A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

April 18, 2009

The March of States Towards Gay Marriage

A thoughtful and sane analyis, written by Froma Harrop, of current trends of states legalizing (or normalizing) marriage between gay partners appeared in the Providence Journal.

In this article she posted many of the changes which have occured recently. 

She reported:  “The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage, providing a toehold in the heartland. And the Vermont Legislature legalized gay marriage, marking the first time that elected lawmakers, rather than state judges, initiated such change.”

This latter development is important and it is well that Harrop notes this.  While one may agree or disagree regarding gay marriage, the legislature making the move, rather than judges making a decision is an important step in this process.  Legislators are elected and can be held accountable.  The move towards democratization of the process is a positive step as the representatives of the people are in fact, doing their job.

She later wrote:
“There’s much to be said for letting states settle the question of gay marriage, one step and one jurisdiction at a time. This pragmatic approach does not always sit well with gay rights activists. They consider marriage a basic human right that should not be honored in one place and abridged in another.”

This is also true.  There is a deep divide whether marriage is a right, and one that the need for licensure seems to give weight that it is not an inherent right.  While one has a right say to free speech, they would have to obtain a license to exercise that free speech in certain conditions.  The same is true for heterosexual couples as for homosexual couples.  The states have statutory authority to restrict or grant licenses, and the people have a right via the legislature to express their voice.  Granting the rights of legal status are not analogous of limiting exercise of property rights, visitation rights, and expansion of benefits of employment, public housing and services etc. to homosexual couples.  Many gay activists understandably wish for the process to be expedited, but this is not in their long term interests.  Roe v Wade is still not accepted by large parts of the nation, and as Harrop reports, is still looked on unfavorably from a Constitutional vantage point by many “Pro-Choice” legal experts.   In the end states will make this decision, and for all parties this is the best remedy.  States are closer to the people and in that view are more democratic than federal interventions. 

Harrop also reports on the changing of cultural norms:

In a poll done shortly after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court threw out the ban on same-sex marriages, over half those residents surveyed said they wanted a state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between one man and one woman. But a poll taken three years later found that 56 percent of the Massachusetts respondents would oppose such an amendment.

What happened in Massachusetts? Gay marriage had become legal, and the sky hadn’t fallen in.  People got used to the idea.

The strongest ally for homosexual partners who wish to become legally married is the changing of cultural perspectives on the norms of human relationships and sexuality.  Harrop does not report about another factor that leads to shifts in cultural norms and mores, the role of the media.  Right or wrong the media has framed homosexual relationships in positive light or at the very least in neutral lights.  This along with homosexuals become more visible and vocal in society has lead to the formation of new cultural perspectives regarding this aspect of human sexuality.  Younger people are more attuned to viewing homosexuality as an alternate form of human sexuality and not an aberrant or discrepant form of sexual expression.  The media has played a large part in this normalization process, and an occlusion of the old paradigm has coalesced with the formation of a newer paradigm. 

There is also the perception among many that this issue is a human rights issue.  Once that perception becomes the reality, in a democracy the outcome is inevitably going to side with the group that is seeking a rise in their status to acceptance.  This is not inherently a bad thing; while for some it may be emotionally painful.  It is merely the reshaping of the norms of a society and has happened throughout history.  Of course many will reply that homosexuality is the bane of a powerful culture and a sure sign its demise is imminent.  That is a ludicrous proposition based on emotion and not fact.  Homosexuality was practiced by segments of society that were rather formidable in history.  Cultures decline for other reasons, usually economic and military, apart from the practices of people regarding their sexual choices.

Harrop correctly concludes that the “straight path” to change is often not as beneficial as the slow steady road that this issue seems to be taking in American society.

Self Actualization and Adoptive Parenting

Filed under: Adoption,children,Culture,Family,History,Multiculturalism,Religion — avoiceofreason @ 6:07 pm

As some of the loyal readers of this humble blog know I am always interested in research proposals of varying degree.  Recently I have begun a cursory review of the literature regarding formation of self concept in children.  This became a very broad topic, and so I limited my research to formation of academic self concept and adopted children.   Some of the initial reading has been interesting and illuminating.  It also lead me to a conversation with an expert in adoptee issues – who is always more than willing to sledgehammer any ideas I may have about the topic.  Actually, their input is usually very helpful.

