damnum absque injuria

November 8, 2008

Sore Winners

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:45 pm

Nancy Pelosi argues that Californians who voted for Proposition 8 were too dumb to know that a “Yes” vote on Proposition 8 was a vote against gay marriage rather than a vote for it. Somehow, that doesn’t translate into any Californians who voted against 8 having been equally uninformed and assuming that a “No” vote was a vote against gay marriage as opposed to a vote in favor of it. It’s always my side that was enlightened, and your side that was too dumb to know what they were doing, not vice-versa.

In reality, every initiative in California (and by that, I mean every law on which voters are asked to vote “Yes” or “No” on anything, which strictly speaking includes not only voter initiatives but also referenda, constitutional amendments, constitutional revisions and recalls) is heavily biased in favor of “no.” The Meathead Tax on cigarettes passed by a razor-thin 50.5%-49.5% in November, 1998, only to have the measure to repeal it go down in flames less than a year and a half later. One possible explanation is that 21.5% of California’s population changed their minds in 16 months’ time. Another is that 21.5% of the population hated the Meathead tax, but was even more offended by the mere fact that someone was trying to repeal it so soon after it had been passed, and therefore voted against the repeal of the very measure they had previously opposed, just to spite their fellow opponents. A third is that no matter what the issue is, at least 21.5% of the population can be trusted to vote “no” on almost anything.

To test the third hypothesis, let’s take a gander at Proposition 48, a November, 2002 constitutional revision no Californian with an IQ above room temperature should have considered voting against. First, a little background. Four and half years earlier, in June, 1998, Californians had voted 2-1 in favor of another constitutional revision, Proposition 220, which abolished municipal courts. Maybe that was a good idea, maybe it was a great one, maybe it was a crappy one, maybe it was the worst idea since the New Deal. I don’t know. I don’t care. The point is that since June, 1998, it was a done deal. Municipal courts Did. Not. Exist. As a matter of constitutional law, they Could. Not. Exist. without another amendment. So Prop. 48 had zero/zip/nada to do with the question of whether or not to bring back municipal courts. All it meant was, given that municipal courts no longer existed, should Californians update all the sections of the Constitution that they forgot to update in 1998, which continued to reference courts that no longer existed? The people spoke, and the answer was yes, but by a margin of less than 73%-27%, and less than a nine point difference over the substantive amendment that preceded it.

In other words, for every initiative that makes the ballot in California, the “no” crowd gets a built-in 20%+ advantage. With this in mind, it’s no wonder Leno et al. thought it better to pass two patently unconstitutional gay marriage bills that sought to wish Proposition 22 away rather than passing one that repealed it outright. A bill to repeal would have required gay marriage proponents to vote “yes,” and opponents to vote “no.” Exactly what Nancy Pelosi disingenuously claims they thought they were voting on Prop 8. Given that proponents of traditional marriage overcame the “no” advantage to win by a 5% margin, how do you suppose gay marriage would have fared if “yes” and “no” had been reversed, with “yes” meaning “I support gay marriage and “no” meaning “I oppose it?”

Now, at least three lawsuits are pending, all alleging that the constitution is unconstitutional (a not-retarded allegation if they meant that the state constitution violates the federal one, but in fact they are deliberately steering clear of the federal issues as they have in years past). And Attorney General Jerry Moonbeam is arguing that Prop 8 won’t invalidate gay marriages conducted between Gay Juneteenth and November 4, as it merely reads:

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Rather than:

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California, and no, dumbass, we don’t care when or where such marriage was conducted. WTF part of “valid or recognized” don’t you understand?

The bad news is that when the AG “agrees” that black means white, up means down and “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized” means “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized unless it was conducted between the day Bi-Curious George and three of his associates went apeshit and the next intervening election,” it may be difficult to challenge that position later. The good news is that if you’re a business in California wondering whether or not to treat so-and-so as married, you’re probably better off treating domestic partnerships as marriages, so this distinction won’t matter to you, anyway. The worse news is that California law doesn’t allow anyone to be married and domestic partnered at the same time, so gay couples who were previously domestic partnered, and then became married, may well be neither married nor domestic partnered now. If you fall into this category, my free non-legal advice is to talk to a family law attorney, pronto.

Still More on Circular Firing Squads

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:40 pm

James Joyner drinks the anti-Palin Kool-Aid and eagerly accepts as fact the most outlandish claims of certain former McCain campaign operatives. Beldar goes to the opposite extreme of bashing not only the operatives themselves, for spewing that crap, or even Joyner, for believing it, but Carl Cameron of FoxNews for even reporting on it (Newsbusters does the same). That last bit is going a bit too far. Yes, liberals think FoxNews is a media arm of the Republican Party, for whom “fair and balanced” is just another political slogan on the level of “hope and change.” No, liberals aren’t right about that. The network truly is fair and balanced, and their job is to report the news, not to report all the news that helps one side of the political spectrum at the expense of the other. If the Republican Party or some conservative group really wants a right wing equivalent of MSNBC, let them go out and form one. FoxNews is not that network, nor should it aspire to become that. As their other slogan notes, their job is to report; ours is to decide. [Cameron may indeed be worthy of some criticism for reporting these dubious allegations in a manner that suggested he was personally vouching for them, rather than simply reporting the fact that these allegations were made. That’s a fair critique, but attacking him for reporting the allegations at all is not.]

