Sunday, August 29, 2010

Reviewing the Results from the Closed Primary

Reviewing the Results from the Closed Primary
By Mike Bayham

All but one of the congressional party primaries were decided on Saturday night with the only one slated at this time to be decided in October coming less than a percentage point from being settled as well.

US Senate

Though both Republican incumbent David Vitter and Democratic US Representative Charles Melancon won their respective party nomination comfortably, it was the junior US Senator that had the more impressive showing.

In addition to garnering a higher percentage than his Democratic opponent, Vitter received more overall votes. In fact, more votes were cast in the Republican primary than the Democratic primary despite the fact that registered Republicans constitute less than a third of the state electorate while the combined Democratic and unaffiliated voter registration comprises the remaining two-thirds.

Almost 5,000 more Republicans participated in their party primary, a sign that the GOP electorate is fired up and, more significantly for Vitter, has moved beyond his “sin”.

Furthermore, Vitter swamped his combined opponents in every parish in the state, a boast Melancon cannot claim.

Unlike Vitter, who had an opponent of some political standing (ex-State Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor), Melancon faced two unknowns who made little effort to challenge him for the Democratic nomination.

Yet Melancon’s two opponents fared fare better against him, even holding the congressman below 50% in five north Louisiana parishes (Grant, Lasalle, Sabine, Union and Winn), exposing a major obstacle to his chances of winning a statewide federal race in what will be the worst year for the Democratic Party since 1994.

Melancon’s relatively weak-showing is attributable to conservative voters that never officially left the Democratic Party casting protest ballots and a lack of enthusiasm for the election…and perhaps his candidacy.

Though Vitter’s general election poll numbers have consistently hovered in the area of 50%, the primary was an impressive show of strength by the Republican incumbent and a harsh reality check for his Democratic challenger.

Second District

New Orleans Democratic State Representative Cedric Richmond conducted his own demonstration of political power, winning his party nomination, comfortably avoiding the runoff despite the best efforts of a third-party campaign against him.

Just over 24,000 Democrats and unaffiliated voters hit the polls in the minority majority congressional district that includes most of Orleans Parish and part of Jefferson Parish.

Republican incumbent US Representative Joseph Cao doubtlessly was hoping that the contest would have gone to a second round, depleting Richmond’s campaign warchest and extending the assault on the state legislator’s image.

Richmond, who enjoyed the support of the city political establishment- including Mayor Mitch Landrieu and District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, goes into the general election against Cao with momentum and has ample time to unify his party behind him and replace what he spent in the primary.

While President Barack Obama is a political albatross for Melancon, Richmond made being an ally to the White House a cornerstone of his campaign.

Cao will soon find himself in a “damned if you do, don’t” situation as the freshman congressman had already caught much grief from the Right for bolting the GOP caucus on a number of voters and is about to catch hell from Richmond for not being supportive enough of the president.

Even if unflattering stories about Richmond continue to dribble out, one should bear in mind that two years ago then-Congressman Bill Jefferson still managed to rack up almost 47% despite his many well-known transgressions.

The perfect storm that produced the environment for Cao’s stunning upset in 2008 doesn’t seem to be manifesting a second time, as a major third-party black candidate in the general election didn’t materialize at the close of qualifying nor was Richmond forced into a bruising runoff.

Third District

Last week, I observed that there appeared to be a striking parallel between the Hunt Downer and Jeff Landry primary fight and the Vitter-Dave Treen congressional election in 1999; that analogy almost played out to the full early on Saturday.

Downer had every advantage a candidate could hope to possess: high name recognition, backing from the big money men in the district and hailing from the population center and geographic heart of the sprawling Third District.

Yet in a low turnout, party primary, such assets don’t have the same value as in a high-turnout open primary.

With his credentials as a Republican and a conservative challenged (snubbing the Tea Party folk did not help) and his affiliation with the highly unpopular ex-Governor Kathleen Blanco advertised ad nauseam via a radio ad featuring thick Cajun accents, Downer not only failed to win the primary but ran a distant second to Landry, who came within 163 votes of a stunning first round knockout.