Trying to get a broad view on the topic, I was just perusing through news articles one day and just hit adoption as a key word.  Of course the topic of Madonna and her attempts to adopt a child from Africa came up.  As I read I reflected, more on formation of self-concept issues.  This lead me to have rather strong opinions forming, which is often the driving force behind some research.  The researcher then has to do a lot of work with colleagues on the audit trail (if ethnographic approaches are used or on content validity if a survey device is used) to make sure that bias hasn’t crept in.

However, my reflections were what were the basis of Madonna’s wish to adopt a child from a third world nation and the potential outcomes.  Her motivation she claims is altruistic and are in the interests of the child.  Whenever I hear a person citing purely altruistic motivations, and my cynicism may be ramped up proportionally by the wealth or influence of the alleged altruist, my BS radar is actively pinging.  I honestly don’t really believe that the actions of most people are done from altruistic motives but are done to promote self-actualization.  There are so many benefits to this woman or any other person who ventures upon a course of adoption and many have formed guises to rationalize this understandable emotional benefit derived on the one who chooses to adopt. 

Some of these fallacious altruisms may be:

1) God told us to adopt this child.  While I am second to none in the role that faith may play in a person’s life, I am skeptical about this in many cases.  Recently I came across a study that cited that nearly 40% of all adopted children are turned back in to the adoption agency.  It is mathematically impossible that none of this children weren’t initially adopted at the behest of the Almighty.  Either God was changing his mind in these instances or the person was acting in their own self interests – which may have some positive outcome for other mind you, and things didn’t quite work out.  You will not believe how many people “knew” that God had drawn them to their spouse only to end up in divorce proceedings.  Nations do this also.  Whenever God speaks and tells someone to do some certain minute detail of their life, I am convinced that 90% of the time it is really a quite human rationalization to justify or lend credence to an action they would like to do without the involvement of God.  While some may strongly believe this to be true, I am unaware that Madonna in particular has claimed to have a “Burning bush” experience.

2) Adoption is done in the interest of the child.  This one may be more nefarious than citing the blessings of a deity because it shows an underlying arrogance on the part of the one who is adopting.  Most people adopt out of a need they have more so than the need of the child.  If this were truth there are some discrepancies that must be addressed.  Why are the overwhelming number of children adopted under the age of four?  Statistics show that as the child’s age increases their chance at being adopted decreases in geometric proportion to their age.  These children have great need, yet the Almighty and the interests of these children are not being considered by a vast portion of people who are eligible for adopting.  Another discrepancy is the large number of guarantees that many adoption agencies put forward in their promotion of adopting children.  Guarantees of the health of the child, that the child is not offspring of someone who was drug addicted among others can be secured with a price.  These are contractual issues which if violated would constitute breach and make the agency liable to damages or to provide a more suitable child.  Much of this talk seems to be reminiscent of contracts entered into when purchasing a dog for show or for breeding, which may be a more accurate analogy to the practices of many who adopt a child. 

In this particular instance a child from an economically disadvantaged nation may be adopted by a person of incredible wealth.  There will doubtlessly be some economic advantage afforded this child that they would not be given access to should they remain in their current condition.  However, there is a large amount of arrogance in the presupposition that adoption is in the interest of the child.  What this child – and many who are adopted from developing nations – loses in regard to their culture, their language, their inherent religion,  and in total their sense of identity within that culture, may outweigh what they gain by access to wealth.  Statistically, this cultural arrogance is strengthened by the tendency of developed nations seeking out these children from undeveloped nations at a rate that is growing astronomically. 

