Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama's Halloween Health Care Scare

The choice you'll have," said Barack Obama during last week's debate, as he told voters what to expect if John McCain's health-insurance proposal becomes law, "is having your employer no longer provide you healthcare....Don't take my word for it," he added. "The US Chamber of Commerce, which generally doesn't support a lot of Democrats, said that this plan could lead to the unraveling of the employer-based healthcare system."

This, coming from the man who wants to replace employer health care, with at least a few choices, with government single payer health care, where there will be no choice at all.

But leaving that aside, the fact is that a change away from only employer-based health insurance is exactly what the American healthcare market needs.

Far from being a calamity, it would represent a giant step toward ending the current system's worst distortions: skyrocketing premiums, lack of insurance portability, and widespread ignorance of medical prices.

With more than 90 percent of private healthcare plans in the United States obtained through employers, it might seem unnatural to get health insurance any other way. But what's unnatural is the link between healthcare and employment. After all, we don't rely on employers for auto, homeowners, or life insurance. Those policies we buy in an open market, where numerous insurers and agents compete for our business. Health insurance is different only because of an idiosyncrasy in the tax code dating back 60 years - a good example, to quote Milton Friedman, of how one bad government policy leads to another.

During World War II, federal wage controls barred employers from raising their workers' salaries, but said nothing about fringe benefits. So firms competing for employees at government-restricted wages began offering medical insurance to sweeten employment offers. Even sweeter was that employers could deduct those benefits as business expenses, and employees didn't have to report them as taxable income.

Unfortunately, this tax write off does not apply for individuals purchasing their own health care plans, unless they can somehow incorporate themselves.

Result: a radical shift in the way Americans paid for medical care. With health benefits tax-free if they were employer-supplied, tens of millions of Americans were soon signing up for medical insurance through work. And they were no longer paying attention to cost savings and making serious decisions about medical benefits the way they did when they paid themselves.

As tax rates rose, so did the incentive to keep expanding health benefits. No longer was medical insurance reserved for major expenditures like surgery or hospitalization. Americans who would never think of using auto insurance to cover tune-ups and oil changes grew accustomed to having their medical insurer pay for yearly physicals, prescriptions, and other routine expenses.

We thus ended up with a healthcare system in which the vast majority of bills are covered by a third party. With someone else picking up the tab, Americans got used to consuming medical care without regard to price or value. After all, if it was covered by insurance, why not go to the emergency room for a simple sore throat? Why not get the name-brand drug instead of a generic?

Unconstrained by consumer cost-consciousness, healthcare spending has soared, even as overall inflation has remained fairly low. Nevertheless, Americans know almost nothing about the costs of their medical care. (Quick quiz: What does your local hospital charge for an MRI scan? To deliver a baby? To set a broken arm?) When patients think someone else is paying most of their healthcare costs, they feel little pressure to learn what those costs actually are - and providers feel little pressure to compete on price. So prices keep rising, which makes insurance more expensive, which makes Americans ever-more worried about losing their insurance - and ever-more dependent on the benefits provided by their employer.
Making individual health plans deductible the way corporate health care plans are and then de-linking medical insurance from employment is the key to reforming healthcare in the United States. McCain proposes to accomplish that by taking the tax deduction away from employers and giving it to employees. With a $5,000 refundable healthcare tax credit, Americans would have a strong inducement to buy their own insurance, rather than only relying on their employer's plan. As millions of empowered consumers began focusing on price, price competition would flourish. And as employers' healthcare costs declined, most of the savings would return to employees as higher wages.

For 60-plus years, a misguided tax preference for employer-sponsored health insurance has distorted America's healthcare market. The price of that distortion has been paid in higher costs, fewer choices, and mounting anxiety. The solution is to restore market forces by fixing the tax code, and liberating Americans from an employer-based system that has made everything worse.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Obamunist Associations

It saddens me how few people are willing to call out Barack Obama for the Communist turned Dhimmi he is. He may not be a Muslim, but frankly what he is--a member of Jeremiah Wright's Cult Of Amerca Hatred--is even worse. This includes supposedly sophisticated media people such as Bill O'Reilly, who never tires of spewing out drivel like, "I don't believe for a second that Senator Obama agrees with Reverend Wright's views." Sure, Bill. Based on his connections to communists such as his childhood mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, I would guess that Barky the Obamunist had scores of one-on-one meetings with Reverend Wright about long-term plans to overthrow "white" America.

Even Sarah Palin, when she was asked by Glenn Beck if she believed Barack Obama is a socialist, hesitated, then carefully assured him that she wouldn't go so far as to say he is a socialist - even though she had just finished saying that his policies reflect socialism!

This kind of self-intimidation must stop. If John McLame loses the election, it will be because of his "reach-across-the-aisle" mentality. Had he stood up loud and clear for capitalism from day one, and explained loud and clear why Barack Obama is a Marxist (not just a socialist!), I believe he would be winning this election by ten points.

Of course the Obamunist is pretending to be "moderate" with an apparatchik media backing him all the way:
"Obama simply showed up the day after he won the nomination and declared himself a centrist. Everything since has been couched in reassuring, moderate terms in brilliant salesmanship worthy of the best minds at the American Marketing Association.
Obama's tax cut for 95 percent of working people is one of the reasons he has a 2-1 advantage on "helping the middle class," according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. Obama's proposal doesn't actually cut income or payroll tax rates. Overall, John McCain's proposal cuts taxes more than Obama for typical families. But Obama sounds more zealous about middle-class tax cuts.
On health care, Obama has attacked McCain's proposal on conservative grounds, claiming it would trash the current system of employer-provided insurance and raise taxes. As for his own proposal? It's the centrist alternative. His advertising contrasts two approaches to health care — one government-run, the other allowing insurance companies to run amok. "Barack Obama says both extremes are wrong," says the ad.
On social issues, Obama says he opposes gay marriage. Never mind that he supports repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. He says he supports reducing the abortion rate. Never mind that he supports taxpayer funding of abortion. On gun rights, his campaign has been running advertisements explaining "Barack Obama and John McCain will both make sure we can keep our guns." In his public presentation, Obama might as well be an embittered rural voter clinging to guns and religion.
Then, there's his steady demeanor. He's so even-keeled, you could practically put a level on his head and its bubble would barely move. This quality served him well during the financial meltdown. But if Obama's elected, we may look back and wonder why everyone thought passivity in a crisis spoke of extraordinary leadership skills.
Obama is able to get away with all this because he has a thin record, and what record he has the press isn't willing to examine. In the Illinois Legislature, Obama voted against legislation protecting infants born alive after abortions — votes so outrageous the press acts as if they simply couldn't have occurred. Obama can reinvent himself at will, a political Gatsby with all of America as his East Egg.
If elected, Obama will return to Washington with expanded and emboldened liberal majorities in both the Senate and the House. Congress was the un-doing of his two Democratic forebears. Carter was stiff-necked with a Democratic Congress, and that made it nearly impossible for him to govern; Clinton accommodated his Democratic Congress in 1993-94, and it pulled him to the left to devastating effect in the 1994 congressional elections."
A full-blown commie President, combined with Communists running the House and Senate. We will regret this. But the Obamunist Associations get worse:
"There was Ali Larijani, for example, the Hezbollah- and Hamas-supporting speaker of Iran's parliament, who voiced Iran's preference for a "more flexible and rational" Obama over John McCain — not that he got what you could call a media roll-out. Nor did America's own anti-white, anti-Jewish Louis Farrakhan, who recently heralded an Obama presidency as the coming age of the "the Messiah." There was a newsflash for fluffy-con endorsements at home and abroad, arcing and sputtering on a thin mix of elitism and naivete, but virtually no one seems to have noticed an Obama endorsement that came in from the National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW).
Big yawn? Hardly. In its endorsement, the Columbus-based Muslim women's group described itself as "pro-family" and "pro-life." But, given the record of NAMAW chairwoman and CEO Anisa Abd el Fattah, it is also pro-Hamas.
As Patrick Poole has reported, Fattah has published Hamas-ian writings contending, for example, that Zionism "violates ... every norm of decency known to the human species." Fattah has also co-authored two books with Hamas spokesman and chief political adviser Ahmed Yousef ("The Agent: The Truth Behind the Anti-Muslim Campaign in America and Al-Aqsa Intifada"). And yes, that would be the same Ahmed Yousef, who, on behalf of Hamas, endorsed Barack Obama back in April.
Both Fattah and Yousef (who fled the country in 2005 to avoid prosecution in the terrorism-related Fawaz Damra trial) used to work for the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), an innocuously named organization founded by Hamas chieftain Mousa abu Marzook that has been described as "the political command of Hamas in the United States." The UASR, along with an interlocking network of Islamic organizations, has been designated by the government as both an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing trial, and an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian-founded organization that seeks to install the Sharia (Islamic law) worldwide. Other groups so designated include the Muslim American Society (MAS), which the government said was "founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States," and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), of which Fattah, it so happens, was a founding board member. (Fattah, according to her online biography, as Poole has noted, also helped develop the American Muslim Council, which was founded by convicted terrorist financier Abdurahman Alamoudi.)"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More "inconvenient truth" about the housing crash

The Congressional Democrats were warned again and again, but did nothing. John Fund lays it out:
We will look back on the failure of Congress to reform the government-sponsored enterprises at the heart of the mortgage meltdown as one of the most expensive derelictions of its duty ever. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used their lobbying clout, political contributions and even charitable largesse to charm or bully anyone demanding reform in their lending practices.

