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100 Days of Debt

The news media is in  a tizzy over President Obama’s first one hundred days in office.  They seem to see more significance in “milestone” than they did in President Bush’s reelection just over four years ago.  It’s as if it were some landmark event that wouldn’t have happened were Obama just not so gosh darn wonderful.

Well, the news media may think he’s wonderful, but, well, the American people, while generally liking the guy, don’t think he’s any more wonderful than his predecessors at this point in their presidencies:

According to Gallup’s April survey, Americans have a lower approval of Mr. Obama at this point than all but one president since Gallup began tracking this in 1969. The only new president less popular was Bill Clinton, who got off to a notoriously bad start after trying to force homosexuals on the military and a federal raid in Waco, Texas, that killed 86. Mr. Obama’s current approval rating of 56 percent is only one tick higher than the 55-percent approval Mr. Clinton had during those crises.

Yet, this middling approval rating for a new president hasn’t stopped the media from gushing over his popularity.  The president’s approval is not just middling, it has also slid more rapidly than his predecessors, given how much higher he started.

He took office with a 68% approval rating which, according to Gallup, is “on the high end of the range of initial job approval ratings Gallup has recorded for the previous eight presidents who were elected to their first term.”  Only Eisenhower, enjoying at 72% approval rating at the beginning of his first term, had a higher rating.  Kennedy had an identical rating to that of his Democratic successor.

Perhaps, the President has seen his ratings drop so precipitously because he has strayed so far from the rhetoric of his campaign and the tone of his transition.  Running for office, he promised a “net spending cut.”  Once in office, he pushed through a near-trillion dollar “stimulus” and pushed a budget with a deficit even higher than that through Congress.

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House Passes Hate Crimes Legislation; Delays DADT Repeal

With the House passing H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (by a 249-175 vote), gay groups are cheering.  I guess the White House is too; the President had urrged Congress to pass this bill.

While I don’t share the view of social conservatives that such legislation could target churches, I do share the concern of libertarians, particularly legal scholars, who don’t like this bill because it targets thought. It enhances penalties for violent crimes not on their degree of violence, but on the thoughts of the attacker.

If someone beats you up because he hates your sexuality, gender, religion or ethnicity, his punishment is greater than if he beats you up because he doesn’t like you personally, hates your hair color, social standing, appearance or outfit.

While gay groups cheer today a bill that will make little difference in anyone’s life (I have yet to see any research showing that such laws deter violent crime), they should be working harder (as at least one gay group is doing) to repeal a law which has an adverse impact every day gay men and women eager and willing to serve and protect our nation.

The Democratic Congress has delayed consideration of legislation repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT).  The passage of Hate Crimes legislation and the delay of DADT repeal is just a sign of the Democrats’ attitudes toward gays.  A lot of symbolism, very little substance.

Repeal of DADT could make a real difference in the lives of a good number of gay Americans while increasing the pool from which our armed forces can draw recruits.  Hate Crimes laws do little more than make people feel good that Congress cares about them.

We should all be very suspicions of legislation whose primary goal is to make people feel good.

UPDATE:  This legislation is more problematic than initially indicated:

HOUSE APPROVES FEDERAL HATE-CRIME EXPANSION BILL. Jacob Sullum comments: Aside from the usual problems with hate crime laws, which punish people for their ideas by making sentences more severe when the offender harbors politically disfavored antipathies, this bill federalizes another huge swath of crimes that ought to be handled under state law, creating myriad opportunities for double jeopardy by another name.

The President Enters the Fever Swamp

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 4:46 pm - April 29, 2009.
Filed under: American History,Obama Watch,Tea Party

Just look at how he describes the Tea Parties:  “Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I’m not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around . . . .

Emphasis added.  Guess he doesn’t know that we called them Tea Parties in honor of a certain pivotal event in American history.  Wonder why that is.

UPDATE:  Why is the President getting so defensive?  Thin-skinned is he?

The Departure of Arlen Specter
& the Return to Unifying Republican Principles

Commenting on social conservatives gloating over Arlen Specter’s decision to switch parties, moderate Republican blogger Dennis Sanders suggests that “they probably have resigned the GOP to a rump status,” warning “you can be an ideologically pure party or you can be a majority party, but you can’t be both.”  He’s onto something here.

Yes, Republican needs moderates to reach a majority, but those who see Specter’s departure as a sign of the GOP abandoning moderates ignore the peculiarities of the Pennsylvania Senator’s persona and career.  He has never been much of a party loyalist, using the Republican Party as a platform to get elected, but doing little to help build the party in the Keystone State.  As Bruce put it, except in the years he was running for reelection, “he would just melt into the Washington Elite.