Another litmus test of this alleged altruism being in reality cultural arrogance can be illustrated in this scenario.  Picture children in desparate need of basic necessities such as food, medical care, clean sanitary housing and education.  These children exist in many places in the United States.  Many of these children are also White – as in Appalachia and other areas of the nation.  A large number of these children are adopted by parents who are of Islamic or say Hindu background.  They are wealthy and could meet the physical needs of these children far better than their indigenous parents or perhaps than the social agencies in their region.  The prospective adopted parents – who have dark skin, speak a different language and worship in a different fashion state that God told them they should adopt this poor suffering American child.  The child will be forced to learn the language of the parents, will be raised in the religion of these parents and it is understood they will be asked to take on the world view of the predominant culture of these parents.  This is in the interest of the child.  One must wonder if this would be the view of any in the Industrialized West if this were a common practice.  

Adoption like most human activities is done out motives of self actualization.  If Madonna or any prospective adoptive parent wanted to act in a more altruistic fashion they would make a private donation to a bona fide relief organization for that or any other child which would raise the standards of living for those children.  Lord knows they need that.  What has happened in current practices and policies of parents from Industrialized nations adopting children from undeveloped nations is in many ways more akin to the stripping of natural resources – in forms of humanity – that happened during times of European Imperial aspirations from the 15th through the 20th centuries – moreso than acting in altruistic methods for the interests of children.  An interesting study might be to compare the emotional factors that prospective adoptive parents face and find out the degree that they are causative towards the action of adopting a child.  This would be particularly interesting is analyzed by comparing the adoptee’s emotional factors and see how they were causative in forming self concepts in the adoptee.

3) Adoption is a win-win –Due to the length of this post comments will be brief.  Adoption at its base is formed by loss and usually accompanied by some type of pain.  It is not a win win.  Don’t get me wrong.  Adoption can be of benefit to all parties, but my feeling is that looking honestly into the mirror of self would be an important factor in this occurring.  However, in most situations may be making the best of a situation – and the policy practices currently in place by developing nations desperate for influx of currency from Industrialized nations – and the need of those who are comparatively wealthy to have a child by nearly any means necessary – create conditions which are from from the “win-win” picture painted or at all “best” policies.   The current painting being framed by society is one of impoverished and helpless (nations and children) being removed from indigenous lands by the powerful and wealthy (mostly those from the Industrialized West) for ostensibly altruistic motivations.  

Hardly the stuff of headline news.  Even when Madonna is on the front page; it is merely history repeating itself.

May 23, 2007

Poll: Majority of Muslim Immigrants Assimilating Well

A poll by the Pew Research Foundation has found that

Most Muslim Americans are moderate, mainstream and middle class, the study shows. They are largely assimilated, happy with their lives and have adopted such core American values as a belief that hard work will lead to success. Their income and educational levels also are comparable with those of most Americans, the study found.

However, the same poll found that nearly one in four Muslims under 30 years old,believe that suicide bombing in the defence of Islam are justified in “some” circumstances.

Pew Research President Andrew Kohut claims that his news is rather positive, and that

“This is a group living as most Americans live … a group that is assimilating or aspiring to assimilate.”

Of course he leaves out that rather worrying 25% who have no problem with suicide bombings in “some” circumstances.

While I am happy that 75% to 80% of those Muslims who have emigrated to the US are not in favor of such activity, I wonder what would the reaction be if the same question were given to Jews, and if it were found that 25% of younger Jews support suicide bombings if they felt that Judaism had been besmirched. I’m sure that would go over very well.  If all the African Americans in the US were surveyed, and the same results had been displayed, do you think that would possibly have received a different view other than happiness?  How well would the same information be received if 25% of Evangelicals felt that suicide bombings were appropriate if Christianity had been disrespected, which is an everyday occurence if you watch mainstream television or listen to some politicians speak. Would that be cause for rejoicing or cause for Congress to act in a draconian measure to those people who had been in the US for quite a long while. What if 25% of those who are illegally here felt that suicide bombings were acceptable in some circumstances? Do you think that there would be much of a discussion about the need to reach them, or would the talk be centered on deportation, much as it is today, even though illegals perform statistically lower amount of violent felonies, including homicide than the public at large.

Typical pandering to the Religion of Peace. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that 75% of the people surveyed are happy with America, and want to assimilate. However, 25% endorsing terrorist techniques is a reason for concern, not happiness.  Then again, I’m sane.

