damnum absque injuria

July 3, 2012

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 10:37 am

Lawmaker salary: $14,000.
Vote-counting machine: $200,000
Overriding a veto because your legislator fracked up: Priceless.

May 8, 2012

What Secret Ballot?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:26 am

Here’s how I’m voting this morning, and why.

  • President: Romney. Yes, Gingrich and Santorum are still on the ballot, apparently because Gingrich and Santorum merely “suspended” their campaigns rather than formally ending them. Paul is still on the ballot, as he’s not in it to win it, just to complain. My favorite candidate of all is No Preference, but I don’t think he has a good chance of securing the party nomination, either. Let’s get on with the program. Romney’s the nom’nee, voting for anyone else on the Republican ticket is a farce.
  • Governor: Pat McCrory. Not necessarily the most conservative candidate, but probably the most competent, and certainly the most conservative electable candidate. Better to win with McCrory than lose to the Carolina Strangler.
  • Lieutenant Governor: Dale Folwell. Never heard of any of these guys, following GRNC guide by default.
  • Auditor: Rudy Wright. Fern Shubert is mostly a one-trick (immigration) pony politically, though in fairness she has also worked as an auditor for … um … Arthur Andersen. But at least she is a CPA, which is more than I can say for Greg Dority or Debra Goldman. That leaves us with Rudy Wright and Joseph DeBraggar. Both have formidable credentials as auditors, but as a four term mayor of Hickory, Wright comes with strong political experience as well. So while I’d gladly support either in the general, I’m giving Wright the nod in the primary.
  • Commissioner of Agriculture: Bill McManus. Incumbent Steve Troxler’s second term as been a mixed bag, and his primary challenger’s message of limited government is a welcome alternative.
  • Commissioner of Insurance: James McCall. From viewing their web sites, it’s clear McCall is actually interested in insurance issues, and has specific plans for reforming insurance in this state. It’s equally clear the other two are garden variety politicians who view the Commissioner of Insurance as just one more elective office to use as a springboard to somewhere else. [Causey responds.]
  • Secretary of State: Mike Beitler. Libertarian candidate in 2010, this time he wants to win. The GRNC endorsement can’t hurt, either.
  • Superintendent of Public Education: Ray Martin. In this survey only two of the five Republican candidates, Martin and Tedesco, endorsed both school vouchers and merit pay, the two most important issues to me as far as education is concerned. But when it comes to other issues, Martin is the only candidate who would allow unmarried couples to adopt, extend anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation, and even allow physician assisted suicide. Easily the most libertarian of the bunch. He probably won’t get the nomination, but it won’t be for want of my vote.
  • Treasurer: Steve Royal. Never heard of any of these guys, following GRNC guide by default.
  • State Senate (Dist. 33): Stan Bingham. Solid, GRNC-backed incumbent. Why change a winning game? Then again, if for some reason you think Eddie Gallimore or Sam Watford would be better, no need for the usual worries about electability. No Democrat filed in this district so whoever wins today’s primary will win the seat.
  • State House (Dist. 80): Jerry Dockham Solid, GRNC-backed incumbent. Why change a winning game?
  • Board of County Commissioners: NOTA. Can’t find enough information about any of these guys to vote intelligently; leaving this one blank.
  • Constitutional Amendment One: No. Totally unnecessary for preserving traditional marriage, counterproductive for everything else.
  • Constitutional Amendment Two: Yes. Just kidding, there is no Amendment Two.

UPDATE: Either I voted, or someone else who knows my real name and street address did. Close enough! I ended up voting for Jarvis and Shell for County Commissioner, mostly to reward them for taking the time to have their people come out to the polling place. I left the third race blank, so the computer tried to talk me into voting for someone.

May 6, 2012

Vote No One Amendment One

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 1:05 pm

Sister Toldjah asked for her readers’ thoughts on Amendment One, the marriage amendment on Tuesday’s ballot. Amendment One would add this language to Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution:

Sec. 6. Marriage.

