Misc Commentary For July 31, 2003

— I was pleased when Bush said, “I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or the other.” It looks like W. is going to pursue a Constitutional Amendment forbidding gay marriage and I think that’s good policy.

Furthermore, this will give Bush another excellent issue to hammer the Democrats on during the campaign — especially if Dean (who’s strong associate with the issue) is the candidate. Protecting the “sanctity of marriage” is an issue that is a winner at the polls and that will strongly resonate in the South and with members of the religious right in Bush’s base.

— Speaking of Dean, he has a lot of momentum right now and I’m really hoping that he’ll win. In a Bush vs. Dean election, Dean would be beaten into the ground over the war on terrorism & he’d be hurt in a battle over gay marriage. Furthermore, Dean isn’t terribly charismatic, has a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth, and if the economy comes back as expected, he will have no significant issue he’ll be able to hurt Bush significantly with. His best shot would be on the budget deficit, but he’s going to lack credibility unless he can be specific about what he is going to do and Bush can claim (quite correctly I might add) that Dean will cut the military budget & revoke the tax cuts — neither of which would be popular with the American people. Out of the big 4 Dem candidates who still seem to be in the hunt (Lieberman, Gephardt, Kerry, & Dean), Dean is the GOP dream candidate.

— I found this to be just bizarre, but very Californian somehow…

“Opponents of an AIDS memorial designed in the form of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl thought they had scored a victory when California Assembly members removed a line from the state budget that reappropriated $400,000 for the project.

But through last-minute maneuvers, backers of the controversial plan managed to set aside the taxpayer money by shifting the project from the budget bill, passed Tuesday, to a trailer bill where it was buried at the bottom of a collection of unrelated items.”

Gee, nothing like setting aside 400k for an AIDS memorial when you’re running a 38 billion dollars in deficit. And Quetzalcoatl? What’s next, a Korean War monument featuring Zeus or maybe a statue of Thor slamming his hammer down on “illiteracy”? It’s just ridiculous.

— While many people, myself included, have hammered Bush for not being tough enough on the Saudis, there’s more to the situation than most people realize. Not only can we be sure that there is a lot going on behind the scenes, but as Arnaud de Borchgrave writes, the Saudis are hardly of one mind when it comes to Osama & Saddam…

“The royal family is not a monolith. There are 7,000 princes (all on generous stipends from birth) plus their wives (many still have three or four) and sisters and daughters, for a total of 24,000 members of the House of Saud. Male princes get $500,000 a year for expenses. The Saud family budget is about $3 billion a year, though the kingdom is now in hock to foreign banks to the tune of $225 billion.

Many of these princes still think of bin Laden as a larger-than-life hero who defeated the mighty Soviet Union and gave the world’s only superpower its biggest blow since Pearl Harbor. Even Prince Naef, one of the Sudeiri Seven (sons of King Abdul Aziz, also known as Ibn Saud, the founder of the dynasty, and the same mother), has said publicly that bin Laden was not involved in 9/11. Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad, did it, he said, regurgitating an old chestnut first peddled by a former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, Hamid Gul, who is also a fundamentalist extremist.

…Crown Prince Abdullah, who is de facto ruler due to the king’s long illness, and most of his royal and non-royal Cabinet colleagues are firmly opposed to bin Laden and his evil terrorist enterprise. They know they are first on al-Qaeda’s hit list.

But Abdullah doesn’t speak for 24,000 royals. He doesn’t even speak for Prince Naef bin Abdul Aziz, the interior minister who gives bin Laden a pass on 9/11. And who, as one of the seven Sudeiri brothers, is in line to inherit the throne. After Abdullah, Defense Minister Prince Sultan is next in line. Prince Salman, the popular governor of Riyadh, has made clear he will jump Naef when the time comes.”

— Paul Wellstone’s replacement, Norm Coleman, is challenging the RIAA…

“The recording industry’s wave of subpoenas that target individual computer users has drawn the critical attention of at least one influential lawmaker on Capitol Hill. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, sent a letter to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Thursday that criticized its recent spate of subpoenas and asked for detailed information on how the process is working. Coleman said the RIAA may be going too far.

“The industry has legitimate concerns about copyright infringement,” Coleman said in a statement. “Yet, the industry seems to have adopted a ‘shotgun’ approach that could potentially cause injury and harm to innocent people who may have simply been victims of circumstance, or possessing a lack of knowledge of the rules related to digital sharing of files.”

There are a lot of people in the United States who share files. In fact, estimates I’ve seen put the number of file traders in the United States at between 40-70 million people, most of whom don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. In my opinion, no politician with brains should want to get their names associated with any sort of heavy handed RIAA lawsuits or felony charges against these people. Furthermore, I believe this could actually be a valuable campaign issue for any politician who wants to grab it, especially on the national level. All they’d have to do is just what Coleman is doing, fight against the RIAA’s heavy-handed methods and boom, 40+ million potential voters are now appreciative of their efforts. Besides, the idea that a company should be able to file subpoenas or that someone should be charged with a felony for downloading a MP3 is pure insanity to begin with. Why shouldn’t politicians, especially Republican politicians who want to win elections (hint, hint guys) say so?

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