May 18, 2007

The Immigration Bill – What Would Reagan Say?

In the hubub for the GOP to take on the mantle of Ronald Reagan, one has to wonder what would The Great Communicator say about the bill being proposed about illegal aliens. I think he would have supported it.

This is from Otis Graham’s Reagan’s Big Mistake.

While I disagree with the title, I do agree with the facts.

Reagan did have a place in his mind and a rhetoric on the matter of immigration. His was the sentimentalist, Statue of Liberty conception so widely shared among assimilated Americans of his day who could not remember when immigration had been a problem. In one of the few references to immigration in his published state papers covering his eight years in the White House, Reagan displayed in 1984 the then-dominant language of diversity celebration when he told an audience of naturalizing immigrants that immigrants “enlivened the national life with new ideas and new blood,” and “enrich us” with “a delightful diversity.”

I guess The Gipper wouldn’t have minded some of the positive aspects of multiculturalism.

In May 1981, Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.), chairman the Senate subcommittee on immigration, sought to confer with the president prior to Reagan’s scheduled meeting with Mexican President Lopez Portillo in order to urge the administration to keep American options open on immigration. But the meeting lasted only 15 minutes. Reagan listened to Simpson’s views and limited himself to a broad promise of co-operation. Congress therefore assumed the lead in immigration reform, though Simpson, in, the words of a White House staff memo to Reagan, had “indicated his willingness to ‘carry the administration’s water’ on this issue.” They carried different water, as it turned out.

Simpson sensed from his early contacts with White House aides that cooperation with Reagan was shaky. To start with, the president’s newly appointed Immigration Task Force was leaning toward an expansion of legal immigration. One important bias appeared to shape the Task Force’s deliberations from the start. In the words of one White House staffer, “The President is himself a firm believer in a high degree of freedom in immnigration”.

This means that he wanted to “liberalize” immigration policy. If observers had expected a conservative government to shift the policy options toward firmer law enforcement while condemning liberal laxity, they were surprised.

Reagan’s own short message announcing these proposals could have been written by Ted Kennedy. He began with the ritual incantation that “Our nation is a nation of immigrants” which would always welcome more to our shores. But the “Cuban influx to Florida” required more effective policies that will “preserve our tradition of accepting foreigners to our shores, but to accept them in a controlled and orderly fashion … consistent with our values of individual privacy and freedom.”

Hmm… Ted Kennedy and Reagan. Ted Kennedy and Bush. Coincidence, I think not. Reagan and Bush were in many ways true progressives in that they understood that America stands for uplifting the human condition. Despite some of his views, which I disagree with profoundly, I would submit that in many instances, this view is more consistently found in Sen. Kennedy, and his staff, than in many of those current Republicans who think they model Reagan.

Ronald Reagan called himself a conservative, but on immigration, he was not. On this issue, conservative Ronald Reagan, in a moment of critical import, lined up with the liberals, and his historical reputation should reflect this.

As Reagan did, so does President Bush, and for the most part, on this issue, I agree. But maybe that bastion of liberalism the Cato Institute sums it up best.

“Like President George W. Bush today, Reagan had the good sense and compassion to see illegal immigrants not as criminals but as human beings striving to build better lives through honest work. In a radio address in 1977, he noted that apples were rotting on trees in New England because no Americans were willing to pick them. “It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won’t do?” Reagan asked. “One thing is certain in this hungry world; no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.”

Compare Reagan’s hopeful, expansive, and inclusive view of America with the dour, crabbed, and exclusive view that characterizes certain conservatives who would claim his mantle. Their view of the world could not be more alien to the spirit of Ronald Reagan.

Amen and Amen.

Quote of the Day

With special deference to today’s headlines:

Latinos are Republicans.  They just don’t know it yet.