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

For starters, I should note that I originally supported California Proposition 22 in 2000, along with the identically worded Proposition 8 in 2008, even while opposing Virginia’s broader amendment in 2006, and plan to vote against North Carolina’s on Tuesday. Here’s why.

First, my own views on the subject have shifted over the years. While married, and not anticipating divorce, I used to be for traditional marriage, but neutral on domestic partners and civil unions. The rationale was something about babies vs. bathwater: why compromise the genius of millennia of Anglo-Saxon over a a social experiment the gays themselves didn’t even want more than a generation ago? My error was assuming family law was at least almost as sensible as the areas of law in which I practice. One divorce later, I now know nothing could be further from the truth. That bathwater is way nastier than I ever imagined it was, so nasty I can safely assume that if there ever was a baby in there to begin with, there certainly isn’t one now. Further, many of the aspects of family law I find so distasteful are the product of a bygone era in which men provided for women, who in turn were unable to provide for themselves. Many social conservatives won’t attack that inequity because deep down inside, they still long for the old world order upon which it is based. Feminists won’t attack it either, because however unfeminist its origins, its effect in the modern world is to systematically favor women. I can think of few better ways to expose family law for the farce that it is, than a few high-profile divorces among gay couples, where the “woman” claiming lifetime alimony is another man! If that’s the catalyst we need to prompt the reforms that were long overdue anyway, so be it.

Second, I continue to believe strongly that legal marriage ought to be defined by legislatures, not the Constitution or the courts. All three marriage amendments stripped courts and legislatures alike of the power to legislate. I didn’t much care about that with Prop 22, as California’s voter initiative law allows voters to easily reverse themselves anytime they want, just as a legislature could. Nor did I object to Prop 8 as a constitutional amendment, as the California Supreme Court had left voters with no choice but to make this a constitutional issue. Not so Virginia or North Carolina, both of whose amendments require(d) only a simple majority on election day, but would require a much more grueling political process to be repealed or amended later.

Third, while Amendment One is sold as a protection against runaway courts, its language, like that of so many other marriage amendments, goes much further than that. If real concern was to prevent judicial meddling, this is all we would have needed:

Sec. 6. Marriage
Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to require this State to recognize any domestic union other than a marriage between one man and one woman.

Instead, we’re offered a much broader initiative, which bars not only courts but the General Assembly itself from either broadening the definition of marriage or crafting any potential marriage substitutes in the future. Bad idea.

Fourth, I’m not aware of NC courts taking the activist approach that is typical of liberal states like CA or MA, and thus find concerns about judicial activism overblown. Bear in mind that as a state constitutional amendment, Amendment One can’t do anything about federal courts, or even its own NC courts while interpreting federal laws. Could a court rule that “[n]o person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws” (NC Const. Art. I, Sec. 19) guarantees a right to gay marriage while “[n]o State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (U.S. Const. Amend. 14 Sec. 1) does not? Stranger things have happened, I suppose, but now that courts are finally weighing in on what (if anything) the Fourteenth Amendment has to say about gay marriage, I think that position is becoming increasingly untenable. Yet that is the only position under which Amendment One will do anything for traditional marriage at all. If both provisions are held to require gay marriage, the federal Constitution wins and Amendment One won’t do anything. If neither is construed that way, we didn’t need Amendment One to begin with.

