Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 6, 2006

'DO WE REALLY CARE WHAT THE PRICE OF GAS IS?'....As far as the political debate goes, Republicans seem to have a little trouble offering a compelling explanation for why the Federal Marriage Amendment is necessary now. Senate Democrats are effectively sidestepping the issue itself by asking, "Aren't there better things we can do with our time right now?"

So, what's the right's response to this question? James Dobson's Focus on the Family emailed an alert to its membership yesterday with a comment from a conservative law professor that responds to the Democratic suggestion that the Senate is wasting time.

Pepperdine Law School professor Doug Kmiec disagreed the debate is frivolous.

"This debate takes nothing away from the other national issues of the day," he said. "Getting Iraq settled and moving toward a civil order is very important. Getting gasoline prices back down to affordable levels is very important. But to some degree, it's all important, because it all relates back to the family and the household. But if the family is itself being undermined at its foundational level, then do we really care what the price of gas is?" (emphasis added)

It seems to me this is the kind of comment the left should do more to highlight. Let's tell as many voters as possible that, as far as the right is concerned, a constitutional amendment to address a crisis that doesn't exist is critical -- and conservatives "don't really care what the price of gas is." Let's see how this goes over.

Given the most recent Gallup poll, such a tack probably wouldn't resonate particularly well. Gallup asked respondents, in an open-ended question (no options to choose from), to name what should be the "top priority for the president and Congress to deal with." Iraq was the clear winner with 42%, followed by oil prices and energy policy at 29%. Of the 27 responses that generated measurable data, gay marriage was a no-show.

Let the voter backlash begin.

Steve Benen 8:54 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (91)

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Comments

First?

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on June 6, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK
But if the family is itself being undermined at its foundational level
How do they go from "anti-gay marriage" to families being undermined? That's a stretch, isn't it?

So, I guess ANY issue is moot until we smite the gays from the Earth - 'cause EVERYTHING is related to the FAMILY - we all came from happy two-parent hetero families, right?

Posted by: rusrus on June 6, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Take back the word "family" from the right-wing fundies. Please.

Posted by: Vincent on June 6, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Gas prices in Europe have risen to more than $6 a gallon.

I guess that's Bush's fault too.

Right, Pelosi/Reid/Kennedy/Dean?

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on June 6, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Let's call this what it is--the Ken Mehlman Second Class Citizenship Amendment.

Posted by: Mr. Garrison on June 6, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

I vote that gas costs a dollar per gallon. Damn the markets.

Done! Now, about those family values...

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Gas prices in Europe have risen to more than $6 a gallon.

I guess that's Bush's fault too.

Well, if he's serving as prime minister of a European country, it explains his complete neglect of this one.

Posted by: Mr. Garrison on June 6, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

But to some degree, it's all important, because it all relates back to the family and the household. But if the family is itself being undermined at its foundational level, then do we really care what the price of gas is?"

I'm always amazed by the self-victimization that some groups are able to maintain, especially when there are life and death issues aplenty that should have far more impact but are routinely ignored. It seems there are some awfully shaky marriages in America.

I hope that once we get past this bit of plonk, America can concentrate on some real issues - poverty, health care, unemployment, crime, government corruption... I don't know - war, maybe?

If you feel your marriage is threatened, buy a Dobson book, get some counseling and get over it. The adults have important things to work on today.

Posted by: Ripley on June 6, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Steve. An Example: Republicans lost control of the Colorado legislature two years ago because they were focusing on social issues when the state was in a fiscal crisis. Voters thought that this represented misplaced values and got rid of a few of them. Democrats now control both branches of the state legislature for the first time in many years.

Posted by: NeilS on June 6, 2006 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

We Brits were treated last night to a documentary all about Patrick Henry College, apparently responsible for providing more interns to the White House than any other.

We shake our heads in disbelief at the sight of such craziness.

Posted by: James deWitt on June 6, 2006 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans should worry less about two guys in a bedroom and more about one guy in a cave.

Posted by: gussie on June 6, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Gas prices in Europe have risen to more than $6 a gallon.
I guess that's Bush's fault too.

You're right, moron, war in the middle east has had no impact on gas prices.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 6, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

"Gas prices in Europe have risen to more than $6 a gallon.

I guess that's Bush's fault too.

Right, Pelosi/Reid/Kennedy/Dean?"


I don't care whose FAULT it is -- it's a market adjustment. It happens. Gas just isn't cheap anymore. Now we just need to make sure that fact doesn't undermine our economy or quality of life.

What I DO care about is the inability of Congress, and since he had to open his damn mouth, the President as well, to realize that this is a much, much, much bigger problem for Americans than whether gay people are getting married or not. The powers that currently be are either stunningly ignorant or simply don't care, and either way, they get a big thumbs down on this whole debacle.

Simply : even if you're against gay marriage (which I'm not), this is a stupid issue to be dealing with right now, and while I'm all ears, I can't imagine there's a very good argument to convince me otherwise.

Posted by: eckersley on June 6, 2006 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

If the Republicans are so interested in protecting marraige, how about begin to repeal some on the pension and insurance laws and regulations that discourage marraige? I'm sure we all know couples that live together because of the fear of one or both losing benefits if they marry. Isn't that anti family?

