Friday, November 12, 2004

If you think radical Islam is a threat...

People's Daily Online : Is America Really a Superpower?:
"The nations of the world have fallen in line with this belief and have tailored their political actions based upon this belief. Paying obedience to America and withholding actions that they may otherwise have taken. They have sat by as America has invaded country after country and as America has built military bases around the world and has encircled China...It is time for the nations of the world to wake up to the realities of American power and to create the political will to operate as they see fit and to ignore the threat of any serious or sustainable retaliation from this Paper Tiger. "

Love My Dog, Love Me - The great Arab-Muslim-American puppy story.

Ahmed Tharwat writes :
"As a hyphenated-American, I discovered that owning a dog easily accomplished what many diversity training programs have failed to do for years. Regardless of our race, color, religion, or country of origin, we were one community of civilized dog lovers.
I now take Oliver everywhere I go. He is my post 9/11 homeland-security blanket. Arab-Americans: Get a puppy, now that you need a real friend."


Dogs are great, and don't forget dog meat is fine, tasty and can warm the body.

Well, this is a pretty good sign...

"As a member of the court, Gonzales ruled with the majority that some teenage girls should not be required to get parental permission for an abortion.
In his opinion on the ruling, Gonzales wrote, 'While the ramifications of such a law may be personally troubling to me as a parent, it is my obligation as a judge to impartially apply the laws of this state without imposing my moral view on the decisions of the legislature.' "


However, this is not:

"ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero issued a statement calling for a confirmation process "that scrutinizes Mr. Gonzales' positions on key civil liberties and human rights issues. 'Particular attention should be devoted to exploring Mr.Gonzales' proposed policies on the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, the Guantanamo Bay detentions, the designation of United States citizens as enemy combatants and reproductive rights.'"

The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide

"There's only one problem with the storyline proclaiming that the country swung to the right on cultural issues in 2004. Like so many other narratives that immediately calcify into our 24/7 media's conventional wisdom, it is fiction...Excess and vulgarity, as always, enjoy a vast, bipartisan constituency, and in a democracy no political party will ever stamp them out. "

Rock on.

"According to this argument, the values voters the Democrats must pander to are people like Cary and Tara Leslie, archetypal Ohio evangelical "Bush votes come to life" apotheosized by The Washington Post right after Election Day. The Leslies swear by "moral absolutes," support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and mostly watch Fox News. Mr. Leslie has also watched his income drop from $55,000 to $35,000 since 2001, forcing himself, his wife and his three young children into the ranks of what he calls the "working poor." Maybe by 2008 some Democrat will figure out how to persuade him that it might be a higher moral value to worry about the future of his own family than some gay family he hasn't even met."

I'm sure that $20K paycut will position this family well to take part in the "ownership society".

Coming soon...

Note to self:

Topics for future discussion -
1. Why lawyers shouldn't be policy analysts.
2. Why the VAT (and sales tax) suck.
3. Metropolitan consolidation - good idea or bad?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Income as a proxy for intelligence

I see my libertarian friend has taken to citing the
exit polling
he derided just the other day.

Income and level of education are both strong predictors of intelligence, as discussed in here. The author writes:

"Murray (1998), using data on siblings (being from the same family whose members share social economic status and rearing) has shown that IQ is a very powerful predictor of education and income, with the smarter of two brothers typically emerging as the better educated, the one with the more prestigious occupation, and the higher income. Each IQ point produces an increment in annual income of $453 by the time the subjects are in their early thirties."

So, let's look at the level of education from the exit polls:

Postgrad Study (16% of voters)
44% - Bush
55%- Kerry

If level of education is also a proxy for intelligence, look at the margin of
smart folks with graduate degrees that seemed to vote for Kerry.

Of course, my colleague is very distrustful of academics, so let's ignore level of education as a factor in determining intelligence. If we use income solely, look this article in Slate.

"In September, the research firm Prince & Associates surveyed 400 people worth more than $1 million for Elite Traveler magazine. The rich folk favored Bush by a 58-42 margin. Not too surprising. But when you break out the numbers, they tell a different story. The petit bourgeoisie millionaires were passionately for Bush: Those worth between $1 million and $10 million favored Bush by a 63-37 margin. But the haute millionaires, those worth more than $10 million, favored Kerry 59-41."

So the super-rich, and by extension, the super-intelligent, prefered Kerry as well.

Take it on income, take it on education - the "smart" choice was Democrat.

Did you frame your GED?

