn’t bother asking a candidate if he still thinks we should live in a theocracy where government pushes women to be stay-at-home moms, because, dude, traffic.

  33. In my own little burgh we passed a new charter which will fundamentally alter our local governance (going from a weak mayor position to a village administrator, removing the water board, and reducing council to 5 from 7). Sure, it passed with less than 20 votes, but it had everything going against it; fear of change, distrust of those proposing it, that an administrator “might not be one of us” (more than likely), and that the local elections board incorrectly listed the vote blocks as “for/against the levy.” So the good news is that in two years I expect to be out of a job (my seat is one of those being cut, as I expect one of the other two councilmen to run, and they consistently garner the most votes of any of us). Go us.

  34. I don’t think these ellections have a thing to do with Obama. Neither Christie nor McDonnell ran AGAINST Obama. In fact some of their ads made it look like Obama had endorsed them. Heck, for the most part they didn’t even identify themselves as Republicans in their ads. Besides, both NJ and VA, for more than 20 years, have ellected Governors from the party not in the White House.

    Now the NY 23rd race is a different story. Owens did identify himself as a Democrat and Hoffman ran an anti-Obama campaign. Look at how well that turned out!

    I wasn’t surprised about the Governor’s races in NJ and VA. I was hoping Corzine would win, but John is right, he didn’t deserve to win, he got what was coming to him. Corzine ran a nasty campaign and is a former Goldman Sachs executive. So, good ridance to Corzine.

    I never really thought Deeds would win, although I will say I’m really glad Deeds spanked Terry McAuliff in the primary. I can’t stand TMac.

  35. I haven’t researched the Maine gay marriage issue.
    Was it a referendum to make into law the recognition of gay marriage, or was it a vote against “legislating from the bench”?

    I’d like to see same-sex couple have the same legal protections and property rights that heterosexuals do, but I’d like to see that put to a vote, not decreed from the bench.

    As for McDonnell, and the rest in Virginia, good for my adopted state.
    IMO, the state is becoming a destination for people fleeing high taxes and poor policies of the states to the north, taxes and policies passed by people they kept voting for. They then start electing the same types of people in Virginia, not realizing the outcome won’t be any different this time around. It’s a right to work state, so it’ll keep the union bosses in their place, too.

    I’d prefer to see I-66 widened all the way to Front Royal, thankfully I now work in the Shenandoah Valley and only enter the realm of NoVa when absolutely necessary, preferrably at about 0400.

  36. Keven S @22

    This would be Arrundel Mills mall off of route 100.

    This mall is already friggin huge, I can’t imagine where they plan to put x-thousand slot machines

  37. John – How would you feel about gay casinos?

    Kai @ 7 – I don’t think it’ll lead to gay marriage anytime soon, considering how thin the margin of victory was (assuming the margin holds after all votes are counted). It’s embarrassing to me to live in a state where 49% of the people votes against equal rights. I’m surprised that 1033 had such a big margin of defeat when it required common sense to realize that was a bad idea, yet R71 squeaks by (if it does) with such a narrow margin? Bizarre. I’m also surprised by “One-Issue Candidate On Which He Changed His Support” McGinn is even in the race, much less possibly winning as Seattle’s mayor.

    It’s been a weird time in WA lately.

  38. I actually think there is something really strange going on vis a vis the gay marriage thing. I know a lot of fellow conservatives that collectively go “eeww, but it’s still their right.” And yet this thing keeps getting voted down. In essence, multiple states are choosing the backwards logic of “you’re different and it’s gross” to prevent a basic right that they all agree everyone should have. WTF? I find the gay thing to be rather yuck-ish… but that doesn’t mean they’re not humans and don’t have the right to a union of their choice. Most of the conservatives I know generally think the same way. So if those on the left think that way. And a lot of those on the right (discounting the 20% or so that really are nuts) think that way. How does this keep getting voted down? There is seriously something weird going on IMO.

  39. I don’t gamble, but I’m all in favor of allowing people do what they want with their money. Winnings are taxed. If they didn’t have a casino in Ohio to blow their doe in, they would find another way to do so. Like coming to Detroit. Or just playing the market.

  40. Rob @ 39 –

    The Maine legislature had enacted a gay marriage law – you know, the normal way that laws get made. So no, there was no reaction against “legislating from the bench.”

    Nope – this was just roughly over half of the state’s voters saying “ick” and deciding to take away rights from a minority.

    While I can take comfort that yes, the side of the angels will out and same-sex marriage will one day be the law of the land, that’s pretty flippin’ cold comfort today. It’s pretty devastating to have the question of your rights be put on a ballot.

  41. Here’s the real problem with gambling: it very quickly slips down the Proverbial Slippery Slope and becomes a Magic Spending Fix-All Wand.

    We’ve seen it here in Pennsylvania over the terms of Rendell and Ridge. We were told that PA was “losing” money by allowing the Commonwealth’s elderly residents (who by the way are “benefited” by the Pennsylvania Lottery) to go to Atlantic City and fritter away their pensions on One-Armed Bandits, so Something Had To Be Done. Thus, we arrived at the logical conclusion that slots-only casinos were the magic cure-all and any tax revenues that resulted would be For The Children, of course. We were promised, promised that these slots-only casinos would never ever ever have evil Table Games (ptui!) like those twin havens of immorality and debauchery, Vegas and A.C.

    Of course, with dollars “pouring” in to the new casinos, no one in the capitol needed to think about fiscal responsibility, reigning in spending, etc. Then, a funny thing happened: budget shortfalls galore. So the pols in Harrisburg fished around for easy targets to threaten with cuts, landed on “funding for tuition to in-state universities and colleges” and then looked for a revenue source. They landed on “illegal video poker terminals”.

    Apparently (according to our illustrious guvner), IVPTs are rampant in PA bars, pubs, restaurants and finer entertainment establishments, thus showing a real demand for their services. So Rendell and his cronies thought not “let’s go after the terminals” but “let’s propose our own set of COMPETING, legal terminals (henceforth LVPTs) whose funds will be chuted right into our coffers”. Rendell actually took to the airwaves and said “The ONLY hope for our future students is for video poker terminals to be installed”.

    This ticked off the casinos right and proper, as they had been told that they were going to be the sole providers of illicit fare in the Commonwealth and thus they readied their Lawyer Bombs in case LVPTs reached the market, which of course caused the politicians in Harrisburg to do a lot of soul-searching and realize that this whole gambling thing is a sham designed to wring money out of the pockets of those least likely to be able to afford it and, in a fit of conscience, rescinded everything.

    No, I joke. Their solution was to allow the casinos to have table games.

    Gah. I get furious even typing about it. And the real shame of it all is that the myth of gambling as a funding cure-all (as seen in Vegas) is based upon the notion of scarcity, something which escapes the notice of all pro-gambling pols and pundits alike. Vegas (and to a far lesser extent, A.C.) has classically made its money precisely because it was your only real option for large-scale gambling frippery. Vegas became a destination that folks the country-(and world-)over traveled to in order to engage their baser instincts. Now, suddenly, all the states seem to want in on a piece of that action, not realizing that, as is the case in any marketplace, a surplus of supply makes each and every unit, each and every casino, less valuable and thus a diminishing smaller of a source of revenue.

    It’s stupid, it’s crass, and I really wish more people would stand up against politicians trying to use gambling as a crutch for bloated state budgets.

  42. I’d like to point out one thing: The question of gay marriage has been submitted to voters thirty-one times now. And, in all thirty-one cases, voters have rejected it. Shouldn’t this be telling somebody something?

    “Oh, but no! We cannot be wrong, so do it again, only HARDER!”

    That said, the whole issue of why the State needs to be involved in marriage is a question that really needs looking at. For centuries, it wasn’t even an issue at all, and it’s a matter of historical record that the first laws requiring government licensing of marriages were enacted to prevent interracial marriage. And what other kind of “contract” allows a “third party” to step in and change the terms of the deal, at any time? Karl Denninger has good things to say on this issue. (For the record, he says, “If gay people wish to be married in a house of worship that permits such, that’s none of my damn business.” And I agree with that. And when my brother and his husband got married in California during the “window” where that was legal, I DJ’d their wedding, so anyone wanting to call me some sort of “right-wing bigot,” shove that in your pipe and smoke it.)

  43. rob @ 39:

    I’d like to see same-sex couple have the same legal protections and property rights that heterosexuals do, but I’d like to see that put to a vote, not decreed from the bench.

    Are there other groups of people whose civil rights you’d like put to a popular vote? Are there other groups that maybe shouldn’t get equal treatment under the law, if 50.0001% of the population say no?

    Part of the point of having a judicial branch is to help prevent the majority from riding roughshod over everyone else.

    (BTW, the temporary step forward in Maine wasn’t “decreed from the bench”. It was the result of legislative action.)

  44. There is nothing about the gambling industry that I like, and lots about it that I don’t like.

    But IMHO, that doesn’t mean the government should make it illegal.

  45. Casino gambling has been the panacea for Ohio since the late-70s as manufacturing jobs declined. I grew up in Lorain County and I remember it being floated (pun intended) when AmShip closed operations — the first of the major employers to shed jobs. Every campaign was about the magic “jobs” it would create to offset the decimation to the industrial base. I was not surprised to see it passed some three decades later though I think people now understand that there won’t be any decent jobs in that the only thing it does is stop gambling money from going to MI, IN, WV and PA (much as the money stopped going to Windsor once Detroit got up and running).

  46. “I’d like to point out one thing: The question of gay marriage has been submitted to voters thirty-one times now. And, in all thirty-one cases, voters have rejected it. Shouldn’t this be telling somebody something?”

    I feel like you know what that something is. Want to spell it out for everyone?

  47. This just in:

    Maine Voters: “We are assholes”

    MAINE (BS) Yesterday, in a victory for assholes everywhere, the voters of Maine approved a referendum declaring Maine to have joined them.

    In all but the actual words, the referendum declared “…we, the people of the State of Maine, hereby declare ourselves to be stupid, gullible, homophobic assholes. We further declare that we feel we have the absolute right to stick our noses into other people’s business, and make sure their relationships fit our preconceived notions and religious preferences, rather than theirs. We utterly repudiate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, because we believe that Christian Marriage, as narrowly defined by a subset of Christians most of whom don’t even live in Maine, should have a privileged place in the law of our state…”

    Marc Mutty, campaign manager for Stand for Assholism Maine which favored the declaration of assholism, claimed victory at a rally in Portland just after midnight. “We’ve struggled, we’ve worked against tremendous odds, as we’ve all known,” he said. “We prevailed because the people of Maine, the silent majority, the folks back home spoke with their vote tonight.”