Oh, wait, they really don't care........

Posted by: Tigershark on June 6, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

It seems to me this is the kind of comment the left should do more to highlight. Let's tell as many voters as possible that, as far as the right is concerned, a constitutional amendment to address a crisis that doesn't exist is critical -- and conservatives "don't really care what the price of gas is."

Never mind the fact that doing this would be a misrepresentation - scratch that - an intentional misrepresentation of what Doug Kmiec was saying in that quote.

Oh yeah I forgot, libs have no problem with lying.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 6, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Considering gay marriage lost at the ballot boxes in both Oregon and California (not exactly right wing states) I urge the vocal left to put this issue at the forefront of the '08 campaign. The left has been dancing around this issue for too long, always blaming the right of being homophobes or discriminators yet never really having the balls (pun intended) to stand up and run on "gay marriage" win-or-lose. Of course getting the left to take a win-or-lose stance on most any issue is impossible, not wanting to commit to anything unless it's been polled and someone else tells them that the issue is a winner or should be a core value (do they ever think for themselves?).

So, will the left make this issue a plank in the platform, huh?

Posted by: Jay on June 6, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79, you are the one that's lying. There is nothing about Kmiec's statement that's being misrepresented here, as anyone can plainly see by just clicking the link to the source that Steve Benen helpfully provided.

Posted by: David W. on June 6, 2006 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Jay, it's been my experience that when those against gay marriage open their minds as well as their hearts and listen, they have a change of heart themselves about the issue. Will such sentiments sweep the country by 2008? No, no more than the civil rights movement swept the country in 1948. But I know which side of the issue I'm on as a Democrat myself.

Posted by: David W. on June 6, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79, you are the one that's lying. There is nothing about Kmiec's statement that's being misrepresented here, as anyone can plainly see by just clicking the link to the source that Steve Benen helpfully provided.

I am honestly wondering if your bias is so strong that you can't see the difference between truth and lying any more.

It is obvious from the context of Kmiec's quote that he is not implying the price of gas is unimportant. In fact, he even states "Getting gasoline prices back down to affordable levels is very important."

To selectively present an excerpt from that quote any other way is an intentional misrepresentation for political gain, which I understand you have no problem with.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 6, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

The vast majority of the people in this country (liberal and conservative) have no problem with civil unions and extending all the inherent rights thereof. However, most people feel protecting the institution of "marriage" is equally important. If you are so convinced that you are right then I want to see the left come out and say that they will allow "marriage" to same sex couples if elected.

Why won't they do that?

Posted by: Jay on June 6, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

But if the family is itself being undermined at its foundational level...

Do we really care whether there is a Constitional Amendment banning gay marriage? If marriage is really being undermined at its foundational level then it seems you might want to address that problem and not this political blame game.

The one question that these fundamentalist wing nuts fail to address is how in the world can gays getting married undermine the instution of marriage. Is it so fragile? Are people so weak willed? How does two people of the same sex getting married "undermine" marriage a scintilla?

If any thing is undermining marriage this blame game of transference of blaiming it on a tiny minority isnt going to help in the least. This obsesive worry about what other people might do if they get married is ridiculous - try working on your own marriages rather than seeking to deny it to others, you might find that might help a lot more.

Irony Alert:

"America is a free society which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. In this country, people are free to choose how they live their lives." George W. Bush.

So why in the name of freedom does Bush and these fundamentalists want to take away the freedom of some people to choose how to live their lives. How in the world does gays getting married effect your freedom to choose how to live your own life. This measure doesnt limit the Federal government it expands the power of the federal government making it more invasive and making people less free, not more fee.

Posted by: Catch22 on June 6, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I don't understand why them there gays is digging up the foundations of people's homes. Are they in the construction industry or something? Maybe they're trying to drum up some extra work? Hey, maybe that'd be good for the economy! So crafty, them gays is.

Well, if ya want to make an issue about homosexuals, just what was Gannon/Guckert doing on all those overnighters in the White House?

Posted by: josef on June 6, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney, Kmiec is posing an unsupported hypothetical question in order to deflect the argument away from whether gay marriage is as important an issue as sharply rising gasoline prices. If he tried that in a court of law, no doubt the other side would object.

Posted by: David W. on June 6, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Do you support the right of polygamists to marry as many women as they please? And then of course, would the government be responsible for helping to support the 15 children from those marriages?

Posted by: Jay on June 6, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK


Gas prices in Europe have risen to more than $6 a gallon.
I guess that's Bush's fault too.
Right, Pelosi/Reid/Kennedy/Dean?

Prices were already high in Europe. But this was due to the higher taxes Europeans are willing to pay to fund programs which benefit their society as a whole, such as universal health care.

Here we just pour our gas $$$ into the sink-hole pockets of the "have-mores" like Ken Lay, bushco, cheney, etc.

