Wednesday, June 27, 2007

One Question for Rudy

I want to start off by saying that I am generally satisfied with the Republican candidates for president. They are people with whom I find a lot of common ground and would vote for long before any of the Democratic contenders.

Still, there are issues that trouble me about each candidate. I've talked before about some of my qualms about McCain, most recently in discussing McCain-Feingold. Today, there is one question that still plagues me about Rudy Giuliani: How?

Giuliani's position on abortion has been well documented and I have explained the fallacy of his constitutional reasoning for supporting taxpayer funding of abortions. More recently Giuliani has argued that he will increase adoptions and decrease abortions. It is one of his now famous "twelve commitments". Giuliani has repeated the statistics from his tenure as mayor evidencing that phenomenon in New York.

Which brings me back to my question: How? What is it that will accomplish these two goals? What policies resulted in the success in New York? Or was it purely coincidence that took place during Giuliani's How will that work on the national stage? I assume that Giuliani will explain as he gets through fleshing out his twelve commitments, but count me skeptical right now.

Mostly I find myself skeptical because the two issues do not necessarily correlate. Increasing adoptions does not necessarily decrease abortions. Conversely decreasing abortions does not necessarily translate into more adoptions. Thus, trying to merge the two issues confuses the listener.

Which brings me to a reason why I support Mitt. We have seen Mitt defend life. He understands the role that a strong executive can play in reducing abortions. It's not just through strict constructionist judges. It's not just through personal opposition. It is through the full exercise of executive powers. Right now Mitt understands and advocates that. Rudy does not.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life

First off, I want to encourage our readers to read the actual opinion. If you want to get a good idea about the arguments involved in the campaign finance reform issue, the majority opinion, concurrences, and dissent all provide a good representation of the different sides of the argument.

Here’s a little about the case. It is a follow-up case to McConnell v. FEC. McConnell decided that McCain-Feingold was valid just from a reading of the language, but left open the question of whether in actual application it would still be constitutional (or in legal terms, an “as applied challenge”). FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life resolves the question of the as applied challenge. Chief Justice Roberts, the majority author, decided that McCain Feingold is unconstitutional as applied to the issue ads by WRTL without reversing McConnell. Justice Alito concurred, noting that he would be open to overruling McConnell depending on the effect of the WRTL case’s effect. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy concurred in the result, but stated that McConnell should be overruled. Justices Souter, Stevens, Breyer, and Ginsburg dissented.

In a sense this is both a small and a big win for free speech. It’s a small win because the actual outcome is fairly narrow. This follows the general judicial philosophy of Justices Roberts and Alito, who generally have been deciding cases on narrow grounds rather than making grander pronouncements. Roberts’ declination to overrule McConnell makes this holding of this case fairly narrow, dealing only with what is and what isn’t an issue ad. Much like the partial-birth abortion case, Gonzales v. Carhart, the narrow grounds upon which the case was decided tempers the ability of the winning side to make any grand pronouncements as to the effect of the case.

On the other hand, this is a big win for McCain-Feingold’s opponents. The test set forth by Roberts is exacting. It will make McCain-Feingold essentially toothless for any political ad other than those expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. Additionally, WRTL paves the way for further erosion and the possible overturning of McCain-Feingold in its entirety. Three Justices already openly advocate it. Alito signaled that he could be convinced to do so. Roberts is more cryptic, but it seems likely at the least that he would also be willing to overturn it. Such a reversal would be a huge win for such a conservative cause as the First Amendment. (Note that usually the first amendment is a clarion call for liberals defending the worst human behavior – i.e. “bong hits for Jesus - while suppressing its intended purpose of promoting political speech).

McCain (and possibly Fred Thompson) should be embarrassed for supporting such a blatant infringement of the First Amendment. While his concern with political corruption is laudable, silencing political speech is directly prohibited by the First Amendment, and certainly is not the method to avoid corruption. That McCain would choose to sacrifice free speech for the sake of political candidates is indefensible. Roberts’ judicious approach to the law leaves McCain-Feingold still alive but on life-support. Had Justice Scalia been writing the majority opinion, he would have left nothing of McCain-Feingold’s restrictions on speech. Indeed, as Scalia notes in his concurrence:
There is wondrous irony to be found in both the genesis and the consequences of [McCain-Feingold]. In the fact that the institutions it was designed to muzzle—unions and nearly all manner of corporations—for all the “corrosive and distorting effects” of their “immense aggregations of wealth,” were utterly impotent to prevent the passage of this legislation that forbids them to criticize candidates (including incumbents). In fact the effect of [McCain-Feingold] has been to concentrate more political power in the hands of the country’s wealthiest individuals and their so-called 527organizations, unregulated by §203. (In the 2004 election cycle, a mere 24 individuals contributed an astounding total of $142 million to 527s.) And, in fact, while these wealthy individuals dominate political discourse, it is this small, grass-roots organization of Wisconsin Right to Life that is muzzled.
Score this a win for free speech and Romney.

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 08, 2007

Iowa withdrawal

I could be a little confused here, but Rudy and McCain are conceding Iowa? An editorial by Pat Buchanan says that they are smart to avoid Romney in Iowa and should bank on New Hampshire. However, Buchanan sums up the essence of what this means for both Iowa and New Hampshire:
But in running Rudy and John out of Ames, Romney has shown real strength, and must now be the favorite to take Iowa in January and probably is the man to beat in New Hampshire.
To me it really is stunning that Rudy and McCain so early and readily conceded Iowa. Less than two months ago Romney was down by double digits to Rudy, McCain, or both. Now Romney is the favorite having taken the lead in most polls with some showing a double digit lead. Many analysts have explained that Romney is the only one on the airwaves, but if this were the only reason wouldn’t the answer be to just combat Romney’s advertising with advertising of your own? As Jason has explained, this is expensive, but aren’t you running a campaign to win? If it’s not worth the money to you to win, then what are you doing campaigning and fundraising?

As unlikely to outsiders as it may have seemed after the first quarter fundraising numbers came in, Romney’s fundraising is a manifestation of the support widespread support that Romney has garnered as people have met him and embraced his message. As silly as the explanations of predominantly Mormon supporters or wealthy fat-cats were and are, analysts and detractors can’t explain Romney’s Iowa surge on a narrow base of fawning Mormons or former business partners. It seems more and more to me that the first quarter fundraising numbers were indicative of things to come. Unfortunately for Rudy and McCain, there comes a time where you have to perform. You don’t always get to explain away your defeat as resulting from a “late start” or whatever other excuses there might be.

It’s also interesting to me that Rudy and McCain would bank on New Hampshire. Romney has a bigger lead there than in Iowa. Or maybe they will also back out of New Hampshire to bank on South Carolina or Michigan or Nevada or Florida. But by that time how many wins does Romney have? No, by that time it will be more than apparent that Republicans are with Romney. Perhaps they feel more comfortable with the poll numbers in Florida which look like the Iowa numbers from two months ago. How long will those numbers stay like that? I wouldn’t feel too comfortable if I were Rudy or McCain.

Admittedly, there’s a lot of time in between then and now and certainly strange things can happen, but this is a win for Romney. One of many to come.

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 01, 2007

Brownback's ideas...

...on evolution are on display here, although I'm not sure what the pressing need to address evolution was. Perhaps he's still thinking about the first debate all those weeks ago. I guess he was of the mindset, "Better sooner than later."

Perhaps next he could address his thoughts on Bush v. Gore or the fall of the Berlin wall.

Labels: ,

McCain and Religion

Check out this post from EFM about McCain's religious outreach problems.

Labels: ,