Other conservatives routinely attack Campbell Brown. Again, I’m not sure why. Attacking the media when they screw up is appropriate. Attacking them simply for being the media is not. In this case, Brown makes some cogent points:

To those top McCain advisers who leaked the little story about seeing Sarah Palin in a towel; to those who called her and her family “Wasilla hillbillies” while using her to stoke class warfare with red meat speeches and an anti-elitist message; to those who claim she didn’t know Africa was a continent; to those McCain aides who say she is the reason they lost this election: Can I please remind you of one thing? You picked her.

You are the ones who supposedly vetted her, and then told the American people she was qualified for the job. You are the ones who, after meeting her a couple of times, told us she was ready to be just one heartbeat away from the presidency.

If even half of what you say now is true, then boy, did you try to sell the American people a bill of goods. If Sarah Palin is the reason some voters chose Barack Obama, that is no one’s fault but your own.

Amen to that, but with a slight twist: even if the allegations are complete and utter crap, as I suspect they are, what matters is that the same McCain campaign operatives think what they’re saying is true, but nevertheless attempted to sell the American people what they perceived to be a bill of goods. Or maybe they don’t really believe their own allegations, in which case they’re lying sacks o’shit and traitors to the very individuals they were supposed to be loyally and tirelessly working for. Either way, they should be identified and barred from every working for anyone’s campaign again. So on that point, I agree with Beldar: McCain should openly condemn these leakers and make every effort to identify them and “make them famous.”

Lastly, to everyone involved, read Donna Brazile’s open letter to the McCain campaign, which could have been addressed to the right side of the blogosphere, as well. I can’t help but wonder how much acrimony the dextrosphere and the remnants of the McCain campaign alike may have been spared if we’d all read that essay first.

UPDATE: Joyner responds, noting that he doesn’t actually believe the outlandish notion that a college graduate and a governor of a state could not know that Africa is a continent rather than a country, he only believes the even more outlandish notion that a college graduate with a degree in journalism has never heard of the New York Times, the Washington Post or any other major national newspapers. Not sure how much this distinction matters, but take it for what it’s worth.

Tilt at Them Windmills

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:49 am

Via Sebastian, President-elect Obama is asking readers what kind of change we need. It can’t hurt to tell them. It probably won’t help, either, but what the hell.

Circular Firing Squad Redux

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:22 am

Via TGirsch, Daniel Larison drinks the anti-Palin Kool-Aid, noting that while snarky comments from disgruntled staffers should be taken with a grain of salt:

Obviously, we should take what disgruntled McCain staffers dish to reporters with a grain of salt. They have an agenda, and part of it is to make her look even worse than she already does to deflect some of the criticism away from McCain.

A commenter noted that tearing down Palin does not necessarily reflect well on the guy who chose her, and Daniel quickly agreed that maybe there was some other goal here. On this point, and probably only on this point, I think Daniel had it right in the original post. The reality is that losing a Presidential election by six points does not make anyone look good. Unless you think the stars were aligned such that no Republican could possibly have beaten The One (or even lost to him by a narrower margin) then the inescapable conclusion is that the McCain campaign made major mistakes, the only questions being which ones. Making Palin the mistake allows the campaing the luxury of thinking that they did everything else right – or everything, really, since naming Palin was McCain’s personal decision, not theirs. And hey, if McCain himself did everything perfectly except one little boo-boo, surely that’s not a reason to fault the campaign for having worked for him. We didn’t all jump ship when the first Bush picked “potatoe” Quayle, did we?

Danel then proceeds to ignore his own cautionary note about grains of salt, and jumps right into the “Africa is a country” bit:

The claim that she didn’t know Africa was a continent is the sort of thing that almost sounds as if it belongs to a caricature of a person who knows nothing, but it seems remotely possible that it is true.

“Seems” is the new “experts.” It requires no evidence to back up the assertion that the speaker intends to make – it just “seems” this way.

Americans’ knowledge of world geography is notoriously poor, which does not excuse it in this case if true, but neither is it all that far-fetched.

Let’s see if I got this theory right. Americans generally are poor at geography, therefore, Americans generally don’t necessarily know that Africa is a continent, and therefore, Sarah Palin probably doesn’t, either. O-kay.

When that tack doesn’t pan out, Daniel proceeds to beat up a straw man instead:

The troubling thing is that I get the sinking feeling that a lot of people who want her to become the future of the party couldn’t care less about this. I can almost hear some dedicated pundits rehearsing the next defense, “Well, how many people understand that Africa is a continent? Do we expect our elected officials to understand the conventions originally invented by ancient geographers? Besides, technically, Africa is attached to the landmass of Asia and so you can see why she might have been hesitant to identify it that way.” A more aggressive defense might say, “Who cares about Africa? Palin is interested in helping this country.”

Pretty powerful stuff, until you excise the part based on a “sinking feeling,” the part no one ever said but Daniel “can almost hear,” or the made up statement about what a more aggressive (but as yet nonexistent) defense “might” say.

The claim about NAFTA seems hard to believe–how could a governor of Alaska not know which countries were involved in this agreement? Then again, this tends to confirm everything we have come to know about her lack of interest in policy details. These claims about her are so bizarre and yet specific that it is hard to dismiss them outright.

Note to self: next time you feel like making a bizarre claim no one in his right mind should believe, be sure to make that claim “specific.” Just be careful not to specify specifics that might aid anyone in verifying the claim. Don’t be specific about precisely what was said in which meeting on which date, and don’t even think of being specific about who else may have been at that meeting and might have a conflicting take of their own. No, just be “specific” about a few embarrassing details about what dumbass thing the person you’re trying to smear supposedly said, and voila: your outlandish statement is now credible because it was “specific.” O-kay.

UPDATE: Daniel responds to the Kool-Aid charges by helpfully informing his readers that he knows I am, but what is he?


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