Posted by: G.Kerby on June 6, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79, are you aware of how an argument is constructed? Generally, you back your assertions with evidence, rather than pose hypothetical questions lacking same. Kmiec doesn't cut to the chase and actually consider the evidence that supports his implicit claim that gay marriage threatens the family, he just says that if it does, we should have a debate about it! Dude, where's the beef? Should we have a debate about how global warming is more important than rising gasoline prices if it threatens us? Or would you prefer to have some more convincing evidence presented to you?

Posted by: David W. on June 6, 2006 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Senate Democrats are effectively sidestepping the issue itself by asking, "Aren't there better things we can do with our time right now?"

Actually, they aren't. I heard Harry Reid's tepid response to the idiot Rethug from Colorado going on about it. Reid should have been blunt and said in no uncertain terms that "This is a lame and desperate political move at a time when the country is facing much more serious issues, namely a war that you'd all like to forget. Now, let's get back to real business." This is not a time for the senate's famed "collegiality."

Posted by: JeffII on June 6, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Jay: My daily talking-points e-mail from the RNC has asked me to ignore Iraq, health care, and gas prices for a while so that I can bug you about important stuff like gays settlin' down.

Even Shorter Jay: When someone says an issue isn't important, that is an excellent time to start yakking about it as much as possible.

Posted by: Doug on June 6, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Gas prices in Europe have risen to more than $6 a gallon. I guess that's Bush's fault too. Posted by: Frequency Kenneth

As a matter of fact, dumbshit, it is because of his war in Iraq and his sabre-rattling over Iran's nuclear program. Don't follow the news much, do you?

Posted by: JeffII on June 6, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Nice evasion of the question doug, but that is typical of liberals.

btw, I wouldn't consider Iraq a winnable issue with the permanent government and the growing security/military force. By the time '08 rolls around more than half of our troops will be home and Maliki will have a handle on Iraq.

G.Kerby, Ken Lay made his money during Clintons tenure and is going to prison under GW's watch. Just FYI.

Posted by: Jay on June 6, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

I guess the Brits don't make up their own minds as to what war they should be involved with. GW mobilized their military as well.......now that's power!

Posted by: Jay on June 6, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Dobson's statement is a classic one from an underdog.

When you have a losing hand on one issue (Iraq, gas prices) try linking it to another issue you think you have more votes on.

Problem is, Dobson has fewer votes on all his hot button issues than he thinks. It's ironic but Dobson is starting to sound like the Vietnam War-era left with their "You can't have peace without [fill in the blank]."

Same tactic -- when you're losing, move the goal posts.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 6, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Let's just make the constitution a list of things we don't want in our country:

  1. No gay marriage
  2. No killing people
  3. No stealing
  4. No estate tax (aka "death tax")
  5. No rabid dogs
  6. No rainy Independence days
Maybe we can get the constitution up to 1,000 pages.

Posted by: rusrus on June 6, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I fail to see how this is even relavent. Dr Dobsin views the gay marriage issue as more important than the price of gas. The evironmental groups view global warming as more important than the price of gas (or the world economy). NRA - guns vs price of gas. NOW - right to abortion vs price of gas. Not really a surpirse.

Posted by: james on June 6, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK
Done! Now, about those family values...

Yes, about them...why do Republicans favor promoting division and hate over stable, monogamous families?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK
The evironmental groups view global warming as more important than the price of gas (or the world economy).

Wrong. The environmental groups view global warming as part of the price of gas, not "more important than the price of gas".

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

(Not Really) Shorter Jay: Because poll after poll has determined that most people have far more important things to worry about, I demand that you debate me on the issue of gay marriage! Literally tens of people around the country are clamoring for it!

Posted by: Doug on June 6, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Just because people think getting the price of gas down is important doesn't mean that there's anything immediate that congress can do to get the price of gas down. If there was, why aren't they always doing it? Why not legislate the price of everything down? I likee cheapee stuff. Who doesn't? Attention K-Mart shoppers...

I mean, the snark-o-licious corollary that seems to be floating around here is, "If we weren't so busy arguing about gay marriage, we'd have cheaper gas."

I'm tired of gay marriages. Let's talk abortion. It's so much more divisive.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I for one hope the Repubs keep both houses this fall so they can keep doing the heckuva job they've been doing.

I want to see Shrub beat Nixon's low.

I want things to get so bad here that Republicans are shunned in social circles and turned down for jobs because of their past political affiliations.

I want Fox News to become such a laughingstock for its head-in-the-sand pro-Bush reporting that it wins comedy awards.

Things have to get worse before they get better. That's the only way sometimes.

Posted by: Jim J on June 6, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

RSM, I'd prefer it if Congress spent more time dealing with the issue of spiraling gasoline prices, other than to slap the equivalent of a band-aid via a lame price-gouging law aimed at the end-point retailers who are not the ones responsible for the 50% rise in prices since March.

Posted by: David W. on June 6, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
Yes, about them...why do Republicans favor promoting division and hate over stable, monogamous families?

So did Republicans invent the gay marriage issue out of the faraway ether? Or has some group been lobbying and pushing for gay marriages...while oil prices have been increasing! Gays fiddle while New Orleans burns. Maybe they could put aside their selfish desire for federally legislated non-procreative sex and tend to the needs of their fellow Americans, not diverting our attentions from the real needs of the day.

