Friday, November 28, 2008


I am deeply disturbed by the terrorist attacks in India, and feel the deepest sympathy for the victims. I rode the Long Island RailRoad, and the "D" train on the NYC subway system on Thanksgiving, along with Anna. She saw the armed soldiers at Woodside, on Wednesday, and was very worried about a terrorist attack here in NYC on Thanksgiving, especially after the India attacks.

I tried to ease her mind about the threat to the MTA system, but she knew more about it than I did. I told her I wanted to write this post before we went to Brooklyn, so it would get a "gazillion" hits here if we were blown up on Thanksgiving. That didn't go over well with Anna, and we ended up arguing about how her daughter could claim my Gather points if we both died together. Talk about yer "bad jokes gone wrong!"

Seriously, the "threat level" has been upped, though I didn't see a single cop or soldier on our trip from Lynbrook to Brooklyn on Thanksgiving day. In fact, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Bensonhurst, and terrorism didn't "come up" in any conversations at the dinner table, though we talked about politics, and many other subjects. Of course, Anna and I talked about it into the early hours of Thanksgiving morning, before we boarded the train to Brooklyn.

Frankly, she's scared, on a daily basis, and I'm mad as hell.

The terrorist attacks in India have exposed another new head of the Hydra that Al Queda seems to continually sprout. I want to help my Indian friends grab the neck of this beast, and co-ordinate with us in cutting it's head off, and ripping it's heart out. I only have sympathy for the victims, not the terrorists, or their "sympathizers." On this issue, my lovely liberal Anna agrees with me. Death to the enemies of freedom.

The NYC terror attack was supposed to have several people take trains from several different locations on Long Island, Westchester, and possibly Connecticut. These people would all be carrying bombs, or other weapons, and converge on Penn Station, in Manhattan. At least that's what I heard from Anna...

I wish I could help my brothers and sisters in India, to end the current "situation." India has been on the front line of this war far longer than most people realize, of course. Events in India have a direct impact on our life in NY, which many Americans don't realize, either. We're all in this together, people. It's time we started acting like we knew that.


I hope everybody had as great a Thanksgiving day as Anna and I had! God bless America!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Does Prop. 8 "Amend" or "Revise" California's Constitution?

James Taranto wrote the following, in Tuesday's "Best of the Web" column, regarding efforts to overturn California's Prop. 8, which amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman (link):

You may be wonder how the state Supreme Court could overturn a constitutional amendment. As Dale Carpenter, a Minnesota law professor who favors same-sex marriage, explains, the question is whether this amendment is actually a "revision" to the constitution. Although California voters can "amend" the constitution through a ballot measure alone, a "revision" must receive a two-thirds vote of the Legislature before being put before the voters.

Without taking a side on the issue, I'll say that it's apparent that banning same-sex marriage is not "revising" the state constitution. Actually, the court's interpretation of the constitution that allowed same-sex marriage was "revisionist." Let's not blind ourselves to the fact that marriage, under either the US or the various state constitutions, has meant, historically, a union of a man and a woman. When these documents were written, no-one thought that marriage could be defined any other way. How can an amendment that reiterates this historical view be called a "revision?"

Michael C. Dorf rebuts this argument on the FindLaw blog (link):

First, the decision holds that the California Constitution confers upon Californians a fundamental right to marry. The state, and various same-sex marriage opponents, had argued that the right to marry had to be understood in its historical context, and that was as a right of opposite-sex couples alone to marry. The Court rejected this argument as legerdemain. In so doing, the Court drew an analogy to its own 1948 decision invalidating a law barring interracial marriage, and quoted New York Chief Judge Judith Kaye's observation (in dissent in New York's same-sex marriage case) for the proposition that ìfundamental rights, once recognized, cannot be denied to particular groups on the ground that these groups have historically been denied those rights.

That was written at the time of the initial court ruling, in May of this year, overturning the law (Prp. 22) banning same-sex marriage. It should be noted that the 1948 ruling allowed interracial marriages between opposite-sex couples only, and that the history of racial discrimination is quite different than the history of homosexual discrimination (Homosexuals have voted, under the same historical restrictions as heterosexuals have, since the inception of the nation). I can't help but also notice that they cite a dissent from a NY State judge in their ruling, meaning it was a losing argument in NY's "left" leaning court system. Not the most best of legal precedents to cite.