    ‘The silent majority’ is a Homeric phrase that refers to the dead. Typically for members of the asshole movement, Mutty ignores scientific fact, which is that the dead are no longer a majority in the world (there are more people alive today than have ever lived and died in the history of the human species). Few doubt, however, that the dead were a significant block in Mutty’s electoral calculation, or he would not have credited them so prominently in his victory speech.

    Anti-assholism activists are quick to point out that not everyone in Maine is actually an asshole. “There’s a large voting minority of non-assholes in the state,” declared one activist who declined to be identified, citing the general trend toward assholism. “And plenty of people under voting age who aren’t assholes either.” However, when pressed the activist conceded that Maine would be known as an asshole state going forward, and that even Mainiacs who voted against adopting the declaration of assholism will be tarred with that brush.

    Maine joins 30 other states, including California, whose people have declared themselves officially to be assholes.

  48. Erbo @ 47

    I’d like to point out one thing: The question of gay marriage has been submitted to voters thirty-one times now. And, in all thirty-one cases, voters have rejected it. Shouldn’t this be telling somebody something?

    Yes, it means that fixing things can take a long time. Which, you know, isn’t exactly news to those of us who’ll keep trying.

    I’d also like to point out something: Thirty years ago, legal recognition of same-sex in the US was a pipe dream. Twenty years ago it was wildly unrealistic. Ten years ago, it was unrealistic, but not wildly so. Five years ago, it became reality in Massachusetts. Three more states have joined us, and another will as of January.

    Oh, and there’s a huge gradient of opinion on the subject when broken down by age. It sucks that it’s taking so long, but time is definitely on our side.

  49. Back when California was voting on Proposition 8 John wrote a post about the intangible benefits of the word “marriage”. It was something that I hadn’t thought about before, and it was very convincing. After some pondering of my own, I decided that I was definitely in favor of marriage for any couple, instead of an “Everything But Marriage” approach like Washington’s Referendum 71.

    Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe “everything but marriage” is acceptable. Not as an end. But as a step on the path to fully equal marriage rights. From a pragmatic view, I’d love to see every family get the full legal rights of a marriage (whatever it’s called) as soon as possible. There are people I love who can’t make medical decisions for one another in an emergency, share legal custody of their children, or even get medical insurance for their families. As a stopgap, I’m sure that many of them would be happy with something like Referendum 71.

    Then, with legal rights in place, we could move on to a “hearts, minds, and semantics” situation where words like “marriage”, “husband” and “wife” take on new meanings. It’d be similar to what happened in the late 60s and early 70s, where the meaning of racial epithets changed from “any person with skin darker than mine” to “an unacceptable insult”. Only in this case the definition would become broader, welcoming and positive.

    Of course, none of this effects me directly. As a straight person, I can marry the apple of my eye in any state in the Union. How do people who have to live with the consequences of these bills feel?

  50. In other small-election news: Detroit voted to elect City Council members by district, rather than at-large. For as long as I’ve been reading about “how to fix Detroit,” that’s been at-or-near the top of the list. Along with electing Bing to a full term, it makes me less-pessimistic about that city.

  51. Positive confirmation I’m immature when “same sex couple” and “rear-guard action” in the same sentance make me chuckle.

  52. While I’m not terribly fond of gambling, I’m having trouble distinguishing how it is the government’s job to protect us from ourselves. Much like the “war on drugs”, it seems that not allowing gambling simply leads people to gamble illegally which then means that they can not only gamble themselves into a big hole, but they can be sent to jail for it as well, which seems to be adding insult to injury.

  53. A law proscribing gambling also serves the same kind of function as a law against nudity, or public porn, or littering or not mowing lawns.

    It makes the community look better.

    I think, though it oversteps the responsibilities of the state.

  54. Overall the Dayton area had a much stronger than usual YES vote for schools, libraries, fire departments, etc…. It was good to see. Could have been better, but not too bad.

    As for issue 3 (the bloody Casino thing), I watched the numbers roll in last night, and the big population centers voted for it, and rural areas agaisnt it. Funny, I usually vote with the big population centers, but not this time.

  55. Erbo@47: in all thirty-one cases, voters have rejected it. Shouldn’t this be telling somebody something?

    It tells me you’re making a naive justification for something. More on that later.

    “Oh, but no! We cannot be wrong, so do it again, only HARDER!”

    Except your argument is nothing more than: “Oh, but no! The voting population cannot be wrong!”

    The reason that thing called “rights” exist is so the voting public, when they’re wrong, can be corrected by the courts.

    i.e. “rights” exist to keep “argument ad populum” from becoming “mob rule”.

    That said, the whole issue of why the State needs to be involved in marriage is a question that really needs looking at.

    I’m going to refer to this as “exihibit A” in a second. Hold that thought.

    so anyone wanting to call me some sort of “right-wing bigot,” shove that in your pipe and smoke it.)

    Anyone making the argument that “the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage” is making a naive-libertarian argument. (See Exhibit A above)

    The government is involved because marriage rights are that important. Child visitation rights after a divorce, property division rights after a divorce, job benefits that extend to family members, health-care and end-of-life decisions by a spouse for another spouse, and so on.

    Anyone making the argument that the government shouldn’t be involved is a shill for homophobes. Because the second you turn around and try to take away marriage from straight people, you’ll find out just how much those homophobes like being married, and don’t like you trying to take that right from them.

    So, stop being a shill.

    Stop making the most naive argument of all time against gay marriage. It’s naive because you claim to be unbigoted, but you can only possibly forward the agenda of bigots.

    By your own logic every state in the US has put straight marriage to a vote and supported it. so shouldn’t this be telling you something about your libertarian argument that marriage should be abolished?

    If you’re going to make the argument ad populum fallacy, then at least do it consistently, not just when it suits your goals. If you do it when it suits you but ignore it when it doesn’t, it makes you look like a hypocrite.

  56. @43 – When you say most conservatives go ‘eww, but it’s their right’ I think what you mean is ‘most conservatives you talk to or pay attention to.’ However, the Republicans in the Reagan era did a great job of showing the religious right what political power could do to impose their morality on others and THOSE are the people, along with other social conservatives, who vote down same-sex marriage. They’re hypocrites who will tell you the government should stay out of their business but feel comfortable legislating morality for others.

    Hell, look at the people who opposed R-71 – the Faith and Freedom Network who identify their supporters as “People of faith and social conservatives…”

    Oh one last thing – R-71 was a vote to approve legislation signed in May that creates civil unions that have all of the same rights as marriage. Close, but not quite there.

    In other news, I hate mandatory mail-in voting.

  57. You said: “The government is involved because marriage rights are that important. Child visitation rights after a divorce, property division rights after a divorce, job benefits that extend to family members, health-care and end-of-life decisions by a spouse for another spouse, and so on.”

    The government has already stepped in with these issues for palimony and the rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents. Treat marriage as any other contract.

    You accused: “Anyone making the argument that the government shouldn’t be involved is a shill for homophobes. Because the second you turn around and try to take away marriage from straight people, you’ll find out just how much those homophobes like being married, and don’t like you trying to take that right from them.

    So, stop being a shill.

    Stop making the most naive argument of all time against gay marriage. It’s naive because you claim to be unbigoted, but you can only possibly forward the agenda of bigots.”

    I bet you have some issues that some bigots agree with. If a bigot votes one way, does that mean you will automatically vote the other way?

    I don’t believe straights should have any legal advantage over gays – and I don’t believe married people should have any legal advantage over other people with similar contracts. And I don’t believe in giving rights a piece at a time as one group gains more political power, and some other group has to wait. Treat everybody equally.

    You said: “By your own logic every state in the US has put straight marriage to a vote and supported it. so shouldn’t this be telling you something about your libertarian argument that marriage should be abolished?”

    In this case, it’s obvious you were replying to someone else, but I still believe marriage should not be the business of the government. It should not give anybody special rights because of our marriage status, and it should stop anybody from being married.

    Give *everybody* the same rights. Not just the group that’s in front of the line.

  58. @66.

    When it comes to the faith thing, almost every single person who is anti-gay marriage focuses on the word marriage as defined by the Bible, none of them can get past that concept to realize that the real issue is denying the same basic rights as they have to other people. In other words, they make it a religious argument when it is not.

  59. Keri @12: “In the US, marriage has always been a civil institution, and religion has only been periferally involved.”

    The only legitimate civil interest in marriage is enforcing the age of consent. If there are other civil benefits and liabilities to be associated with “marriage” to a life partner, they shouldn’t be tied to a religiously-loaded term like marriage. The biggest reason gay marriage has the religious conservatives up in arms is because they view it as an affront and violation of their religious ceremonies bearing the same name. Whether this boils down to bigotry or faith in “God’s word” depends on which side of the fence you’re on as well as other factors.

    But if you simply disavow the idea of a civil “marriage license” and replace it with a “registered declaration of life partnership”, you strip the true bigots of their religious cover and force the truly religious to think about the separation of church and state a little more clearly. The only reason the government can’t grant equal rights to gays or any of the permutations of “marriage” that Heinlein cooked up (or rehashed) in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is voter phobia. In the current situation, the phobia is generated by having the words “gay” and “marriage” together. Conservatives want to solve the problem by taking the word “gay” out of the civil equation, Liberals want to shoehorn both words in despite the religious connotations. So maybe try taking the word “marriage” out instead? That’s basically what passed in Washington State, except that “marriage” still exists for hetero couples.

  60. NY-23 is solidly Republican territory. To win re-election next year, he’ll have to veer hard to the fiscal (not social) right. Otherwise, he’ll have to hope that the GOP nominates another fiscal liberal who drops out and endorses him at the tail end of the race. That convergence of events is not likely to happen again.

    NY-23, New Jersey and Virginia all have one common thread running through them. Economics. I’ve been saying it for years, but this country would still have a GOP majority if it had bothered to keep its expenses less than its income upon George II’s election. Fiscal conservatism sells, both to conservatives (social and fiscal) and independents. Whether one is pro- or anti- gay mariage, the wars, etc. pales in comparison to one’s reputation for balancing the budget, especially amongst independents.

    The only social issues (“third rail issues”) I exempt from this are the military, gun control and abortion. As to abortion, the latest data I’m aware of is that 5% of the voters are single issue pro-choice voters. As to abortion, 6% of the voters are single issue pro-life voters. The 1% point isn’t going to make a difference one way or the other to a politician who answers the question clearly.

    Gun control is a bigger issue, last I checked the single issue voters against control were 2 or 3 times the number of pro-gun control voters. I forget the percentages, though it heavily favored the NRA types.