In short, they started it first, and certainly thought it was important enough to push it.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

RSM, I'd prefer it if Congress spent more time dealing with the issue of spiraling gasoline prices, other than to slap the equivalent of a band-aid via a lame price-gouging law aimed at the end-point retailers who are not the ones responsible for the 50% rise in prices since March.

I'm with you. Spiraling gas prices are an effect, not a cause.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Charlie/Cheney/Chuckles is back! You know why he opposes gay marriage, right? The Gheys don't have kids. Fewer kids being born means fewer dead kids to joke about.

Sick bastard.

Posted by: Vladi G on June 6, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

RSM, those who have been pushing the issue of gay marriage are no different than those who pushed for the end of laws that banned inter-racial marriages in many states. In other words, they are couples who have sought redress against what they believe are unjust laws. They deserve a fair hearing as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: David W. on June 6, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

David W.
RSM, those who have been pushing the issue of gay marriage are no different than those who pushed for the end of laws that banned inter-racial marriages in many states. In other words, they are couples who have sought redress against what they believe are unjust laws. They deserve a fair hearing as far as I'm concerned.

Well, they're getting as fair a one as we get in our country, I guess. Power to them for exercising the system. I will say that proposing an amendment to the constitution is a pretty new thing, and is a response to other's actions.

For example, no one is proposing a constitutional amendment banning inter-species marriages...yet. That'll happen when some group (most likely democratic, heh, snark) starts lobbying for it.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I said
I will say that proposing an amendment to the constitution is a pretty new thing...

Oops, you know what I meant.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

The one question that these fundamentalist wing nuts fail to address is how in the world can gays getting married undermine the instution of marriage. Is it so fragile? Are people so weak willed? How does two people of the same sex getting married "undermine" marriage a scintilla?

I'll believe the Republicans' blather about "protecting marriage" the moment they move to outlaw divorce.

But if they did that then all those top Republicans like Gingrich and Giuliani would no longer be able to discard the mothers of their children in order to marry their younger mistresses....

Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

RSM: So did Republicans invent the gay marriage issue out of the faraway ether?


so who forced bush to state that gay marriage was up to the state's to decide...

then flip/flop to propose an amendment...right before the 2004 election....


then...


FLIP

President Bush came under fire from some social conservatives for saying he will not aggressively lobby the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. - Wash. Post 1/19/05


FLOP

President Bush will promote a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the eve of a scheduled Senate vote on the cause that is dear to his conservative backers. - USA TODAY 6/1/06

republicans cant help themselves....they are just victims of circumstance...

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 6, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: The environmental groups view global warming as part of the price of gas, not "more important than the price of gas".

Very well said. If gasoline consumers were required to pay all the costs of burning gasoline, it would cost much, much more than the $2.50 to $3.20 per gallon that Americans are whining about today. The "$6.00 per gallon" cost of gasoline in Europe generally includes significant taxes which help to cover some of those "externalized" costs.

Not only should the US government NOT take action to reduce gasoline prices, but it should phase in hefty taxes on gasoline.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 6, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Just because people think getting the price of gas down is important doesn't mean that there's anything immediate that congress can do to get the price of gas down.

Yes there is. They can start the long overdue impeachment of both Bush and Cheney.

Whether crude oil supplies have become tighter of late is questionable. But the never-ending-whack-a-mole-let's-start-shooting-more-non-combatants war in Iraq and six months of vitriol towards Iran have a direct effect on crude prices. The price of gas is tied directly to the Bush administration's lack of anything approaching intelligence and finesse in foreign policy or any other kind of policy.

So, yes, congress has the tools (though not the equipment - no balls, spine or soul) to not only help moderate gas prices, but to make us the darlings of the international community. But seeing how congress is controlled by such stellar legislators as Frist, Hastert, Brownback, etc., etc., were fucked for summer road trips.

If there was, why aren't they always doing it?
Posted by: Red State Mike

See above.

Posted by: JeffII on June 6, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan
But if they did that then all those top Republicans like Gingrich and Giuliani would no longer be able to discard the mothers of their children in order to marry their younger mistresses....

Yea, it's so much easier to just bang'em on the side (not on *their* side...out of sight, I mean, unless that's what floats your boat), and then have a "come to jesus I'm so sorry it'll never happen again and by the way it's none of your damn business anyway" moment if you get caught.

Personally, I think that was Clinton's greatest speech. The guy does his best when his back is up against a wall. So says Monica.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe we can get the constitution up to 1,000 pages.

Now you're talking!

Posted by: Texas Constitution on June 6, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Gas prices in Europe have risen to more than $6 a gallon."
And the balance to the price of oil goes to governement coffers and from there to social security, schools etc. And the gas price has induced people to by (and auto makers to sell) cars that do far more than 30 mpg on average.

Posted by: Jrgen in Germany on June 6, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting admission: "But if the family is itself being undermined at its foundational level, then do we really care what the price of gas is?"

This is exactly why it's so important that somebody be undermining the family, challenging our national pride or giving old guys the heebie-jeebies.