The GOP did its utmost to keep Specter.  In 2004, then-President Bush and his then-fellow Republican Senator Rick Santorum campaigned for him in the Republican primary.  After the 2004 elections, despite attempts from conservatives to remove him as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, his Senate GOP colleagues kept him in place, with a number of conservatives (including notably Hugh Hewitt) supporting the move.  Just last month, Texas Senator John Cornyn chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) “sent a fund-raising plea on behalf of” his Pennsylvania colleague.  This was after Specter had voted for the spendthrift “stimulus.”

It’s not so much that the party was moving too far to the right, but that Specter sought political salvation in the party that’s moving even further to the left.

While some say Republicans have been taken over by social conservatives, Glenn Reynolds, himself a libertarian, just doesn’t see the GOP’s shift to the right on social issues.  Perhaps, people see such a shift because the party, until recently, had abandoned its small government ways, allowing social issues to appear as the issue which distinguished Republicans from Democrats.

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NH Senate Vote on Gay Marriage Shows Benefits of Legislative Approach

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 2:43 pm - April 29, 2009.
Filed under: Freedom,Gay Marriage

While the manner in which the New Hampshire Senate passed a bill recognizing same-sex marriages left much to be desired (perhaps all lawmaking leaves much to be desired), there is much to cheer about this process.

Just like the legislation in neighboring Vermont, the New Hampshire bill preserves religious freedom:

But undecided Democratic Senators secured concessions in the form of amendments in return for their commitments to vote in favor the bill during private meetings on Tuesday night. The key amendment would allow churches to refuse to conduct a same-sex marriage.

While many gay marriage advocates assure us that state recognition of gay marriage will preserve religious freedom, given the eagerness of courts to mandate “equality,” many social conservatives are understandably wary.  That’s why it’s important to include a provision protecting the rights of religious institutions to refuse to conduct marriage ceremonies that do not conform with their particular creed.

It would be nice as well if as Vermont, this bill barred “civil lawsuits against religious groups that refuse to provide goods or services to same-sex weddings.

That said, inclusion of that religious-freedom amendment shows the merits of going through elected legislatures.

Carrie Prejean’s Lesson for Gay Marriage Advocates

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 5:36 am - April 29, 2009.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Gay Marriage

It’s entirely likely Perez Hilton attacked Carrie Prejean because he knew his tirade would increase his media profile.  And he probably realized he could get away with it.  In our contemporary media culture, there’s no cost to insulting someone who holds socially conservative views.

It’s not just that there’s no cost.  It’s that it’s practically become standard practice.

Even when gay marriage advocates do not use the harsh language that he did, when many appear on TV or on the radio, or are otherwise quoted in the MSM, they will invariably attack their adversaries, oftentimes in personal terms.

And that’s why Carrie Prejean triumphed last week.  She didn’t respond to Perez Hilton in kind, merely stated her views.  She thus offers a lesson for those who disagree with her.  Do, as she does, say what you believe, clearly, concisely and with conviction.

And don’t attack your adversaries. Just make a better case than they do.  Respect them as individuals.  Don’t mock (or otherwise belittle) their motives.  Appreciate that they express their convictions with sincerity.  Take the time to understand their arguments and then carefully, rationally refute them.

Arlen Specter’s Opportunistic Switch

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 2:33 am - April 29, 2009.
Filed under: 2010 Elections,Congress (111th)

As I spent the better part of Tuesday away from the web and from any source of news, I did not read or hear what others have been saying about Arlen Specter’s sudden decision to switch parties.

My sense is that anything I might have to say has already been said.  I’ve only read one post on the matter, that of my co-blogger; I pretty much agree with Bruce that Specter’s “only principle has always been self-preservation.”  Though I might change tbe word “only” to “primarily.”

It’s clear he made the decision he did today not out of principle (as he claims) but out of concern for his political survival. He stands a better chance of winning the Democratic primary than the Republican one, though I daresay it won’t be smooth sailing for him next year in the Democratic contest.

Interesting that in the one news article I did see on the switch, Specter did cite “public opinion polls.”  Even he acknowledged he was making the switch so as to better stay in to power.  I’d read that he’d only registered as a Republican because that party affiliation would have made it easier for him to run for Philadelphia District Attorney back in the 1960s.*

Finally, it seems that the Democrats were bound and determined to get to 60 votes in the Senate.  My sense is that they began working on this as soon as New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg withdrew from consideration as Commerce Secretary.

Interesting that no news of this leaked out until today.

In short, this is all about Democrats increasing their political power and Arlen Specter’s trying to assure his political survival.

*UPDATE:  We can always count on Michael Barone to be able to answer such questions for us:  “Party-switching is something Specter is adept at. He switched from the Democratic to the Republican party to run for District Attorney of Philadelphia County in 1965“.