    Leaving aside the social issues, including the third rail social issues, the Democrats are in trouble in 2010. While Obama is currently safe, all of the members of the House and a third of the Senate have to gear up for an election run in a few short months. The stimulis, cap and trade, cash for clunkers, and the health care bill are all perceived as fiscal nightmares. A good chunk of the Democrats are going to have to veer fiscally right if they want to survive politically. If the Democratic party wants to keep control, it should steal a few pages from the GOP, including:

    1. Push nuclear power.
    2. Push offshore drilling.
    3. Reduce or eliminate the “stimulis” spending (most of it was not to kick in until 2010-2012, anyway).
    4. Avoid a “public” option on health care (including the sneaky “trigger”- people will count it as a “public” option and therefore more future spending) and focus on making health care more affordable and accessable without government dollars being involved (I suggest highjacking the GOP plan- its not perfect but it is a step in the right direction and would have the benefit of them touting how “bi-partisan” they are).
    5. Do NOT let the Bush tax cuts expire. Extend them at least a year or two. Trying to explain to the voters that their taxes went up but it wasn’t a tax increase is a lousy argument that places form over substance.
    6. Permanently defund ACORN. If they want to be Machiavellian about it, they can re-open for business under another name a year or two down the line.

    The Democrats need to move on the one social (third rail) issue I did not address above, the military. The public loves the guys in uniform regardless of party affiliation and admire them a lot more than they do politicians. Whether one wants them fighting the war or not, they need to appear 100% supported. Either all in or all out. Obama and the Democrats need to send McCrystal 40,000 additional troops immediately or pull them out immediately. There isn’t a viable middle ground. This is killing Obama’s prestige and will only get worse as the year moves on. A middle of the road, holding action while engaging in endless review is the kiss of death and makes it look as if we’re repeating the tail end of Vietnam. Whichever way he decides to go (all in or out) can be correctly characterized as supporting the troops.

    To be clear and upfront, I am a conservative-libertarian type, depending on the issue. But if the Democrats go with 1-6 and the military support, they’ll keep the independents (who could care less for the most part about saving the spotted owl or public funding of abortion, or whether an R or D is in front of a candidate’s name) and will take the wind out of the tea partiers’ sails. Both are critical if they don’t want to lose Congress. I doubt the Democrats will do any of the above and will instead be paralyzed by indecision. People mock the GOP for being at war with itself, but the Democratic Party is also at war with itself though its not as public as it controls government currently.

  61. Of course, the definition of Marriage as accepted by societies has not been a constant, changing in time and space considerably. This includes polygamy in the Bible.

    The issue that had the biggest threat against “traditional marriage”, may have been divorce. Certainly it affected families more than gay marriage does.

    For much of history, few marriages mattered to the state. It was a religious issue.

  62. Greg @ 64 The government is involved because marriage rights are that important. Child visitation rights after a divorce, property division rights after a divorce, job benefits that extend to family members, health-care and end-of-life decisions by a spouse for another spouse, and so on.

    This to me is the main strike against the religious conservative position. The marriage that gay people are fighting for is about legal rights, not religious rites. Homosexuals have been married for years by various religious groups and that’s not going to stop. So the prime ground on which religious conservatives stand – religion – has already been given over to their “foes”. It’s time for them to remember that Christianity (whatever the flavor) isn’t the law of the land and it’s not so because our founding fathers saw this type of thing going on in England and wanted to keep it from happening here.

  63. Howard@67: In this case, it’s obvious you were replying to someone else, but I still believe marriage should not be the business of the government. It should not give anybody special rights because of our marriage status, and it should stop anybody from being married.

    The short version of that goes like this:

    “I’m a libertarian and watch how my philosophical argument overrides any real world damage my philosophy will create.”

    What you’re forgetting is one of the most basic realities of planet Earth:

    Rule 1: If everyone acts like (insert political idealogy here), then the world would be a better place.

    Rule 2: Not everyone acts like (insert political idealogy here).

    OK, so you’ve got the marvelous idea where no one has any government intervention on marriage. Great. And you’ve proven (in your mind) that if everyone were to follow this idea of yours, we’d have peace on earth and a fairy tale happily ever after. Swell.

    You’ve just executed Rule Number One and completely ignored Rule Number Two.

    OK. So, that means your great theoretical solution to the real world turns out to actually suck balls.

    And here’s the thing you’re not acknowledging about your idealogy: You don’t give a flying rat’s ass about how two people who raise children deal with custody, or how they make serious medical decisions aout their children or each other, or how they get benefits as a “family”. No, you’re only real priority here is to forward your libertarian crap that the government must not be involved in (insert any human endeavor that poeple care about other than physical violence).

    Real people are suffering due to bigotry going on right now, and you use the opportunity to stump for your libertarian rantings that won’t actually help anyone but yourself and other libertarians.

    Review Rule Number Two.

    Real people don’t have a problem with the government getting involved in (insert human endeavor that doesn’t involve physical violence).

    Deal with it.

    You’re not solving the problem of bigotry in marriage, you’re stumping for your own libertarian agenda, and not helping the victims of bigotry at all.

    So, with all due respect, I suggest you take your libertarian soap box and go stump somewhere else. Or hang around here and address the actual problem while keeping in mind Rule Number Two.

  64. Casinos bother me about as much as bars. This is quite a lot, actually, since alcohol abuse is a pretty horrific thing and quite common when you look at it closely.

    However, I think bars work better than Prohibition did. Or the War on Drugs does.

    However, I agree that government sponsorship of things that are bad for us should be revenue neutral for the government, if at all possible. Otherwise we tempt the government into pushing bad stuff on us to increase their coffers.

    OTTH, I think sin taxes are a fine idea for stuff that causes social problems.

    So here’s the “not nearly enough research kibbitzer plan” for drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc. (So called “victimless crimes,” essentially.)

    1. Legalize.
    2. Regulate for safety. Aggressively.
    3. Use heavy sin taxes to fund programs to deal with the inevitable damage, and research to reduce it. Positive gov’t revenue should not exceed normal commercial revenue, but not be zero either. (At zero revenue, we get pushed back to banning too easily.)
    4. When plan fails miserably, blame the previous holder of your office for following my amateur advice.

    As for gay marriage failing again, in a fairly liberal state at that, sigh.

  65. GregLondon:

    “I suggest you take your libertarian soap box and go stump somewhere else.”

    GregLondon, I don’t recall appointing you to position of The Guy Who Tells Other People On This Site to Go Elsewhere. I will let you know when I do. Until then, don’t. I’m really very serious about this.

    That said, as I’ve noted before, I find the “Well, the government shouldn’t be in the marriage business anyway” to be a particularly obnoxious bit of derail that certain folks just can’t seem not to bring up at every available opportunity. News flash: The government is in the marriage business and will be for the foreseeable future.

    So, please, deal with the real world as far as this topic goes in this and other threads on the site. It’ll save me from having the same damn pointless bloviations on the matter every single time it comes up.

  66. Some good news: Washington’s expansion of rights for domestic partners passed. Ref 71 –the “everything but marriage” law squeaked on through by the skin of its teeth. 51%-49%. I have a feeling we’ll be setting the stage for the next attempt at proving Erbo wrong.

    Also, from my old home state: SLC elects its first openly gay city council member ever! Too awesome. (Well, it would have been more awesome if it had been earlier, but for Utah, that’s progress.)

  67. The issues that government steps in with marriage (not counting social security), are issues it should and often does step into with partnerships that it doesn’t recognize as marriage.

    I’m less concerned with the Libertarian aspect of this issue as I am with the bit about giving equal rights to *all*, not just those who speak loudly enough to get recognized.

    I don’t want to go through this same thing in the future with, say polygamists. Rights should not be doled out a bit at a time.

  68. @ mythago 36: After the thesis came out, McDonnell was asked if he still believed what he wrote about women in the workplace. He said that times had changed, and that his grown daughters both had careers, one of whom was an Army officer. That was good enough for me.

    Funny part is that in 2005 I actually voted for Deeds over McConnell in the AG race (the one that was decided by 300 votes) because Deeds had won both law enforcement and National Rifle Association endorsements and McConnell… had a law degree from Regent, which is not respected at all among law schools. Turns out I was wrong, McDonnell did a good job as AG, and Deeds came across as a bloody-shirt-waving wanker.

  69. Good posts regarding gay rights.

    My partner and I have been together for 21 years and it was unpleasant when Michigan actually amended its state constitution to define “marriage” in a way that made it an exclusive right for straight people to enjoy. You might as well post a big sign at the border that says, “Welcome to Michigan, Unless You’re Gay!”

    My opinion is mixed, since I never wanted to be married. But I would like the protections. I don’t give a crap about the word “marriage,” and think defining it as something that is sacred is somewhat laughable. Anyway, it sucks knowing that it’s still okay to discriminate against someone because they are gay, lesbian, bi or transgender. And As for people and their religious considerations, I don’t think religion has any place in a civilized society. Except holidays like Xmas, ‘cause I like to shoot at Santa bot.

  70. #70, your advice seems to be “become Republicans” (although I’m in favor of nuclear power, so I’m right with you on that one).

    I don’t really have a problem with a health care plan without a public option, but the Republican plan doesn’t provide for universal coverage. If you are diabetic (or have a family history of cancer or some pre-existing condition) and trying to buy private health insurance you are in real trouble. Insurers don’t want to insure you and, frankly, why should they? I don’t see how the GOP plan addresses that and, therefore, it’s a non-starter as far as I’m concerned (further, I don’t believe that removing barriers for health insurance providers will increase competition. I think the big providers will swallow up the small providers and our health insurance will get “Clear Channel”ed. Conservative protests to the contrary seem to be free-market-can-solve-everything wishful thinking).

  71. TGA I think religion is a very civilizing influence and we’re better off for having it. But I think we run into problems when religious people approach religion as something that is not a personal choice. I’m Christian, but I don’t think that the way I believe I should act (and by extension, my children – until they are old enough to make their own choice) is necessarily the way you should believe you should act.

  72. “And As for people and their religious considerations, I don’t think religion has any place in a civilized society. ”

    Which is, of course, just as bigoted a statement as saying “and as for gays and their issues, I don’t think gay issues has any place in a civilized society.” Demonizing any group for what they hold valuable isn’t a good way to move forward.

  73. Scalzi: GregLondon, I don’t recall appointing you to position

    I wasn’t trying to ban anyone from the thread, the “all due respect” and “suggest” being hints for that. It was more of a “get out of town” response, which, I guess doesn’t translate so well.

  74. The Grey Area @79:
    Amend that to “I don’t think religion has any place in the legal system of a civilized society”, and I’ll be much closer to agreeing with you.

    The “wall of separation” between church and state that Jefferson wrote of didn’t suggest that religion should be absent from society, just that it keep to its own side of the wall.