Ronald Reagan

The Immigration Bill – The Good the Bad and The Ugly

Well after looking over this bill over I think that my initial reaction is pretty well stated, there is a great amount of moaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth over this bill and the “amnesty” that it offers.  However, as I first thought when reading about this last night, there is plenty in this bill for both sides of the immigration fence, full pun intended, to be upset about, and in a rather devil’s advocate way, since I am not hard core on either side, I have to confess a bit of concern over the hysteria, on the GOP side, and a good deal of humor about the threats of never voting GOP again.  For those who hold that position, fine, do it, and enjoy an even larger DNC run of the Senate, House, and President.  You can kiss your “strict constructionist” goodbye, because if you think that “President Hillary or Barack or Johnny Boy will have the types of judges you prefer, you know the ones that keep Roe v Wade among other ideas valued by the base, but hey, you’ll have made your point known.

In actuality the “best” chance for this bill to not be passed is by the Pelosi led House, which finds it a step in the right – and I know she didn’t mean ideologically – direction.  That’s codespeak for softening what is actually very good in this bill, increasing what is bad, changing the order of operations in this bill’s equation, and then ramming down immigration reform DNC style after the GOP has lost the 08 elections with the aforementioned unholy trinity of candidates waiting in the wings.  Those on the hard right side of the GOP should take notice of that, because if this bill is allowed to fragment the GOP into three or four camps don’t think that the parts of this bill which are good will be kept, and rest assured that the parts of the bill that are unacceptable are going to be greatly enhanced and there will be lots of pork to go around.

The part of this bill which is good is that it offers decent proposals with regard to border security.  The fence is a nice idea, but unless you have lots of patrols, those fences are pretty easy to go over through or under – I’ve seen it done.  The doubling of the border agents is better, and hopefully the NG will be called in for more of a supprting role as had been proposed earlier.  The best part of the bill is the ID system, and if this is enforced it will greatly help ease concerns about terrorism and about illegals entering amok as they do now.  The most important part is it also allows, if enforced, to make sure those here legally don’t overstay their welcome, which is a huge cause of the current 12 million who call the US their illegal home away from home.

The bad would be the enforcement of this bill, and someone prematurely shooting the trigger.  If that happens, this will be 1986 all over again, and worse.  Enforcement will be the key, but the rub is that the current laws aren’t very well enforced.  Maybe the country has awoken, but I’m not holding my breath.

With regard to the “amnesty”, the plan is not unacceptable.  It does offer a path to citizenship but that is 13 years down the road.  What it does provide is that those here, and unless someone wants to cut out all aid and totally rewrite the laws concerning the way these people get aid, or deport the 12 million, and none of those are going to happen, it is likely the best plan that could be cobbled together and make a compromise.

The problem with the GOP base – or certain elements – since I am a lifelong Republican and am not ready to spit upon this bill, nor tear up my GOP Member card – is that they forgot that governance require compromise.  Perhaps if the last Congress had been a bit better at that uniquely democratic feature of our Republic they would be in the majority in at least the Senate.  However, ideologues are forever tied to the Four legs good, Two legs bad mantra.  So, the threats of leaving the Party en masse, and the way off the farm comments about some states trying to secede, I thought that was settled as treason, some love of America there!

The Good: Provides for some reasonable security measures and border control.  Also, sets out a reasonable path to normalization without being an amnesty, look up the word.  It will take 13 years to become a citizen, and will hopefully encourage many to enter legally where they can be monitored, pay taxes and all that good stuff.  The ID program is a strong part of this plan, and is laudable.

The Bad: The path to citizenship or the Z Visa is in effect a Green Card, this doesn’t bother me so much, but that is a bit of an odd inclusion to make one level of Visa which leads to a Green Card just like the card.  Enforcement of this will be tough, and I am not sold that the fence will work overly efficiently.

The Ugly: If enforcement doesn’t work well, and the performance of the last comprehensive immigration reform makes me leary, the situation will be much worse, and again I have little confidence in the ability or the will of this nation to enforce immigration policy laws.

May 17, 2007

Immigration Compromise Bill to Hit the Floor; S*** to Hit the Fan

From the Washington Post.