The Bush administration certainly didn't cover itself in glory either, for example issuing news releases in 2005 touting the introduction of "zero down-payment " mortgages through federal housing programs designed to encourage home ownership.

But the administration at least tried to warn Congress that the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) should be reined in. Gateway Pundit notes that President Bush publicly called for GSE reform 17 times this year before Congress finally passed a bill increasing oversight of Fannie and Freddie — though by then it was too late.

Indeed, the White House's list calls for GSE reform is a long one, stretching as far back as April 2001. At that time, the administration's first budget declared that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's growing dominance of the mortgage market was "a potential problem," because "financial trouble of a large GSE could cause strong repercussions in financial markets, affecting Federally insured entities and economic activity."

In 2003, after both Fannie and Freddie were found to have cooked their accounting books, then-Treasury Secretary John Snow urged Congress to "create a new Federal agency to regulate and supervise the financial activities of our housing-related government sponsored enterprises" and set prudent and appropriate capital requirements.

Two years later, Mr. Snow again called for GSE reform, noting that recent events "reinforce concerns over the systemic risks posed by the GSEs and further highlight the need for real GSE reform.... Half-measures will only exacerbate the risks to our financial system."

The response? Rep. Barney Frank, who now vilifies Republican House members for questioning a policy of throwing another $700 billion on the bonfire, insisted to the New York Times during the 2003 accounting scandal: "These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008 California Voter Guide - by freedomfan

Okay, Curmudgeon and I see eye-to-eye on most of the issues, but there are a few differences.

Proposition 1A: Rail Boondoggle - NO
This is a financial disaster waiting to drive businesses from the state over some utopian vision of rail travel. See my post below for a longer exposition on this. The short version is: We can't afford the $10 billion, the $10 billion is just a small downpayment on total construction costs that will likely top $60 billion, and it won't do what it's supposed to do even if we had a magic pile of money to throw at this sort of nonsense.

Proposition 2: Kinder, Gentler Slaughterhouse - NO
Are food prices not already high enough? This isn't about food safety, it's about people wanting to feel good about themselves. That's great. If you want to be nice to animals, then stop eating them. Otherwise, shut up and pass the steak sauce.

Proposition 3: Hospital Pity Pork - NO

Proposition 4: Parental Notification and Waiting Period for Minor's Abortions - YES
This is a marginal call for me. I am not enthused about the extra bureaucracy needed to administer this sort of scam, but the reality is that parents have a say in what medical procedures their minor children undergo. That's really the end of the question. Prop 4 has all the necessary exceptions for cases of parental abuse/neglect and so on, so it really is a issue of parents getting the same say over this serious medical procedure that they do over a piercing or a laser tattoo removal.

Proposition 5: Non-Violent Drug Offenses. Sentencing Alternatives - YES
Putting people in jail for consensual crimes is wrong, morally and practically. It wastes valuable law enforcement resources, encourages corruption of police, enriches criminals, punishes people who aren't hurting others, crowds our prisons (when we need the space for real criminals), turns otherwise productive people into burdens on the state, creates court backlogs, and DOES VERY LITTLE TO REDUCE DRUG USE. By the way, none of that is speculation, it's all documented over and over and is, in fact, an exact repeat of what happened eight or so decades ago when the same legal regime went under the name "Prohibition". This proposition is not an answer to the broader issue, but any step away from this disaster is a step in the right direction.

Proposition 6: Police and Law Enforcement Funding - NO
This law is another wasteful expansion of the state government into areas properly handled by city and county governments. It is a giveaway to law enforcement interest groups who understand that there is a "gravy train" effect of having a constitutionally mandated minimum spending level. Every one of those mandated minimum spending laws are bad policy, even when they are in areas that are appropriate functions of state government, which this is not. Most law enforcement is local and it is so for good reasons. Prop 6 will encourage dependence of local law enforcement on state bureaucrats and politicians in Sacramento while reducing local control and responsiveness to local needs. Be very clear about this: No money that comes from Sacramento will come without Sacramento strings. That means that politicians, primarily from Los Angeles and San Francisco will determine law enforcement priorities for your community, wherever you live.

In addition, this law (and others like it) are financial stupidity, where your state taxes will be raised (this money still has to come from you) so that you can send it to Sacramento and then it can be sent back to your community. Your community can already raise its own revenues to fund your community's law enforcement priorities, and then you have confidence that the money stays in your community instead of going to pay off political favors in Sacramento.

If you honestly don't feel you are paying enough for local government services, then feel free to support local measures to vote yourself a higher bill. But, 1) don't confuse increasing the cost of a government service with improving the service. They aren't ever the same and they are often unrelated. And 2) Don't be tricked into thinking that funneling money through the state government is a good way to improve local government functions. It is the opposite - a way to put important decision-making out of reach and in the hands of those over whom you have the least influence.

Proposition 7: Renewable Energy Mandates for Power Generation - NO
This is a dumb idea. It would be fine if it merely said that government-owned utilities were subject to the same generating regulations that the private utilities are. There is no reason to hamstring one type of utility more than another.

But, the real impact of the bill is in adding further requirements to all utilities which will unarguably make power generation more expensive. Those, in turn, will morph into rules to benefit special interests like corn and saw grass farmers so that they can get a bigger cut of the "renewable" fuels market. This, of course, will increase food prices at the same time power prices rise, all the while harming the environment by putting more currently untouched land to use in growing fuel crops, increasing runoff issues, soil erosion, transportation costs, and re-inflaming issues surrounding the water rights needed to grow the fuel crops.

Proposition 8: Banning the Name "Marriage" from Same-Sex Partnerships - NO
I actually agree that the California State Supreme Court's decision this Summer was the wrong one. It was a decision to change the name of a legal agreement from one thing to another with no substantive change at all in the nature of that legal agreement, when the voters had spoken clearly about what they wanted that agreement called. In other words, gay couples with domestic partnerships already had full legal equality in every area of law that the state of California could give it. The Court just decided that those domestic partnerships should be called marriages. I agree that the Court should not have done that.

So, if this were an amendment saying that courts are only allowed to review state law and policy for substantive legal issues and not for essentially aesthetic ones, I would be for it. But, Prop 8 does not do that.

Prop 8 is an emotional reaction to a bad decision that is based on the same immature approach to policy that the bad court decision itself was: aesthetics. The Court likes domestic partnerships being called marriage and now proponents of Prop 8 want that changed back because they don't like that name. Both parties are using their power to bicker over the name. This is silliness from start to finish. Same-sex couples have the same rights as straight couples in California and this proposition does nothing to change that. On the merits, the same legal standing ought to have the same legal name. People who actually want to turn back the clock on the domestic partnership law can take on that very separate battle. Otherwise, people just wanting to feel good about getting the name they prefer, whether liberal or conservative interest groups, need to find something more important to worry about.

Proposition 9: Parole Changes - NO
It's a waste of time and energy to fund special interests under the false premise of giving victims procedural access that they either already have or have at the discretion of prosecutors, judges, and parole boards, where such discretion appropriately rests.

Proposition 10: Alternative Vehicle Boondoggle - NO
BONDS ARE NOT FREE MONEY! If people want to purchase alternative fuel vehicles, that's great. If enough people want to do that, the market for such vehicles will grow, prices will come down, and more research will pour into developing the technology. But, it is not the taxpayers' job to buy people cars or to fund corporate research and development.