  75. Right now all of the proposals for health care reform (by both parties) seem to be designed by those who have contributed the most to the coffers of the legislators.

    To find out who our congress critters serve – follow the money.

  76. I find the “religious rights” angle of the anti-gay marriage crowd to be both laughable and offensive, because my parents’ church, among many others, would love to perform gay marriages that are legally recognized, but the “religious freedom” crowd has succeeded in getting the rest of us to codify their narrow-minded reading of scripture into law.

    On a related note, how does the “everything but marriage” thing work? Gay couples get to have all the attendant rights and privileges, but if one man calls another man “husband”, the fun cops swoop in and chastise everyone?

  77. Quote: “On a related note, how does the “everything but marriage” thing work? Gay couples get to have all the attendant rights and privileges, but if one man calls another man “husband”, the fun cops swoop in and chastise everyone?”

    One big example: Right now only a legal spouse can get social security insurance spousal benefits. The feds don’t care if a state passes a law for “everything but marriage”.

    That is, IMHO, a limitation that should not exist. If I were the sole care giver to my brother or father – I should be able to name him my beneficiary.

  78. “And As for people and their religious considerations, I don’t think religion has any place in a civilized society. ”

    replace “religion” with “dogma” and I’m onboard

  79. MikeT – I know you’re being facetious, but in washington’s case it’s basically that civil unions have all of the same rights that the state confers on married people. From the state’s perspective, there’s no legal difference. That doesn’t handle federal issues or how other states treat that union, but that’s not something we can do anything about in the state.

  80. Concerning the gambling thing. If one feels people have the right to live their life how they want and allow gay marriage then I really do not see how you can also oppose someone’s right to go gambling.

  81. -Marriage matters to the state because married people, statistically speaking, tend to be more stable, more involved with their communities, and more consistent taxpayers. I’d personally argue that this is getting the thing backward (stable people tend to gravitate toward marriage, rather than marriage being a force for stabilization in itself), but otherwise, the justification is sound.

    However, none of that justification has jack to do with gender or parenting status, and thus the state has no interest in regulating gender or childrearing with regard to the benefits granted by the contract of civil marriage. The benefits are there to encourage people to settle down, buy a house and pay property taxes. Same-sex or childless couples aren’t any less likely to do this, so they should get the same benefits.

    -The religious rite of Holy Matrimony has nothing whatsoever to do with civil marriage, and is an entirely different entity. Civil marriage doesn’t require religious rites (and the rules thereof) any more than birth certificates require christenings or a bris (and the rules thereof.)

    -Grew up in Nevada. Anti-gambling kind of makes me scratch my head. Yeah, it’s a bit of a tax on the poor and stupid, but so is fantasy football. I see no reason to disallow it.

  82. I suppose I look at casinos colored from my experiences in Biloxi, MS. Which is to say, Biloxi, until Hurricane Katrina painfully exposed the fallacy of their casino building ordinances, was and probably still is the single interesting and cosmopolitan-ish place I’ve been inside of Mississippi. I’m not a big fan of letting casinos just spread wherever they’re wont to inside a state, but I can see a lot of benefits for some states in providing the sort of commercial zoning that casinos are likely to afford.

    That being said, my limited experience with Ohio suggests there are things to do and things being done in Ohio, so why do you guys need casinos? I mean, unless it brings you guys some decently spiced Mexican food it’s sort of the cart before the horse, right? You’ve got bigger problems.

  83. Also, rick, it doesn’t work, as New Jersey has shown. Insurance companies won’t grant spousal benefits, for example. That’s why we’re going to have real marriage instead, if Corzine keeps his promise and signs the law before leaving office. I think he will, because now it doesn’t really have any downside for him.

  84. @Tal #91:
    You skipped merrily by the actual #1 reason that the state wants to encourage marriage: married heterosexuals, statistically-speaking, are far more likely to produce well-adjusted future taxpayers that will at some point, in all likelihood, get married and have their own brood of income-producers. Simple survival of the state.

    Plummeting birthrates are the surest marker for a society in decline, and who wants that?

  85. stevem@70–well, yes and no. Bill Clinton was very fiscally conservative, and it was the 1993 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act that rescued us from Reagan’s sky-high deficits and started to reduce the national debt.

    Health care reform, if done properly–with a public option–will actually save money. The U.S. loses tens of billions of dollars a year due to people who don’t go to the doctor in a timely fashion because they don’t have health insurance
    Also, there’s the whole matter of 44,000 Americans each year dying because they don’t have health insurance. And the 750,000 medical bankruptcies. I suspect those concerns trump “fiscal responsibility,” which, based on how Reagan and Bush II behaved, is starting to seem like something conservatives pull out when they’re in the minority but ignore whenever they’re in power.

    I find the $1.6 trillion Bush tax cuts for the rich to be very fiscally *irresponsible,* so I don’t think you can call for fiscal responsibility on one hand but say the tax cuts should remain in place on the other. You have to choose. You can’t have both. Basic Keynsian economics tells us tax cuts don’t really stimulate the economy as well, and government spending does.

    Your advice basically seems to be “Democrats should act like Republicans.” That didn’t work well in 2002. Democrats acted like Democrats in 2008 and won big. 2010 will be a base election, so the Democrats need to motivate their base, and they can best do that by passing good legislation and not running away from what they believe in.

  86. Hmm… Xopher I’d need to dig a bit to see if that behavior will be legal here moving forward. Good point though. And I think Doug’s being tongue in cheek about the states’ interest in marriage. I hope.

  87. #96:
    I said no such thing. I merely stated that the state’s interest, as long as it isn’t a nihilistic, self-destructive society intent on kamikaze-esque behavior, is, in fact, in continuity. The surest way to do that is to continue producing like-minded people that pay their taxes and produce more like-minded people in their turn.

    I make no value judgement based upon that statement, nor am I explicitly endorsing a position on marriage using such. I’m merely putting forth the fact that a nation-states need people in order to continue being states and therefore have traditionally encouraged marriage at the governmental level as the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to ensure continuity.

    #98:
    Slightly tongue-in-cheek, slightly not.

  88. @70

    Point #5 – the problem here is that the VAST majority of voters won’t have their taxes affected at all. I was manning the 50-50 booth at a high school football game this fall when three factory workers came in joking about how they couldn’t afford to play since Obama jacked up their taxes. Thing is, I make about the same as they do, and my paycheck got $30 bigger every 2 weeks thanks to Obama. My wife makes abotu 35% more than me, and certainly mroe than any of the three workers, and her check got bigger by about $40. If people would actually look at what affects THEM instead of what affects the GOP leadership, they’d stop worrying about these tax breaks.

  89. Democrats and Republicans alike have taxed us every time they spend more than they take in. Deficit budgets are taxes, and will be paid.

    Deciding which party is the most irresponsible seems to be popular though.

  90. I have first-hand knowledge of NY-23 seeing as how it is the neigboring district to Mid-Western Vermont and not only do we get the commercials, lots of people I work with are from across the lake in NY.

    The problem was a number of things: first is that the fight for the Republican candidate wasn’t done in a primary as it should have been. Instead it was carried out during the general election and that was a problem.

    Second, the vast majority of counties that make up NY-23 are hurtin puppies economically. A number of significant plants closed putting lots of people out of work. Hoffman never really addressed the local issues that would convince people to vote for him. After all, he was running for Representative, not President. All his commercials were either about how Scozzafava shouldn’t be considered a Republican at all (which was correct as far as it goes) or making the argument that he was a Conservative, which to most voters was a big “so what”. Owens addressed the needs and the issues of his Constituency.

    Both Christie and MacDonnell won, it seems to me, again because they better addressed the voters concerns.

    You might think from this that I do not see wider political implications, but that would be wrong.

    First, it is pretty clear President Obama had little impact on the election despite spending enourmous amounts of energy in both NJ and Virginia.

    Second, the issues most concerning people in NJ were, in order:

    The economy and jobs,
    Taxes,
    Corruption (of course)
    Health care.

    To Democrats spending so much time “fixing” Health Care at the expense of economy and tax concers these results should be a big old red flag.

    In Virginia the issues most concerning people

    The economy and Jobs,
    Health Care
    Taxes
    Transportation.

    Now while Health care did come in 2nd in Virginia, 84% of people who were most concerned about txaes voted for McDonnell as well as 57% of people most concerned about the economy. McDonnell also got 49% of the people who were most concerned about Health Care. This last could be interpreted as people liking the Republican solution to health care issues better than Demoractic solutions.

    The exit polls also showed that Obama Evangelists were pretty much absent, increasing the evidence that President Obama’s win in 2008 was a political anomaly.

    The question remains, how representative is this election day of what will occur a year from now? This is very difficualt to say.

    But it is clear that both Red State and Purple State Democrats are worried about their jobs.

    And the Blue State Democrats are a little nervous too.

  91. Doug: Yes and no.

    Yes in that a stabilized population has the benefit of a consistent supply of workers, but no in that encouraging childbearing doesn’t help do this.

    Overpopulation and the resultant drain on resources is a far greater threat to stability than a dearth of young workers (especially when the older population continues to live and work well past the traditional retirement age of a generation ago.)

    Encouraging childbearing on its own is therefore not a state interest. Encouraging that children that already exist or are produced are well-cared-for and will become self-sufficient, productive members of society? You bet.

    And as there’s no data whatsoever saying that opposite-sex couples are inherently better suited for that child-rearing than same-sex ones, there’s no reason to limit child-rearing to het couples (nor, of course, het couples who can magically bake their own kids.)

    Oh, and my non-functional ovaries tell you to piss off. Thanks!

  92. @28

    Doug,

    The meme about “Republican representation since 1850″ comes from looking at who represented specific geographical areas in Congress — it has nothing to do with who served in what numbered districts.

    Also, Owens shouldn’t get comfortable there, because conventional wisdom is that when NY state loses a representative after the census, that the current NY-23 will be redistricted out of existence.

  93. Oh, also? Something I’ve never quite understood about conservative logic:

    Encouraging childbearing and limiting abortion and such is supposedly all about ensuring a steady supply of workers, and therefore the state has an interest in those things, yes?

    If so, then why doesn’t the state also have an interest in ensuring that existing workers stay healthy and productive by ensuring that they have safe and available food, shelter and health care, and access to education and job training?

    Surely, if we’re going to encourage breeding, we should also ensure that we don’t kill off the people we already have, right?