Landry’s aggressive campaign style and strategy exploiting the political realities of the closed primary proved to be extremely effective. Had Kristian Magar, the third candidate in the contest, either not run or underperformed in Iberia Parish, Landry would have locked up the GOP nomination.

Having carried every parish but Terrebonne, Landry is poised to win comfortably in the runoff while Downer has no shortage of holes to plug in his campaign, most significantly selling himself as a viable candidate to contributors who had already invested heavily in his campaign in the primary.

Downer also has to contend with the argument that staying in the race could endanger the GOP’s chances of taking the seat back from the Democrats. A division within the Republican Party largely hampered Billy Tauzin, III’s unsuccessful bid to succeed his father in 2004.

Republican leaders nationally and in south Louisiana might voice the opinion that Downer “call the Hunt” off for the sake of the party, which would further marginalize Downer’s position.

And as Downer struggles to refill his campaign coffers, Landry’s campaign treasury will benefit from a major windfall as contributors scramble to get on-board further doubling Downer’s problems.

The silver lining for Downer is that the runoff will take place the same time as the special election for Lieutenant Governor and school board, which will increase voter turnout- a benefit for the better-known Downer, though even expanded voter participation might not be enough to change a campaign picture that had been deftly framed by Landry’s effective negative advertisements.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Richmond Wins Democratic Primary Outright

Based upon early returns, State Representative Cedric Richmond will win the Democratic Primary for the right to challenge incumbent Republican US Representative Joseph Cao in the November general election.

Landry to Run First, Downer Second

Based early returns, Jeff Landry will run first in the Third District Republican primary. Retired General Hunt Downer will run second and Kristian Magar will finish a distant third.

Landry Runs Away with Absentee, No First Knock-Out for Downer

Though Hunt Down turned in a strong absentee vote in his native Terrebonne Parish, Jeff Landry nearly broke even in neighboring Lafourche Parish in early voting in five other parishes, including a sizable margin in his native parish of Iberia.

Downer, who early on was considered the consensus GOP nominee, has been bled white by advertisements by Landry linking him with ex-Governor Kathleen Blanco.

Right now the only thing that looks certain is that Downer will not win the GOP nod in the first round and might end up running second. Downer could be a casaulty of the Republican Party's decision to block unaffiliated voters from participating in the party primary.

The Early Call, LA Primary 2010- Melancon, Vitter Win Primaries, Landry Leads Downer in First Votes

Incumbent US Senator David Vitter and Third District US Representative Charles Melancon have won their respective party primaries.

With the Saint Bernard Parish absentee vote counted, Melancon has won 81% of the early votes cast while Republican Vitter secured 76%.

In the Third District GOP primary, insurgent Jeff Landry made a surprise first place finish in early voting over the better known ex-House Speaker Hunt Downer.

Landry took the absentee with 52% while Downer trailed with 36%, a sign that Landry's scathing attack ads had taken a toll on the candidate seen as the leading Republican candidate.

It should be noted that Landry is a common political surname in St. Bernard and that may have also contributed to his absentee lead. In the 2004 priamry for Congress, a minor candidate fared surprisingly well in Saint John the Baptist Parish despite not spending much money, which was attributed in large part to having the same last name as the area senator.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I am going to start this retrospective on Hurricane Katrina by saying two words.

Thank you.

Thank you to the first responders, the local police and firemen, who stayed behind and performed to the fully to the oath they took when they put on their uniforms for the first time.

Thank you to a Canadian search and rescue team that left America’s neighbor to he north before Katrina approached Louisiana’s fragile shoreline and arrived in Saint Bernard Parish before federal officials did.

Thank you to the thousands of volunteers, from college students from the Maritime Provinces and to evangelical high schoolers from Oklahoma who gave up their vacation time to “muck”, gut and rebuild communities struggling to get back on their feet.

Thank you to President George W. Bush and the members of Congress from both parties who committed eleven figures of federal dollars to rebuild infrastructure and schools.