Sen. John Kyl (R-Az) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Ma), and I KNOW some just had an involuntary twitch at just viewing the Bay State’s Senior Senator’s name, along with negotiators from the Administration have cobbled a proposal towards illegal immigration reform. This compromise will likley hit the floor next week, and something may hit the fan much sooner. Like most compromises, this one will be guaranteed to upset more than a few people. The fur will fly, and I must confess a bit of unreasonable glee at the process to unfold before our very eyes!

Senate negotiators reached a tentative agreement yesterday on a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws that would offer virtually all of the nation’s 12 million undocumented workers a route to legal status while shifting migration preferences away from the extended families of citizens toward more skilled and educated workers.

Under the tentative deal, undocumented workers who crossed into the country before Jan. 1 would be offered a temporary-residency permit while they await a new “Z Visa” that would allow them to live and work lawfully here. The head of an illegal-immigrant household would have eight years to return to his or her home country to apply for permanent legal residence for members of the household, but each Z Visa itself would be renewable indefinitely, as long as the holder passes a criminal background check, remains fully employed and pays a $5,000 fine, plus a paperwork-processing fee.

A separate, temporary-worker program would be established for 400,000 migrants a year. Each temporary work visa would be good for two years and could be renewed up to three times, as long as the worker leaves the country for a year between renewals.

I guess this is the amnesty part.

To satisfy Republicans, those provisions would come in force only after the federal government implements tough new border controls and a crackdown on employers that hire illegal immigrants. Republicans are demanding 18,000 new Border Patrol agents, 370 miles of additional border fencing and an effective, electronic employee-verification system for the workplace.

Oh, I have a feeling that most Republicans will be “quite satisfied” with this bill! I can see the cringing already, and I must admit that I am cracking my knuckles with glee over the political free for all this will create in the primary process! But guess what, many Democrats are also less than happy.

The agreement would effectively bring an immigration overhaul to the Senate floor next week, but its passage is far from assured. The framework has the support of the White House and the chief negotiators, Kennedy and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). But immigration rights groups and some key Senate Democrats remain leery, especially of changing a preference system that has favored family members for more than 40 years.

“When they say, ‘We’re all in agreement, we have a deal,’ certainly I don’t feel that way,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

The new proposal would augment that system with a merit-based program that would award points based on education levels, work experience and English proficiency, as well as family ties. Automatic family unifications would remain but would be limited to spouses and children under 21. The adult children and siblings of U.S. residents would probably need other credentials, such as skills and education, to qualify for an immigrant visa.

To Republicans, the new system would make the nation more economically competitive while opening access to a wider array of migrants. “I think you’ll find the point system to be pretty well balanced,” said Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.).

But to immigration groups, the proposal is a radical break from existing U.S. law, and without changes, they could withhold their support from the final bill.

“We want to see an immigration reform debate on the Senate floor. We want to see this move forward. But we are wildly uncomfortable with a lot of what we’re hearing,” said Cecilia Muñoz, chief lobbyist for the National Council of La Raza.

I confess, that my post is a bit glib on a very serious subject.  I personally believe there is too much amnesty in this bill and not enough protection, but, whose fault is that?  It is the fault of the Congress which was under the control of the GOP with a GOP President to get meaningful legislation accomplished when they held the majorities.  Last year’s bill is looking pretty good right now to many, and I think that the GOP forgot that in a Federal Republic “compromise is needed for effective governance”.  The GOP “could” have compromised from a position of strength, but now they get the icky end of the lollypop.  It’s their own fault if they don’t like this bill.

May 5, 2007

A Most Unusual Caucas of Christians Marches In

From the Baltimore Sun

This most unusual Christian coalition is between Evangelicals, fundamentalists, and many African American clergyman. Though there is often a wide gap between them, this and in some instances NCLB and/or vouchers really do make “The Saints Come Marching In!”

Proponents say the bill – similar to one the Senate is expected to pass in the next few weeks – is a moral imperative. But some Christians are depicting it as a “thought crimes” bill attacking 1st Amendment freedoms of speech and religion. A coalition of evangelical, fundamentalist and black religious leaders is mounting a furious assault on the bill, airing television ads and mobilizing members to stop its progress. President Bush has said he might veto the measure.