  94. I originally hail from Salt Lake City, Utah. (No, I’m not a Mormon.) Just south of my home town lies Utah County – at times hailed as the most conservative district in the most conservative state in the union. (It was subject to a great documentary called This Divided State.) Since the district existed, it has sent Republicans to Congress, but back in the 90’s – those debauched Clinton 90’s – the Republicans started feeling a little cocky. The man running against the (obviously) Republican incumbent was a single man and a Democrat, two things unheard of in that district, and the local GOP ran ads teasing him for his family-less-ness. Want to guess who won by 22 points? And got re-elected twice more? Yeah, the Democrat.

    What’s that old line about those who fail to learn the lessons of history?

  95. I’ve read that at the end of the 18th century, France created a propaganda campaign about how good motherhood was – at the behest of the war department which wanted more soldiers. It worked.

    For a long time, increased population meant increased security and increased wealth. But things are changing. Labor is expensive, and people are expensive to rear, educate, and even fire.

    So instead of smiling when we see a family with a dozen kids, and ostracizing the old maid, we are moving to the reverse, seeing the family as being selfish and their kids competition for ours. The tax paying spinster is looked upon favorably.

  96. The thing that is confusing about the Ohio casino vote is that it isn’t entirely a vote for or against gambling. There is undoubtedly a certain percentage of the “anti” vote that is content to allow gambling, but doesn’t want a single purveyor of casinos enshrined in the state constitution. And it’s possible that there’s a certain percentage of the “pro” vote that is against gambling but is seduced by the idea of more jobs and taxes for education in a dismal economy (and may not be aware of how minimal the jobs/taxes really are). As a matter of fact, I don’t know of any reliable conclusion that can be drawn from the Ohio casino vote this time.

    I was surprised and delighted at how strong the votes were for various social service levies in my county.

  97. Making marraige available to homosexuals will do nothing at all to the hetero marraige rate. The state’s interests aer not threatened with lower brithrates by allowing homosexuals to marry. They weren’t going to generate offspring of their own, anyway – but as a marreid couple, maybe they can adopt and help raise a new tax payer that was created in somebody else’s state. That’s a whole lot of WIN for everyone but the poor state who lost a tax payer.

    Of course, many of the states we’re adopting from don’t develope taxpayers. They develope victims of starvation and war crimes. So maybe it really is a WIN for everyone after all.

  98. Not learning from history includes the time when the Republicans were absolutely sure they were in full control shortly after WWII, and the American voters surprised them.

    Lots of people vote against the incumbent party consistently.

  99. @112

    “Lots of people vote against the incumbent party consistently.”

    True, but I think it takes a little while. I have a feeling we’re going to see far far more two term presidents than single term presidents. I really don’t have anything to justify that, except a general feeling I have about the way we consume media today. Scandals and gaffs seem to have a definite shelf life, and public figures seem to be apt at taking advantage of short memories for outrage.

    Despite what Rove promised the congressional republicans in 2004, we’re probably never going to set permanent single party rule, but I have a feeling that a sitting president is going to have to work fairly hard to get himself kicked out of office before his 8 years are up.

    … at least, that’s the only way I can explian George W. Bush.

    Again, nothing to back any of this up, so take it for the collection of meandering utterances it is.

  100. At this point I don’t really care about the casinos anymore. I just can’t take another year of those stupid commercials…

  101. I strongly suspect married homosexuals would raise more children than unmarried homosexuals. (The logistic issues aren’t as big as the legal ones these days.)

  102. Rick said, “Demonizing any group for what they hold valuable isn’t a good way to move forward.”

    Of course you’re right. I was being flip. I just happen to think that most of the people who have problems with gays usually rely on religious dogma to support their views. Maybe not always. I mean, some people are just mean-spirited and always need to find someone to hate.

  103. #29

    The Va. attorney general elect comes from the Rick Santorum school of hysteria about other people’s sex lives, and has boasted about only enforcing the laws he agrees with. I see nothing good coming of this, and have a high level of suspicion this fellow will be exposed as a great hypocrite.

    I have no great problems with Philly per se.

  104. Alan at 80 and Greg at 97: My advice is far from the Democrats becoming Republican. My advice is that they do more or less what they want on the social issues but massively restrain federal spending. Social issues appeal to liberals and conservatives. Fiscal responsibility appeals to independents (and, allegedly Democrats and the GOP though that is more a matter of lip service). Whichever party links the two in substance, as opposed to rhetoric, wins.

    Greg, as to the numbers you cited, they’re based on some very fuzzy and very conditional math. For an example as to fuzzy, the 44,000 a year who allegedly die due to a lack on health insurance. This is a bogus statistic famously cited by Rep. Grayson.

    But since you trotted out the number (repeated by reality challenged liberals like Alan Grayson), I’ll let rabid foaming out the mouth conservative Michelle Malkin point out the biases, errors and unfounded assumptions in the study:

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=34103

    As to conditional problem, the “savings” presumes future promised cuts to Medicaid and Medicare a year or two out. With Obama running from re-election in 2012, and the House running every 2 years, do you really think the “planned” Medicare and Medicaid cuts will ever materialize? If you do, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d be willing to quit claim to you for a small price.

    Peyton at 84: Do you have a link to that poll? It contradicts what I’ve seen. The percentage you cite is about right as to some polls around mid-October but as of late October it was less than 50%. And from > 60% to <50% in 2 weeks is not an indicator that a politican would do well to take comfort in those numbers for next year's election. I'd bet the percentage is likely still dropping and/or the one or both polls are agenda driven and not an accurate reflection of where the populace is at.

    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/10/27/poll-finds-support-for-the-public-option/).

    And to show you the variability of "polls", here's one that shows only 9.9% want a "public" option.

    http://www.theinfonetwork.org/Health_Care_Paper.pdf

    As to the real number, I don't know. Nate Silver is a better analyst than you or I. He estimated, as a rough number, that support ranged from 40% to 80% dependent upon pollster. His estimates, however, are based on polls 4 months out of date.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/public-support-for-public-option.html

    As a point of common sense, however, if 40% of the country identify as "conservative" and 20% as "liberal", I doubt the percentage in support of the public option is above 60% and is more likely in the 30% to 40% range.

  105. Wow, I didnt know ‘the state’ had high-minded social engineering goals such as ‘ensuring a consistent supply of workers to pay taxes’ or ‘encouraging marriage to generate a more stable taxpayer base’ or a ‘rearing self-sufficient children so they cost government less’ objective. I need to listen to political speeches more closely for the Orwellian code. And I thought I was paranoid before… Can anyone suggest a good anti-government cult for me?

  106. Hello from Maine.

    47% of us voted for marriage being equal to all here. The result is highly disappointing. It further erodes my tolerance of the Catholic church and the LDS. We’re still a rural state (many would consider me, a 4 year resident with family roots going back less than 150 years) and thus we have attitudes of same. This is the same state where they had an Obama assassination pool.

    As Marko Kloos wrote, we should go by the new slogan: Alabama with Snow!

    Ah, Maine. Lobster and Gay Marriage. Both decreed by God to be unclean.

    :(

  107. Chang, I hereby grant you a Certification of Non-Assholism. This can be revoked at any time, understand, but it entitles you to call yourself a Maine Non-Asshole, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.

  108. AlanM at 80 and GregM at 97:

    I had a very long response which apparently was lost in the ether. Which is for the best, as the break allowed me to cut it back to the barebones.

    First, my post at 70 did not address social issues. It addressed fiscal issues. Whichever party walks the fiscal conservative walk, will win the independents. Without independents, neither the liberals nor the conservatives can win. The Democrats are in control. If they massively restrain federal spending they will get all the credit and will win the next round of elections. That is true regardless on the Democratic stance on the war, abortion, gay rights, etc. If they don’t, they will lose and the Republicans will win.

    Greg, as to your poll numbers, they are out of date (though accurate as of mid-October). Within two weeks the numbers supporting the public option dropped to less than 50%. As to your 44,000 deaths due to lack of insurance study, google it. It was a hack job. You’ll easily find the numerous flaws in the methodology.

  109. How about a Non-Asshole-Mainiac or NAM for short?

    If one feels people have the right to live their life how they want and allow gay marriage then I really do not see how you can also oppose someone’s right to go gambling.

    that’s gotta be the second weirdest argument I’ve read on this thread. First of all, people who support gay marriage aren’t neccessarily supporting it based on a “People should be able to do anything they want” mentality. The “Anything tehy want” mentality wants fully automatic weapons without any form of government licensing, for example. And while I support the right to keep and bear arms, I also support closing the gun-show loophole, for example.

    Put another way, people go bankrupt and suffer addictions to gambling in a way that they don’t to marriage. Gambling doesn’t really work as an economic stimulus, it’s more of a tax. Marriage can help two people protect themselves and gives them some forms of legal security. So, I’m all for regulation of gambling, and firearms, but I’m all for gay marriage.

  110. I’m a resident of NY-23, and to those who think the 100 Years Republican statement is wrong, it’s because the geographic region has only been NY-23 since 2003. Before that the region was part of NY-24. In the 70’s, it was part of NY-30, and NY-31. Etcetera, and onward, with each redistricting. Each of the districts it was a part of were Republican in those years it was a part of them. It’s a regional statement, not one about “NY-23″, per se. NY-23 ranged all across the state at one time or another in New York’s history.

  111. @115 ( the gray area)

    Yes, but if people are flip and derogatory about gays, women, racial minorities, etc we call them on it. Someone made a flip joke in the comments to another post about women, SF and bikinis and was still getting lambasted 500 comments later after apologizing several times. It’s hypocrisy to think we can toss out flip, dismissive, insulting comments about some things and then freak out if someone does the same thing to one of our pet groups. I dislike my leftist friends’ smug attacks on ‘Jesusland’ just as much as I dislike right wing nuts calling liberals traitors. Don’t like it when it’s done to you, then don’t do it to others.

    I’m a guy of few rules, but one of them is that evil results when we consider others not human… when they’re Other. But I probably don’t need to tell you that :). The thing is, it applies in all directions, not just the socially progressive ones – considering blacks or gays or women OR religious people OR conservatives OR any group as Other dehumanizes them.

    I grew up Catholic and though I disagree with the church on a lot of things including same-sex marriage, there are a lot of good people in it. Tolerance exists in all religions as well as intolerance. And intolerance exists in groups who aren’t at all religious.

  112. MasterThief @78: as I remember, what he said was that he was so terribly offended that anyone would suggest he would want his daughters’ world limited. Never mind that one of his daughters was, what, eight years old when he wrote that little manifesto? So no, sorry, hiding behind his daughters – as if having a daughter makes it physically impossible to be a bigot – isn’t “good enough for me”. An actual repudiation of the prior stupidity, saying that his views and not “times” have changed, would be good enough for me. I suppose if you really are eager to just drop the subject, he could have said “Orange fifty-two underhanded Lodi” and that would have been good enough because, whatever, can we talk about something important?