It's a necessary distraction. To get the mark's mind off his wallet.

Posted by: Ughh.. on June 6, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I think you should walk away from the Dobson quote.

To be fair, you did twist Dobson's intended meaning, and anyway, Dobson's quote is a weak foundation for the assertion that "the Republicans don't care about the price of gas." You could support the assertion with other evidence (wealthy folks in the oil industry aren't particularly motivated to care about the price of gas because they aren't hit as hard by it and oil companies profit no matter what.)

The fact that Republicans are focusing on the gay marriage issue instead of other issues is proof enough. You don't have to twist Dobson's words to drive the point home.

Posted by: erica on June 6, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yea, it's so much easier to just bang'em on the side (not on *their* side...out of sight, I mean, unless that's what floats your boat), and then have a "come to jesus I'm so sorry it'll never happen again and by the way it's none of your damn business anyway" moment if you get caught.

"look over there, Clinton!"

Some idiots will never give up on that one. So he should have gotten a divorce, or is their marriage actually relevant to you?
Or are you actually that incapable of just admitting that Republicans are a bunch of screw-ups that you always have to try to change the subject to Clinton?

Posted by: haha on June 6, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

For example, no one is proposing a constitutional amendment banning inter-species marriages...yet. That'll happen when some group (most likely democratic, heh, snark) starts lobbying for it.

I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for it RSM (FYI, gay couples have been working for the right to legally marry for something like 30 years now), and besides since only human beings of legal age are deemed able to freely give consent to enter into a marriage contract, Caligula's horse is not ever going to be asking to marry anyone.

Posted by: David W. on June 6, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK
So did Republicans invent the gay marriage issue out of the faraway ether?

As a substantial federal issue, pretty much.

Or has some group been lobbying and pushing for gay marriages...while oil prices have been increasing!

Wait, weren't you the one that just snarkily dismissed oil prices with a comment about the market, and asked that we move on to talk about "family values"?

And then when the Republican position on gay marriage is questioned on family values grounds, suddenly you're all about the gas prices.

Certainly, you are doing an excellent job of demonstrating the Republican penchant for furiously throwing up distractions whenever they don't have an actual argument to make; you've even got the "reverse your previous distraction and hope no one notices" and "don't even bother with more than a remote connection to the facts in throwing up distractions" bits down pat.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

I never joked about dead kids - you must have me mistaken with someone else.

Why do you continue to lie, Charlie/Cheney/Chuckles? It's a sin, ya know. God hates liars.

Sick bastard.

Posted by: Vladi G on June 6, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK
Do you support the right of polygamists to marry as many women as they please? And then of course, would the government be responsible for helping to support the 15 children from those marriages?

Given the way presumptions of paternity in legal marriage work, formal polygamy produces less chance that government will be responsible for supporting the children than the promiscuity without formal recognition that exists without it.

There are public policy arguments against legal polygamy, but that's certainly not a compelling one.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me this is the kind of comment the left should do more to highlight. Let's tell as many voters as possible that, as far as the right is concerned, a constitutional amendment to address a crisis that doesn't exist is critical -- and conservatives "don't really care what the price of gas is." Let's see how this goes over.

And what, pray tell Mr. Benen, is the left's solution to immediately lower higher gas prices? Expanded drilling, production and exploration in our country? Nope. Suspending the gas tax to reduce its cost? Nope.

I'm afraid that the left's prefered solution of shrieking at people to reduce their demand for gas and ordering car companies to build hybrids won't do much in the short term either. So indeed, let's see how well that goes over with the American people.

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 6, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel wrote: And what, pray tell Mr. Benen, is the left's solution to immediately lower higher gas prices?

I don't know what you mean by "the left" or whether I qualify, but I don't want to lower gas prices, immediately or otherwise. I want gas prices to go up. If the government is going to take any action at all, it should be to impose steep taxes on gasoline to raise the price even further, with the proceeds going to help cover some of the "externalized" costs of burning gasoline.

If Americans don't like high gasoline prices, then they should buy more fuel-efficient cars, or take public transportation, or walk, and grow up and quit whining.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 6, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jay, why don't you write to your Congressman instead of making demands here?
I don't represent you in Congress, I can't help you, sorry.

Posted by: merlallen on June 6, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

haha
"look over there, Clinton!"

Some idiots will never give up on that one. So he should have gotten a divorce, or is their marriage actually relevant to you?

I assume you're talking about Guiliani and Newt upthread? Stefan's the one that brought them up. Not nice insulting one of your own.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong. The environmental groups view global warming as part of the price of gas, not "more important than the price of gas".

Then they're idiots. A small fraction of global warming is part of the costs imposed by gas, but not part of the price.

Posted by: GOP on June 6, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

G.Kerby, Ken Lay made his money during Clintons tenure and is going to prison under GW's watch. Just FYI.

Repugnicant filth, Ken Lay started writing some of the Putsch energy policy when he and Pencil Dick were involved in their secret meetings in 2001, before 9-11. He's going to prison for his crimes in gouging ordinary consumers, and stuffing his illegally gotten blood money in he and all his cronies' wallets.

Just FYI...