Proposition 11: Redistricting - Marginal YES
These redistricting schemes come up every so often and I have not seen one yet that ended up being worth half a damn. I haven't heard a compelling case that real change will come from this one either. The reality here is that there will be a huge pool of applicants. In any pool like that, it will be possible for the state auditors to picks sixty people that politicians like and then, among those sixty, to whittle that down to the 36 most compliant, and then find eight of those who want to do the same things the politicians who select them want to do. Basically, instead of politicians drawing their districts directly, they will get to pick the people to draw the districts for them.

The US Supreme Court ruling in Reynolds v. Sims is the bottleneck in this area, and it is not due to change any time soon.

Proposition 12: Subsidies for Real Estate Purchases by Veterans - NO
As time-honored as this program may be, it is another subsidy that increases taxes and increases home prices. I happen to have great respect for this particular special interest, but this is still undeniably special interest legislation.

Well, that's it for now. We've got one week until it's all over except for counting the bodies...

Let's Derail Plans for Government-Run Trains

We've heard of the magical high-speed rail proposal, right? Proposition 1A? This is a really bad idea, writ really large. And it's a scam. People need to understand that:

1) This state does not have money to waste. We only dug out of the latest budget impasse with a shift in how early people have to pay their taxes. You can rest assured that next year we will be in the same position, but without that gimmick to use again.

2) BONDS ARE NOT FREE MONEY!!! Man, that is a frustrating point to try and get across. How blind do people have to be to the headlines to understand that leveraging your future on credit is a bad idea? If we don't have ten billion to spend today, we also don't have twenty billion to pay back over the next 30 thirty years, starting next year as a 2/3 billion dollar annual dip into the general fund just for this one bond. Let me restate that: If this passes, there will be 2/3 of a billion dollars added to required state spending starting next year that will not go away for thirty years! Well, at least we're off the hook in thirty years, right? Well, actually, that's about the point at which major rehabilitation and rebuilding costs will kick in...

3) But, nevermind that we can't afford ten billion, because the ten billion isn't even the whole admitted cost of this thing! Even the lowball initial estimate of the project (before we are hooked into this and stuck paying whatever budget overruns occur) is $45 billion. Where do proponents hope to get the other $35 billion? Magic fairies? Well, almost. Back when the dreamland figure was 'only' $25 billion, the idea was that the private companies who will take care of day-to-day operations will pony up $5 billion, which is dubious at this point. Meanwhile, the remaining $10 billion was supposed to come from the federal government. When I say, "supposed to come from", I mean that is the totally unsubstantiated wish of the project backers. The Congress has absolutely not voted to send $10 billion dollars our way. Nor should they. As broke as the California state government is, the fed is even broker. Moreover, we aren't the only ones dreaming of laying our infrastructure finances on the tracks in front of an oncoming train. Similar boondoggles are afoot in other states and the federal government can't fund our bad idea unless they agree to fund every other bad idea, too. To them, our $10 billion plea looks like a $60 or $70 billion dollar commitment to the states that are being sold this high-speed rail bill of goods. And that's before bailing out rail programs from inevitable cost-overruns and the fact that states won't be able to get business partners to pour money into this sewer.

4) So, the unaffordable $10 billion dollar project is really a really unaffordable $45 billion dollar project that would still need another $35 billion in mystery money, right? Not exactly. This project will cost way more than even the $45 billion. With cost overruns that are absolutely typical of these projects, we are looking at about a $65 billion dollar project. Look up the cost overruns in Boston's Big Dig project, which was initially supposed to cost about $6 billion In 2006 dollars) but wound up costing over 14 billion. The 1A project is way bigger than the Big Dig - it would be the biggest construction project ever taken on by any state. That leaves even more room for cost overruns.

That's not a worst case scenario. That's the realistic low number. Period. And, don't count on the federal government or private businesses deciding to flush the extra $50 billion down this toilet. We will pay for it ourselves, with even more bonds, leading to even higher taxes, and politicians whining that businesses and high-income residents are leaving the state because they are such meanies for not sticking around to pick up the tab for every dumb idea that sweeps through the state.

5) The plans don't even specify where to lay the tracks yet. That's right: there isn't even agreement on where this monstrosity should cross over from the Bay Area to the Central Valley. That will affect costs, construction time, ticket prices, transit time, and ridership.

6) The primary business case for this system is already dead. The sales pitch for this plan was that it would replace the LA-SF air traffic by making a Northern California to Southern California trip "commutable" (apologies to math majors). In other words, the trip would be like a long commute, something inconvenient but doable on a frequent basis. One could, in theory, head toward a train station at one end at a reasonable time in the morning, zip to the other end in a couple hours, have a productive day of business meetings and so on, then zip back and get home by dinner. Well, that works if the time wasted ticketing and boarding is just a few minutes and the actual trip is two hours or so, maybe two-and-a-half. But that isn't going to happen. Realistically, the trip will be well over three and a half hours. That's right. The trip is now not commutable and has become the pain-in-the-ass red-eye trip or an overnighter that will keep business travelers in the sky. So much for relieving air traffic at LAX and SFO.

Oh, and the arguments that it will be so convenient - no waiting in flip flops to be X-rayed while TSA pokes through your laptop and checks that you don't have a full-sized water bottle - are utter baloney. There is no way that a high-profile, tens-of-billions-of-dollars rail system, with hundreds of passengers on it, moving at speeds that would make a spectacular crash, will not be a terrorist target. And, there is no way there aren't going to be TSA goons making sure you aren't sneaking any deadly, deadly nail clippers on board. If you think that's not the case, you are living in a dreamland.

BTW, all that extra security at the station will mean nothing, because there will be hundreds of miles of unguardable track. To a terrorist, that still equals a spectacular crash, but without the inconvenient suicide.

7) HSR invites a nightmare of urban planning and government control of private property development. Make no mistake: Every city with a rail station or hopes of getting one will now have an incentive to "plan" private property development so that everything is rail accessible. The state will come up with another "matching fund" gimmick to encourage cities to do just that, complete with a commission to evaluate whether a city's rail access development plan meets the visions of the geniuses in Sacramento. Were you hoping to get permits to put a couple retail stores on a lot you own? "Sorry. Permits are scarce unless you are on the tram route to and from the rail station. Why don't you rent some retail space in the new Rail Mall? Golly, those well-connected guys made a mint developing that empty field and they always seem to be able to get approval for new development!" Does your community need the city to add a couple lanes to the local highway to alleviate traffic snarls? "Sorry. Our resources are focused on redesigning downtown to make it more rail-friendly."

The one advantage of this is that it will serve to highlight the inadequacy of the eminent domain "reform" the planning commissions snuck through this last Spring. If you live in a rail city or a rail-hopeful city, your property rights will be seen just as an obstacle to those trying to design a rail utopia.

8) But, spending all that money that we don't have will create thousands of jobs in California, right? Don't be silly. Even ignoring the interests costs here, the old New Deal hokum that we can borrow ourselves to economic prosperity has been something of a joke among economists outside political circles and it's no different here. The problem is that that borrowed money has to come from somewhere and it comes from investors who would otherwise be lending it to projects with more direct economic value. In other words, that money the state borrows is coming largely from money that would otherwise be available to entrepreneurs and private companies looking to expand their businesses. The state gobbling up that money makes it harder for those businesses to grow.

Meanwhile, the higher taxes needed to pay back the 1A bond loans will necessarily make it less attractive for businesses to locate here in California. I sure hope the people who vote for this understand that when we suffer sluggish growth as businesses and high-income earners look to locate in states that don't punish them as much as we do.

Anyway, that's government-run high-speed rail in short. Kids play with trains. Good for them. The rest of California needs to grow up and stop throwing money it doesn't have at pie-in-the-sky projects that won't fix actual problems.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The wages of "Diversity" is death

"WaMu Recognized as Top Diverse Employer--Again," reads the headline on a recent bank press release:
Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE:WM), one of the nation's leading banks for consumers and small businesses, has once again been recognized as a top employer by Hispanic Business magazine and the Human Rights Campaign.
Hispanic Business magazine recently ranked WaMu sixth in its annual Diversity Elite list, which names the top 60 companies for Hispanics. The company was honored specifically for its efforts to recruit Hispanic employees, reach out to Hispanic consumers and support Hispanic communities and organizations.
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights organization, also awarded WaMu its second consecutive 100 percent score in the organization's 2009 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which measures progress in attaining equal rights for GLBT employees and consumers. WaMu joins the ranks of 259 other major U.S. businesses that also received top marks in the annual survey. The CEI rated a total of 583 businesses on GLBT-related policies and practices, including non-discrimination policies and domestic partner benefits.
In both surveys, WaMu earned points for competitive diversity policies and programs, including the recently established Latino, African American and GLBT employee network groups, all of which have a corporate executive sponsor and champion.
WaMu's recent press release yesterday was titled "Washington Mutual, Inc. Announces Conditional Exchange of Preferred Securities." That's rather cryptic, but the news headlines are pretty clear, such as this one: "Fed Takes Over WaMu in Largest Bank Failure in American History."