    On the numerous posts about legislating from the bench – if you really believe this, you should be ashamed of having failed eighth-grade Civics class. The third branch of government is the judicial branch. There are checks and balances between the branches, one of which is the judicial branch’s right to review the constitutionality of laws passed by the legislature.

  113. For all that, I suspect Owens ought not become too comfortable in the seat, since he’ll have to run for it again a year from now, and the district will still be what it is: largely GOP territory.

    Up to a point, Mr. Scalzi. Pardon my French, but how many times do moderate (or plain old sane) Republicans get told to fuck off by swivel-eyed Tea-Baggers before they say “OK, see you never”? God knows that if I was a Republican in the NY-23, I wouldn’t lift a finger (or more importantly, cut a cheque) to any party lead by people who came in trashed my candidate because she wasn’t ideologically pure enough for their taste.

  114. Craig at 127: Dede Scozzafava was hardly a “moderate” Republican. Unless one’s definition of moderate is synonymous with liberal.

    NY-23 should give no hope to Democrats. It is a Republican seat and will be a Republican seat again in 2010. The factors that played a role in a Democratic win are highly unlikely to be repeated.

  115. stevem@127:

    It’s the Tea-Bagger definition of “liberal” I don’t understand. Then again, I suspect by that measure Margaret Thatcher would join Dede Scozzafava on Michelle Malkin’s enemies list of “radical leftists”.

    Seriously, does the GOP want to be a mainstream political party any more or a cult?

  116. stevem, I know it doesn’t suit your agenda, but the fact is the voters there liked Dede Scozzafava just fine before the GOPstapo came in to trash her. They’re a moderate district, and they rejected the crazy-right “Independent,” who will probably run as a Republican next time.

    Whether that seat stays Dem will depend on how satisfied the people of that district are with the winner’s performance. The GOPstapo is unlikely to come back to help either.

    And “moderate” is what you say about a Republican who’s halfway sane these days. They’re being driven out of the party by the crazy-ass fuckheads like Rush and Palin. The phrase ‘liberal Republican’ is an oxymoron, not because it’s fundamentally impossible, but because they have such a short halflife.

  117. Oh, and:

    NY-23 should give no hope to Democrats.

    You’re opposed to anything giving hope to Democrats; why should we listen to you about NY-23?

  118. Why should NY23 give hope to democrats? Taking hope in the other partys inability to mount a unified/cogent counterpoint seems to revel in your sides overwhelming concern that they are going to fuck up.

    As a supporter of the current qdminstration, I would hope we could do better than take solace in the other sides refreshingly disasterous ability to miss a sure bet. It seems a little…gauche.

    Conversely, I could see republicans being very depressed over that little showdown. The addition of a primary in a regulalry scheduled election won’t fix that, it’ll just streamline the process.

  119. It’s a very sad day. Virginia elected a racist, sexist douche-bag to the governorship. New Jersey just insured that they will be ignored in all economic recovery efforts by voting Republican. Washington state voted to continue apartheid for gays and expected to be thanked for it. Maine voted for medical pot shops so granny can have her glaucoma medicine and against its citizens being able to marry. And no, I don’t grant exemptions for the 47% of Mainers who voted against the repeal because you didn’t convince enough of the 52% that they were being idiots and you didn’t get out the vote. And because you didn’t stop them from getting enough signatures to have the repeal proposition in the first place. Maine sucks. For that matter, so does Ohio, where I went to college. And as we know, California has sucked for a long time.

    It took decades for women to get the vote — pain and protests and hunger strikes, and rounds of male voters voting against them having civil rights. It took decades to end apartheid in the South. And it’s going to take decades for gay rights in the U.S. too, and I may not see it in my lifetime. And they’re still fighting over healthcare while my family is desperately trying to keep my sister and her kids insured.

    So right now I’m sad and I’m not going to argue with assholes.

  120. Xopher at 131, 132 and Other Bill at 133:

    I have no illusions. The Democrats will not rein in spending. In my opinion, the consequence of that will be the continued alienation of independents. Simply stated, liberal does not equal independent does not equal conservative. Without independents the liberals will not win. Ditto for conservatives. Spending like drunken sailors, raising taxes and passing 2,000 page “reform” bills will not win the hearts and minds of independents. Ergo, despite your frustration, the portents are not good for your chosen party.

    As to NY-23, all the candidates, including Bill Owens, has an “A” rating from the NRA. IMO, guns are the real third rail social issue of American politics. He’s against gay marriage (though pro-civil union) and pro-choice. What really made him competitive is his view that deficit spending as immoral, the federal government is oversized, and has overstepped its bounds and trampled states rights. Essentially, he won because he succesfully appealed to fiscal conservatives. The social issues (other than possibly guns) are not make or break issues for most of the persuadable voting public.

    And by the way, Xopher, naming calling and demonizing results in losing elections. It does not persuade. It only hardens the will of the opposition and turns the open minded against you. For example, and leaving aside your specific perjoratives, whenever someone with a podium starts referring to the Tea Partiers as Tea Baggers, all they’ve succeeded in doing is winding them up and further energizing them to get to the polls, etc. It’s counter-productive.

  121. KatG – I, too, was distressed though not surprised by the results in Virginia. As a resident, I don’t think deeds and co ran a very good campaign. I voted for the fellow. Me and the wife and the kid made a trip out of it. But, the high minded commentary I’ve seen on the subject of the results has amounted to “well, you can’t fight statistics.” to be followed immediately by commentary on NY23s race.

    SteveM – yeah, but in fairness the tea partiers did name themselves tea baggers for a few weeks until someone clued them in to the double entendre.

    As far as name calling in general, sometimes it seems like our current era of political discourse is founded on name calling. You know, instead of just using it liberally for self servig purposes like we used to in the good old days. Instead of Remus and Romulus we got Snark and Smarm to found this age.

  122. The social issues (other than possibly guns) are not make or break issues for most of the persuadable voting public.

    In other words, you care a lot about guns, but not about other issues that you label ‘social’. There’s no other explanation for your insistence that most people don’t care much about the issue of abortion.

  123. Mythago: Well, he also assumes that independants will automatically reject any Keynesian approaches in favor of Hayekian “2008 was impossible” approaches.

    But he has one solid point – the people who care about abortion as a voting issue are pretty firmly wedded to their respective parties.

  124. “Washington state voted to continue apartheid for gays and expected to be thanked for it. ”

    Kat – try not to show your ignorance please. The issue before us was whether to approve a bill passed the by the legislature that gave the same rights to same sex civil unions as married people have… or to reject it, pulling those rights back. The gay community here is pretty happy that we voted to approve it because it’s a step forward vs a step back. The approval of same-sex marriage itself wasn’t on the ballot.

  125. #140: Rick: “The approval of same-sex marriage itself wasn’t on the ballot.”

    No, really, it wasn’t? Luckily, you were there to inform me of it, huh.

    I’m fully aware of what the issue before the Washington voters was, thanks. Whether to continue to fully deny all civil rights to gays or throw them a separate but equal sop out of guilt so that Washingtonians could feel like they weren’t bigots while keeping gays from various financial and legal benefits. Basically, the measure was an attempt to protect your state from civil rights lawsuits, not help gays. It’s an apartheid measure, plain and simple.

    And it is a step forward as a stop gap measure. But the gays are not “happy” about it. They think the citizens of Washington are assholes and rightly so. But they know it’s going to be a long campaign. So they thanked you for the nice gay and living in sin water fountains. It’s certainly better than the alternative.

    That they still have to do this after thirty years of activism just has me a little sickened right now. So do me a favor, Rick, go argue your dumb platitudes with Xopher or Greg right now. I’m not participating further in the discussion, I was just venting. And Washington sucks, as does Oregon.

  126. Mythago at 138: Please read post 70. The reason abortion is not a third rail issue to a generic politicians is that 6% of the voters are single issue pro-life voters and 5% are single issue pro-choice voters. There is not much difference between the heat a generic politician would take, one way or the other, from independent voters.

    For the record, I am pro-life and tend to vote for pro-life candidates, IF they are fiscal conservatives. If not, then I don’t vote for pro-life candidates.

    There is evidence, on the other hand, that single issue anti-gun control voters far outnumber single issue pro-gun control voters. You may have noticed how the Democratic Party has stopped introducing gun control legislation. The issue was killing them in elections.

    For the record, I am against gun control and tend to vote for candidates who oppose gun control, IF they are fiscal conservatives. If not, then I don’t.

    My personal third rail is fiscal conservativism. Balance the budget, pay the debt off, don’t make promises a reasonable rate of taxation cannot cover. If I can’t find a Republican or Democratic candidate who backs that single issue, then I tend to vote Libertarian.

  127. Michael at 139: The independents have almost always been swayed by economics. To quote The Washington Post “For months, polls have shown that independents were increasingly disaffected with some of Obama’s domestic policies. They have expressed reservations about the president’s health-care efforts and have shown concerns about the growth in government spending and the federal deficit under his leadership.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/03/AR2009110304333.html?hpid=topnews

    What amazes me that this surprises anyone. Economics (deficits, taxes, jobs) have almost always dominated independents. It’s why Pres. Obama won in 2008, the Republicans lost in 2006, why the Republicans won in 1994 and Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

    Whether a politician is rabid social liberal or a rabid social conservative, it doesn’t matter as much as economics to independents. If you balance the budget and get the economy going, you’ll most likely win the election.

  128. Terms like “liberal”, “Right Wing”, and “Socialist” have become magic words without meaning for many.

  129. Other Bill @ 134 – Why should NY23 give hope to democrats?

    If the GOP starts a purge of all moderates, it’ll loose governorship in places like CA, and Senate seats in places like Maine or Pennsylvania. As much as I grind my teeth over it, if the more conservative Democrats stay on, and Democrats gain seats in 2010 because of this, the GOP is screwed, federally speaking.

    And of course, the central power base shifting more to the right at every set of losses means more of the same. Hoffman was much further to the right than any local candidate ought to have been. If the GOP can’t run moderates because of a coalition of far right wingers what we’ll see is a shrinking of the GOP in “purple” areas.

  130. KatG: And no, I don’t grant exemptions for the 47% of Mainers who voted against the repeal because you didn’t convince enough of the 52% that they were being idiots and you didn’t get out the vote.

    I think there’s a mixing of individual versus systemic issues here. America as a country invaded Iraq and America as a country is responsible for whatever damage it caused there. The individuals who supported the war from the beginning don’t have the same moral responsibility as the individuals who opposed the war from teh beginning.

    What sometimes happen is a foreigner sees an American citizen and starts yelling at him or her for causing the war. Blaming the individual for the effects of teh system. I’m not willing to do that. I refuse to invoke a collective punishment, collective guilt, collective morality on all Americans for the actions of their government.