Though the federal officials initially in charge of responding to the disaster failed to adequately appreciate, prepare and execute immediate relief efforts and President Bush was rightfully criticized for a failure to demonstrate the kind of leadership that he displayed after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, there can be no denying that the president followed through on providing federal support for rebuilding the New Orleans area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, even if FEMA officials continued to needlessly make the process excruciating.

The new administration might be around for the ribbon cuttings but it was the previous White House that secured the financing to start the reconstruction work.

A special thank you to those congressmen who stood up to the powerful shipping industry and finally closed the dreaded Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the man-made channel that destroyed Saint Bernard and New Orleans East’s natural buffer from storm surges and acted as a freeway for storm surge that was deposited in people’s bedrooms many miles away from open water.

And finally thank you to the American taxpayers. It was your money that helped rebuild an important piece of our nation.

August 29, 2005 is a day that is etched in the hearts and minds of southeast Louisianans and coastal Mississippians.

However the date that is most relevant to me is August 27, 2005 and the 24 hours period that would follow waking up that morning.

And now a look back on the 24 hour period that would divide my life into two periods.

More often than I should, I replay in my mind things I could and should have done differently in advance of Katrina. Time was short for me as I had to return home from a political committee meeting in Baton Rouge whose leaders stubbornly refused to cancel the Saturday before the storm hit. (One individual who now holds a high position in the Louisiana GOP mocked how beautiful the weather was and how he wished he would have brought his golf clubs). Not walking out that meeting was one of those mistakes.

Upon getting home and helping my family move my bed-ridden grandfather from his house in Chalmette for the final time, I went to the townhouse I was about to move out of in two weeks and tried to figure out what I should do next.

How bad would the storm be?

The last hurricane to wallop Saint Bernard Parish was Betsy in the 1960s. As a child I would often hear my maternal grandparents talk about it and pictures of the floodwater it brought to the eastern part of the parish decorated the Parish Council’s committee room. Betsy was such a part of the local psyche that a local playwright produced a popular production centered around the storm and how locals coped with the aftermath (including with the bureaucrats that followed).

Long before those affected by Katrina would claim that FEMA stood for “Fix Everything My Ass”, Betsy veterans had declared that the SBA stood for “Sons of Bitches of America”.

For me, hearing tales of Betsy were the closest things that came to war stories.

However, Betsy had spared large parts of Saint Bernard, including the house I had grown up in. My paternal grandfather used to boast how the “celebrated” cyclone hadn’t even flooded his street. And the partially paralyzed octogenarian who was my father figure kept repeating as much as we carried him against his will to my uncle’s Lincoln Town Car.

Katrina would spare only five houses in Saint Bernard Parish, which had a pre-Katrina housing stock of over 25,000.

And Pop’s house would not be one of the five.

I’d also spend some time on Saturday evening trying to talk another equally stubborn grandfather into leaving his home, though fortunately the constant barrage of pleas and protests from his entire family meant he would not have to be carried out.

Though I am grateful to have gotten out of New Orleans before the storm hit, I guess it’s human nature to dwell on personal losses that seem small in the big picture.

In terms of possessions, I was somewhat fortunate…in that I only lost 75% of my worldly possessions. Everything else was plucked from the goop and quasi-salvageable, had escaped the rising water by inches or had been crammed inside my worn out Ford Escort, which I had shrewdly parked next to the Superdome. A lot of people in Saint Bernard weren’t that lucky.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing saved from the storm was a binder of baseball cards. Though I lost virtually my entire collection, I had taken one binder out the week before the storm, perused them and then lazily tossed them on the bed I slept in when I stayed by my grandfather’s house. The bed floated with the baseball cards though they’ll retain forever a slight but noticeable mold-musty smell to them, a permanent pungent reminder of my own private experience with the most devastating storm in terms of property damage in American history.