Over the last week I've read and listened to allot of angry dems questioning the intelligence of bush voters, the bible thumping Jesus loving conservatives who elected bush are too stupid to tie their own shoes... As a non-church attending republican (who voted Libertarian this year) I was concerned about the party of cold logical conservatism becoming the "Jesus" party. Looking at this years income/voter stats eases my mind.
If the bible crowd is really in control of the republican party and are really that stupid then, looking at the breakdown by income, we should all pick up the bible since it appears to make stupid people (conservatives) very financially successful.
Its often said that poor southern rural religious conservatives vote against their economic interests for "moral issues" but this is not the case, Kerry got large majorities of those earning less than $30K and Bush received large majorities of those making $50K+ with them splitting the $30-50K voters. While income does not necessarily equate intelligence its difficult to argue that people who earn more money somehow lacked the ability to comprehend Kerry's nuance positions.
from CNN.com
VOTE BY INCOME BUSH KERRY

TOTAL 2004 2004

Under $15,000 (8%) 36% 63%

$15-30,000 (15%) 42% 57%

$30-50,000(22%) 49% 50%

$50-75,000 (23%) 56% 43%

$75-100,000 (14%) 55% 45%

$100-150,000 (11%) 57% 42%

$150-200,000 (4%) 58% 42%

$200,000 or More (3%) 63% 35%

need some of your commie friends to back you up eh?

ABC affiliate pulls 'Private Ryan' on indecency concerns - Nov. 11, 2004

This is what you get with your "Moral Decay" & "Cultural Values"

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops had no problem with this film, citing it is for adults.

They write, "Director Steven Spielberg brilliantly re-creates the horror and chaos of warfare, never losing sight of the soldiers' humanity, savagery and patriotism even as they question the justification of their mission."

In a time of national conflict, when almost 50% of this country is being accused of being unpatriotic, doesn't it make sense to show a film that glorifies American soldiers as well as demonstrates the struggle between duty to mission and doubt?

Of course not, because we might offend sensitive family values. This movie is not for children, do your job as a parent and DON'T LET THEM WATCH IT! The FCC is not there to raise your kids.

If the FCC continues down this road, you'll be seeing a lot more him on TV:


Yes, it's the Gay one...

Lonely Voice...

You'll notice I refer to "our" website...there's another contributor out there.

I'm Liberal Blowhard, an academic that washed out in the real world of capitalism and has been forced to take refuge in the Ivory Tower (not exactly true, but that's what my verbal sparring partner will tell you.)

peter - the other contributor, claims to be a libertarian conservative, but the truth is, he's a Billionaire for Bush, when he isn't celebrating his tax cut, he's lamenting the decline of morals in our culture.

He's very excited about an opportunity to jam Christianity down America's throat for 4 more years, as well as expanding the Axis of Evil to include France.

I'm calling you out...where are you?

If you don't post soon, I'll go off the deep end like someone we know:
"Highways are destroying America - We need public transportation - Damn you Technology!"

Lawnnorder: A libbie's take on today's events

A big welcome to our second guest, and the first I didn't tell about our new site:

Lawnorder

Fantastic front page photo today!

Hybrid Cars and Foreign Oil Dependency.

Thinking about Friedman's comments on Imus this morning, I saw this :

Hybrid Cars and Foreign Oil Dependency.: "Raise it [U.S. fuel efficiency standards] by 7.6 mpg, we eliminate one-hundred percent of our gulf oil imports into this country", Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

I've heard a bunch of arguments against CAFE standards, and while I will agree they are manipulative to businesses and citizens, a "social engineering" initiative, some of these arguments are just plain false.

Coon writes, "A more fuel-efficient vehicle costs less to drive per mile, so vehicle mileage increases. As the author of The Wall Street Journal article notes, "[s]ince 1970, the United States has made cars almost 50% more efficient; in that period of time, the average number of miles a person drives has doubled." This increase certainly offsets a portion of the gains made in fuel efficiency from government mandated standards."

This ignores Northeastern urban flight and unmanaged growth in new Southern and Western cities over the last two decades. Declining cost/mile may have enabled people to move out of dense population centers, but development practices that encourage exurban build-up has as much to do with increased mileage as efficiency gains caused by CAFE standards.

She also writes, "Clearly, the CAFE program has failed to accomplish its purposes. Oil imports have not decreased. In fact, they have increased from about 35 percent of supply in the mid-1970s to 52 percent today."