    There are plenty of people who have fought for gay marriage, and many people support gay marriage. It’s just that as fo today, in Maine, the way the individuals bring their position into the system is by a clunky legal process called democracy and all its foibles. That doesn’t mean that people who support gay marriage are just as evil or just as much assholes as the people who opposed gay marriage or the people who commit hate crimes against gays. Individual morality doesn’t dissappear just because the system chooses one path over another.

    stevem: will not win the hearts and minds of independents. Ergo, despite your frustration, the portents are not good for your chosen party.

    And you’re an independent?

    And by the way, Xopher, naming calling and demonizing results in losing elections. It does not persuade. It only hardens the will of the opposition and turns the open minded against you. For example, and leaving aside your specific perjoratives, whenever someone with a podium starts referring to the Tea Partiers as Tea Baggers, all they’ve succeeded in doing is winding them up and further energizing them to get to the polls, etc. It’s counter-productive.

    That’s hilarious. Tea-Baggers and their obnoxious ilk are notorious for name calling, saying slanderous things about people (calling Obama hitler, a fascist, a solcialist, a communist, you name it), making shit up completely out of nothing and acting like its the word of God, and you want to lecture Xopher about name calling? Tell you what, you go give your goody-two-shoes “don’t resort to name calling” lecture at your next Tea-Bagger meeting, and tell me how it goes.

    Oh my god. That’s it. You’re a Tea Bagger. That explains some things. Because not even the moderate (what I refer to as “sane”) republicans think the Tea Baggers are anything but a bunch of insane cranks worth defending.

    For the record, I am pro-life… I am against gun control… (and for) fiscal conservativism

    yeah, I think everyone figured that out long before you admitted it.

    If I can’t find a Republican or Democratic candidate who backs that single issue, then I tend to vote Libertarian.

    Uhm, yeah, when you talked about how an election is won by winning the “hearts and minds of independents”, it was pretty fricken obvious that your an independent and think your vote is the deciding vote. When writers write that sort of tale, it’s called a “wish fullfillment” story.

    Economics (deficits, taxes, jobs) have almost always dominated independents. It’s why Pres. Obama won in 2008, the Republicans lost in 2006, why the Republicans won in 1994 and Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

    Wow. So, independents decided the outcome of every presidential election since ’92? That’s impressive. And you’re an independent. Gee, I do hope you’re careful with that power you weild. Choose wisely, and all that.

  131. stevem, I think you might be confusing the term “independents” with what you actually mean of “undecided voters”. And there’s a great, short but to the point, documentary that explains everything you need to know about undecided voters here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YOh-rpvjYg

    independents vote for third party candidates. undecided voters, well, the short white guy puts it in proper perspective.

  132. There are way too many people who follow a party line despite the fact that party platforms are created with tremendous debate and argument.

    But whatever ended up is their position.

    But many of the issues that “belong” to a party are conflicting. Why should a fundamentalist Christian support Big Business and Big War, for instance?

  133. Howard Brazee – Why should a fundamentalist Christian support Big Business and Big War, for instance?

    Because liberals are opposed to war, and support socialist policies. Never mind that the original church was in part a commune.

  134. stevem@143: “single issue voters” obscures the fact that many people feel very strongly about some issues without it being a single issue, or tend to lean on a balance of issues in a particular way or a particular candidate. It’s a little silly to talk about a ‘generic’ candidate, given that people so often vote with their guts rather than their heads, and according to a campaign’s narrative. e.g., strong “family values” voters who quickly forgive an adulterer, as long as his track record is generally on their side.

  135. Far more often than not, people elect the guy they would be comfortable spending an afternoon with, regardless of accomplishments.

  136. “That this middle finger was jammed in there by a disgruntled GOPer is rich, creamy irony of the sort I expect Palin, Beck, Limbaugh et al to steadfastly pretend didn’t actually happen from this day forward.”

    And, it seems from history, that they will continue to provide in abundance – virtually forever. I like the spectacle they provide; it’s unfortunate there are those who believe that shit by reflex.

  137. It seems that, other than via revolution, liberal issues tend to become mainstream in a generation or two. Conservative issues change to the new environment.

    By a fairly large majority of issues.

  138. But Rick, you invite Flip. Do you have any gay friends? Besides, to be human is to judge. I judge all the time, for good or bad. And I reserve the right to change my mind. If it sounds like a duck and it smells like a duck and it looks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Get it?

  139. Greg, give me a break. I didn’t say that anybody was evil, nor did I complain about democracy. I said the Maine voters who voted No failed to get out their fellow supporters to vote and failed to persuade others to vote their side. It was a very narrow margin on the vote, and polls indicated that some people wanted to be seen not as bigots even if they voted that way (the Bradley effect.) Which means they were persuadable to vote No. And the activists were certainly out there. But the voters, while voting No, did not stand up for their fellow citizens.

    So I’m disappointed in Maine. I’m disappointed in the entire American electorate, including myself, which consistently lets a morally reprehensible, tyrannical and greedy minority dictate law and policy in our society. Gays were not the only ones who got screwed by the weak resolve of the citizenry. The entire state of Maine screwed itself.

    So I’m unhappy about it and I’m going to whine about it. I did it here because Scalzi lets us do so and because my husband is sick of hearing me whine. Don’t bug me. Go chase the asshole libertarians who vote idiotically. :)

  140. I’d just like to say that any definition of the word ‘asshole’ that doesn’t take in everyone who opposes marriage equality is deeply flawed.

    There are your ignorant assholes, your gullible/deluded assholes, your kneejerk assholes, your party-line-voting assholes, and your downright evil assholes. That covers the groups who vote against marriage equality pretty thoroughly.

    The careful reader will note what those groups all have in common: they’re all assholes. Go back and look, they are. There may be other types of people who vote against marriage equality, but I feel confident that their group descriptor will match the “______ assholes” template.

    Actually, of course, the unifying theory is simply this: anyone who opposes marriage equality is, ipso facto, an asshole. It’s the simplest theory that accounts for the data, and until I learn of a counterexample it’s what I’m going with.

  141. KatG: I didn’t say that anybody was evil,

    Xopher@54: “Maine Voters: “We are assholes””

    Xopher@122 (to Chang from Maine): “I hereby grant you a Certification of Non-Assholism.”

    KatG@135: I don’t grant exemptions for the 47% of Mainers

    I assumed your “exemption” at 135 was somewhat of a reference to Xopher’s exemption to Chang at 122 from all Mainiac’s being assholes.

    If not, then I don’t know what your “exemption” is referring to or means.

  142. I think KatG was specifically disagreeing with me when I said that there was a substantial non-asshole minority in Maine, Greg. That was in my original Maine Voters “article.”

  143. Btw, note that “religious assholes” is not one of my categories. This is by design, since their religious views are not actually their primary motivator. It’s more informative to divide them between the “gullible/deluded” and “downright evil” asshole categories (your average tithing Mormon and the Pope would be examples of the two groups, respectively).

  144. JoshJasper @ 145 –

    I think that’s about right. I’m just nit sure one of the two parties in the two party system self destructing is a great thing.

    If they continue the way they have, the process will be streamlined with a primary and only ultra right candidates will make it through to the general election. Particularly in closed primary states.

    But given what democrats have done with their super majority so far, I’m not sure that’s good. By that, I mean a whole bunch of infighting over trivial in the weeds issues. I don’t particular want them to lose seats, not to this republican party. But I don’t see the kind of self destruction foretold by NY23 being helpful to the current dems in congress to get their act together.

  145. OtherBill@160:

    ITA with you — I look at any democracy worth the name as a complex, and delicate, ecosystem. You destroy one part of it (like a credible opposition that proposes viable alternatives and exposes flaws in the majority’s schemes as opposed to opposing for its own sake) and the whole damn thing is in risk of going down the crapper.

  146. GregLondon at 146:

    I am a conservative. I have said so repeatedly. I am not an “independent” or an “undecided” voter. I know what issues matter to me and have more or less prioritized them in order to determine the candidate that I’ll vote for either because its a close match, or they’ll do the least damage, or to send a message to the party who purports to stand for what I believe in. I have no delusions as to the impact of my personal vote amongst a sea of a 100 million plus votes.

    I’ve never been to a Tea Party. It doesn’t stop me from being sympathetic to, and even supportive of, their concerns. If that makes me a Tea Partier in your world view, I can live with it. The fact that you cannot discuss them without hateful, venomous language is an indicator that you have a problem. One de-humanizes the enemy, not the opposing party in a debate. If you are reduced to insults, you have lost which does not bode well for Democrats in 2010.

    I believe that what I am able to do, unlike you apparently, is take off my biased glasses, even if only temporarily, to determine what it takes to win elections. Conservatives cannot win without independents. Ditto liberals. The question then becomes what appeals to independents to get their votes. It is not abortion, gay marriage, protecting traditional marriage, etc. What gets their votes are economics. That’s why Republicans largely won Tuesday and the Democrats lost.

    It’s an issue the Democratic Party must address quickly or it will lose in 2010. Your reaction brings me to believe that it will be incapable of doing so, which means the country will go “red” in 2010. Not because there is a new found resurgent belief in traditional marriage, etc., but because Obama and the Democrats couldn’t balance a checkbook and stimulate the economy that results in actual job creation.

  147. Craig @ 161

    credible opposition, I think, is the key phrase. I don’t think that’s what republicans are
    currently presenting. And the right wing take over of the republican party is not going to improve that.

    I think strong debate sharpens the effectiveness of the policy proposed. It helps to pick out issues that have not been thoroughly investigated and then helps to resolve them.

    When democrats try to both leave the door open for the other party to do its job (provide credible counter proposals and debate) and do some of that debating themselves we get, for example, a health care proposal mandating individual insurance with cost mitigators not scheduled to go into effec for a few years.

    That said, I continue to use the going-ons of the day to day republican faction fighting as dinner theater. Will Steele apologize today for what he said yesterday? Will Palin parachute into this or that battle ground? Now that Lindsey Graham has been rounded on by the tea party conservatives, will he go moderate or will he go super? And what dance moves will Rush introduce next?

  148. Steve @ 162 –

    “One de-humanizes the enemy, not the opposing party in a debate.”

    Seriously? Have you seen the any of the conservative talking points on healthcare? Death panels, brainwashing, Pol Pot supporting, Nazis are running the government.

    Your comment seems to accurately reflect the idea that many conservatives and tea partiers see the current government as the enemy. Which is, you know, kind of a deal.

  149. #123 – Whichever party walks the fiscal conservative walk will win the independents.

