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White House Economic Advisor to Step Down

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:27 pm - August 5, 2010.
Filed under: Economy

With the U.S. Department of Labor set to release unemployment figures tomorrow that some economist believe will show an increase in the percentage of Americans out of work, it’s no wonder Hotline reports, “Christina Romer, chairwoman of Pres. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, has decided to resign, according to a source familiar with her plans.

Reporter Kirk Victor’s source reports:

“She is ostensibly the chief economic adviser, but she doesn’t seem to be playing that role,” the source said. The WH has been pounded for its faulty forecast that unemployment would not top 8% after its economic stimulus proposal passed.

Instead, the jobless rate is 9.5%, after exceeding 10% last year. It was “a horribly inaccurate forecast,” said Bert Ely, a banking consultant. “You have to wonder why Summers isn’t the one that should be taking the fall. But Larry is a pretty good bureaucratic infighter.”

According to a July 15 Wall Street Journal article, in fact, “today there are 700,000 fewer jobs than Ms. Romer predicted we would have if we had done nothing at all.

Wonder if Dr. Romer is being forced out so the president can bring on economists who can make a better assessment of the impact of his policies.

More people blame Obama than W for nation’s economic woes

High on the Democrats’ campaign agenda for 2010, indeed, perhaps the dominant theme of their rhetorical battles of the past 18 months, has been that they inherited a whole passel of problems from George W. Bush.

So, they’re going to run this fall against Bush, given their belief that more people blame the immediate past president for the nation’s woes than fault the incumbent.  Guess these folks weren’t paying very much attention to polling trends, showing an increasingly number of Americans laying the blame at the feet of the current president — and his party.  And now, well, I’ll turn the floor over to Julie Mason:

Forty-eight percent of likely voters blame Obama’s policies for the nation’s economic condition, compared to 47 percent who fault former President George W. Bush, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Although the difference is small and within the margin of error, the poll marks the first time in Obama’s presidency that more people blame him than Bush for the economy.

If trends continue, come November, far more voters will be blaming Obama for the nation’s economic woes while even more people will be pining for the “good ol’ days” when George W. Bush was in the White House.

Oliver Stone Takes Western Notion of Self-Criticism Too Far

Speculating about the media’s (and Hollywood’s) double standard in responding to anti-Semitic tirades from Hollywood bigwigs, Jeff Jacoby concludes:

Gibson and Stone are both guilty of indulging in rank anti-Semitism (for which both promptly “apologized’’), but only Gibson was buried under a newsroom avalanche of outrage and disgust. What explains that glaring difference? Surely the media don’t think Jew-baiting is intolerable only when it comes from a right-wing Christian like Gibson. Surely they wouldn’t overlook Stone’s noxious rant just because he is a pluperfect left-wing activist.

(Via Instapundit.)  And as Glenn might say, read the whole thing.

Jacoby’s right, but there’s more to it than that Gibson represents a dying breed, the anti-Semitic “right-wing Christian,” Oliver Stone embodies a certain breed of self-styled intellectuals, always present, but now increasing in number, in our culture:  the left-winger who includes Jews in their list of people responsible for world problems.

There are, alas, all too many folks like Oliver Stone who see all the world’s problems as products of Western hegemony.   They cuddle up to tin pot tyrants, looking away from their failing economies and dismal human rights record and see only problems in the societies of which they themselves are products.

It’s almost as if they have so internalized our culture’s laudable tradition of self-criticism, that they believe only our culture merits criticism.

Does Obama Oppose Senate Dem Vote to Let Tax Rates Rise?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:01 pm - August 5, 2010.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Congress (111th)

Barack Obama during the presidential campaign:

The Washington Examiner today:

With these two identical 58-42 votes, all Senate Democrats except Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., just voted to let rates rise for individuals and small businesses beginning next year. The vote, forced by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., would have extended the current, lower rates for the two categories.

I’m sure the president will be taking Senate Democrats to task for voting against a proposal to block a tax increase.  Unless they change course, tax rates will rise — even for families earning less than $250,000 year.

Judge Walker: Clueless about the “Historical Core” of Marriage

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:28 pm - August 5, 2010.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues,Gay Marriage

While Judge Walker is right about one thing in his discussion of marriage, but dead-wrong about another:

Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. . . . Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.

“Miscegenation” laws prohibiting marriages between individuals of different races were a statutory invention.  The historical (as well as literary, see, e.g., Othello) record is full of such marriages.

Sex difference, however, has always been at the core of the definition of marriage  — long before governments recognized such unions.  If you don’t believe me, I suggest you study the marriage rituals of any culture; you’ll find that each treats the bride and groom differently.

Or, look at the cultures which have recognized same-sex unions.  They either called them something other than marriage or required that one spouse live in the guise of the opposite sex — at a time when sexual roles were far more stratified that they are today.  In Native American cultures (called either berdache or Two-Spirit), that meant that in male-male unions partner not only had to dress like a woman, but perform or social roles as well.

With his opinion, one federal judge both demonstrates a cluelessness about the history of marriage and a determination to remove one of its defining aspects from its legal meaning.

Reading Sex Difference out of the Meaning of Marriage

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 10:47 am - August 5, 2010.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues,Gay Marriage

As I mentioned in a previous post, the folks at PajamasMedia asked me yesterday to pen a post on gay marriage.  Let me whet your appetite with the opening paragraphs:

If, in his opinion overturning California’s Proposition 8, Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker were making an argument for gay marriage to a the elected members of a state legislature, the first 60-odd pages of his opinion would be a fine contribution to the debate.  In thoe pages, he summarizes the benefits of marriage, how the institution promotes social stability and personal happiness (among other things)– and how extending those benefits to same-sex couples would most assuredly benefit gay people.  Indeed, Dale Carpenter, Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law at the University of Minnesota, called the opinion overall “a pretty good compendium of a policy brief for SSM.