Personally, I think that was Clinton's greatest speech. The guy does his best when his back is up against a wall. So says Monica.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 11:32 AM

I guess we should ask JimmyJeff GannonGuckert what he says about the boys in the White House these days then, so we can find out who's going to be doing the best speechifying the the days to come. Right, FreeperBoy?

Posted by: (: Tom :) on June 6, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK
And what, pray tell Mr. Benen, is the left's solution to immediately lower higher gas prices?

"The left" as a monolithic force with a single unified answer to every problem doesn't exist; there are many solutions toward the problems created by high gas prices that have been put forward by people on the left.

The one with the most immediate effect would be creating a refundable income tax credit for some percentage (perhaps all) of the actual gas taxes paid on up to a certain amount number of gallons per person, combined with an immediate rebate equal to the maximum value of the credit; this is better than suspending the tax credit because a reasonable quantity can be set so that while it controls the costs of reasonably necessary consumption, it doesn't encourage profligate consumption -- it can even be tied to an increase of the gas tax itself to discourage profligate consumption.

Of course, that's only an immediate, very short-term measure: in the slightly longer term, I would say that there needs to be, in parallel, something done to make it more affordable for people with limited means to transition to less gasoline-intensive transportation -- whether public transport, electric or alternative-fuel personal vehicles, or hybrid or otherwise just more fuel efficient personal vehicles. Similarly, I would say that the tax credit should be phased out in stages once adopted, with accompanying increases in the gas tax.

To summarize, the overall strategy is to give people immediate relief from the immediate effects so that they can function in the current environment, provide tools to enable transition, and gradually impose costs to internalize the external costs of fossil fuel consumption and thereby discourage profligate consumption.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid that the left's prefered solution of shrieking at people to reduce their demand for gas and ordering car companies to build hybrids won't do much in the short term either.

The purpose of the shrieking isn't to actually try and solve the problem. Shrieking lefties aren't interested in solutions. They're only interested in venting their hatred of America and Americans. See SecularAnimist's post of 12:28pm for a prime example.

Posted by: GOP on June 6, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely

RSM: So did Republicans invent the gay marriage issue out of the faraway ether?

As a substantial federal issue, pretty much.

That's hair splitting. The groups pushing for gay marriage have national scope.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
The one with the most immediate effect would be creating a refundable income tax credit for some percentage (perhaps all) of the actual gas taxes paid on up to a certain amount number of gallons per person, combined with an immediate rebate equal to the maximum value of the credit; this is better than suspending the tax credit because a reasonable quantity can be set so that while it controls the costs of reasonably necessary consumption, it doesn't encourage profligate consumption -- it can even be tied to an increase of the gas tax itself to discourage profligate consumption.

Whew! Clear as mud! Did you author our prescription drug plan?

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The one with the most immediate effect would be creating a refundable income tax credit for some percentage (perhaps all) of the actual gas taxes paid on up to a certain amount number of gallons per person, combined with an immediate rebate equal to the maximum value of the credit; this is better than suspending the tax credit because a reasonable quantity can be set so that while it controls the costs of reasonably necessary consumption, it doesn't encourage profligate consumption -- it can even be tied to an increase of the gas tax itself to discourage profligate consumption.

Huh? So how does one qualify for this credit and rebate? And how exactly does this "immediate rebate equal to the maximum value of the credit" work? The government sends everyone a check? Your proposal is so vague it's pretty meaningless.

Of course, that's only an immediate, very short-term measure: in the slightly longer term, I would say that there needs to be, in parallel, something done to make it more affordable for people with limited means to transition to less gasoline-intensive transportation -- whether public transport, electric or alternative-fuel personal vehicles, or hybrid or otherwise just more fuel efficient personal vehicles.

What "something" do you propose to do this?

Posted by: GOP on June 6, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
To summarize, the overall strategy is to give people immediate relief from the immediate effects so that they can function in the current environment, provide tools to enable transition, and gradually impose costs to internalize the external costs of fossil fuel consumption and thereby discourage profligate consumption.

I'll respond seriously. I think there's enough "slack" in the system such that people can respond immediately by availing themselves of public transportation, carpooling, better planning of their driving, etc. Industries that are slaves to gas prices (ala airlines) will have to pass on their costs. Any attempt to defuse the impact will also defuse the response. What we don't want to do is to provide people a mechanism that lets them keep ddoing business as always.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jim J:

I want things to get so bad here that Republicans are shunned in social circles and turned down for jobs because of their past political affiliations.

The fundamentally illiberal character of the far left reveals itself once again.

After informal social discrimination against Republicans, your next step will be formal discrimination, followed by imprisonment. The spirit of Joseph McCarthy is alive and well in today's left.

Posted by: GOP on June 6, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Don P, posting as "GOP", is not only a slavishly robotic regurgitator of right-wing Republican propaganda, but is a maliciously dishonest, willfully ignorant individual, whose behaviour in this forum over the last couple of years consists entirely of instigating long, drawn-out, vapid and vacuous arguments for the sake of argument, by which he flaunts his ignorance and dishonesty and impresses himself with his ability to waste other people's time with his bullshit. You can see a perfect example of him trying to pick just such a fight with cmdicely in his post at 12:44pm, in which he whines idiotically about the use of the words "price" and "cost".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 6, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Don P, posting as "GOP", wrote: The spirit of Joseph McCarthy is alive and well in today's left.

