Monthly Archives: April 2007

Rudy Giuliani Sells Out On Civil Unions

Back in February 2004, before he was running for President, Rudy Giuliani had this to say to Bill O’Reilly on the subject of civil unions for homosexuals:

On a February 2004 edition of Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Mr. Giuliani told Bill O’Reilly, when asked if he supported gay marriage, “I’m in favor of … civil unions.”

He also said, “Marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.” Asked by Mr. O’Reilly in the interview how he would respond to gay Americans who said being denied access to the institution of marriage violated their rights, Mr. Giuliani said: “That’s why you have civil partnerships. So now you have a civil partnership, domestic partnership, civil union, whatever you want to call it, and that takes care of the imbalance, the discrimination, which we shouldn’t have.” In 1998, as mayor of New York City, Mr. Giuliani signed into law a domestic partnership bill that a gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda, hailed as setting “a new national benchmark for domestic partner recognition.”

Now that’s he’s running for President, though, Ryan Sager at the New York Sun notes a rather startling departure from his previous position:

In a startling departure from his previously stated position on civil unions, Mayor Giuliani came out to The New York Sun yesterday evening in opposition to the civil union law just passed by the New Hampshire state Senate.

” Mayor Giuliani believes marriage is between one man and one woman. Domestic partnerships are the appropriate way to ensure that people are treated fairly,” the Giuliani campaign said in a written response to a question from the Sun. “In this specific case the law states same sex civil unions are the equivalent of marriage and recognizes same sex unions from outside states. This goes too far and Mayor Giuliani does not support it.”

Why might Giuliani change his position like this ? I think it’s pretty obvious, actually. He’s running for the Republican nomination for President and he needs to pander to the Religious Right in order to win the nomination. He’s already changed his position on abortion, so it’s not surprising that he’d change his mind on this issue as well.

Because, you see, when all you care about is winning, what you believe really doesn’t matter.

Barney Frank: Libertarian Impersonator

When I think about lawmakers with libertarian leanings, Massachusetts’ Barney Frank (D) isn’t one that normally comes to mind. With the way Frank responded today in regard to the bill passed by the last G.O.P. controlled congress and assuming I knew nothing else about him, I would think him to be ideologically similar to Ron Paul (but I do know better and clearly he isn’t). Barney Frank does apparently have a bit of a libertarian streak, when it comes to internet gambling at least.

Here are a few of Frank’s statements he made today on the House floor:

“What kind of social, cultural authoritarianism are we practicing here? I think it is a great infringement on liberty. When it comes to an individual decision on how to spend your own time and money, that’s not my position. That’s not my business. I am skeptical of people who want to protect people from themselves.”

“[T]he fundamental point is this. If an adult in this country, with his or her own money, wants to engage in an activity that harms no one, how dare we prohibit it because it doesn’t add to the GDP or it has no macroeconomic benefit. Are we all to take home calculators and, until we have satisfied…that we are being socially useful, we abstain from recreational activities that we choose? This Congress is well on the way to getting it absolutely backwards. In areas where we need to act together to protect the quality of our life, in the environment, in transportation, in public safety, we abstain; but in those areas where individuals ought to be allowed to make their own choices, we intervene.”

“People have said, what is the value of gambling? Here is the value. Some human beings enjoy doing it. Shouldn’t that be our principle? If individuals like doing something and they harm no one, we will allow them to do it, even if other people disapprove of what they do.”

The very idea that adults should be trusted to make their own decisions provided they do not harm a non-consenting other adult…what a concept! If only he would apply this thinking to other such government interventions such as the war on (some) drugs, obscenity laws, prostitution, and blue laws.

One would think that the so-called party of limited government (don’t laugh, I’m referring to the Republican Party) would be on board with Barney Frank on this issue but sadly this is not the case. Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter, for example, wants to restrict gambling even further both online and offline. Frank’s position on this issue is currently unpopular in both political parties and his proposed legislation faces certain defeat.

It’s too bad that our elected officials have caved to pressures from moral busy-bodies of all stripes. I have never personally participated in online gambling, but what business is it of mine if my neighbor does? The answer is of course that it isn’t any of my business at all and certainly not the business of the federal government.

Shameful

“5-minute delay crucial in Tech shooting”

“Police said he unleashed 170 rounds on the classrooms of Norris Hall during a nine-minute rampage. Thirty people were killed in the building; more were wounded.

During those shooting, police spent three minutes rushing to the building and then about five minutes breaking through the building’s doors, which Seung-Hui Cho had chained.

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The five minutes police spent breaking into the building proved to be crucial as Cho moved through Norris Hall unimpeded.

Authorities eventually blew their way into the building, and as they began to rush toward the gunfire on the second floor, Cho put a bullet through his head and died, surrounded by his victims.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller praised the officers’ response time, noting that had police simply rushed into the building without a plan, many would have likely died right along with the staff and students. She said officers needed to assemble the proper team, clear the area and then break through the doors.” (Emphasis mine.)

