I promised not to let the blog go totally dark during the fall semester, and I kept that promise -- but just barely. Now I'm back -- but just barely. I taught my last class on Friday and still have a couple of finals to give and quite a few papers to grade, but I have gained a little breathing room. So a few scattered comments:
1. I was disappointed to see that Roy Brown was listed as signing a no-tax-increase pledge in his campaign for governor. Why? It isn't like Brian Schweitzer is going to run to the right of him on tax increases. If low taxes are all you care about, then Brown is your man.
So the pledge gains him nothing and costs him something I would hope for in a governor: the flexibility to deal with changing circumstances, no matter what they might be. A no-tax pledge says that no imaginable situation, crisis or emergency is important enough to raise taxes, even temporarily, or even while other taxes are being cut. I don't particularly want taxes to rise, but I also don't think it's the worst thing in the world. I can think of a lot of things worse than higher taxes -- wars, fiscal crises, natural disasters -- and I don't want politicians to unilaterally disarm.
2. Montana Headlines has an interesting post about Republicans' hate-hate affair with John Bohlinger. Montana Headlines makes some good points -- I, too, would like to see Bohlinger face Republicans in their natural lair -- but I think he misses an important point: What makes Republicans so annoyed with Bohlinger is exactly what makes him popular. Like it or not, Americans increasingly identify loyalty to party with disloyalty to country. Many of us fear that politicians in both parties are sacrificing the well-being of their constituents on the altar of partisanship.
Every day Bohlinger is in office, he makes a quiet statement that what unites us as a people is far more important than what divides us as political partisans. And Republican attacks on Bohlinger just reinforce that statement.
3. Montana Headlines also is worth reading on the presidential race, where John McCain is seen as making a comeback. I liked McCain against Bush, but this year it seemed that time had passed him by. He is no longer the newest thing on the shelf, and he gives activists at both ends of the political spectrum reason to dislike him: liberals because of his support of the war and conservatives because of immigration and campaign financing reforms.
Still, he is the only Republican who seems to understand that torture is a war crime. And, as Montana Headlines points out, McCain sensibly declined to sign a no-tax pledge (see No. 1 above) while still acting like a fiscal conservative.
The only other appealing Republicans from this chair are Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. Admirable fellow that he is, Paul probably is unelectable and would quite likely be a disaster as president. Huckabee is an amiable sort, but for me he is disqualified by his statements that the president should have the power to start a war even if Congress says no. I don't want to vote for a president who would be perjuring himself the moment he swore to defend the Constitution.
UPDATE: Here's another reason not to like Huckabee. I don't care what he thinks about homosexuals, but the idea that the cost of AIDS research should be borne by "multimillionaire celebrities" is the sleaziest kind of pandering -- not to mention wildly unchristian.