The spirit of abject idiocy is alive and well in Don P's comments.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 6, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I assume you're talking about Guiliani and Newt upthread?

nope, I'm talking about your attempt to dredge up Clinton/Lewinski--typical Repub-moron talking point.

I was just trying to gather what you think individuals should do when one or both spouses has an affair--go straight to divorce a la much of the Republican leadership, or work it out like the Clintons apparently did?
Or do you not really care? If that's the case, then why bring it up? Do you think Republicans value marriage more because they go through more of them? : D

Posted by: haha on June 6, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

I for one hope the Repubs keep both houses this fall so they can keep doing the heckuva job they've been doing.

I think you're going to get your wish.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 6, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

If Americans don't like high gasoline prices, then they should buy more fuel-efficient cars, or take public transportation, or walk, and grow up and quit whining.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 6, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow I doubt that is the message that Mr.Benen wants "the left" to send to the voters. No Bush or GOP bashing there. LOL

But on the substance of your statement, with the added proviso of demending increased domestic engery production, I fully agree with your statement.

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 6, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

haha
nope, I'm talking about your attempt to dredge up Clinton/Lewinski--typical Repub-moron talking point.

But your comment applies equally to Stefan's comments upthread. Live by sticking your nose in other's marriages, die by sticking your nose in other's marriages.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, hit to return too soon

haha
Or do you not really care? If that's the case, then why bring it up?

I don't know why did Stefan bring it up?

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

As much as I hate helping the pompous windbag, I'll tag on the Dice Man.

I'll respond seriously. I think there's enough "slack" in the system such that people can respond immediately by availing themselves of public transportation, carpooling, better planning of their driving, etc.

Actually, not even close. You can count the number of U.S. cities that have well developed mass-transit systems (hint, NYC is not one of them) on a the right hand of a sawmill worker with 25-years experience. Maybe a couple dozen have really good bus systems. There isn't the infrastructure, etc. to take up the slack.

I believe this tax/rebate program, dear to the Dice Man's heart as it is always brought up in this kind of thread, is considered the "slack measure." It helps to buy time to let the market and the larger issue of consumption and provision of alternatives to commuting alone (approximately 70% of all Americans), i.e. mass transit, to be phased in over a decade or so.

In short, raise the taxes dramatically on gas, but rebate them to those least able to afford the increase. Over time, with the assumption that the increase in taxes can be used to fund any number of alternatives to driving alone (by the way, the book Bowling Alone is somewhat germain to this issue, but I digress), the tax burden will be seen as less onerous, and the rebate aspect of it can be phased out or at least reduced.

Not so, Dice Man?

A number of posters here have commented how the 50%+ tax levels on petrol in Europe (and most Asian countries) goes to subsidize social welfare programs. However, most of it, if I'm not mistaken, goes to subsidize and fund mass transit. Again, I think this is part of what the Dice Man has in mind, which I endorse as well.

Industries that are slaves to gas prices (ala airlines) will have to pass on their costs. Any attempt to defuse the impact will also defuse the response. What we don't want to do is to provide people a mechanism that lets them keep ddoing business as always. Posted by: Red State Mike

Agreed. And that is exactly what has been happening over the last few decades (we learned oh so much in '73, '79', '83 and '91). We've all beat the shit out of laughable CAFE standards and the obscene tax loop hole that lets men with questionable manhood drive their Hummers through because they are a "business expense."


Posted by: JeffII on June 6, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff1
I believe this tax/rebate program, dear to the Dice Man's heart as it is always brought up in this kind of thread...

Along with other reasons, such as the ability of a "short, sharp, shock" to get people moving over the analogy of the frog sitting in a pot that is slowly brought to boil and never jumping out, I just have this real visceral dislike of using our income tax as means for steering behavior. Although I guess the primary purpose of our income tax is to fund the government, it seems that 99.9% of the code has to do with modifying our behavior with it. And that just annoys me endlessly, and I'd rather not make it any more complicated (is that possible?) than it already is.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

. . . I just have this real visceral dislike of using our income tax as means for steering behavior. . . Posted by: Red State Mike

Agreed. But a tax on gasoline is a consumption tax. The people who consume the most gasoline, the people who we know to be phallically challenged and/or gender confused (chicks in pick-up trucks), with their big "rigs," would be paying the lion's share. The same would apply, as we are contemplating here in the Seattle area, with freeway access tolls during rush hour. Yes, both, potentially, hit people with lower incomes disproportionately, hence the rebate for the single mother with three kids in a small town driving a crappy car because the bus doesn't work.

. . . it seems that 99.9% of the code has to do with modifying our behavior with it. . .

I can't think of a single tax in the U.S., other than state levied "sin" taxes on tobacco and alcohol, used to mold behavior. In fact, congress has historically resisted punative taxes designed to alter behavior.