This is what happens when banks and other corporations try to placate leftists and liberals. i suspect those businesses who try to be "Green" will suffer the same fate. You can't sell your soul to the Satans of the Left and not expect to be damned.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Requiem For The Bush Presidency

Hearing the President asking his fellow Republicans to cave in and sign on to the bailout bill, I can only ask: What happened to this man I voted for twice?
I will give credit to President Bush where it is due:
1. He maintained, indeed, surged, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite a fat, lazy, historically illiterate country that has lost its spine. Indeed, Iraq now looks very winnable, and Afghanistan, while "nation-building" there will always be dubious, as it is landlocked and has no oil revenue and no literate population to speak of, at least the Taliban and Ql Quaeda look like they can be wiped out there.
2. His two Supreme Court nominees, young and energetically pro-Constitution, will help protect us from radical activism for decades to come.
3. His tax cuts have let me keep a little more of my own money from an obscenely massive government.
But this does not excuse his wretched blunders:
1. I have long wondered how can a President who brings such strength and clarity to the war can be so soft and blind on the dangers of illegal immigration. Is he this naive and romantic about immigration of what is mostly an underclass? Or is cheap hired help that important?
2. And tonight, after his sad speech asking us to buy into this insane bailout, I wonder how a man with such resolve, who has asked us to firm our own resolve in so many ways, can fail to ask us for strength in these tough economic waters.
Hearing President Bush tell us the horrors that await us if we do not drink his Bailout Kool-Aid is more than a little depressing.
On the war, I have often analogized that America is like a stupid "multicultural" brainwashed teenager and Bush is the Dad who fills the vital role of telling the teen the way life is. The teen hates it, but realizes later on how right the Dad was.
Well, on this one Dad has wimped out. The President threw down this litany of things that will happen if we fail to listen to the snake oil from his friends the Fed Chairman and the Treasury Secretary. Every single dark consequence is precisely what SHOULD happen in a country where the public and private sector both failed to see the ill wisdom of Affirmative Action Lending and extending bad debt into the hands of people who were wholly unable to pay it back.
Want to know the true source of the financial meltdown in the home mortgage industry leading to the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and today's attendant financial crisis? Follow the money trail back about nine years. Check out this article from the September 30, 1999 edition of the New York Times (yes, that notoriously right-wing paper!)
In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.
The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.
Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. [Emphasis added.]
The article goes on to predict that such a strategy might not cause problems during times of economic prosperity but that Fannie Mae could run into serious financial difficulty during an economic downturn.

And here we are with the financial markets on the verge of collapse and the federal government debating the largest government bailout in the nation's history.

While the Clinton administration is certainly culpable for getting the ball rolling on these high-risk loans, there is plenty of blame to go around. Fannie Mae led by Clinton's former budget director Franklin Raines and Obama campaign advisor Jim Johnson took Clinton's risky gamble and then doubled down. The pair allegedly cooked the books at Fannie, issued countless dubious mortgages, and then took huge bonuses before leaving the company. Both men have also been accused of accepting special mortgage deals from Countrywide (a co-conspirator in this financial mess) as well.
Johnson resigned from his official position with the Obama campaign because of the scandal, though he, like Raines, may still be advising him.

Liberal politicians on Capitol Hill were no better. For example, Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), who was also nabbed in the Countrywide scandal, took more money in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than anyone else in the U.S. Senate. (Barack Obama, with only four years in the Senate under his belt, was close behind.) When reform proposals for Fannie and Freddie were put before Dodd, he called them "ill advised."

Despite their accounting problems and dire warnings of crisis, these "government sponsored enterprises" with the full support of liberals in Congress and their special-interest community organizing friends such as ACORN pushed for more subprime lending for their politically-correct constituencies. And calculating financial institutions (too many of which had corrupt relationships with these very same politicians) were happy to play along. Now the entire country is facing a financial disaster.

Any lessons learned? Not in this town. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are raring to reinvigorate the ruinous business of subprime loans to those who can't handle them. And the latest version of the bailout would take "profits" in the bailout scheme from the taxpayer and give them to government programs designed to push yet more risky mortgage loans and related programs controlled by liberal activist groups.
But instead of fighting back about all this, President Bush has caved in. This is not wise. Wise leadership means telling us tough times lie ahead, but we can lick them. Wise leadership means taking bold steps like suspending capital gains taxes so that investors will still invest, even in a recovering market. Wise leadership means suppressing the urge for a quick, expensive fix.
George W. Bush did do some great things. His rightness on the biggest issues means I will never regret his eight-year term. But I cannot hide my disappointment. I fear that his likely successor, Barack Obama, will take the inch of Federal bailout that President Bush gave him and make a mile out of it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Veep double standards...

What have we learned?

1. Objectivity is gone

2. "Feminism" is a fraud

3. Joe Biden can basically say *anything* and not get called on it.

This is not surprising. President Bush is soon not going to be the President. Who will the desperate Democrats and their leftist base have to displace/project all that rage? Who will they have to focus their own inadequacies and unacceptable feelings onto?? In anticipation of that dreadful day, they have had to find a substitute for him so they can make the upcoming election all about that person, instead of answering any questions about their ideal, blemish-free Messiah (who they project all their fantasies of perfection onto).

Sarah Palin is perfect for the part because--as in the case with Bush--her very existence is an affront to all they believe about themselves and the world. In other words, she fits their psychological needs perfectly and can become the projective vessel for all their displaced and unacceptable emotions. Obama is the probably the most unqualified person ever to run for the office of President from a major party, and Veep Joe Biden's gaffes are legendary, but Democrats in droves (and a few Republicans) have accepted the idea that somehow it is Sarah Palin's "inexperience" that is a threat.

And so is her sexuality. I don't have to recount all the insanity and utterly ridiculous assertions that have been directed her way because she happens to be a female who doesn't follow the leftist script for women and has dared to think and behave independently of their victimhood rules. But there is more to it than just that.

You see, sexuality is the ONLY thing that is really sacred to liberals. Their entire platform goes back to the deification of sex - people should be able to have as much as they want, where they want, with no moral judgment and especially no consequences. They believe we are all just rutting pigs ruled by our genitalia, and that the only true happiness of humans is in the flesh. Any attempt to place any moral judgment or legal restrictions on the consequences of unlimited sex is the ultimate threat to them. "Punished with a baby"? You betcha. That's EXACTLY how liberals look at it. Spending billions on AIDS research and drug subsidies? Of course! The public should have to share the cost of their unbridled, unclean homosexual practices, so "there isn't any moral judgment." Sex education for five year olds? Of course! The sooner they start praying to the god of their genitalia, the better!

Surely you all know that the main reason Democrats are pushing so hard for nationalized health care is so that taxpayers will pay for abortions and AIDS treatment. It has nothing to do with all those poor uninsured families.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Commie Liberals Go Shopping

This story is illustrative:

"As most veteran customers know, it takes a pretty thick skin to successfully navigate the Berkeley Bowl, this strident city's most popular grocery store.
Outside, petitioners seeking signatures for ballot measures have come to blows with opinionated
residents. In the tiny parking lot, nicknamed the Berkeley Brawl, frustrated motorists have been known to ram one another's cars. At the checkout, people have thrown punches and unripened avocados at suspected line-cutters.
When one shopper was told she couldn't return a bag of granola, she showily dumped its contents on the floor. Culyon Garrison, who works at the customer-service desk, recently had a loaf of bread thrown at him.
The produce emporium -- one of the nation's most renowned retailers of exotic fruits and vegetables -- creates its own bad behavior. Kamikaze shoppers crash down crowded aisles without eye contact or apology for fender-benders. So many customers weren't waiting to pay before digging in that management imposed the ultimate deterrent: Those caught sampling without buying will be banned for life -- no reprieves, no excuses. (Not even "I forgot to take my medication.")
Raphael Breines, who was ejected last year for eating on the premises, said he couldn't decide between two types of apricots, so he sampled both. Security stopped him in the parking lot.
"They treated me like a thief," said the 37-year-old park planner, who was photographed and required to sign a no-trespass agreement. "Technically I was stealing, but I wasn't trying to hide anything. I was just deciding which type of apricot to buy."
Breines, a longtime customer, sent an apology letter, asking to be reinstated. His request was denied.
Store manager Larry Evans says the policy is a fair response to doctors, lawyers and college professors who help themselves to bags of cookies, nuts and vitamins, stick their fingers in pies and guzzle from bottles of sake, assuming the rules don't apply to them.
"There's a sense of entitlement to this town," Evans said. "People think, 'If I want to do it, I'll do it, just try and stop me.' "

Saturday, October 11, 2008

When liberals sit in judgement of bankers...

