Thursday, March 07, 2013

Back to the Future with Debra Saunders

Debra Saunders would probably be happy living in the deep south.  Pre-Civil War.  She may picture herself as a Southern Belle in wide hoop skirts sipping mint juleps on the verandah while darkies peel her grapes.  At least that’s the impression this reader got after reading her Chronicle column this morning.  No, she is not spouting right wing rhetoric, nor pining for the good old days. She’s simply saying she wants the voters in each state to decide what marriage laws will apply. If State A says ok for same sex couples to marry, she’s all for it, but if State B says no way, she’s for that too. 

She prefaces this whole “let the voters decide” spiel with her avowed support for gay marriage.  She has lots of gay friends, she hastens to assure us and she would never be happy if California passed a law allowing them to marry. (So long as those who object don’t have to perform the ceremonies.)
That kind of reasoning would have kept slavery in half our country. It would have denied black people and women the right to vote.  It would have prevented interracial couples from marrying. And it would have allowed states to deny basic reproductive freedom to women.  Oh, yeah, she uses Roe v. Wade as an example, pointing out that the Supreme Court could go back on precedent in the choice cases and re-interpret the Constitution to take away a women’s right.

But so could the states’ voters make similar changes if it was left up to them. With voter suppression statutes being proposed in many states, and not just the Southern ones, it is only the courts that keep the legislatures and the voters in check. If a measure that is enacted through popular vote is unconstitutional, it cannot stand.

If we believe in basic equality, then all people should be free to marry whom they choose and where they choose, not be forced to move if their state denies a right that another state allows. This is a fundamental freedom. In this she parts company from even her conservative gay friends, who have filed a “Friend of the Court “ brief supporting gay marriage in the Proposition 8 case now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Instead, she echoes another conservative, Bush Assistant US Attorney General known for his authorship of the “torture memo”, now a law professor, who states: “It would be a mistake for the Supreme Court to use this case to basically cut off the political process and impose its own view on a moral and political question that is very divisive.”

Wrong. It would be a mistake to leave such an issue, one of basic human rights, up to the whim of voters. That’s why we have a Constitution and a Supreme Court.  Do they always get it right? No, especially with the Bush era court we are now stuck with. But they will, eventually.  Just as the Court did away with the policy of separate but equal in the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education; and a year later reversed its 1905 Decision in Lochner v. New York decision that allowed gouging of employees under a convoluted interpretation of contract law, stating in Williamson v. Lee Optical of OklahomaThe day is gone when this Court uses the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to strike down state laws, regulatory of business and industrial conditions, because they may be unwise, improvident, or out of harmony with a particular school of thought."

Put away the picture hat, Debra, and join us in the 21st century, crossing our fingers that this Court does the right thing!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Save our Postal Service!

The question on everyone’s minds these days is how much the termination of Saturday mail delivery will affect campaigning.  In this time of increasing vote by mail ballots being sent in days before the election, it could be disastrous.  People who have relied on Saturday mail pick up at their mailboxes will no longer be able to do that. Most state require that vote by mail ballots be received by the end of the voting on Election Day.  Even now, mailing on Saturday doesn’t guarantee delivery. 

Mailing on the Monday before the election won’t get there at all in most instances.  People who vote by mail in those states where election day poll voting is still in effect should  be counseled to walk their ballot into the polls, rather than trusting it to the mails in those crucial last few days.

For us direct mail consultants who want their last minute messages, rebuttals to a late hit piece or a reminder to vote to hit their targets’ mail boxes on the Saturday before the election, that is no longer an option.  We must aim for the Friday, or even the Thursday before the election and hope the voters take the time from their busy after work schedules to glance at the mail.

Already slowdowns in delivery time have mailhouse managers advising their clients to mail early to avoid a catastrophic day-after-the-election delivery.  With more automation in bulk mail centers, lay-offs and general loss of morale among postal works, we have seen mail go missing in the last weeks of the election, prompting loading dock visits, frantic phone calls, and even pleas for help to Congressional aides.

The Post Office deserves our support. As a self funded, self supporting arm of the government, it is a roaring success story, or has been until recently.  The recent disarray stems from a 2006 edict that the Postal Service, alone among Federal agencies, pre-fund its retirement program for 75 years into the future.  What was a self-sustaining, even profitable arm of the government has become a financially and morally bankrupts poor relation. This affects more than political campaigns of course, as any rural dweller dependent on the mail for delivery of its mail, packages and even life-saving medicine, can attest to.

For a short explanation of these budget busting shenanigans, see

And to see what you can do to protest and maybe even halt these measures, see