Posted by: JeffII on June 6, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I can't think of a single tax in the U.S., other than state levied "sin" taxes on tobacco and alcohol, used to mold behavior. In fact, congress has historically resisted punative taxes designed to alter behavior.

I'm speaking of the federal income tax, of which dice-man would use as the vehicle for the rebate. The whole thing once you get past the initial entry of your income is mostly a set of rewards for various behaviors via exemptions and credits and rebates having kids and marriage and energy credits and blah de blah, blah, blah.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed. But a tax on gasoline is a consumption tax.

I'm cool with the consumption tax, by the way.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I believe this tax/rebate program, dear to the Dice Man's heart as it is always brought up in this kind of thread, is considered the "slack measure."

How much is the credit? Who is eligible for it? How is their eligibility to be verified? How is the "immediate rebate" to be paid?

Posted by: GOP on June 6, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Gasoline is still cheap. Just something people like to talk about for a week, then they get used to the new prices.

$10/gal to get Americans our of big cars.

Posted by: Myron on June 6, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK
Huh? So how does one qualify for this credit and rebate?

You qualify for the rebate by being a US income tax filer, the same way you did with other US income tax rebates, like the ones earlier in Bush's term.

And how exactly does this "immediate rebate equal to the maximum value of the credit" work?

Calculation: (Number of gallons for which rebate is allowed) (gas tax per gallon) = Rebate amount.

Distribution: to every tax filer, send rebate check (unless an unpaid balance on past taxes exists with the IRS, in which case deduct from that balance, and send a notification).

The government sends everyone a check?

Pretty much, just like past tax rebates.

Your proposal is so vague it's pretty meaningless.

Only if you are complete idiot.

What "something" do you propose to do this?

There are a number of things to do in this regard. I don't have a real firm idea of the right mix, but construction of new mass transit with an eye toward leveraging and interconnecting existing systems, (further, in some cases) subsidizing either purchase of fuel efficient vehicles or retirement older inefficient vehicles, raising CAFE, promoting development which is friendlier to mass transit, small vehicles like NEVs, and foot and human-powered traffic all ought to be part of the mix.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK
I think there's enough "slack" in the system such that people can respond immediately by availing themselves of public transportation, carpooling, better planning of their driving, etc.

If "people" were a uniform aggregate, I would agree with you. The country can afford to, but plenty of individuals can't. I prefer a policy that works to enable those that are most limited in their present ability to adapt first, and then kicks in with imposing additional up-front costs to internalize costs.

Industries that are slaves to gas prices (ala airlines) will have to pass on their costs. Any attempt to defuse the impact will also defuse the response.

People that lack the means to respond in the ways best for them and society in the long-term will respond as best they can in the short-term, which may be counterproductive or at least suboptimal in the long term. The idea here is to manage that problem to the extent possible.

What we don't want to do is to provide people a mechanism that lets them keep ddoing business as always.

What we don't want to do is make it impossible for people to keep doing business as they have, while not making it practical for them to adapt.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK
I believe this tax/rebate program, dear to the Dice Man's heart as it is always brought up in this kind of thread, is considered the "slack measure." It helps to buy time to let the market and the larger issue of consumption and provision of alternatives to commuting alone (approximately 70% of all Americans), i.e. mass transit, to be phased in over a decade or so.

In short, raise the taxes dramatically on gas, but rebate them to those least able to afford the increase. Over time, with the assumption that the increase in taxes can be used to fund any number of alternatives to driving alone (by the way, the book Bowling Alone is somewhat germain to this issue, but I digress), the tax burden will be seen as less onerous, and the rebate aspect of it can be phased out or at least reduced.

Not so, Dice Man?

Largely, though while the distributional effects are important and are a key problem addressed by the rebate program, in my conception, at least, it wouldn't be rebated based on ability, but simply by creating what was, in effect, a tax-free annual per capita allowance of gasoline. You can either reduce the allowance or reduce the degree to which it is credited (start out at a full credit, then make it 90%, then 80%, etc.) to phase it out; this is largely for simplicity, but it also helps with the fact that people may make plenty of money and still be squeezed for resources to adapt.

But, yeah, its the measure to create slack and make clear the structure of future incentives, to provide both the resources and the motivation to make changes.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK
Along with other reasons, such as the ability of a "short, sharp, shock" to get people moving over the analogy of the frog sitting in a pot that is slowly brought to boil and never jumping out, I just have this real visceral dislike of using our income tax as means for steering behavior. Although I guess the primary purpose of our income tax is to fund the government, it seems that 99.9% of the code has to do with modifying our behavior with it. And that just annoys me endlessly, and I'd rather not make it any more complicated (is that possible?) than it already is.

To me, the income tax is one of many tools available to government; making the income tax more simple by removing various incentives from it would make other areas of government interaction with people more complicated. I can't see any strong reason to prefer the complication not be in the income tax system, and often keeping it there is the best place to do it.

(For example, I'd rather, abstractly, just have everyone's gas purchases tracked for tax purposes and the tax only kick in once they've exceeded the allowance, but administratively, I think that'd be a lot harder than the credit/rebate system.)

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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