It is truly loathsome. else would you describe these congressmen who are now blaming the financial mess on the failure of the free market? Starting with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, that was given more teeth during the Clinton administration, Congress started intimidating banks and other financial institutions into making loans, so-called subprime loans, to high-risk homebuyers and businesses. The carrot offered (to offset the stick of discrimination lawsuits) was that these high-risk loans would be purchased by the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Anyone with an ounce of brains would have known that this was a prescription for disaster but there was a congressional chorus of denial.
Five years ago, Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) vouched for the "soundness" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and said, "I do not see any possibility of serious financial losses to the treasury." In 2004 congressional hearings, where the Bush administration sought greater oversight over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said, "We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac and particularly at Fannie Mae," adding that "the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals." Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said, "There's nothing wrong with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." In these hearings Barney Frank said that he doesn't see "anything in the reports that raises safety and soundness problems." Earlier this year, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) praised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for "riding to the rescue" to help people get home mortgage loans, adding that they "need to do more" to help high-risk borrowers get better loans.

The financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is not a failure of the free market because lending institutions in a free market would not have taken on the high-risk loans. They were forced to by the heavy hand of government....

In 2002, when the Enron and WorldCom scandal broke, the Congress held hearings and some chief executives were jailed. Who did what was the big story in the major news media almost every night. Congress rushed to enact the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002. The act placed unnecessary, onerous and costly accounting standards on American businesses. The Enron and WorldCom debacle is a drop in the bucket compared to the financial mess that Congress has created through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in the name of "affordable" housing. Have you heard Congress calling for hearings? They haven't called for hearings because many of them, both Democrats and Republicans, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars, were in cahoots with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If Americans are going to be on the hook to bail out these government-sponsored enterprises, at the minimum congressional hearings ought to be held to find out who did what and when.

Corporations employ accounting practices promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) that established Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and government agencies have accounting practices that don't come close to, and never did, the honesty of private accounting practices. Accounting fraud and deception are the dominant features of government agencies. If a private business kept and cooked the books, like government agencies do, the top executives would go to jail. Shouldn't the accounting standards businesses have to meet be applied to Washington? My answer is yes and if a congressman says no, I'd like for him to tell us why.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Obama, "Sex Education" and the Big Agenda

Thomas Sowell, as he so often does, hits the nails on their heads:
A recent Republican campaign ad sarcastically described as Barack Obama's "one accomplishment" his supporting a bill to promote sex education in kindergarten.

During an interview of a Republican spokesman, Tom Brokaw of NBC News replayed that ad and asked if that was "something serious to be discussed in a presidential election campaign."

It was a variation on an old theme about getting back to "the real issues," just as Brokaw's question was a variation on an increasingly widespread tendency among journalists to become a squad of Obama avengers, instead of reporters.

Does it matter if Barack Obama is for sex education in kindergarten? It matters more than most things that are called "the real issues."

Seemingly unrelated things can give important insights into someone's outlook and character. For example, after the Cold War was over, it came out that one of the things that caught the attention of Soviet leaders early on was President Ronald Reagan's breaking of the air traffic controllers' strike.

Why were the Soviets concerned about a purely domestic American issue like an air traffic controllers' strike? Why was their attention not confined to "the real issues" between the United States and the Soviet Union?

Because one of the biggest and realest of all issues is the outlook and character of the President of the United States.

It would be hard to imagine any of Ronald Reagan's predecessors over the previous several decades — whether Republicans or Democrats — who would have broken a nationwide strike instead of caving in to the union's demands.

This told the Soviet leaders what Reagan was made of, even before he got up and walked out of the room during negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev. That too let the Soviet leaders know that they were not dealing with Jimmy Carter any more.

There is no more real issue today than "Who is the real Barack Obama behind the image?" What does being in favor of sex education in kindergarten tell us about the outlook and character of this largely unknown man who has suddenly appeared on the national scene to claim the highest office in the land?

It gives us an insight into the huge gulf between Senator Obama's election year image and what he has actually been for and against over the preceding decades. It also shows the huge gulf between his values and those of most other Americans.

Many Americans would consider sex education for kindergartners to be absurd but there is more to it than that.

What is called "sex education," whether for kindergartners or older children, is not education about biology but indoctrination in values that go against the traditional values that children learn in their families and in their communities.

Obviously, the earlier this indoctrination begins, the better its chances of overriding traditional values. The question is not how urgently children in kindergarten need to be taught about sex but how important it is for indoctrinators to get an early start.

The arrogance of third parties, who take it upon themselves to treat other people's children as a captive audience to brainwash with politically correct notions, while taking no responsibility for the consequences to those children or society, is part of the general vision of the left that pervades our education system.

Sex education for kindergartners is just one of many issues on which Barack Obama has lined up consistently on the side of arrogant elitists of the far left. Senator Obama's words often sound very reasonable and moderate, as well as lofty and inspiring. But everything that he has actually done over the years places him unmistakably with the extreme left elitists.

Sadly, many of those who are enchanted by his rhetoric are unlikely to check out the facts. But nothing is a more real or more important issue than whether what a candidate says is the direct opposite of what he has actually been doing for years.

The old phrase, "a man of high ideals but no principles," is one that applies all too painfully to Barack Obama today. His words expressing lofty ideals may appeal to the gullible but his long history of having no principles makes him a danger of the first magnitude in the White House. 

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Oh My YES on Proposition 8.

I am sure that Freedomfan will disagree on this, but Oh My YES on Proposition 8. Here's why: (1) Judicial tyranny and the usurpation of legislative powers, judges pronouncing as "final" issues that still need to be legislatively sorted out. (2) The dubious dogma behind "gay marriage". (3) There are disturbing societal consequences to redefining "marriage" and there is a compelling justification for "heterosexism", as the gay activists call it. (4) There is a rather sinister -- and totalitarian -- political agenda behind all this. Taking these one at a time:

(1) Judicial Tyranny (hat tip to Drew M. at AOSHQ)

Contrary to what the Left will claim (Waah! Hater!) I do not oppose some kind of legal code for same sex relationships. So if someone would say, "for homosexual relationships, we need to inventory aspects that marriage touches -- not testifying against registered sexual partner in court, innocent spouse provisions in tax code, survivors' benefits, joint tax filing, community property, domestic violence laws, child custodianship issues, intestate inheritance, hospital visits, etc., etc., etc.....and figure out what makes sense for government to be involved with, and figure out what the sensible arrangement should be, and figure out reasonable changes in the law to get to that point from where we're at" -- well, I might object on the details maybe, but I certainly could support such a legislative procedure.

In fact, the Legislature in California had already done this, with the Governor signing it into law.

However, four judicial tyrants in black robes, acting on the demand for some undefined notion of "equal protection", decided to butt into the legislative process.

PDF of decision is here.

I began reading, looking for quotes and key findings. But it was 172 pages long and took a while!

After noting the state's domestic partnership law is "virtually" the same as marriage, the court announces it's deciding the Big One. Examining the constitutionality of the current compromise regime under which...
"... the union of an opposite-sex couple is officially designated a “marriage” whereas the union of a same-sex couple is officially designated a “domestic partnership.” The question we must address is whether, under these circumstances, the failure to designate the official relationship of same-sex couples as marriage violates the California Constitution."
So this is for full marriage, including the designation "marriage."
"It also is important to understand at the outset that our task in this proceeding is not to decide whether we believe, as a matter of policy, that the officially recognized relationship of a same-sex couple should be designated a marriage rather than a domestic partnership (or some other term), but instead only to determine whether the difference in the official names of the relationships violates the California Constitution."
After mouthing this platitude about judicial restraint the four tyrants in black robes then proceed to "discover" an always-existing constitutional right to gay marriage. Having discounted their own policy impulses and announced they would be deciding the issue based solely on the state constitution as written, they immediately announce their new "enlightened" understanding of homosexuality changes previous constitutional law:
"Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."
Whoa, now there's a leap. It's one thing to note that non-traditional child rearing arrangements happen, even frequently, it's quite another to boldly assert that raising children who are by definition fatherless (or in a few cases motherless) makes no difference to society and the State of California. And don't you know it, sexual orientation is treated as tantamount to race, dogma that is unfounded and frankly insulting to African Americans and other ethnics (more on dogma later).