Lastly, while I think I have offered some pretty good arguments for voting against Amendment One, I’d be remiss if I didn’t identify some very bad ones as well. Contrary to what you have seen in the ads, Amendment One will not make it legal to beat up your girlfriend, skip out on child support, or affect your rights as a parent in any way. These laws do not depend on marriage now, nor any other “legal domestic union” that does not even exist now. They won’t start depending on it on Wednesday. No, it won’t affect your ability to privately contract for any marriage like benefits you may desire; the second sentence of the amendment expressly preserves that right. No, it won’t take away your domestic partnership benefits if you are employed by anyone but the government. There is a real concern that it might cause problems for government employers and employees, an issue likely to end up in the courts sooner rather than later. My guess is that domestic partner benefits will remain a viable option for any employer, including government acting as a market participant, but it is just that, a guess, and certainly not a slam dunk. Worst cause (plausible) scenario: government employers have to find some way to get a little creative, e.g., offer health benefits to all persons who happen to be living in a particularly household, whether they are in a domestic relationship or not.

UPDATE: William Teach has more.

July 23, 2009

Annexation Reform?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:09 am

North Carolina has one of the worst (if not the worst) annexation laws in the country, making it ridiculously easy for cities to gobble up unincorporated areas over their residents’ objection. The nearest town to me, Midway, exists solely for the purpose of avoiding annexation by Winston-Salem or, more likely, Lexington. The WS Journal, which has long been an unapologetic apologist for this oppressive policy, reported yesterday on a “reform” that barely survived an early procedural vote, and may or may not ever actually become law. The upside to the purported “reform” is that in some rare instances, residents might actually get to – gasp – vote on whether an annexation will or will not occur. The down side is twofold. First, the process for getting the referendum is onerous, requiring 15% of registered voters not just from the area targeted for annexation, but among existing city residents, as well. Second, if that threshold is ever met and a vote finally does occur, the annexation will be upheld by a simple majority of city residents and residents of the targeted area combined, no matter how overwhelming opposition may be within the area targeted for annexation.

By that logic, maybe the U.S. should be allowed to annex Canada. And it’s 100% legit, as long as all Americans and Canadians are allowed to vote on the matter, and as long as a majority of people who are either American or Canadian vote “yes.” Meaning, if my math is right, that the measure need only obtain a 56% majority in the States to pass even if 100% of Canadians vote against it. That’s about the way I see any annexation vote going under this new “reform,” assuming such a vote is ever held in the first place. Why on earth would any city resident oppose annexing just about anything (or at least anything their own city council would have wanted to annex in the first place)? This thing strikes me as a phony “reform” that is actually designed not to work.

September 10, 2008

Yesterday’s Gubernatorial Debate

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:05 pm

Last night’s debate should put to rest any notion that (1) Pat McCrory is a RINO or (2) Bev Perdue isn’t a bumbling idiot. I gotta admit it was fun hearing Perdue argue that she’s always been for offshore drilling for as long as the technology has existed to make it safe, only to be reminded by McCrory that oil drilling technology has not changed significantly in the past 4 weeks. Another gem was Perdue’s insistence that no matter how bad a school may fail a particular student, no student should ever be given public assistance to obtain education elsewhere, ‘cuz we like have a Constitution, and the Constitution sez everyone’s supposed to get edumacated. The latter was bested only by Perdue’s claim that the McCrory plan would cost taxpayers $900 million a year, as it would be made available to everyone in the state, everyone would actually use it, and we’d keep running all public schools on today’s budget even though no one was attending those schools anymore. And then there was the part where Perdue was asked to comment on a ad tarring her as a supporter of the status quo, only to have Perdue brilliantly respond that she can’t be the status quo because she’s a woman. O-kay.

Also not to be missed is the part where both candidates were asked if they would welcome a joint campaign with the Presidential candidates of their respective parties. I don’t remember the exact words either candidate used, but here was the gist:

McCrory: F*** yeah!!!!!!!! I’d be honored to share a stage with John McCain, and I’d pay money to share a stage with Sarah F***ing Palin! They rock!

Perdue: Of course I’m proud of my party, and Obama is a member of my party, therefore, vicariously, I’m proud of Obama, bless his heart. Now let’s stop talking about national politics, can we, and start talking some more about how our Democratic government is broken and how replacing our Democratic governor with a Democratic Lieutenant governor is just the ticket for change, I hope.

 

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