The stuff I miss the most were the photographs. With the exception of one book in particular (Machine Politics in New Orleans), I replaced the books I had lost to water and mold. The electronics that I lost didn’t matter that much to me since I owned tube-television, a VCR and a primitive DVD player, which were destined for the ash-heap of technology.

In what was probably the most humorous moment in my post-evacuation activities I spent some time meticulously re-arranging things on my book shelves, figuring the water in my area would be an unprecedented three feet. As eleven feet of water hit my abode, the scene was the equivalent of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

“If only I had invested in some 16 gallon plastic bins”, is something I think whenever I dwell on something irreplaceable that I had lost. Right next to that is wishing I would have had more confidence in the strength of my second floor windows, as I “shrewdly” placed most of my valuables, photographs and other items on the ground away from windows that I thought for certain would be blown out. It turned out that the second floor glass held, though the foot of water deposited on my second floor made my efforts self-defeating.

My kingdom for some more time and plastic bins.

But for all the “d’oh’ moves I made, I was not devoid of luck.

First, I had the presence of mind to partake in one luxury before the deluge. Rocky & Carlos, my favorite restaurant and a landmark eatery in Chalmette, was still operating on Saturday night and there I would sup for the last time in Louisiana for ten days. A death row meal could not equal what that meant to me.

Second, that decision to park my loaded up Ford Escort by the Superdome? Brilliant move. Experience from Hurricane Andrew’s visit to LSU’s campus in 1992 taught me to avoid parking somewhere that would leave your car windows exposed to flying gravel from building roofs. Despite having a “W” sticker on the rear bumper and a hatchback that betrayed its bounty, the Escort was unmolested from nature, looter and Democrat. It even started and made the trip to Baton Rouge.

Third, there was one thing in particular I was determined to protect though I knew I couldn’t bring it with me, so I tucked a framed picture of me shaking hands with Ronald Reagan in a clothes closet on the top shelf. I got back to my place before the looters did.

Finally, there was my escape from New Orleans. Though the old Ford Escort made it out of post-Katrina New Orleans, its temperamental radiator would have never survived a pre-Katrina contraflow run to parts unknown. I just so happened to have a flight voucher on me that the good folks at Southwest Airlines were happy to honor on a late Sunday afternoon flight to Phoenix, where a fraternity brother and his wife lived. While playing Mille Bornes with friends and watching the hurricane the size of the Gulf of Mexico creep towards the Louisiana coast on the Weather Channel, I suspected that the flight I booked was going to get cancelled.

Fortunately Southwest JUST had a seat open up on the early morning flight to Arizona. Paranoia and persistence paid big dividends. Despite strong winds, the plane left New Orleans and I arrived at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor on the morning of August 28, 2005 a genuine refugee with bulging luggage containing the only possessions I knew for certain that I would still own in the next 48 hours.

Though I still held out for a shift in the storm’s trajectory that would somehow spare the New Orleans area the worst, life as I knew it would be forever changed and my memories would be divided between pre-Katrina and post-Katrina.

In a period of about 24 hours I went from standing inside the Lod Cook Alumni Center on LSU’s campus arguing with party hacks to standing the baggage claim of the Phoenix Airport.

Ironically enough I would end up sleeping through Hurricane Katrina’s worst. I hadn’t slept at all the night before and I was emotionally worn out from all that had transpired prior to arriving in Arizona though that night’s slumber would be the only uninterrupted rest I’d have for the next ten days.

My days would be filled with exchanging hundreds of text messages, arguing with my cell phone company about overages, fighting through jammed phone lines to get information out from those trapped in Saint Bernard Parish, quashing rampant rumors on the internet about the fate of those stayed behind, coordinating medicine drops and most significantly personally informing next of kin about the status of patients in Saint Rita’s Nursing Home, whose operators unwisely decided to ride out the storm.

The First Round of Louisiana's Final Closed Congressional Primary, Part II

One strategy I was surprised the Democrats did not employ in their bid to unseat Republican US Senator David Vitter was to field credible candidates against the three Republicans who won their seats two years ago without a majority vote.