Walker’s ruling, however, is not a policy brief, but a judicial decision striking down a popular provision in the California constitution stipulating that the state only recognize unions between one man and one as “marriages.”   With his decision, the Judge prevented the people from settling the controversial issue of how states could recognize same-sex couples and personally assuming the responsibility for determining how the state may regulate the unions it recognizes as married.

To be sure, he makes a good case for gay marriage, but a lousy one for usurping the power from the people to decide this issue.  In this sense, his ruling becomes a political boon for the GOP–as it can tie his decision to the increasing sense that our governing bodies (e.g., Congress the various bureaucracies it has created) are disregarding the popular will as they make laws and set policy.

To read the rest, click here.

Yes, Judge Walker, Gay Marriage is Social Change

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:57 am - August 5, 2010.
Filed under: Blogging,Constitutional Issues,Gay Marriage

As I began reading Judge Walker’s opinion yesterday overturning Proposition 8, I had some indication I might like the opinion.  That thought cheered me for a moment as it would be a lot easier socially to support the decision than to oppose it.  But, the more I realized I could never support an opinion with sloppy jurisprudence and such a casual dismissal of sexual difference (even couching it in the trendy term of “gender”).

So casually did the judge address some very, serious issues that Dale Carpenter feels he practically invites repeal:

But he then concludes that because laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples are not rational, “the court need not address the question whether laws classifying on the basis of sexual orientation should be subject to a heightened standard of review.” If that’s true, why address the issue at all? He may be hoping, in maximalist fashion, to lay some foundation for future courts to apply strict scrutiny to sexual-orientation discrimination. But at the same time, leaving the intellectual structure unfinished, he invites a higher court to undermine it.

Walker then rejects as irrational each of the reasons offered for Prop 8, including tradition, procreation, and the need to proceed cautiously and incrementally on matters involving important social change. The biggest difficulty with his argument on these matters, as I see it, is that he thinks of gay marriage as a technical change in the law about which there is no need to proceed cautiously. California has enough printers and paper to issue the additional marriage licenses, so what’s the big deal?

I had the same sense as I read the Judge’s “Conclusions of Law”, that he was acting as if sexual difference were merely incidental to marriage rather than one of its defining aspects.

Plain and simple, gay marriage represents a major social change.  Now, I happen to think that if gay couples understand and accept the obligations of marriage, this social change will be a good one, but it remains a social change.   And we shouldn’t shy away from seeing it as such.  Nor should courts reduce that social change to a minor, technical adjustment. (more…)

Blogligations

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:54 am - August 5, 2010.
Filed under: Blogging

They say that with blogging you get to blog about whatever you want.  And to a large extent, we do.  But, once you have found a certain “niche” (as it were) in the blogosphere, your readers (as well as other bloggers) expect you to blog about certain things.

This week, for example, I had a whole list of topics I wanted to address.  I wasn’t really in the mood to write about gay marriage, though that list did include a topic I have long wanted to address — that the best argument for state recognition of same-sex marriage is a socially conservative one.  Indeed, Judge Walker made some arguments along those lines in the early portion of his opinion.

But, I knew Tuesday night, when I read the the court was about to release the opinion that I’d be devoting my day to gay marriage.

A while ago, when just before bed, I learned some information showing Log Cabin doing something I strongly supported, I knew I’d have to stay up a little later to blog on the topic.  We had been critical of the organization and I wanted to given them credit where due.  Staying up late to work on the post, I coined the term, ‘blogligation” to deal with such matters, topics we’re “obliged” to cover based on posts we have penned in the past.

Reader Report from West Hollywood “Decision Day” Rally

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:09 am - August 5, 2010.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,LA Stories

I had planned to attend the rally Wednesday evening in West Hollywood to celebrate Judge Walker’s decision, but because Pajamas media asked me to write a piece on the ruling (and because work on that piece took longer than anticipated), I chose to stay home and complete it. (Hey, they’re paying me.)

Fortunately, while writing the piece, I was corresponding with reader Chris H who attended the rally. His report:

I got to rally about 630 just as Villaraigosa was starting the Spanish version of his speech. Chad Griffin gave pretty much the same speech he did on TV this afternoon. They also trotted out some of the lawyers. The speeches were the usual rehash and thank yous to everyone. The most interesting was Ted Olson who talked about how foolish the defense was during the trial and lightly touched on the constutional issues. Rally wrapped up at quarter to seven with them blaring Born in the USA. Crowd wasn’t too big…stretched from the stage at Robertson back to the swings at the play area. I think maybe 600 or so on a rough count but I’m not an expert at crowd estimation.

Based on what I read about the trial, I pretty much agree with Olson.  I have heard many sound arguments in favor of retaining the traditional understanding of marriage, few were considered at the trial.

I do believe that the strongest argument against state recognition of same-sex marriage is that the institution is rooted in sex difference.  In dismissing that difference, Walker was at his weakest, relying on 1960s mumbo-jumbo rather than actual scientific research.

I was struck by how small the crowd was (particularly compared to last May’s rally against the state Supreme Court decision upholding Prop 8).  Here’s one of Chris’ pictures:

(more…)