This is a tough one to call as it has equally compelling arguements for its passage and its rejection. I’m already using my legal eye on this bill, because I can’t see this one not eventually becoming a tune for the Supremes to sing. The level of support would make a veto interesting as this is a bill does cut across party lines, and enjoys broader support than the recent, and only second veto of the Bush Administration. Is this bill worth the political exchange of coin, must be on the President’s mind.

“This legislation strikes at the heart of free speech and freedom of religious expression,” said Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition. “Statements critical of sexual orientation or gender identity can be prosecuted if those statements were part of the motivation of a person committing a crime against a homosexual or cross-dresser.”

The bill’s supporters say that such an assertion is nonsense, and that a sermon could never be considered an inducement to violence unless it explicitly advocated it.

While to a reasonable mind, it is hard to imagine that any sermon would advocate hurting a person based on sexual preference, or any other factor, one must remember that there are many voices of hate using the guise of religion to score points. This is in no way to state that anywhere near a majority or plurality of the members of this crusade are of such view, but having been raised within the Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Charasmatic culture, I have heard a few interesting things in my time. I also have little faith in the statement made by proponents that they would go after free speech. Someone stating a position such as “homosexuals are condemned to hell” could be construed in the minds of some prosecuting a case, as a an intent to give spiritual license to promote giving such people a head start to that destination. As little as I trust the capacity of people to arrive to false conclusions based upon what “they heard”, I hold an equally distrustful view of giving the state license to link criminal intent to words of one party to actions of another party. I have great faith in the creativity of lawyers to create crime and intent, particularly prosecutors, as it is in their interest to do so.

Hoyer, House majority leader, said before the vote that the bill was necessary “because brutal hate crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and identity or disability not only injure individual victims, but also terrorize entire segments of our population and tear at our nation’s social fabric.”

Again, one must look at some of the crimes being committed, and happily the number of crimes such as those brought horrifically upon Matthew Sheppard and other victims, may not qualify as “entire segments” of the population, as asserted by Rep. Hoyer.

Opponents argue that the bill is un-American, in that it effectively creates a two-tiered justice system. In defining only certain groups as legal victims of hate, many argued, the law’s supporters were leaving out other categories of people deserving of protection, such as members of the military, pregnant women and the elderly. An amendment to add these groups to the hate crimes law failed in the House shortly before the bill’s passage.

Onemust wonder why these groups are excluded. Wouldn’t rape if a man said, I’d like to have a piece of that, or the attacking of American servicemen, after calling them slurs or spitting upon them, which has happened, in the former far too frequently, and in the latter, at a shockinginly rising rate, qualify as hatred based upon another factor?

“All violent crime is tied to hate in some way,”said Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokeswoman for Focus on the Family, another conservative group opposing the measure. “The Virginia Tech shooter said in his diatribe that he hated rich kids. Well, rich kids aren’t protected in this hate crime bill. If we’re going to start choosing categories of people for additional penalties when they’re victimized, where does the list end?”

This assertion, perhaps the best summation of the case against this law, and a case will come if it is signed into Federal law.

All violent crime should be punished harshly. The aspect of retribution is an inherent part of any legal system dating back to Hamurabbi. The right of the state to mete out punishment to show its collective ire at those who would dispense harm or other felonious acts towards “any” member of society must be restated. In a perfect world, Federal assets would be applied to all victims of violent felonies.

However, that doesn’t mean this legislation is not without merit, or unreasonable. If signed, and I don’t forsee doomsday for Free Speech if it does, I do see a very long and possibly negative Judicial Review forthcoming. Those Supremes tend to take the First Amendment pretty seriously, and if you remember your history, the Founding Fathers didn’t mind to let the fur fly, at least with regards to speech.

May 4, 2007

Survey USA Poll: Giuliani Beats Opponents in Debate

A poll of 317 viewers watching the debate were asked to rate the performance of the candidates:

Rudy Giuliani 30%
Mitt Romney 12%
John McCain 11%
Jim Gilmore 8%
Duncan Hunter 7%
Sam Brownback 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Tom Tancredo 4%
Ron Paul 2%
Tommy Thompson 2%

UPDATE: Drudge report is having an interactive poll, but it does allow for multiple voting, so pretty worthless.