Oil production in the United States has declined in the last 30 years (you can see the downward trend since 1985 here). The only way imports could decrease if if total consumption goes down. First, the population of the U.S. has increased by about 80 million people in the last 30 years, so any efficiency gains must counter-act increased consumption due to population growth. Second, the majority of autos sold in this country fall into the "light truck" classification, where the CAFE standard is about 7 mpg lower than passenger cars, so any lower consumption that could be affected through higher efficiency standards has been circumvented by this difference.

The demand for larger cars has comes as average household population has been in decline for the last 30 years, so consumer demand must stem from another reason. The safety evidence is compelling, but the truth is, most people in this country could do just fine with a Honda Civic Hybrid. It just not what people want.

There is a market failure here - the positive externalities that can be achieved through higher fuel economy cars demand government intervention. The companies are making them, but we need to encourage people to buy them. Tax breaks are a start, but more can be done.

1. Raise the baseline of light trucks.
2. Remove the ability of manufacturers to "buy" deviations from standards. The deviations are passed onto consumers of smaller cars. By capping the deviations, this will create a shortage of SUVs, driving up pricing.
3. Adopt growth policies that encourage urban renewal and rebuilding within cities, rather than promote large exurban development.
4. Drill ANWR - we can't get stop population growth. We'll cut consumption to a new basic level, but that level will increase with population. We can provide for these increases internally without relying on Saudi Arabia.
5. An increase in gasoline tax, and a luxury tax on the most gas-guzzling cars to raise consumer prices, with the benefits passed onto auto companies for R & D.

It's like Friedman said this morning, once we stop treating the Middle East like our "gas station", we can work to improve the lives of people there without offending the Saudi Royal Family and protect our nation as well.

Tom Friedman on Imus

I wasn listening to Imus driving in this morning, and Tom Friedman was his guest right before 8 am Eastern. Imus asked him about staying optimistic regarding the Middle East.

Friedman replied with a really moving statement about being a parent, and how if you resign yourself to believing that Muslims can only be be ruled by tyrants, then you better hold your kids close, because it's going to be future full of nothing but people like Saddam Hussein and Yassir Arafat.

He then read the riot act to the United States for overlooking all the horrible stuff that's been going over there for decades in exchange for cheap oil.

I can't really do it justice, but I'm looking to post the transcript or audio clip.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Maybe this guy can get a job in China

Those St. Bernards aren't going to make it to the table themselves.

Potential Supreme Court Nominees

I'm guessing that Gonzales to AG doesn't bump him from Supreme Court consideration.

Sorry Everybody

Complements of the Maryland connection.

By the way, based on the election map, she's going the way of the
Piping Plover If we're not careful, the next generation may never know that Democrats once roamed Anne Arundel County.

Best...Website...Ever

Wow - does it get any better than this!

Just a little taste:

Fuck the South: "All that bullshit about what you think they meant by the Second Amendment giving you the right to keep your assault weapons in the glove compartment because you didn't bother to read the first half of the fucking sentence?"

I didn't know I hated America so much...

WSJ.com - Good Riddance: "But the problem is that many Democrats have a downright hostile attitude to the flag, to patriotism itself, which is thought by some in the party to be a retrograde sentiment. And they have, at best, a queasy disposition towards religion. To tell the truth, it gives many of them the creeps."

Thank goodness my moral superiors are here to set me straight. I forget sometimes that admitting mistakes is unpatriotic, right up there with questioning the fallability of the Pope...I mean the President. United States foreign policy since World War II has been shortsighted - a lot of the problems we have had or experience today were the results of lack of strategy on both sides of the aisle. Propping up the Shah, selling arms to Saddam Hussein and Iraq, arming the Mujahadeen, giving Indochina back to the French, failing to differentiate between nationalist communist movements and Stalinist-style communism...

The intent in almost all of those cases was good, but you what road is paved in "good intentions". What's wrong with taking a more distanced position on things?

Secondly, religion doesn't make me queasy, setting government policy with an eye toward religion does make me nervous. My other problem with it - it's hypocritical. For a country that's so worried about moral decay - who was buying all those Eminem and Brittany Spears albums? It wasn't just people in New York and Massachussetts - I live in a red state, and that stuff is on the radio here too. Howard Stern had as audience outside NY/NJ, last time I checked. It's called "popular" culture for a reason.

My foil will say, "look at the Passion", it shows people want something besides what Hollywood is regularly putting out. Fine, but why does it have to be to the exclusion of something else? If Conservatives charge that liberals try to use the courts to affect policy, it's no different than trying to use government (like the FCC), to affect policy. Problem is - we don't vote on entertainment in this country - the government doesn't and shouldn't set artistic direction.

If that's what you really want, go to the UK and watch the BBC.

