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Month: February 2004

Real thing or nothing

The Massachusetts Supreme Court just ruled that civil unions won’t satisfy the constitutional requirement to permit gay marriage. This guarantees that a Massachusetts constitutional amendment will wind up on the state ballot in 2006. Despite all the whining about judicial activism, this is the only way Massachusetts voters were going to get to vote on the issue — the Massachusetts legislature wasn’t going to go out of their way to put a constitutional amendment allowing gay marriage on the ballot. Seems to me that a) the judges acted correctly, fulfilling their obligation to rule on Constitutional questions and b) their actions have made it possible for the matter to be considered by the voters. Ironic.

Mini super

Welcome to your handy guide (biased and slanted) to today’s primaries.

We have seven primaries today, which will greatly affect the chances of three and a half candidates. (If Kucinich, Lieberman, or Sharpton win any of the primaries, that will have an effect as well, but I’m dubious about their chances. Which is a shame, at least in one case.) Dean’s strategy is to spend all his money on Michigan and Washington in an effort to win both of those states. Winning Michigan would put him solidly back in the race. However, he’s not expecting to win anything today.

So we have Clark, Kerry, and Edwards. Kerry’s still in the race unless he suffers a catastrophic failure today. He needs to win at least three of the states he’s projected to win, and really wants to win all five of them to cement his status before the upcoming contests with Dean. Edwards and Clark both have to win the states they’ve targetted. Here’s the breakdown.

Not very tight race between Kerry and Clark, with Kerry leading. Clark would love to win this state but it seems unlikely. Dean would like to beat Edwards here. My guess: Kerry, Clark, Dean.

Kerry has Missouri almost wrapped up. Edwards wants to get enough votes here to pick up some delegates. Clark is nowhere in the mix. My guess: Kerry, Edwards, Dean.

This is Clark’s must win; unfortunately, Edwards and Kerry are pushing him hard. Kerry more than Edwards. If Clark loses this state he’s more or less out of it barring a really unexpected victory elsewhere. If Edwards wins this state he’s in excellent shape. If I had to bet money on this one, I’d say Clark, then Edwards, then Kerry.

South Carolina
This is Edwards’ must win. Kerry is polling well here. Dean would like to beat Clark here, but the race for third is neck and neck. It’s sort of bad that Clark can’t beat Kerry for second in a southern state; it weakens the argument that Kerry can’t win over southern voters. Edwards wins this pulling away, with Kerry a strong second.

Lieberman is making a stand here. He’ll come in second to Kerry. Fairly unimportant state this time around except insofar as it’s where Lieberman has spent all his time and energy and he still won’t win it. Lieberman’s campaign ends here.

North Dakota
Kerry has a fairly big lead over Clark. Edwards is a distant third. I expect that order to hold in the polls.

New Mexico
Dean recently said he could win this state. He’s running second to Kerry in the polls, with Clark nipping at his heels. Maybe he was looking at old polls? Maybe he has interesting internal numbers. I’d say Kerry wins it but only by a few percentage points.

The perfect cook

Just as a reminder:

Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term – namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target.

It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories.

Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create?

Why is it necessary to resort to war this week, while Saddam’s ambition to complete his weapons programme is blocked by the presence of UN inspectors?

— Robin Cook, March 18th, 2003

Hamburger tomorrow

Bush neglected to add funds for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to the budget. Again.

That’s a little unfair of me, since in the one case we’re talking military funding and in the other we’re talking human aid. Still, either way he’s avoiding the true cost of the war. “The White House expects to cover the war costs with supplemental funds after next fall’s elections.” Indeed.

Monday Mashup #26: Around the World in 80 Days

Time for mashup number twenty-six. Hey, that’s half a year! Not too bad. Our subject today is the classic Jules Verne novel Around the World in 80 Days.

It’s your basic travelogue in fictional form, with the added excitement of (unjust) pursuit by the law. Phileas Fogg, accompanied by his faithful servant Passepartout, must transnavigate the globe in 80 days to win a fairly sizable bet. That provides the essential aspect of time pressure. Everything else is just trouble along the way, with Detective Fix as a secondary plot backbone.

Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814. He was one of the most noticeable members of the Reform Club, though he seemed always to avoid attracting attention; an enigmatical personage, about whom little was known, except that he was a polished man of the world. People said that he resembled Byron—at least that his head was Byronic; but he was a bearded, tranquil Byron, who might live on a thousand years without growing old.

Inconsistent issues

Westwood One Radio Network is owned by Infinity, a subsidiary of Viacom. Viacom’s other properties include CBS. CBS just refused to run issue advertisements during the Super Bowl.

Oddly, on the Westwood One pregame Super Bowl show, I just heard two advertisements for LDS Family Services. I didn’t find either of them objectionable; they were both pro-adoption ads designed to encourage people to give unwanted children up for adoption. I’m pretty sure they both counted as issue ads.

CBS is making up policies as it goes along.

Civil bombings

Suicide bombers killed or wounded 200 Kurds today in Arbil. The targets were the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party. No news yet on the affiliation of the bombers.

This represents a significant step towards civil war. The question is whether or not the Kurds get to run Kirkuk and Mosul, the big northern oil cities. The Kurds would like to be in charge of these important resources; the Sunnis tend to disagree.

We’re trying hard to get out of Iraq by the elections. If that becomes our main priority, we will almost certainly leave the country in a worse state than it was in when we showed up. Saddam was a monster; he is not the only monster.