Before this they make some pro forma claims, using italics to let you know this is somehow "constitutional law", that they've determined that marriage is a basic substantive right, which is just jargon for "we're going to overrule the legislature and the people acting through the initiative process, just because." That's really all it means. Categorizing something as a "fundamental" or "basic" "substantive" "right" is just a bit of judicial code for "We "progressive" tyrants get to decide and no one else does."

It is, in legal terms, an ipse dixit, an "it's this way because I say it is," and you can always tell when a court is resorting to ipse dixit because it stops citing the actual constitution and previous decisions and begins speaking of hitherto-unknown "fundamental rights." How did they become "fundamental rights"? Who knows?

The ipse dixits roll on. The right to establish a family becomes part of the living, breathing, sexy constitution, and with it comes the also newly discovered secondary right of that family to be treated with "equal dignity and respect."

In fairness, this is the "conclusions" part of the ruling, so a lack of citations is to be expected. However, of course, this being a new right and all, they won't have actual citations for any of these propositions later, either; that's part of what makes this new law, after all. There are no actual precedents!!!!
"We need not decide in this case whether the name “marriage” is invariably a core element of the state constitutional right to marry so that the state would violate a couple’s constitutional right even if — perhaps in order to emphasize and clarify that this civil institution is distinct from the religious institution of marriage — the state were to assign a name other than marriage as the official designation of the formal family relationship for all couples. Under the current statutes, the state has not revised the name of the official family relationship for all couples, but rather has drawn a distinction between the name for the official family relationship of opposite-sex couples (marriage) and that for same-sex couples (domestic partnership). One of the core elements of the right to establish an officially recognized family that is embodied in the California constitutional right to marry is a couple’s right to have their family relationship accorded dignity and respect equal to that accorded other officially recognized families, and assigning a different designation for the family relationship of same-sex couples while reserving the historic designation of “marriage” exclusively for opposite-sex couples poses at least a serious risk of denying the family relationship of same-sex couples such equal dignity and respect. We therefore conclude that although the provisions of the current domestic partnership legislation afford same-sex couples most of the substantive elements embodied in the constitutional right to marry, the current California statutes nonetheless must be viewed as potentially impinging upon a same-sex couple’s constitutional right to marry under the California Constitution."
Oh puhleeze.

Next follows the typically slippery (and ipse dixit) "analysis" under equal protection. It's all a game of categorization -- if a law restricts a right the court categorizes as "fundamental" and imposes this restriction on the basis a "suspect" (i.e., what we judicial tyrants call "bad and wrong") classification, the court imposes a compelling/necessary test on the law, that the law must serve a compelling state interest and must be necessary to serve that state interest.

Now, that may seem like a test that can be passed under the right circumstances, but actually, it's not. No law ever survives that test, ever. Once the court has, by declaration citing the authority only of itself, categorized the classification as "suspect" and the restricted "right" as "fundamental," it's all over.

Any court just has to claim those magic words apply and it's all over. No deference whatsoever is owed to the legislature (or, in this case, the actual people of the state writing the law through the initiative process). The moment the court decides, on its own authority, to categorize (suddenly) the right as fundamental and the restriction of it as suspect, they rewrite the law however their consciences may impel them.

This passage begs the question:
"Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise — now emphatically rejected by this state — that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects “second-class citizens” who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples."
This is of course pure rubbish, as "the state" did not in fact "reject" treating homosexuals differently as regards marriage law, but actually encoded this distinction into the law itself!!! Had "the state" wished to "reject" this distinction, it would have passed a different law specifically "rejecting" the distinction.

The court is speaking here, it seems, as a tyrant, "l'etat, c'est moi" (the state, it is I, I believe it goes).

California has the citizen's option to re-elect or reject judges for another term after they are appointed. Not only must we vote YES on Proposition 8 to stop this judicial tyranny, but also--the next time their terms come up, reject these four arrogant judges:
1. Ron George, nominated to the California Supreme Court in 1991
2. Kathryn Werdegar , nominated in 1994
3. Joyce Kennard, nominated in 1989
4. Carlos Moreno, nominated in 2001

As you can see, being nominated by a Republican Governor is no guarantee that judges will not become arrogant.

It is sickeningly hilarious / hilariously sickening how the "established precedent" of 35 years is the absolute last word on why we CANNOT overturn the abortion of legislative power (even those of us pro-choice can acknowledge that) that is Roe vs.. Wade, but 6000 years of history regarding the purpose and function of marriage??? Hell, that can be discarded at will.

"Precedent" only matters if it's a leftist commie liberal precedent, otherwise, "Stare Decisis? Whuzzat? Never heard of it!!!

"Perhaps the most revolting is the dogma that somehow marriage as is is "discriminatory" and discrimination is against the California Constitution. Wrong on both counts. Proposition 22 already made it clear what the people intended when the legislature passed the anti-discrimination laws (which pertained to employment, housing, etc., NOT marriage)

That's the sort of thing a judge ought to take into consideration when construing written language -- be it a contract, commercial paper, a statute, or a constitution, you always have to ask "what did the drafter likely intend?" The best datum to make that determination was the overwhelming passage of the proposition, and the Court ignored it.

Here, the Court not only ignored it, but fabricated their own reality to come up with their result. Now please don't take me for arguing that all legal questions turn on majority will -- they manifestly do not. James Madison wrote extensively against tyranny of the majority, as well as tyranny of the minority.

But the Cal. Supremes essentially had to claim that their constitution, which did not formerly mandate gay marriage, now does, and to so claim THAT, they had to pretend that society accepted that gay marriage is now a fundamental right. But that is simply a fraud. Empirically speaking, even in hard-core liberal California and Massachusetts, the only relevant datum shows that society has not demanded gay marriage -- that it has in fact done the opposite.

Contrast this with SCOTUS decisions prohibiting racial discrimination. When the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964 were legislatively passed, it proved that American society had in fact evolved to the point that freedom from racial discrimination was a fundamental right. The vast majority of Americans believed it, and they so manifested by through their political representatives.

When the gay marriage advocates can produce results like that, then judges can plausibly rule that gay marriage has become a fundamental right. But they can't just invent the facts.

(2) Dubious Dogma

A funny debunking of the dogmas behind gay marriage can be found here.

Tom McClintock, the last Honest Politician in this state, wrote this short but great letter on the subject:
The argument for "gay marriage" is founded on the premise that marriage is simply a profound statement of devotion made between individuals, and denying homosexual couples this option is therefore discriminatory. It is a classic case of a perfectly logical conclusion arising from a perfectly false premise.

Marriage is an institution through which we propagate our species and inculcate our young with the intrinsic social behaviors that human society requires.

A child does not ask to be brought into this world - it is summoned by the willful act of a man and a woman. By so doing, that man and woman acquire a profound responsibility to the child - and to each other in the raising of the child.

A body of law has grown up around this natural institution. A marriage is solemnized to legally establish the unique tapestry of duties and responsibilities inherent in raising a child. Spouses cannot capriciously walk away from their responsibility to the family they have created. Their resources and earnings are pooled to assure the mother has the support and security she will rely upon as she makes the sacrifices of motherhood. Inheritance is arranged so that the resources of the family pass immediately to the surviving spouse to carry on the responsibilities both have mutually entered.

Centuries of experience have shaped the legal status given to marriage. Not the least of this experience is that children acquire critical social understanding from both the mother and the father, and that such an environment offers by far the best chance of successful social and emotional maturation for the children. Other experience also enters into the law. Polygamy is forbidden because of the stresses it places on the stability of the home. Marriage involving unemancipated minors is forbidden, as is marriage between close relatives.

It is true that some marriages are childless by either fate or design. But that does not alter the fundamental institution or the desirability of a society establishing, maintaining and protecting it.
This traditional concept of marriage has been undermined to the point that a third of all children are today born out of wedlock. No-fault divorce laws have weakened the responsibility parents have to maintain a stable environment. Welfare laws have made fathers disposable by replacing their earnings with a more reliable check from the state. Out-of-wedlock births that were once the object of societal disapproval are now casually accepted.

And the societal damage is substantial. A wealth of sociological data warns that a child raised outside of a traditional marriage faces much greater obstacles in becoming a well-adjusted adult.

One aspect of the assault on marriage is the movement now afoot to blur the distinction between marriage and homosexual partnerships. And it's an important
distinction. A partnership exists when two or more individuals come together to associate with each other on mutually agreeable terms for a defined purpose. In partnerships the only responsibilities are to the other partners under terms
freely negotiated and agreed to by them. No third party is involuntarily summoned into it. A homosexual relationship is obviously in the nature of a partnership and not a marriage.