It just so happened that those three districts have the three highest concentrations of black voters in the state and that at a minimum, the competitive congressional races would drive up turnout that would have a trickle-up benefit to Democratic US Representative Charlie Melancon's candidacy for Congress' upper chamber.

But the embattled position of the Democratic Party nationally means they cannot utilize elaborate political schemes and has translated into token opposition to Republican incumbents in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Districts, which is noteworthy since Congressmen John Fleming (4th) and Bill Cassidy (6th) both won their seats two years ago with less than a majority- and in the case of Fleming with the last ballot boxes trickling in. Things will be quiet for five Republican congressmen until reapportionment takes shape next year.

There are only two party primaries for the US House of Representatives in Louisiana, though they are in different districts.

In the Third District, three Republicans are battling for the Republican nod to face Democrat Ravi Sangisetty to succeed the seat Melancon vacated to run for the US Senate.
Short a collapse by the GOP and a bitter fight that spills beyond the primary (which isn’t unprecedented in Louisiana and in the Third District specifically), winning the Republican nomination should be almost tantamount to election.

Kristian Mager, Hunt Downer and Jeff Landry are the candidates seeking the Republican nomination with the latter two being the leading candidates. Downer has established name recognition from his decades in the legislature, a well-stocked campaign account and has the advantages of being from the geographical heart and population center of the district (Houma). However, Landry has run a spirited and aggressive campaign from the start, challenging Downer’s previous party affiliation and ties with ex-Governor Kathleen Blanco, whose popularity in the eastern portion of the district (that being the area most affected by Hurricane Katrina) is abysmal.

The race is going to boil down to whether Landry’s tacking hard to the right and constant swinging at the ex-House speaker trumps Downer’s aforementioned considerable advantages. In some ways, this race has striking parallels to the 1999 special election in the First Congressional District between ex-Governor Dave Treen and ex-State Representative David Vitter. Also does Magar pull enough votes to throw the race into a second round?

When the GOP banned independents from participating in the primary, the move had the most detrimental effect on Downer, who has a much broader base of support than Landry. If Landry prevails, the retired National Guard general could be the biggest casualty from the state Republican Party’s exclusivity position.

In the Second District, four Democrats are vying for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Joseph Cao in what is potentially one of the few new seats the national Democrats hope to pick up in what is increasingly looking like a tough year.

Of the four, state representatives Cedric Richmond and Juan LaFonta have the most name recognition though Eugene Green, an ex-aide to convicted former Congressman Bill Jefferson, has been rumored to have a hidden advantage through his old boss’s political network. I’ll believe that when I see it as Green as thus far conducted a virtually invisible campaign.

Richmond was the candidate to bet on from the beginning though scandal and controversy has followed him as negative story continue agonizingly drip upon his candidacy in the closing days of the primary. LaFonta, who raised six-figures though invested it in overhead, has only recently taken to the airwaves in a last minute attempt to exploit Richmond’s new-found weaknesses.

LaFonta has also not been shy about employing language that can easily be inferred to be divisive, with the slogan “Working Hard for OUR Community”, a reworked version of Sherman Copelin’s infamous “Fighting Them For Us”. I’m sure candidate LaFonta has a prepackaged “honorable” explanation for the slogan, that it somehow doesn’t mean what a cynical person who has followed city elections might interpret it to mean.

Despite the problems, Richmond maintains a number of advantages including the support of New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Richmond has also attempted to spin the reports of potential impropriety as simply a part of a grandiose conspiracy involving, and I quote, the Republican Party, the birthers, those trying to remove President Obama from office and the Tea Party folks to stop the most electable Democrat from being nominated. (while I cannot speak for other members of the cabal, I’ve never known my party to be so forward-thinking and clever in politics. Any GOP benefit would be purely accidental). And some of the sources could hardly be labeled Republican.

However, the touch of scandal shouldn’t be too much of a handicap on Richmond, considering that Democratic voters supported the renomination of Jefferson two years before by a strong margin despite his more circulated problems. If a freezer full of cash couldn’t stop Jefferson from winning his party’s nod, it’s doubtful Richmond’s mistakes will stop him in the end.

