Thursday, October 12, 2006

The weirdest point in Monday night's Webb/Allen debate - which, for a forty-five minute debate, had a surprising number of weird points - came when Webb attacked Allen's limited foreign affairs experience by asking a question about the Senkaku Islands.

I dislike Allen as much as [more than] the next guy, but that seemed a bit underhanded. On the one hand, yeah, he should know what's going on in the world. But on the other hand, he's running for the Senate, not the Oval Office (yet). And the Senkaku Islands are - relatively speaking - small fish in a big pond (I'm hardly a foreign policy expert, but I'm fairly well educated, and I wouldn't have known where the Senkaku Islands are if Webb hadn't told me). Webb was clearly trying to get Allen back for the Craney Island debacle from a little while ago, and I can understand that. But I don't think there's anyone, including George Allen and his staff, who would argue that between George Allen and Jim Webb, Allen's the foreign policy expert. So how does this help Jim Webb? I guess the best-case scenario is that the voters say to themselves, "Gosh, Allen doesn't know anything about foreign policy, but Webb does, so I guess I'll vote for Webb." But all things considered, I think the far more likely result is that the voters say to themselves, "Self,* I have two things to say. First, Jim Webb is an asshole for sandbagging George Allen that way. And second, I don't care about foreign policy."

* - This is what each voter says to him- or herself, hence the singular.

From a couple of days ago: a Montana state representative, Roger Koopman (R-Obviously), was "insulted" by Gov. Brian Schweitzer's "incredibly bigoted" statements that seem to imply that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old. Now I suppose one ought to have a relatively laissez-faire attitude toward people and what they choose to be insulted by, but you have to feel bad for this guy: with a bar set that low, he's probably insulted quite a lot.

(And lest you godless liberals jump to the wrong conclusion and assume that Koopman's a crazy Christian creationist, you should know that his belief is based not on faith, but on his own "scientific investigations.")

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Boston Globe finds John Kerry's recent frenetic activity to be a sign of an impending candidacy... and not the local kind. I supported Kerry two years ago (once he became the nominee), and if he wins the nomination in 2008, God knows I'll support him again. But I very much hope that I don't have to.

Kerry should have won in 2004. He ran a decent race, and he owes a fair part of the blame for his loss to an attack campaign that would have been an insult to the voters' intelligence if it hadn't been so damned effective (the fact that middle America could be outraged by Kerry's apparent military deceit and yet simultaneously turn a blind eye to Bush's military experience is quite exceptional). That being said, it worked. And given that, I think Kerry's time has come and gone.

There are plenty of Democrats who would come out of the gate with a significant handicap: Obama's too inexperienced; Richardson's too unknown; Hillary's too... Hillary. Kerry's handicaps are as severe as any of those, if not moreso (the Swiftees are still around, after all). And while his handicaps are just as unjustified as any of the others', there's a crucial difference: Kerry's had a chance to get himself out from under them, and been unable to do so. It's not his fault, I don't think; but he's a weaker candidate for it. And weak is the last thing the Democrats need.

Protesters in Pittsburgh chase Jeb Bush and his staff into a broom closet at a subway station. (Really.)

I've honestly never been so proud to have grown up there.

(If memory serves, there are only about four subway stations in all of Pittsburgh, so I guess it's lucky that he was near one.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The New York Times today launched a four-part series on "how American religious organizations benefit from an increasingly accommodating government." The first article focuses on the licensing exemptions granted to religious day-care centers, which are apparently quite extensive. (The pastor of one church, explaining his support for the exemptions, noted that his congregation had "talked about" getting licensed in the past, but rejected it because "it would cost us quite a bit of money." In other words, they know they're substandard, but they don't want to invest the money necessary to bring themselves up to code.) It's a long article, but an interesting read.

(Special jargon-laden alternate post for 1Ls: Enjoy reading about zoning law? Employment Division v. Smith? The RFRA? The RLUIPA? Then this is the series for you!)