True, some homosexual couples seek to raise children. But such an arrangement does not alter the fact that it is a fundamentally different relationship than a marriage. Nor does it negate the child's right and need to draw fundamental and unique sociological guidance from both a mother and a father. No matter how loving and caring, a homosexual couple cannot offer that.

Abraham Lincoln once asked, "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? The answer is four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one."

Nor does calling a homosexual relationship a marriage.
But let me go on to my own thoughts:

There is a dogma that somehow sexual behavior is an immutable characteristic, like race. Sorry, I know a good many women who had a period of same-sex experimentation, but can no longer be considered "gay" or "lesbian", as they are now married or otherwise steady with the opposite sex. I know of no one who stopped being "black". Calling "gayness" akin to "blackness" is, frankly, lameness.

Indeed, the whole nature of the "GLBT" Movement drops the lie on that idea. "B" is for bisexual, and "T" is for transgendered, or more accurately, those who mutilate their gender. Or even those who dress up and try to appear as the other gender. And those activities have waxed and waned over different cultures throughout history.

What I mean by that is, no one knows what percentage of the outwardly heterosexual population is actually bisexual, and might sometimes act on the homosexual side of their desires if it were much more socially acceptable to do so. But while no one knows the exact percentage, I think that many people in both the "straight" and "gay" demographics have a definite inkling that there are substantially more bisexuals than anyone is quite comfortable admitting. And anxiety about that drives a lot of the controversy over other gay-rights issues; if there were really a stark dichotomy between hetero and homo, and it were unheard of for anyone to straddle the fence or "switch teams" (and tear apart someone's marriage and kids in the process) then a lot of the other controversies would be relatively easy to settle.

There is also an undeniable trend to make bisexuality, among females anyway, chic. They even have Top Ten pop songs about it now. Young straight women making out with each other at parties was not happening at *any* of the parties I attended as a collegian 20 years ago. Now, it's become so ubiquitous in the culture that in a good many campus and twenty and THIRTYsomething parties you can't swing your arm out without knocking over two faux-lesbians kissing to the delight of their fellow party-goers. Now, is that because young women spontaneously decided to start making with each for no reason whatsoever, or has there been a culture shift in, for example, the entertainment media that gives young women the message that behaving like this is what they should do? I think you know the answer.

And if you do buy the "gayness is inherent" claim, then what about people who claim bisexuality? Are we to believe that they simply have to have sex with both men and women? If so, then I think we really are going to have legalize polygamy next. No compelling state interest in marriage between only one man and only one woman, means polygamy.

Now, I certainly wouldn't want to live in Saudi Arabia (home of the bin Ladens) or that wacked out FLDS neighborhood in New Mexico, or was it Utah. But that's exactly what's coming. Barack Obama himself was the product of a bigamous/polygamous "marriage" between a then 24 year old married man from Kenya and a then 17 year old girl (his mother).

The current gay response to the polygamy question is "oh come on" and condescension. Funny, that was the typical response to the demand for "gay marriage" 20 years ago.

I actually had a gay activist tell me that "Polygamy argues that the fundamental structure of marriage should be dissolved. Same sex marriage is an argument for inclusion in the institution as it already exists."

Absurd; that is just engaging in self-serving semantic games. The "fundamental structure" of marriage is and always has been in part defined by the fact that the people involved in one are of different genders. They're taking one requirement of the contract (the most important one by far, I would argue) and declaring it invalid simply because it's inconvenient to their personal belief system. You can't take the gender restrictions out of play and then pretend that the numerical ones are sacrosanct. Not convincingly, at least.

And this is where the hilarity and quite frankly disingenuousness of gay activists come in. They are willing to divorce marriage of a component, actually the key component...the one part that has never in the history of the institution changed, the sexes of the participants. And then they have the audacity to claim it's being changed unfairly to hurt gays? Can they say this with a straight (sorry, couldn't think of another expression) face?

"So just out of curiosity how do you explain homosexuality in the animal kingdom to your kids?" So said the same gay activists. Homosexual behavior happens (as does a sea lion trying to mate with a penguin), but it isn't the norm among creatures that require a male and female to reproduce, obviously. You'll also notice that most animals who engage in homosexual behavior will also mate with any animal of the opposite sex who comes along, as well as a tree stump or your leg. (It should be noted that rituals among animals that establish dominance or pecking order in a pack are not really sexual, and that some people interpret them as sexual says more about those people than about the animals!!!).

Some animals also kill and eat their young. I do not try to convince my children that this is normal, either. I do not use evidence of cannibalism in the animal kingdom to try to pass laws allowing cannibalism among humans. In fact, I bring up animal sexual behavior and animal cannibalism as rarely as possible.

Incest also occurs in the animal kingdom, along with chewing off another animal's leg (I've seen that twice in rodents). Indeed, animals will sometimes fight to the death or bite off each other's head (I'm thinking spiders here). Appealing to animals as role models for behavior is not something I often find it necessary to do. We ought to raise our children to be rise above animal impulses.

The nice thing about being human is that we can make choices. We can even make laws. We can say, "even if pedophilia FEELS right to me, maybe it's still wrong for me to act on that impulse." As thinking humans who are not controlled by our sexual impulses, we can also make choices about what constitutes a marriage, and in making that choice we can think about what's best for children. We can even go way, way out on a limb and decide that every marriage should include a potential mom and a potential dad, not two moms with no dad or two dads with no mom!!!

The definition of marriage has been the same throughout history, a union of a man and woman. Even the gay-friendly ancient Greeks didn't change that. A same sex union may be many things, but one thing it isn't nor ever will be is Marriage, no matter what any amount of Judges say. As I stated before, I could go with domestic partnerships, but calling those "marriage" is like calling a cat a dog because it, too, has four legs and a tail. It's still a cat.

Men don't have husbands and women don't have wives. Insisting otherwise doesn't make it normal or natural, and insisting on it does not make one "hateful" or "bigoted".

Reality on reality's terms, folks. Sorry.

(3) Societal Consequences and the need for "heterosexism".

The gay activists ask why this undermines marriage for the rest of us. The short answer is that undermines the purpose of state-sanctioned marriage: raising healthy kids. Out of wedlock births are already an epidemic in the US (and the reason for expanding, liberal government.)

Anything that waters down marriage isn't helping. To which I sometimes hear the rampant divorce argument. To which I can only reply, well, gee whiz, the institution is in enough trouble, so now you want to take it apart further???

One of our more annoying (and driving while intoxicated) politicians, Carole Migden, has her own way of taking it apart further.

Some might think that If two guys or two women (preferably not good looking, unless of course they are open to 3-ways, see bigamy and polygamy above--ha ha ha) want to legally bind their lives together, pay their taxes, own property, do some gardening etc. with or without children doesn't that benefit society? Sorry but no. We could acknowledge it with a domestic partnership or other sort of contract, and, sure, we could all wish them well. Happy for them. But how does that benefit society?

The state has a compelling state interest in the raising of healthy and happy children and this is best accomplished by marriage between a man and a woman. The government has been involved in marriage as long as I can remember in this country. When we made out of wedlock children to be the norm via no fault divorce law and welfare state regulations, we created millions of angry kids and the gang problem we have now.

(4) The sinister agenda -- totalitarian "politically correct" thought control

Once gay marriage is legally enshrined, won't it be illegal to give any favoritism whatsoever to heterosexual couples when assigning children to foster car or approving adoptions? Presumably, we won't even be allowed to consider the possible negative side effects because it won't be politically correct to do so. Brave new world.

Dennis Prager wrote a great column about all this:
Outside of the privacy of their homes, young girls will be discouraged from imagining one day marrying their prince charming -- to do so would be declared "heterosexist," morally equivalent to racist. Rather, they will be told to imagine a prince or a princess. Schoolbooks will not be allowed to describe marriage in male-female ways alone. Little girls will be asked by other girls and by teachers if they want one day to marry a man or a woman.
The sexual confusion that same-sex marriage will create among young people is not fully measurable. Suffice it to say that, contrary to the sexual know-nothings who believe that sexual orientation is fixed from birth and permanent, the fact is that sexual orientation is more of a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. Much of humanity -- especially females -- can enjoy homosexual sex. It is up to society to channel polymorphous human sexuality into an exclusively heterosexual direction -- until now, accomplished through marriage. But that of course is "heterosexism," a bigoted preference for man-woman erotic love, and therefore to be extirpated from society.
Any advocacy of man-woman marriage alone will be regarded morally as hate speech, and shortly thereafter it will be deemed so in law. Companies that advertise engagement rings will have to show a man putting a ring on a man's finger -- if they show only women fingers, they will be boycotted just as a company having racist ads would be now.
Films that only show man-woman married couples will be regarded as antisocial and as morally irresponsible as films that show people smoking have become.