The big question is whether the contest goes to a second round, which would give LaFonta a second shot at the nomination while improving Cao’s still tough odds by further bloodying Richmond and making the leading Democrat less light in the wallet.

The Early Call Will Be On-Line Saturday Night

Checkout on election night around 8 PM CST as The Early Call makes projections based upon selected early returns before the mainstream media.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The First Round of Louisiana's Last Closed Congressional Primary, Part I

While caucuses and primaries in other parts of the country have stirred if not shaken the national political establishment through denying renominations (and thus an early defeat) to a handful of US Senators and US Representatives, the results of this Saturday’s congressional primary won’t offer anything comparably newsworthy beyond the state line.

Before taking a look at some of the races of note, some trivia/points of interest:

1) This will be the last year of the closed party primary. Despite the pleadings of the leaders of the state’s major political parties, the Louisiana legislature passed and Governor Bobby Jindal signed a bill reverting the state back to the simpler and less expensive open primary.

2) The Libertarian Party will hold its first congressional primary in Louisiana as two candidates are seeking the right to serve as standard bearer in the US Senate general election, a highwater point of significance within the state for the nation’s leading “third party”.

3) And more than likely, this will mark the last time Louisiana elects seven members to the US House of Representatives, with national reapportionment trimming the state’s delegation by one for the second time in twenty years.

Now that that’s been dispensed, off to the races!

Third District Congressman Charlie Melancon faces two opponents with little name recognition and should overwhelmingly win the Democratic nomination for US Senate. Talk of a possible “spoiler” effect by conservative voters affiliated with the Democratic Party or registered independents (who can vote in the Democratic primary) to dampen Melancon’s final percentage will likely be doused by a spiked turnout in the Second District (New Orleans). Charlie Boy should rack up in the neighborhood of 80%. Anything less will further fuel his electability.

Melancon’s likely Republican opponent in the general election, incumbent US Senator David Vitter, is in no danger of being denied renomination despite having political problems, though unlike those that sank incumbent GOP congressmen in Utah, Alaska (?) and South Carolina, Vitter’s have little to do with ideological orthodoxy.

Vitter has two primary opponents though only former State Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor has significant name recognition…and that isn’t very positive. Just as Vitter’s “sins” were well circulated amongst politicos well-before they exploded in the media, so were Traylor’s “family ties”. And it didn’t take very long for the general public to be made aware of the soap opera between the ex-jurist and a state legislator.

With Vitter’s political resiliency, overtly conservative political posturing and the enormous war chest he amassed, Traylor would have been an underdog; the airing of grievances by Traylor’s deceased wife’s ex-husband and children further diminished his credibility.

The real question in the GOP US Senate primary is how many voters, particularly women, cast protest votes for the third candidate who lacks both public ID standing and TMZ details.

If Vitter runs up the score on his end in the mid-seventies range, it’ll be a sign that the base is holding and that Melancon is going to have to pull a few rabbits (or whatever) out of his hat (or wherever) to compensate for a hostile national political environment for Democrats in a state that voted heavily against Barack Obama before his administration gave the rest of America new reasons to.

Conversely, a Vitter majority less than 70% would show that it might not be smooth sailing to November. Vitter has a higher threshold to meet because the GOP primary doesn’t factor in independent voters, who were banned by the State GOP from participating in the vote despite the fact that voters not affiliated with a political party constitute a critical part of the GOP’s electoral majority and are the fastest growing affiliation in the state.

With Nick Accardo (the third Republican) an unknown and Traylor a non-entity beyond his political base in northeast Louisiana, the Republican primary will largely serve as a referendum on Vitter.

After Saturday, the junior senator will have a good idea how far he has gone from the dark days of the summer of 2007.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Latest Tear to the Constitution

If you believe in the importance of having an ethical judiciary, you should be disappointed.

If you are a California voter that cast a ballot to define marriage as being between two people of opposite sexes, you should be angry.

