A blog of politics, law, religion, and the tricky spots where they collide.

Questions? Contact.

Two more Senate seats were called for the Democrats

Wins in Montana and North Dakota give the Democrats a total of 53 seats in the Senate, not counting two Independents who will caucus with them. This includes pickups in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Indiana. In contrast, they lost Ben Nelson’s seat in Nebraska.

Losing Ben Nelson’s seat is really only losing half a Democrat. On the other hand, the Republicans only lost half a Republican with Brown. So we’ll call that a tie. Except that Warren is now a Senator from a state with notoriously low turnover, so we’ll likely have a serious progressive in Ted Kennedy’s seat until Warren retires.

I was undecided on the presidential race when I got into the car to go to the polling place. When I actually got into the voting place, my right hand wanted to vote for Romney (who I believe can do a better job on the economy, which is the most important issue) and my left hand wanted to vote for Obama (who I respect for health care, foreign policy, positions on social issues and commitment to education, but who has played too much small ball in the campaign). In the end I gritted my teeth and voted for Obama on the basis that I know where he stands and trust him more. Let’s hope that if we wins, he unites red states and blue states.

—In a development that means a lot to me, an undecided voter broke for Obama.

Principled Stances on Shaky Ground

Letters to My Country explained why, as a prinicpled stance, he does not feel he can vote for Barack Obama.

I deem it self-evident that for every voter out there, there exists a certain set of actions so beyond the pale that no amount of “lesser evil” logic can justify casting one’s vote for the individual responsible. That line was crossed when the Obama administration rubber-stamped the use of indefinite detention, extrajudicial assassination, and unrestrained drone warfare.1

I don’t disagree that we have—and should have—such lines. But I think where we draw that line depends a lot on where we stand. I’d offer a pair of observations to supplement the responses of others.

  1. Systemic poverty is violence. So is slashing housing, food, and medical programs that address this violence.[^2] Declining to take action that could prevent this harm is, at best, refusing to intervene.
  2. I have a huge respect for anybody who is willing to suffer for a principle. If you’re surviving on Medicaid, a Section 8 voucher, and foodstamps but nevertheless won’t vote for Obama/Biden because you can’t be complicit in their foreign policy, you’re hardcore. I disagree with you—but I admire you.
  3. If you, like me, will do reasonably okay under a Romney administration … that stance looks a bit different. Risking your own food, housing, and health for a principle is very different than sacrificing somebody else’s.

It’s election day. I won’t change any minds. Vote however you have to.

  1. For the purpose of this post, I’m not going to quibble with the phrase, “indefinite detention, extrajudicial assassination, and unrestrained drone warfare.” While I have serious reservations regarding each of the policies alluded to, I think the context, alternative, and details of each requires a more nuanced treatment. I also think that it’s worth noting that as queasy as we may be with the Obama’s administration’s policies, Romney has been far more enthusiastic about expanding all of them. 

Obama essentially has four ways to win tomorrow.

Assuming Obama can hang on to the reasonably safe states of Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, he needs to do ONE of the following:

  1. Win Ohio, or
  2. Win Virginia, or
  3. Win Florida, or
  4. Win Colorado.

If he wins Ohio or Florida there’s some room for error in the other states. Of those options, an Ohio victory is most probable. Florida is the least probable.


So I’m a bit worried about the Presidential election polls released today. The election is likely to be really, really close. I think Obama is more likely than not to win in the same way that you’d more-likely-than-not survive a round of Russian Roulette. But … I’m nervous.

Animated GIFs, Bingo, Drinking Games, and the Presidential Debates

The Presidential debates are maybe a tedious waste of time. And maybe we feel like it’s a civic duty or something to watch them.

Perhaps this sort of silliness is a reasonable compromise. “We’ll do the civic engagement thing. But we’re going to make it a bit more bearable.”

Regarding that First Obama/Romney Debate

I still think it was a healthy exchange of ideas. Romney changed some positions and some facts. But overall, contrasts were drawn and it was more substantial than most candidate debates.

Unfortunately, the press seems to care a lot more about tone and body language. Perhaps the press should just have a Zoolander-style walk off and stop pretending to care what was actually said.

Voting for Torture

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has released its annual scorecard. NRCAT scored Senators and Representatives based on a variety of votes.

Paul Ryan recieved a score of 11/100 by failing ot act against torture on eight of nine opportunities.

Ron Paul, by contrast received a score of 83. (He missed some votes and co-sponsorship opportunities.) Rand Paul is at 50%—but he’s new enough that there’s not much data.

John Boehner managed a perfect 0. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi received 100.

I would encourage anybody interested in preventing torture by the U.S. to look through the score cards. As my libertarian friends are quick to point out, nobody has a perfect record. But … there are many shades of imperfect. If ending torture is important to you, you don’t have a lot of friends among the Republicans. And you definitely won’t have a lot of friends in Mitt “Double Guantanamo” Romney’s administration.

Romney’s Vulnerability

Romney is Schrodinger’s Candidate. He simultaneously holds multiple positions—and only resolves into one when observed.

Put bluntly, he’s a fraud. In the end, the election will turn on that. Kerry couldn’t recover from that charge in 2004. Romney is even worse. Romney seems a bit annoyed that anybody would even consider the constant position flipping a problem. Who wants to vote for a guy like that?