Sunday, August 24, 2008
Sometimes public opinion doesn't flow smoothly; it shifts sharply when a tipping point is reached. Case in point: gas prices. $3 a gallon gas didn't change anybody's mind about energy issues. $4 a gallon gas did. Evidently, the experience of paying more than $50 for a tankful gets people thinking we should stop worrying so much about global warming and the environmental dangers of oil wells on the outer continental shelf and in Alaska. Drill now! Nuke the caribou!
A total of 24 states allow voters to change laws on their own by collecting signatures and putting initiatives on the ballot. It's healthy that the entrenched political class should face some real legislative competition from initiative-toting citizens. Unfortunately, some special interests have declared war on the initiative process, using tactics ranging from restrictive laws to outright thuggery.
The initiative is a reform born out of the Progressive Era, when there was general agreement that powerful interests had too much influence over legislators. It was adopted by most states in the Midwest and West, including Ohio and California. It was largely rejected by Eastern states, which were dominated by political machines, and in the South, where Jim Crow legislators feared giving more power to ordinary people.
But more power to ordinary people remains unpopular in some quarters, and nothing illustrates the war on the initiative more than the reaction to Ward Connerly's measures to ban racial quotas and preferences. The former University of California regent has convinced three liberal states -- California, Washington and Michigan -- to approve race-neutral government policies in public hiring, contracting and university admissions. He also prodded Florida lawmakers into passing such a law. This year his American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) aimed to make the ballot in five more states. But thanks to strong-arm tactics, the initiative has only made the ballot in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.
"The key to defeating the initiative is to keep it off the ballot in the first place," says Donna Stern, Midwest director for the Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). "That's the only way we're going to win." Her group's name certainly describes the tactics that are being used to thwart Mr. Connerly.
Aggressive legal challenges have bordered on the absurd, going so far as to claim that a blank line on one petition was a "duplicate" of another blank line on another petition and thus evidence of fraud. In Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan completely rewrote the initiative's ballot summary to portray it in a negative light. By the time courts ruled she had overstepped her authority, there wasn't enough time to collect sufficient signatures.
In Boumediene v Bush, besides, for the first time in history conferring habeas corpus rights on alien enemies detained abroad by our military during a war, the Court struck down as inadequate what Chief Justice John Roberts called “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded enemy combatants.”
The IOC instructed the international gymnastics federation, known as the FIG, to take up the issue Friday with the Chinese gymnastics federation and the Chinese Olympic Committee and report back to the IOC later in the day.
The FIG has asked the Chinese for official documents, including birth certificates, of its entire women's gymnastics team, according to IOC officials.
Los Angeles, CA (AHN) -- The pending transfer of the widow of television producer Aaron Spelling to a condo unit from a mansion reflects the downturn of the American economy and the real estate market.
Candy Spelling, when Aaron was still alive, lived with her husband for almost two decades in a 56,500-square foot French chateau-style mansion which had a wine-tasting room, bowling lanes and silver, china and gift-wrapping rooms. Aaron was the man behind hit TV series like "Charlie's Angels" and "Seventh Heaven."
Recently she bought a high-end condo unit for $47 million at The Century in Los Angeles, which has identified wealth with estate living, not a high-rise lifestyle. The 140-unit building is still under construction. Spelling will have two penthouse floors measuring 16,500 square feet, which boils down to $2,848 per square foot. (emphasis mine)
Obama could have done a lot worse...Biden was for the Iraq war and the surge which puts him in a distinct minority in the Democratic party.
He also has a commendable record of public service-he's clearly ready to be President if, God forbid, something should happen. Unfortunately that just serves to highlight how thin Obama's resume is. It's worth remembering that Obama's qualifications to be President are only slightly better than ....mine. He is perhaps the most grossly unqualified major candidate for President...ever...and it shows. He's full of contradictory half thought through ideas, none of which he's firmly committed to. He simply doesn't know what he's doing and he's way over his head.
Unfortunately even though Biden would make an acceptable Vice-President that doesn't mean he helps the ticket in any meaningful way. Delaware with it's massive 3 electoral votes is a solidly Democratic state so no help there. Democratic talking heads are running around talking about how Biden grew up in in Pennsylvania and is the "3rd Senator" from that state and how he has blue collar appeal because of his economically strained upbringing. Given that Pennsylvania is considered a swing state, the argument is that he helps there. Frankly I don't see it.
Biden is no more associated with Pennsylvania than Ronald Reagan is with Illinois. It may be a source of pride for Illinois conservative activists...but that's about it. To the rest of the world he was from California. It's also worth remembering that Both Gore and Kerry won Pennsylvania so the choice of Biden to help with that state is essentially defensive. If the Democrats think that Pennsylvania is going down the tubes they've got bigger problems elsewhere.
I also don't see Biden having enormous appeal with blue collar swing-voters. I mean ok, Biden did have to work his way up in life and he had some bonafide working class experiences but he just doesn't come off as that sort of guy. He doesn't remind anybody of a union electrician sitting in a bar having an Old Style. Instead he reminds people of the captain of the Debate Team who thought he was smarter than everybody in the room ...everybody hated that guy.
Democrats make this sort of mistake all the time. Consider John Kerry. Democrats assumed that because he served in Viet Nam (and may even be something of a hero-though it would be easier to tell if he'd release his personnel records as he's promised several times) that he'd be popular with veterans and current members of the military. The reality was somewhat different. While many commended him for his service, few could forgive his actions as an anti-war protester. Because most senior Democrats agreed with Kerry on his anti-war stance they assumed it was a plus and that his military service gave it credibility and would mute criticism. They couldn't have been more wrong.
Another problem with Biden though is his tendency to... say unfortunate things. Whether it's praising Obama for being hygienic (I guess most black folks aren't in Biden's world) or suggesting that you need an Indian accent to go into a Seven Eleven, there's no denying that Joe's foot regularly winds up in his mouth.
The biggest problem though are the things Biden said in the course of this campaign. He said Obama was unfit to be President and that electing him would be a terrible mistake. Expect to see lots of footage of this in Republican ads this fall.