Friday, October 27, 2006

The Republican bill of exclusions.

Once again the dishonest, corrupt and authoritarian Republicans have resorted to hate in desperation. King George, in Iowa, made gay marriage the issue again. And the congressional candidate there, Jeff Lamberti, inserted references to the topic in his speech as well. Bush said: “Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage.”

Typical Bush lie. Bush argued: “I believe it’s a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families and it must be defended.”

Now let’s look at this sort of Rovian distortion. The New Jersey court did not assault marriage. Nor did they say that gay couples ought to have the right to marry. What it said was that the New Jersey constitution guarantees equality to its citizens and that gay couples ought to have equal rights. It said whether or not this ought to be marriage or some other method was entirely up to the legislature.

Now marriage is an important institution. I would agree. Sacred? Well, that implies a religious belief behind marriage. If you want one fine. But for the US government to create a legal status based exclusively on theology is wrong.

But we can agree that good marriages make society better and improve the lives of families. Good marriages make gay society better and improves the well-being of gay families as well. I have yet to see any serious attempt by the bigots to explain why marriage is good for straights but not gays. Or why it is good for kids with straight parents but not for kids with gay parents. They don’t even try to explain what they mean.

What the Religious Right does is mouth meaningless, undefined slogans devoid of content. I have yet to hear how, if Adam and Steven are in a committed relationship and married, that this makes the marriage of King George and Queen Laura less safe for them.

The Religious Right is sounding similar to the Secular Left. The Left will argue that an economy is zero-sum game. If Bill Gates gets more then everyone else is somehow worse off. They never tell us how everyone else is worse off. If the economy grows through the efforts of Gates we are all better off. The Left will always be able to find some people or groups who experience faster growth than other groups. And they always imply that because this happens the slower growing groups are worse off.

For them every good thing that is created must come at the expense of someone else. For Gates to have more I must have less. This is pure nonsense. But so is the zero-sum marriage game. Bush the Second implies marriage is under attack and must be “defended” against evil gays.

Well, the economy is important. Agreed! And it must be defended. Agreed again. So therefore we have to stop X group from getting access to the economy. What? That sort of logic is bad economics. If more people access the economy it makes us better. Ditto for marriage.

If marriage is all the good things that the Religious Right says it is then how does more stable gay relationships make all of us worse off? No answer is ever given. Try to find one. The typical tactic of the religious bigot is to merely restate their claim in different terms. If they say marriage needs defending from gays and you ask them to clarify how gays marrying destroys marriage they respond: “Because marriage is important.”

Well, that marriage is important and must be defended is their premise. Their conclusion is that gays must be excluded from marriage. They have merely restated the premise. Over and over they reword themselves without once getting past their premise. “Marriage would be weakened if we allow gays to marry.” Again that is the premise not evidence to support it.

The Republican Senate candidate in Virginia, who has been plagued by his own mouth making racist comments, George Allen rushed over to a rally held by the religious bigots who are pushing through a clause to the state bill of rights. The amendment would actually say that unmarried people don’t have rights. This in a “bill of rights.” Imagine a bill of rights made up lists of people who don’t have rights? That would appeal to King George.

In Tennessee the Republicans are now running ads against Harold Ford, Jr. the Democratic candidate for Senator. They are trying to tie him to the gay marriage issue. They just pulled ads they were running there that even the Republican candidate said smacked of racism.

And finally let us put to rest this exhausting canard about activist judges. Republicans don’t oppose activist judges. George Bush relied on them quiet heavily to become president. Courts have two major functions. One is to try criminal cases and see if the law is being upheld. The second is to make sure that the supreme law is upheld.

What is the supreme law? The supreme law is the constitution. And at the state level the supreme state law is the state constitution.

What Bush doesn’t like is that laws which violate the US constitution are invalid. He wants to rule by decree and signing orders. He doesn’t want the rule of law. The last thing he wants is his authoritarian measures judged by the Constitution. They would not hold up to scrutiny except with a rubber stamp court.

In New Jersey the state Supreme Court said that the state constitution guarantees equality of rights and that the state is obliged by their own constitution to grant that equality. How it did so is entirely the business of the legislature. That they do so is entirely the business of the constitution which has jurisdiction over the legislature. The court was not being activist. If that were they case they would step outside the constitution not interpret the constitution.

When governments do bad things to people. When they make some people second class citizens or deny them their rights the purpose of a bill of rights is to restrain the government. And it is the job of the courts to impose those restraints.

The advocates of limited government ought to applaud restraints on government to infringe on liberty. But then the Republicans no longer support limited government. They are the party of big, intrusive government. And they are twisting the very concept of a bill of rights into a grotesque distortion of itself. A bill of rights was meant to list important liberties which no government, at any level, ought to be able to take away. Now the Republicans are pushing the idea that a bill of rights ought to be a list of groups excluded from rights.

To say that Bush and the Republican Party are evil for doing this would be a gross understatement.

Update: According to the New York Times the sleazy racist ad against Ford in Tennessee is still on the air. They say the assurances given by the Republicans that the ads would be pulled were lies. The ads still live. The Republicans claim they funded the ads but an "indepedent" group is running them. They are merely playing games. I would guess they polled and found the ads, which imply the black Democratic candidate is "after" white women were having the impact they wanted and they are going to keep them running as long as they can before the backlash gets too big. Republicans disgust me. Democrats shouldn't get too thrilled. I'm not exactly thrilled with you guys either. But it is Republicans who really disgust me these days.