Traditional Jews and Christians -- i.e. those who believe in a divine scripture -- will be marginalized. Already Catholic groups in Massachusetts have abandoned adoption work since they will only allow a child to be adopted by a married couple as the Bible defines it -- a man and a woman.
Anyone who advocates marriage between a man and a woman will be morally regarded the same as racist. And soon it will be a hate crime.

Indeed -- and this is the ultimate goal of many of the same-sex marriage activists -- the terms "male" and "female," "man" and "woman" will gradually lose their significance. They already are. On the intellectual and cultural left, "male" and "female" are deemed social constructs that have little meaning. That is why same-sex marriage advocates argue that children have no need for both a mother and a father -- the sexes are interchangeable. Whatever a father can do a second mother can do. Whatever a mother can do, a second father can do. Genitalia are the only real differences between the sexes, and even they can be switched at will.

And what will happen after divorce -- which presumably will occur at the same rates as heterosexual divorce? A boy raised by two lesbian mothers who divorce and remarry will then have four mothers and no father.

We have entered something beyond Huxley's "Brave New World." All thanks to the hubris of four individuals. But such hubris never goes unanswered. Our children and their children will pay the price.

And this has already happened. Charities in Massachusetts shut down their decades long and very successful adoption services in MA after "Same Sex Marriage" was declared a "right" there. Why? Because MA state sued the charities for discrimination because they placed children with married hetero couples and didn't place with gay couples.

And this totalitarian push is happening with the teachers unions as well:

Here’s a pop quiz: Who’s donated the most money to an effort in California to defeat Proposition 8, an initiative on the November 4 ballot that would define marriage as between a man and a woman in the state?

A) Gay-advocacy organizations
B) Civil-rights groups
C) The California Teachers Association

If you guessed “C,” you understand the nature of modern liberal politics. And if you didn’t, perhaps you’re wondering what exactly gay marriage has to do with K-12 public education. The high school dropout rate is 1-in-4 in California and 1-in-3 in the Los Angeles public school system, odds that worsen considerably among black and Hispanic children. So you might think the CTA, the state’s largest teachers’ union, would have other priorities.

Yet last week the union donated $1 million to the “No on Proposition 8″ campaign. Of the roughly $3 million raised by opponents of the measure so far, $1.25 million has come from the teachers’ union. “What does this cause have to do with education?” said Randy Peart, a public school teacher in San Juan who was contacted by a local television station. “Why not put that money into classrooms, into making a better place for these kids?”

In fact, the CTA and its parent organization, the National Education Association, have used tens of millions of dollars in mandatory teachers’ dues to advance all manner of left-wing political causes. And members like Ms. Peart are right to ask questions. In some years barely a third of the NEA’s budget has gone toward improving the lot of teachers themselves.

In addition to vigorously fighting school choice and other reforms that benefit underprivileged children but threaten the public education monopoly, the NEA has directly (or via state affiliates) bankrolled Acorn, the Democratic Leadership Council, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and, naturally, the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.”

Public school teachers of America, take note. This is your dues money at work.
Jeff Goldstein snarks:

B-but — who can be against “equal rights”? And how dare the WSJ question educators who are using their money to fight hate!


– Or, and here’s another (racist, homophobic) way of looking at it: why would the CTA and NEA presume to “speak” — and make no mistake: this is in effect what they are doing by requiring mandatory dues, and then using those dues to fight political policy battles — for the entirety of their rank and file as if that rank and file was politically homogeneous?

And the answer is, quite simply, that part of the requirements for membership in the fraternity of teachers is an acquiescence to the ascendant totalitarian groupthink narrative as defined by the union “leadership”. In this sense, heretical teachers are much like gays or blacks or women who wander off the liberal plantation and express individual ideas at odds with the sanctioned positions of their representatives — with the added indignity that they must continue to pay for the privilege of being misrepresented.

And then there are the parents, who in many instances have little choice but to take advantage of the public school system. Which means more and more these days, sending your child off to a left-liberal indoctrination camp dedicated to the politicizing of anything and everything in the curriculum (with some schools even mandating that each field of inquiry dedicate a portion of its time examining its precepts through the smudged lens of race and gender — making for some interesting lessons, no doubt, on the systemic oppression of fruit flies by an institutionalized white patriarchal logic). The personal being the political, it makes sense that the child under the charge of those who believe such a cheap bumper sticker attempt at mass contextualization be primed for his or her necessary political consciousness raising.

What does gay marriage have to do with the California Teachers Association?

Everything, if the the CTA is run by the likes of Bill Ayers and dedicated to his communistic vision of "social justice". Joe Sixpack probably sees this differently, which just proves how racist, sexist, and homophobic he really is.
Therefore his vote does not count. Joe: just shutup and pay your goddamn taxes. The CTA may not be able to influence you, but they can program your kid so that he will be one with the hive mind.

Oh well.

Indeed, many gay totalitarian types use "Same Sex Marriage" as the issue to shut down anyone that dissents from their "Party Line". A public school teacher that says marriage should be one man/one woman? Disciplinary action! A marriage therapist that won't take gay couples? License revoked. A wedding photographer that won't take a "Same Sex Marriage" gig? Business license revoked.... all cases that have already happened.

All based upon a twisted interpretation of the "Equal Protection" clause of the 14th Amendment.

Which raises an important question: does this twist on the Fourteenth Amendment trump the First Amendment? Because I'm telling you in no uncertain terms that being forced to recognize homosexual marriage as akin to "holy wedlock" by the State is tantamount to the State meddling - deeply - in the "free exercise of religion".

I would go so far as pointing out that such meddling is an example of the State respecting an establishment of religion outright contradiction to the First Amendment wit, it is tantamount to forcing the practice of leftist dogma as a quasi organized religion.

Hell, this current election is ALL about devout Leftists embracing an (Oba)messianic figure creeps me out.

More directly illustrative of the point ...let's say I'm a preacher of some church, and the State says that regardless of my church's stand on marriage and sin, only it can sanction and license "holy wedlock" and choose whether to allow me to join couples as such together you now see that it may be no stretch at all to see the State requiring me to perform such ceremonies? Or lose my license to perform such?

Or - as I see someone has already noted - say that I'm running an orphanage and I am now required to place children into homes where homosexuality is openly practiced.

You see, the problem isn't simply granting gays due process rights under the 14th Amendment by allowing them to legally marry.

Marriage is by definition ...of a Western (at least, if not only) cultural tradition dating back thousands of years ...the "joining together" of those of the opposite sex in a consensual contract recognized by law (of the State? OR by the Church? Or by what exactly). And therein lies the heart of the problem.

The problem is that for the State to grant (especially through judicial fiat) gays a "right" to what in essence is inherently a religious ceremonial concept - a religious ceremony that the State has usurped - ends up coming smack up against the First Amendment. Because marriage is NOT simply a civil matter: it touches upon fundamentally held beliefs of Judeo-Christianity which are at the core of Western culture.

This is a hot potato. First, judges are jerks whenever they rush pell-mell into the culture wars like this. Second, there is simply no give in Christianity about homosexuality ...none whatsoever. Third, there IS a constitutional crisis at the heart of this ...and it's being forced upon cultural Christians by gays ...and you bet your ass that they have every right to be resentful about it.

Surprisingly, given all that, that there is a "fair" solution in our modern society that acceptably meets both the First and Fourteenth Amendments. And that gays would likely agree meets due process. And that wouldn't harm the practice of marriage and the sanctity of the vows of holy wedlock within the Christian community.

Namely: the State should get out of the marriage "business" entirely. It should license only civil unions under state laws. Gays can - then - quit feeling like they're being legally dissed even though under law civil unions ALREADY have the force of marriage ...and us moralistic folks can go back to rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's.

Heh. Make you a bet: it ain't gonna happen ...not in the good ol' USA. Even Democrat politicians are smart enough to recognize that the day they propose such a thing - let alone try and enact it - is the day they are tarred and feathered and ran out of town on a pole. Let alone try and win an election. Americans won't put up with it ...especially us bitter clingers.

And really, militant gays won't accept it either (I'd point out that they have obviously not accepted it) because they don't simply want equality under the law: they want to force acceptance of their sexual practices upon those who find them abhorent.

Which brings us to the impasse.