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Comment Re:A bit late but I was away all weekend celebrati (Score 1) 10

Sure, but you also can't have free press without liberty, so maybe the theme of the parade should be the free press! That would be just as dumb.

That's a fair point as well. On the other hand, it's more relevant than the aforementioned hometown's theme this year, which was something along the lines of "hometown pride". (Last years, arguably even less to the point, was "our Christian heritage".) Compared to that, "diversity" (or "the free press") are way closer to the mark.

Ha. :-)

I need to start a My Dad series, he's my poster child for the ideal conservative--in other words, the kind of entrepreneur that doesn't need an Equal Employment law to tell him to hire qualified minorities and women, etc. Sadly he won't even run for mayor, much less anything serious. That's neither here nor there, though.

Comment A bit late but I was away all weekend celebrating (Score 1) 10

I'd argue that you almost necessarily CAN'T really have diversity without liberty, so celebrating the former is effectively celebrating the latter.

Somewhat related--I walked in on my dad (the American Legion post commander for my hometown) having an argument with the color guard commander (an old WWII vet) because the latter couldn't wrap his head around the idea that a twentysomething female army sergeant would be better suited to carrying a rifle than my dad (who retired a Chief Electronics Technician from the Navy) despite her gender.

Dad won when he pointed out he had no idea where the safety on an M1 was and, in fact, had never fired anything other than a .22 in the last two decades.

Comment You know... (Score 2, Funny) 34

Since Michael was 80% plastic anyway, he should be recycled.

Specifically, he should be recycled into plastic shopping bags so he can remain white, unsightly, and a menace to small children.

Comment Re:Don't... (Score 1) 11

I suspect it'd be the same as anyone else's reason for incest prohibitions in the first place--that is, "the state has an interest in regulating this due to the vastly increased risk of disabled children in such marriages." Nothing in there about social stigma at all, even if the biology is arguable (and it'd be far from the worse scientific mistake made in legislatures this decade, after all, on either side of the left-right divide).

Comment Re:Don't... (Score 1) 11

As a staunch supporter of gay marriage rights, I find myself in the position of happily supporting the right of consenting adults in situations where there are no power imbalance issues to marry even incestuously, preferably with some kind of genetic testing requirement so as to avoid the kind of birth defects that occasionally result. In practice this means that I'd allow sibling and first cousin incest, but not intergenerational ones due to the potential for abuse.

I'm perfectly happy with polyamory too if one can think of a reasonable legal framework for it--I've heard seriously proposed a system whereby people can be in multiple one-to-one marriages, and the sole additions to the code would be a reinforcement that each person can only be claimed once as a dependent/exception regardless of how many people they're living with, and some concept of ranking the order of one's marriages to un-muddy the waters with regard to decision-making.

Pets can't consent, they're not humans. So no worries there.

Who's the "them" you're talking about?

Oh, and Pudge? I think you'll probably find that the reality is that A) no one thought it through or B) they left the incest prohibitions in so as to keep people (like FroMan here) from being able to use support of incest as evidence for a general support of amorality in the writers of the bill.

Comment Re:From the front lines (Score 1) 39

I know at least one poli-sci guy who's theorizing that the Democrats' schizophrenic big-tentness with regard to defectors like Specter is going to cause them to bud off a new middle-left party in the next 10-20 years if the Republicans can't regain ground or lose ground in 2010-2012-2016.

Comment Re:From the front lines (Score 1) 39

Tea Parties and the like are going to make people look harder at the GOP, and if the GOP has any sense it will push those issues, and it will pick up seats in both houses.

From here, it looks like it's anyone's game, depending mostly on the perceived results of Obama's current policies and on which parties can pick up some of the protest issues and successfully run with them.

Current smart money is on Specter, if only because Toomey's a jerk. It'd be totally awesome if Tom Ridge comes back up here and runs, on the other hand.

Comment Re:From the front lines (Score 1) 39

Sigh. That's just stupid. How much (literal) communist rhetoric was going on at the antiwar rallies? (A lot.)