    By “fiscal conservative” I presume you mean reduced taxes and reduced spending as opposed to, say, a balanced budget (which can be done in any number of ways) or reduced taxes and spending like a mofo.

    Neither the Republicans or the Democrats seem particularly interested in going this route (Ron Paul notwithstanding). Particularly not when you can’t actually *cut* anything. National Debt, Social Security, Defense, and Medicare/Medicaid can’t be cut substantially without ending a political career (defense *should* be cut. We don’t need to be 50% of the world’s military spending. Not going to happen, however).

    Honestly, I’m not sure that people in general care about fiscally conservative vs. fiscally liberal. They want a job and they want to pay less in taxes (but they have to have the first before they’ll care about the second).

    If the economy is looking good in 2012, people have jobs, and there haven’t been any terrorist attacks in the US, Obama will roll back into office. Particularly if the GOP loses its shit and runs a Palin/Voldemort ticket.

  150. OtherBill@163:
    I think strong debate sharpens the effectiveness of the policy proposed. It helps to pick out issues that have not been thoroughly investigated and then helps to resolve them.

    Indeed. I live in New Zealand, and even though I’m a member of the governing National Party (which is main center-right party down here, though by Tea-Bagger standards we’re radical Socialists), I don’t think “my team” has a monopoly on wisdom and insight. (Thanks to our unicameral legislature and mixed-member proportional electoral system, we also require the support of other parties to stay in Government, which is another moderating factor.)

    We’re also a party that is genuinely a broad church where there’s a place for a socially (mildy) libertarian, fiscally tinder dry gay like me, along with any number of rural church ladies of both sexes. :) Being an activist in a party like that isn’t always quiet, but it does lead to a healthy degree of debate both internally and in Parliament.

  151. Other Bill at 164:

    The conservative talking heads who use the terms “death panels, brainwashing, pol pot supporting nazis” also lack the intellectual fire power and/or moral fiber to honestly debate the issues and so are/were losing the debate. Them losing, however, does not mean democrats winning. It just means that both sides are tuned out by the independent voters. The politicians who can keep the focus on economics, like Clinton, will be the winners.

    AlanM at 123: You are right, that deficits are cured any number of ways. I doubt that Joe Independent will care if the Biff the Millionaire’s personal taxes go up. Joe Independent will care, however, if: 1) his personal taxes go up; or, 2) Biff the Millioniare’s increased tax bill means its no longer profitable for Biff to run the company and Joe Independent loses his job. Finding the middle ground is the tough part.

    And you are right about many politicians lacking the political will to make needed cuts to reduce the deficits. Which is one reason why the political parties swing in and out of power.

  152. The politicians who can keep the focus on economics, like Clinton, will be the winners.

    So, stevem, could you tell me exactly what credibility the Republican Party has on the economy any more? I’m sorry to keep brining reality back into the room, but I don’t recall Congressional Republicans giving a rodent’s rectum about fiscal restraint during the Bush Administration — which, as far as I’m aware, NEVER vetoed a single spending bill.

  153. SteveM @ 167 –

    “Them losing, however, does not mean democrats winning.”

    generally I would agree with that. But, in this specific issue as far as federal government representatives go I think it will mostly result in democratic victories. If only because of the gross mismatch between the voice required to win a primary and the voice required to win a general election.

    I also am not sure why the conservative dehumanization of democrat would somehow cause independents to tune out democrats. I don’t think dems are nearly as far down the road to not mattering that the repubs are.

    Now, if we allow that most folks who label themselves independents these days are where the disaffected moderate republicans have gone then I could see how the dems are now less likely to be appreciated by independents.

    If the democrats are smart they’ll highlight all their moderate officials, because I think a disaffected republican now independent is more likely to support that than a watch-out-for-that-death-panel republican.

  154. stevem: The fact that you cannot discuss them without hateful, venomous language is an indicator that you have a problem. One de-humanizes the enemy, not the opposing party in a debate. If you are reduced to insults, you have lost which does not bode well for Democrats in 2010.

    My own personal motto, stolen from Bill Maher: Don’t be so tolerant as to tolerate intolerance. And the Tea Baggers got a lot of bigots in there. And I don’t mind calling a bigotted spade a bigotted spade.

    As for dehumanizing, uh, yeah, that’s pretty much what racists and homophobes and sexists do. You know, bigots. If you want I should play nice with bigotted bastards who fuck with other people’s lives, then, the line forms over there (points to Antartica).

    I don’t tolerate intolerance.

    For the record, I am pro-life… I am against gun control… (and for) fiscal conservativism

    pro-life is based on nothing but religious dogma. A woman who got pregnant from a rapist should not have to carry that pregnancy to term. But the personhood of the embryo doesn’t suddenly change just because the woman was NOT raped. If an embroyo is a person the day after conception, its a person whether the mother was raped, had unprotected unmarried sex, or had protected sex but the condom broke the same day her pill failed.

    The sheer hypocracy of religious nutjobs who say they oppose abortion because its murdering the unborn but will allow murder of the unborn due to rape just boggles the mind. It becomes clear that what is driving anti-abortion is nothiing more than trying to stop people from having sex. Either you’re against abortion even in the case of rape (because abortion is murder), or you allow abortion up to a certain time after conception (because personhood isn’t achieved until some period of time after conception, and it doesn’t matter how conception occurred). Any other argument and you’re a hypocrite and a liar.

    As for gun control, I prefer facts about gun crimes over paranoia about the gummint coming in black helicopters to take the guns your saving up for armegeddon.

    http://www.atf.gov/pub/fire-explo_pub/pdf/followingthegun_internet.pdf

    “Gun shows. Gun shows were a major trafficking channel, involving the second highest number of
    trafficked guns per investigation (more than 130), and associated with approximately 26,000
    illegally diverted firearms. The investigations involved both licensed and unlicensed sellers at gun shows.”

    You know what? If 26,000 illegal guns is only one-tenth of one percent of all the illegal guns out there, I don’t give a damn, it’s 26,000 guns that they’ll have to find some other way. But the ATF says it’s more than that:

    “Nearly 50 percent of the ATF investigations involved firearms being trafficked by straw purchasers either directly or indirectly. The investigations also involve trafficking by unlicensed sellers (more than 20 percent); by federally licensed dealers (just under 9 percent); and diversion from gun shows and flea markets by FFLs or unlicensed sellers (about 14 percent).”

    given that straw purchases are less risky when you don’t have all the paperwork that comes up at a gun show, I’d guess that closing the gun show loop hole would cut down on a big chunk of that 50% number. But even if it didn’t, 14% is still significant enough to want regulation.

    But the anti-gun control nut weighs the real deaths that come from real guns entering the hands of criminals via the gun show loophole, and they weigh it against their paranoid delusions of what will happen to them when the gummint comes after them in their black helicopters and they dont ahve their assault rifles and stockpiles of ammo to fend them off, and guess what? Paranoia wins.

    As for “fiscal conservatism”, all that means is you hold reducing the national debt as more important than anything else, even american lives, which is stupid. No one thinks racking up debt is a good idea, but some people realize that debt isn’t as important as, say, saving lives. Course, conservatives tend not love spending money when it comes to war, so they can sometimes grasp the issue. But when it comes to other less violent means of saving lives, it often evades their mental grasp.

    Health care reform is about saving lives (getting people with preexisting conditions covered), but it’s also about reducing costs (keeping them covered means they won’t wait till its an emergency, rack up massive medical bills that could have been prevented, declare bankruptcy, and pass those costs on to everyone else).

    It saves money, but conservatives don’t like it. They’ll try to argue that it will cost to much, but that only works if they don’t compare it to the alternative which is spiraling medical costs and private insurance.

    What’s more at the root of the conservative opposition to health care reform is a hatred of government. Many of these morons wouldn’t know who Margaret Thatcher is, but they’d recognize her sentiment when she said:

    “too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society.”

    These delusional types live in a world full of societal benefits and yet delude themselves into thinking they’re “self made” people. The Amish are self made people who have taken themselves out of society. If you’re driving a car made by union labor, eating food that someone else grew, processed, shipped, and refridgerated to you, interacting on the internet, using a VISA card to buy something online, then you’re in society. And government is a better regulator of some things in society than the market. Monopolies, for one, are best regulated by someone other than the monopolies. Civil rights was fought for with blood, sweat, and tears by a lot of people, but merchants weren’t anywhere near the forefront of that battle. Not every problem has a market solution, which means the government is going to have to step in and do something about it, and that costs money. And sometimes the government spending money is ultimately cheaper than waiting until Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan decide there’s profit in it.

    So, don’t accuse me of dehumanizing these sorts of people. I’m attacking their arguments, and it just so happens that their arguments are massively flawed and dehumanizing to people and society as a whole.

    And I feel no incentive to suffer fools who cause the world suffering.

  155. Apparently Robert Reich (an arch-conservative economist if I ever saw one-NOT) is of the opinion that President Obama prioritized his economic problems (jobs vs. healthcare) incorrectly.

    http://robertreich.blogspot.com/2009/11/health-care-reform-is-critically.html

    And like me, he thinks the Democrats will pay the price come the mid-term elections.

    Minor quibble: To the extent that my opinion means anything, I disagree with him, however, that Clinton had to move to the right on social issues, which he did per Dick Morris’ advice. Once Clinton got the economy going (addressing inflation, the deficit and jobs, all inter-related) he had all the political capital he needed to stay “left” and survive (assuming he had stayed away from guns which he didn’t).

    GregLondon at 170: I believe that gun control is political poison and is one of the few social issues both parties need to be on the “right” side of if they are to win on a national scale. You apparently don’t (or maybe you do, which may explain the rant). Either way that’s fine, though it appears that the Democratic Party apparently has the same view on the issue that I do.

    The vast majority of people who oppose gun control don’t do so because of a fear of “black helicopters” but because they believe it infringes on a fundamental constitutional right. If you want to paint a large body of the electorate with the same paint bruch as a few nutjobs, that’s your right though I believe it is an extremely flawed analysis in that similar kooky behavior can be attributed to any left leaning social issue.

    As to abortion, that is a far more complex issue. For example,I know people who oppose Roe v. Wade as they believe it twisted the Constitution out of all proportion. Under current judicial philosophy, you are always 5 Supreme Court votes away from losing or gaining a “right”. I would hardly characterize them as unreasoning hypocrites.

    As to your religious hypocrite tirade, there are hypocrites in every crowd. Your painting with a very broad brush.

  156. I am a non-gun owner that believes that we have a right to own the types of arms that would be suitable for a militia. That isn’t shot guns, it is assault rifles.

    But IMHO, most of the people for whom gun control is an issue are gun owners who don’t want their guns taken away from them, just as I wouldn’t want my automobile taken away from me.

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