This is a complex issue, and a deeply divisive one, so I'm just skimming a few points, here. While I'm sure that same-sex marriage will eventually become the law, it has to be legalized by the legislative branch of government, not by judicial fiat. The court's May ruling was counter-productive for supporters of gay marriage, because now, as Mr. Taranto points out, "Let's suppose the California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8. Will Schwarzenegger then be willing to sign legislation legalizing same-sex marriage? It doesn't matter! Such leglsiation is now unconstitutional under Proposition 8."

Read Mr. Taranto's whole piece for his take on Gov. Schwartznegger's cowardice in dealing with this issue, along with his usual funny take on other interesting stories. As for my opinion on this issue, "marriage" is a religious sacrement, and has no place being defined by the state. All "marriages" should be legally defined as "civil unions," which can be defined by the state. I support "civil unions" between same-sex couples. There are already churches that will perform the religious sacrement of marriage for same-sex couples, so it would be a moot point. Of course, that would be too "sweeping" a ruling for a court to make, so I fully expect the California court to call Prop. 8 a "revision" of the California Constitution, and overturn it, taking the judicial shortcut again.

I wonder if they'll ever learn.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I want to wish warm congratulations to President-elect Obama. I am now officially among those feeling "hope" and "faith" regarding him (I knew that "change" was coming, either way). Though I supported "the other one," I am proud that America has elected it's first Black president. The historic aspect of his election must not occlude the historic nature of the problems he faces, upon entering office.

To be blunt: Sen. Obama, the first Black president, will be challenged with problems larger than either Reagan or Kennedy had to deal with, and may end up facing another worldwide depression, as Roosevelt did. I'm hoping that Pres. Obama is the right leader for our times, and have faith that he is. In a changing world, the USA has "risen up" to the challenge of "change."

I can't predict whether things will get better or worse, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet on the latter. Pres. Obama's job is going to be very difficult. Even if he manages to navigate the nation in the right direction, it will be against strong political headwinds. If things "keep going the wrong way," he will get the blame. Welcome to the Oval Office, President Obama.

Here are some questions for, and thoughts about our next president:

On foreign policy, will he follow the "Clinton" model, and return the "war on Islamist terrorism" to a "law enforcement" effort? Will he "escalate" the military action in Afghanistan in a way that destabilizes Pakistan, and perhaps the entire region? No-one knows, but we are in the middle of a global war, unlike any we've been engaged in before. This will be the trickiest minefield for him to cross.

Sen. Obama said that he employed no lobbyists in his campaign, but the head of his Nevada campaign, the late Terrence Tolbert, was "a top official who ran lobbying efforts for the (NYC) Department of Education." Was there an exemption for taxpayer-funded lobbyists? Mr. Tolbert died of a heart attack, tragically cut down at the age of 44 on the Sunday before the election. My condolences go out to his family, and my apologies for using him to make a political point.

I have to repeat a question from an earlier post of mine: "Medicare and Medicaid are losing billions of dollars every year, and are riddled with fraud. If the government can't pay for, and adequately manage these health care programs, how can it afford 'universal' health care? Will you fix Medicaid/-care before proposing any new health care program?"

He can't seriously offer government-funded health care for "everyone" until Medicare and Medicaid are fixed, and he has put both of those on the "back burner," calling them "long-term problems" that he won't try to tackle right off the bat. Yet he still wants to expand government's role in (and financial obligation to) the health care industry (PS: That's what killed Hillarycare, over a decade ago). Forcing businesses to provide health care will be disastrous to many small businesses, as well.

There is some debate over whether he will govern as a moderate, or from the left. I suspect the latter, but will try to keep an "open mind" on this subject until he actually starts governing. Either way, I wish him well in dealing with the serious problems facing our nation. While I may be a critic, I also realize that great challenges often forge great leaders. I hope this is the case with President Obama.