If you believe in the separation of powers, which unlike the so-called constitutional “separation of church and state” is actually in the U.S. Constitution, you should be furious.

Judge Vaughn Walker, who is chief judge of the northern California federal judicial district, threw out Proposition Eight, which received over 7,000,000 votes and a majority of ballots cast on the very day the Golden State overwhelming supported the election of Barack Obama to the presidency.

Walker, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, ruled that the state constitutional amendment restricting marriage to individuals of opposite sexes was unconstitutional citing that it violated due process (the 5th amendment) and equal protection (the 14th amendment).

The ruling is the product of an individual occupying a position of great power with an active imagination, a fanatical belief in what is just and no sense or fear of accountability.

It should be noted that even a relatively elastic amendment like the Civil War era 14th obviously had limits as it was necessary for the Constitution to be amended again to expand voting rights to women.

Under Judge Vaughn and the plaintiff’s logic, an amendment to the constitution spelling out women’s suffrage was superfluous as it and a host of other “rights” are implied already in the 14th amendment.

Implied is a good way of describing it since the word “marriage” nor any reference to the legal bonding of a two people is mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. One would think that this gray area should be a matter determined by the states (see the oft-forgotten 10th amendment).

In fact a better argument could be made why the 10th amendment declares the matter none of the federal judiciary’s business than one establishing how the 5th and 14th amendments are applicable. But the Left has demonized that constitutional clause with the same ferocity it has savaged a certain grandmother in Alaska.

There’s also the matter of a serious conflict of interest as Judge Walker is a homosexual and is a potential beneficiary of his own ruling.
Government acts arbitrarily all of the time. Especially on the national level.

Washington tells states that they won’t receive highway money if they don’t have a speed limit or if they permit people under the age of 21 to drink at a bar.

Owning a gun is a constitutional right; marriage is not. States have their own rules on how many days a couple has to wait before tying the knot and if a blood test is required.

If marriage is indeed a constitutional right possessed by all individuals, then why are there polygamy laws on the books? And continuing down this slippery slope, what’s to prevent close relatives from marrying each other? And age limits?

Are their “rights” less than that of two unrelated men or women who want to tie the knot?

Theoretically, that depends on whom you ask. And then how many likeminded people elect representatives sympathetic of that opinion who then pass laws, or in matters that seem to be in conflict with the Constitution or are important enough to enshrine in original governing document, pass a measure by a super-majority and then ratified by a super-majority of welfare-distribution centers better known as states.

Or you can take the liberal legal equivalent of a Dukes of Hazzard short cut and simply appoint a judge to create rights (or deny those explicitly codified as such) via fiat.

Liberals generally respond to the “polygamy/incest” argument that follows their own logic as being a standard conservative retort on the issue of same-sex marriage and then proceed to loudly challenge the integrity of traditional marriage advocates, comparing them to George Wallace or some other long dead politician of a distant era.

Government decides what’s too fast and obscene and what’s clean enough water and air.

The details that define our culture and acceptable quality of life come from the people, who may embrace, reject or amend the heritage they inherited. Elected government officials are charged with the authority to enact laws within the confines of organic law that reflect society, the essence of a democratic republic.

In California’s case, the people have a right to take things into their own hands, at least until a judge feels differently.

Judge Walker’s ruling is hardly the final word on that particular case and the matter of same-sex marriage in general.

And to disagree with the New York Times’ gushing reaction to the ruling, it’s neither historic nor a landmark decision. It’s a speedbump on the road to higher courts and a poor reflection on the man who should not have heard the case and the latest judicial excess by a branch of government with a tendency to not just break laws but make them as well.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it will in all likelihood receive an amen from that collection of notoriously liberal jurists, and then to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it will be decided almost single-handedly by moderate associate justice Anthony Kennedy, who sits in the middle of an evenly split, ideologically polarized body.

Judge Vaughn’s decision is a reminder of why the federal judiciary figures prominently in election campaigns and how great of a threat an unelected body of lawyers can be to democracy and constitutional government.