I'm under no illusions that the larger part of it is that these folks could safely ignore the anti-war rallies as being pointless, but don't like their position vis-a-vis taxes being "tainted" by the moral majority stuff.

a. A small minority of Republicans (except on the issues of abortion and gay marriage, which are arguably not about social repression in any significant way, of course)

For most of the Libertarians/fiscal conservatives I deal with in real life on a regular basis, gay marriage is THE huge social repression issue (the group is, for whatever reason, disproportionately gay on the order of 20%+) and while I'm not really convinced it's true now, I think in the next two decades with demographic shifts we're going to see gay rights become less of a third rail and more something that is embrace it or lose.

And there was a lot of "McCain changed" rhetoric around, but mostly from moderate Democrats and Independents trying to find a reason to vote for Obama, less so from the Libertarian/Republican folks I know.

Tying that back to the Specter thing, there's a feeling from the younger generation of Republicans (it was pointed out to me that Meghan McCain is also in this camp) that, big tent or not, the Christian Right wields disproportionate influence in the current structure. I'm not saying I think it's true, I'm saying that meme is winning the battle of ideas right now--and at least around here, it seems like Specter is trying to capitalize on it.

What it really points up, as usual, is how there's a lot of free-floating rhetoric that doesn't really have much bearing on the issues.

2010 is going to be an interesting election year.

Comment Re:From the front lines (Score 1) 39

I don't really understand why it is, either, honestly. I mean, I heard it most recently from a few friends, Libertarians, who were utterly disgusted by how much Christian Nation rhetoric was going on at the local Tea Party.

There's a perception around that the Republicans are all monsters of social repression, and the scary thing is that on the other discussion forum I talk politics in online, the self-professed Republicans/conservatives openly revel in it--the poster boy thereof calling outright for a return to the 1950s Ward Cleaver-style lifestyle where everything is homogenized and safe.

It seems largely due to the ongoing perception in the last few years by the annoying wing of the Christian Evangelical movement that they are the ones with their hands on the wheel of conservatism, and they're doing a lot of subtle and blatant things to keep tying themselves to the Republicans.

Comment Re:From the front lines (Score 1) 39

I've noticed there is a significant discrepancy between the national ads, the in-state ads, and what the local canvassers/protesters/campaign offices say about the varying issues of the day. The biggest problem the conservatives are having in local politics (and this goes back to the Tea Party phenomenon) is that the local and to a certain extent the statewide Republicans are having a lot of trouble holding on to the message, when that used to be their biggest strong point.

It strikes the local thinkers (admittedly over beer at the cafe the Philosophy and Poli-Sci students hang out in) that the Republican party is trading their patented Party Unity away in order to more firmly cement themselves in with the religious social conservatives, and for a large number of independents and moderate Democrats, the fiscal message is getting lost because it's simply not as important to them as gay rights, pro-choice, drawing down overseas military commitments and domestic surveillance, etc. And it's the rhetoric that's winning the day for the most part right now--we'll see if there's any backlash to Obama's/the Democrats' strong words on some of those subjects compared to their weak or contradictory actions, but it's really too soon to tell in the mainstream right now.

Stimulus bill aside, Specter's going to rise or fall with me on whether he decides to go full-bore Democrat all of a sudden or stays in the political place he's been solidly in for the last two decades. One of the things that I always liked about him was his stance on abortion--not because of his position, but because he was willing and able to say "I'm a Republican, but I'm not straitjacketed to their platform on every single issue." In the political climate in this country that took a certain amount of personal integrity.

The battle lines the parties are drawing are shaping up to be in vastly differing locations for 2010, with a gulf between them--but I suppose this early on we can expect both major parties to be staking out defenses on safe-with-the-base territory and waiting for the other side to engage them.

Comment From the front lines (Score 1) 39

From within PA (I'm just a smidge north of Toomey's former Congressional district), the battle lines are being laid out on social conservatism lines, not fiscal ones as much. That is, both in 2004 and already in the rumblings about 2010, Pat Toomey (the presumptive Republican nominee) is going after Specter primarily on his abortion rights record and his positions on gay rights, with fiscal issues being a distant second.

