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Voting Early in Los Angeles

Well, I voted.

And it was an unbelievably LA experience. I went with my gut when I voted and find myself, perhaps for the first time since I joined this blog, differing from my co-blogger on a major issue. And while I still have my doubts about my decision, I believe, given the circumstances, I made the right choice. More on that anon.

The only place where one can vote early in LA is in Norwalk, a city that until today I had only heard of, but had never visited. It took me about 40 minutes to get there. On the way there, I saw my first “Hillary” bumper sticker in a while. On one freeway, I was tailgated by an oversize pickup even though I was in the right lane. Later, on another freeway, there was a slight traffic jam, all caused (as I would soon learn) by a Toyota Tercel puttering on (in the second left-hand lane) at about 40 miles an hour (that’s the equivalent of a man with a broken leg competing in a track meet).

When I called the County Registrar, they had told me I might have to wait if I arrived at 2. I go there at about 1:45 and waited no more than 10 minutes. Still, the woman at the counter told me it had been busy. I did see a steady stream of people coming in, but the line was never more than 3 or 4 deep.

This morning, when I woke, my heart was telling me to vote McCain while my head said Romney. I guess our hearts are closer to our guts and I went with my gut. I still have my problems with the Arizona Senator. When, after voting, I followed Glenn‘s link to Bill Quick’s explanation of why he’s not voting for McCain, I found that he spelled out some of my concerns with the Arizona Senator. (I expressed some of my own misgivings here.)

Despite this differences, Eric Scheie reminds us of the Gipper’s rule (also via Glenn) that “the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and ally.” And McCain has a lifetime American Conservative Union (ACU) rating of 82.3. (He also notes that the devil is “in the details” of that rule, so check out his piece and read the whole thing to see what he means.)

Even with his flaws, John McCain would be a much better president than Ms. Hillary. Most polls show him beating the former First Lady. Her victory, as Eric reminds us, would place the whole country “in a state of extreme dishonor, and it won’t much matter what the Republicans think or say.


DADT & The “Unit Cohesion” Fallacy: One Veteran’s Story

Posted by Average Gay Joe at 7:58 pm - February 3, 2008.
Filed under: Gays In Military

I finally received the copy of Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians In The U.S. Military by Randy Shilts I had ordered and began reading it today. I’m only about 10% finished, but so far this book is just amazing. Growing up an Army brat, I’ve always enjoyed “war stories” from military veterans. It’s not the violence I find appealing but instead learning how these veterans faced such adversity and how these experiences forever changed their lives. This book certainly seems to fall into that genre thus far, with the added challenge of these veterans being gay in an environment unfriendly to their sexuality. I truly regret not knowing about this book in 1994 when it first published. Given how much I usually get out of the personal stories of veterans, this book could have helped save me about a decade of struggling with this issue myself. Pity.

While there are other stories I’ve read so far in this book that are more compelling in terms of gay veterans participating in combat, with undoubtedly more to come, the story of Perry Watkins has caught my interest the most. His story is also relevant in today’s debate about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that bars gays from openly serving in the military. In 1967 Watkins was a young black man who had grown up in the virulently racist Old South. Amazingly enough, he was open and upfront to others about his homosexual orientation which at that time made him a hated minority within a hated minority. The official policy of the U.S. military back then of excluding homosexuals was similar to what it is today under DADT, in that “the presence of homosexuals would seriously impair discipline, good order, morals and the security of our armed forces”. During the latter part of the Vietnam War, the military found itself in desperate need of more soldiers and then as seems to be happening in today’s conflicts in many cases turned a blind eye to the presence of openly acknowledged homosexuals within the ranks. The main difference between gays openly serving then and those doing so today is that the former were mostly draftees in a largely draftee military, while the latter freely enlisted into an all-volunteer force. Yet even with this difference, the “unit cohesion” argument used by advocates of DADT today falls flat given the military’s own undermining of it during wartime. Thus we get to the story of how Perry Watkins served in Vietnam despite being very open about his sexuality. To read that story, just click here: (more…)

John McCain & Conservatives (Part 1)

I have been told that if I want to avoid lines when I vote early today, I should arrive at the one location for early voting in LA County before noon. Given that there is only one such location in this, the largest county in the nation, we should expect long lines. But, I’m not sure that if I get there at noon, I’ll have made up my mind.

I guess I’ll just take a book and some print-outs of articles on the election so I can entertain myself when I vote later in the day — hoping I have come closer to a decision.

While I am certainly leaning toward one candidate, I have my doubts about him as I have my doubts about his rival for the GOP nomination. After getting polled on Friday, I got phone-banked on Saturday. Perhaps, aware of the indecision I expressed in that poll, McCain’s campaign wanted to remind me of his conservative record.

I heard the Arizona Senator’s recorded voice express a commitment to conservative ideas. (I had to rush to grab a pencil so was not able to transcribe the first few seconds.) He called himself a “Ronald Reagan conservative,” pledged to lower taxes and, on the issue of immigration, to securing the border first(glad to hear him recognize this and his shift from the legislation he proposed last year). He said, “I will appoint conservative judges” like Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito. Most importantly, he reminded me that the “greatest challenge is the defeat of radical Islamic extremists.”

Were it not for his performance in last Wednesday’s debate — and his past bucking of the party — that call might have sold me on John McCain.

I am pleased that he is reaching out to the right. I was delighted to read that not only has he won the endorsement of Steve Forbes, a prominent fiscal conservative, but that he has also brought one of the nation’s leading conservative jurists, former Solicitor General Ted Olson onto his campaign, to co-chair Senator McCain’s Judicial Advisory Committee. A good sign that if elected president, the Arizona Senator will appoint conservative judges to the federal bench.

McCain will need to make more such moves if he wants to win over his party’s base. In his phone appeal, he has shown that he understands how to talk the conservative talk. But, the real issue is, how he convince us that if elected, he will walk the walk?

[Please note that I have called this part one as I hope to build on the ideas I am developing in this post on how McCain needs to reach out to conservatives to win the Republican nomination this spring and hold onto the conservative base this fall]

UPDATE: Decided to go to an event at my synagogue this morning. I returned home to find a message on my answering machine from John McCain. He begins by saying that he has “listened and learned” on immigration. I want to believe this is true.

I will weigh this message as I head off to vote in a few minutes.

Of Liberal “Silencing” and Clinton “Ickiness”

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 12:15 pm - February 3, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Politics,Liberals

Welcome Instapundit Readers!!! While you’re here, take time to browse around the website that has been called “the most reliably conservative gay blog on the Internet.”

Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds linked an interesting post where Stephen Bainbridge noted the “guilty pleasure” one liberal law professor felt in voting for Ms. Hillary. What struck me was that she is now experiencing what many conservative academics have experienced, writing “I have been quite surprised to learn how ‘silenced’ I feel by my many colleagues who are enthusiastically supporting Obama.”

She has found the “being inside the experience of a ‘minority view’ in my own institutional political culture is instructive.” Let’s hope this makes her more tolerant of conservative ideas — and individuals.

What struck me about Professor Bainbridge’s piece was not merely this woman’s reflection on being a minority on a college campus, but something he said about the Clinton experience. He really got at the reason many of us (even those on the left) don’t want to see that couple back in the White House:

Finally, although I know most Democrats seem to look back on the Bill Clinton era with fondness, I suspect that most—in their heart of hearts—don’t miss the slease, vindictiveness, political opportunism, and general ickiness of the Clinton White House.