Oh, I’m sorry. I thought that was your JOB. God forbid that officers actually put their lives on the line so that others might live. I guess they’re too busy busting poker games and shooting 92 year olds during drug raids. Is that a cheap shot? Yes. But I’m pretty damn pissed off at this notion that police need to wait until it’s “safe” before entering a situation.

As for the fact that he chained the doors shut, there are ways of getting chained doors open. From the same article:

Tom Corrigan, former member of a terrorism task force and a retired New York City detective, said five minutes seems like a long time when gunfire is being heard, but he added it’s tough to second-guess officers in such a chaotic situation.

“I would have liked to have seen them bust down the door, smash windows, go around to another door, do everything to get inside fast,” he said. “But it’s a tough call because these officers put their lives on the line on a daily basis and I am sure they did the best they could.”

Al Baker, a former 25-year veteran in the New York Police Department, echoed that sentiment, but said sometimes officers have to do whatever is necessary to enter a building — whether it’s throwing a rock through a window or driving a car through the door. He said the crucial issue is ensuring that officers have the proper training and equipment.

And that’s the crux of the matter. These officers didn’t have the training or mindset to respond to this type of a situation. You take the first four officers that arrive on scene and go in. Period. No ifs ands or buts. It’s your JOB. When you put on the badge and strapped on a sidearm, you supposedly took on a responsibility to protect those you serve. Unfortunately, even in a post-Columbine world, it seems some cops still don’t take that responsibility seriously.

Just remember this the next time someone says that the proper response to a threat is to call the police and wait. They do a great job of investigating bodies, but they’re a little weak on the response side, unless the threat is willing to politely wait for 8 minutes.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset. It is an improvement, after all. At least they didn’t wait 40 minutes before “clearing” the building.

A Purely Symbolic Shot Across The Bow

The United States Senate joined the House today and passed an Iraq War spending bill that includes a timetable for withdrawal of American troops:

The Senate today gave final approval to a $124 billion war spending bill that requires troop withdrawal from Iraq to begin by Oct. 1, with a goal of ending U.S. combat operations there by next March.

President Bush has pledged to veto the bill, and White House spokeswoman Dana Perino promised this morning he would act “very soon.”

The Senate approved the measure by a 51-46 vote, a day after the House passed the bill by 218-208, brushing aside weeks of angry White House rhetoric and veto threats.

“It is time to end the loss of American lives and to begin to bring our soldiers home,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said on Senate floor this morning. “For the sake of our troops we cannot repeat the mistakes of Vietnam and allow this to drag on long after the American people know it’s a mistake.”

Today’s vote completes work on the rarest of bills: legislation to try to end a major war as fighting still rages. Democrats hope to send the measure to the White House on Monday, almost exactly four years after President Bush declared an end to major combat in a speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. That would be a particularly pungent political anniversary for Bush to deliver only the second veto of his presidency.

The problem is that, just as Bush’s landing on the Lincoln and standing below the “Mission Accomplished” banner was a purely political stunt, this spending bill is also a purely political stunt. The Democrats know that the President is going to veto this legislation and it’s fairly obvious that they do not have the votes to override the veto.

As I’ve noted before, this leaves the Democrats with two alternatives. Either they refuse to pass any supplemental war funding bill at all, meaning that money to fund the war will run out sometime in July. Or, they take the timetable language out of the bill (or turn it into a “suggestion” that either side can do with what they wish) and use the President’s veto as a political tool in 2008.

As I’ve also noted, it seems clear that while the public wants the war to end, they don’t support withholding funds from the troops while they are still there fighting.

Given this, it’s clear that what the Democrats are engaged in here is a purely political stunt and they will blink at some point in the future. That doesn’t mean it’s a dumb move politically, of course, but they should at least be honest about what they’re doing.

A Record Day For The IRS, A Bad Day For The Rest Of Us

I’m sure they were partying over at the Treasury Department yesterday, because they had a record day:

U.S. tax receipts from individuals hit a record one-day high of $48.7 billion on April 24, a Treasury Department official said on Wednesday.

The previous record was $36.4 billion, set on April 25, 2006, said Jennifer Zuccarelli, a Treasury spokeswoman.

The record reflects taxes not withheld from individuals over the course of the year, but paid to the government before this year’s April 17 income-tax deadline.

Think about it, in one day, the Federal Government took $ 48.7 billion out of the pockets of American taxpayers.  Think of all of the productive uses that money could have been put toward. Instead, it goes into farm subsidies, and, of course, Nancy Pelosi’s travel budget.

Of course if you work for the Federal Government, paying taxes is apparently just an option:

More than 450,000 federal workers and retirees owe a total of $3 billion in back taxes, prompting the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to urge President Bush to put more effort into collecting from delinquent government employees.

“If the federal government doesn’t make its own employees follow the rules, it’s hard to tell the rest of the American people that they should do better,” committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in a statement accompanying the delinquency figures

Don’t you understand Senator, taxes are for the little people.

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