With a lot of moderate Republicans and Independents having shiny new Democrat registrations in PA after the "Oh God, anyone but Hillary" presidential primary last year, if the Specter thing isn't handled carefully the Republicans have a serious chance of losing a lot of ground here--from the point of view of a lot of folks in the central area, Specter's one of their old boys, a touchstone back to the Reagan era, etc. Somewhat ironically, given the circumstances, Specter's also well-respected for his ability to compromise with the Dems while standing firm on his own principles.

This could be played well or poorly by both parties, but already the local Republican types are taking the wrong tack--just this weekend, I got to watch a group of avowed Republicans pile onto a Tea Party type who called Specter a "traitor to his party and country".

Probably better for the Republicans to either portray him as someone who should retire, and act as though this is sort of a tacit retirement for him, and then quietly push whoever his primary opponent is. On the other hand, the Dems could potentially force the issue to a head by simply encouraging people to let Specter run unopposed.

Basically it's just as contentious and wrong-headed on the ground here in PA as it is nationally.

Comment Really dumb move from a revenue standpoint anyway (Score 1) 1

...since if it costs that rich guy less to avoid your tax by shifting income, perhaps to another state, than the tax itself, his/her only incentive to pay said tax is a feeling that it's fair for him/her to pay it.

If it passed, I bet you'd see a few "corporate offices" springing up in Oregon and/or Idaho, just across the border.

Comment Re:Yours went a lot better than the ones here. (Score 1) 8

Yeah, I concur that the larger part of the whole shebang was grassroots--to the extent that there was orchestration, it seemed pretty clear the big shots were following/attempting to steer a nascent grassroots movement rather than making it happen from whole cloth. And it does seem like a red herring compared to a substantial discussion of the issues.

As for the "Bush did it" defense, the nuanced version that I've heard of that comes in two parts, one of which is trivially rebutted and one of which takes more thought:

1) 'Bush didn't include the Iraq War in his budgets, instead using "emergency spending", so his deficit reports were artificially low.' -- True on the face of it, but we're talking IIRC 1.8 trillion over seven years at that point, so the Bush deficits still don't approach the Obama ones.

2) 'Deficit spending is the indicated Keynesian response to an economic recession." That's harder to positively refute--one could argue that Reagan's economic successes early on coming out of the 70s were a large part due to the huge cash influx his defense spending pushed into the economy, for example. And it's a basic idea of Keynesian economic that as long as you're not basically destroying goods, it doesn't matter WHAT you spend money on, it's the act of spending it domestically that stimulates the economy. (I'm obviously simplifying this for the purpose of a summary)

I'm not really worried about this year's budget. At this point I'm worried about those trailing off years of increased spending, I don't really think we need to plan for what's basically emergency spending to go on for that long, and I think that we need to focus on sustainable expenditures right quick so that we have a plan in place once the economy gets back into a growth mode.

Frankly, given recent history, I'm hoping that the Republicans retake Congress in 2010 but Obama wins in 2012--in the time I've been old enough to be politically aware, that R/D split has been best for the budget deficit overall.

What I'd also like to find, and I haven't been able to so I might do it myself, is a chart of debt/deficits in inflation-adjusted dollars, just to get a better sense of historical perspective--specifically, I'm interested in seeing how the Obama-proposed deficits compare in inflation-adjusted magnitude to Reagan or FDR.

Comment Re:Yours went a lot better than the ones here. (Score 1) 8

Yeah, that hype basically annoys me--of course the news coverage of impending events made them bigger. That doesn't imply orchestration.

My criticisms of the whole movement are less about who's wagging whose tail and more about maybe it becoming a movement with a coherent conservative purpose rather than just a collection of angry right-wing types.

As it stands, in my neck of the woods they were more disorganized and off-message than the Iraq War protesters a few years ago--but only by a hair. This is obviously not a compliment.

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