The Debate: Who Won and Why?

You see the title; what is your answer. I will reply after I think.

Updated: Well I thought and I will now take out my teacher’s red pencil and give each a grade in no particular order.

Rep. Tom Tancredo – Looked frustrated at times. I think part of it is that his campaign is struggling for air, and the format hurt him as he tried desparately to get out his views and distinguish himself, particularly on immigration. I also think that people saw that frustration and it didn’t help. Grade D

Rep. Duncan Hunter – Was clear, concise, and strong in many of his answer. One area that may hurt him was he was the most aggressive on Iran, and to a country that is not at all happy with Iraq, showing this posturing towards another nation in the area, one that does make everyone nervous may hurt with many even among Hawks. His trade and pro-worker solutions were noteworthy. Grade B-

Mayor Rudy Giuiliani – He was strong on war on terror and framing himself in his model of Conservativism. The questions on abortion won’t help with the base, and will help him with those who are softer on pro-life/pro-choice. He stumbled on that area, but did make his case with his time as NYC Mayor. I still support him. Grade B-

Sen. John McCain – Anyone who said that he lacked vigor got the reply in spades, he was energetic, perhaps too much so, to the point of aggressiveness in tone and body language. He also really had a problem keeping to the time, and wasn’t held to the time limits strictly. He didn’t hurt himself, but I don’t think he helped himself too much. He came out fairly strongly against President Bush, with saying numerous times, “The war was mismanaged”. He seemed passionate and assertive, but perhaps too agressive. Grade C+

Gov. Mit Romney – Of all the candidates the former Bay State Governor stood out. I am not a big Romney fan, but if I had to declare an overall winner, it would be him. He was able to frame his “flip flop” on abortion, and gave a reason that was credible. He also was well versed on the issues and inviting. Grade A

Gov. Jim Gilmore – Did very well tonight too. He was able to state that he was the “consistent Conservative”. He also did well to elicit his positions. However, there are few moments that make him stand out, and he probably won’t see his coin rise. Grade B-

Gov. Tommy Thompson – Did very well on many areas, but there was one area that may hurt him, and that was the question about firing people due to their sexual practices. I also believe that there was a pause that would have allowed him to nuance his position, and his silence was pregnant. This will be picked up. I don’t know if this is a valid reason to terminate an employee in the private sector, other than religious organizations, such as a parochial school, which are exempt from such restrictions and understandably so. His Iraq solution is interesting and deserves a look. Grade B-

Sen. Sam Brownback – Made some good points tonight, and particularly in his stressing the need for the political process to have a more dominant role in the process. His stands on abortion will help only with those who don’t know him, as they are well known. He also held up his credos to the bases fondness of evangelical base. Overall he may have helped himself, but like so many in the second tier is so far behind. Grade B-

Rep. Ron Paul – Made his stand as the maverick in the field. He also came across as passionate, principled, and had a good wit. However, his views on foreign policy are going to hurt him in the end. As much as America may wish to go back to isolationism, that ship has sailed. He advocated himself well, but his views won’t hold. Hard to grade with this dynamic, but based on his performance, and not his substance B.

Gov. Mike Huckabee – He had some good moments, and probably the biggest yuck of the night with his joke concering “The Governator”. He came across as genuine but may have suffered from the format as his positions are hard to define from some of the others, and nuance of his stands may be lost in the shuffle. Grade B-

Overall big winner has to be Romney. He did very well, and being slotted first, by the draw helped him. I think the big loser was Tom Tancredo, and this is not a slight, but he seemed frustrated and this won’t give him much of a bump.

I think that the only shift will be Romney moving up, but the question is who will pay for this hike Giuliani – who probably won’t lose support, McCain or maybe the non-announced candidate, who will also miss South Carolina’s debate, Fred Thompson.

If I had to be like a reality show and only promote five I think these five will likely be in SC.

Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Rep. Hunter, and either Sen. Brownback or Gov. Huckabee.

Then again, I could be wrong.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.