The American Spectator - Beacon of Scientific Knowledge

The American Spectator: "Wills takes as his measure of enlightenment a Darwinian theory that most scientists don't even bother to defend anymore. Complexity through chance -- random selection -- requires more faith than the virgin birth."

The problem is, Darwin never hypothesized "random" selection. In fact, the theory of "natural" selection is quite clear that there is no randomness involved - it is specific heritable variations to an environment that produce evolution. Man evolved from apes because there was an organism that was basically an ape that had something specifically that other apes didn't - could be the larger brain, maybe opposable thumbs.

Granted, evolution is a theory of science, not a law; a sober interpretation of evidence. An alternative explanation, that addresses the same evidence, could certainly be put forward and accepted, if it arrived at logically. Evolution doesn't contradict everything we know about human development, so it doesn't require a great deal of faith.

Virgin birth requires a leap of faith because it's a miracle that contradicts everything we know about science and reproduction. The flip side to this is: if we don't know or understand that virgin birth is scientifically possible, then it's not a miracle anymore, because science can explain it. What's so special about Jesus and Mary, if all kinds of women can have virgin births under controlled conditions?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Dog meat is fine, tasty and can warm the body.

"Dog meat is fine, tasty and can warm the body. In order to guarantee the quality and hygiene of dog meat, the Beijing HongDing Breeding & Development Co. Takes the following measures: individual breeding, central slaughter and market. The slaughter facility is in the city of Chanping, killing 100'000 a year, Products include marinated dog meat and dog ribs. The company also provides stud dogs and offers job opportunities for laid off workers."

This is pretty shocking, and I guess I can understand how people would be offended by this, but every year, we consume so much cattle - how do you think we look to Indians?

Satire - it can be tragic too

Of course, the tragic thing about this satire is how unfunny is actually is...

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE :: Declaration of Expulsion: A Modest Proposal It's Time to Reconfigure the United States by Mike Thompson

"The 12 states that must go: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware...As for the dozen ex-American states, they could always petition the UN and EU for foreign aid."

I suggest you read:

Federal Taxing and Spending Patterns

States Receiving Most in Federal Spending Per Dollar of Federal Taxes Paid:
1. D.C. ($6.17)
2. North Dakota ($2.03)
3. New Mexico ($1.89) (flipped Red in 2004)
4. Mississippi ($1.84)
5. Alaska ($1.82)
6. West Virginia ($1.74)
7. Montana ($1.64)
8. Alabama ($1.61)
9. South Dakota ($1.59)
10. Arkansas ($1.53)

States Receiving Least in Federal Spending Per Dollar of Federal Taxes Paid:
1. New Jersey ($0.62)
2. Connecticut ($0.64)
3. New Hampshire ($0.68) (flipped Blue in 2004)
4. Nevada ($0.73)
5. Illinois ($0.77)
6. Minnesota ($0.77)
7. Colorado ($0.79)
8. Massachusetts ($0.79)
9. California ($0.81)
10. New York ($0.81)

You really shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you...

Sorry, but hurricane reconstruction = zero sum

Anthony Chan, J.P. Morgan : "We're not going to see all October economic reports look as good as this employment report, and next month's employment is not likely to be another gain of 337,000," he said.

Chan agreed that slower employment gains are ahead in coming months. He pointed out that the average work week stayed steady at 33.8 hours and that number normally climbs before a sustained period of increased hiring.

"Without an increase (in hours), it is hard to believe that employers are dying to hire 300,000-plus new workers each month," he said."

Why not? Becuase 71,000 of the new jobs are in construction in the Southeast. First, rebuilding destroyed property & infrastructure doesn't add anything new to the economy, it just brings us back to where we were before. Secondly, because this is replacement, not expansion, these people are basically just temp workers, but they weren't hired to ramp up expansion - only to perform a recovery effort.

The other problem with this: "The unemployment rate came in at 5.5 percent, up from 5.4 percent in September. The unemployment rate edged up because there were 367,000 more people in the labor force, the department [of Labor] said. " This is a much larger problem - we're not creating jobs fast enough to keep up with new people entering the workforce. This problem could be solved by the coming labour shortage (it's for real - if it wasn't Social Security wouldn't be in trouble), but until then, it's difficult to determine if how the economy is going to react to entry-level workers.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Yankee Madmen

Exciting news - my libertarian foil will soon be joining the discussion, to counter my lunacy. Look for Dispatches from Johnston County soon!

I live in East JesusLand




Almost like the Eastern Shore, but without the smell of chicken s**t.

TIME.com: Jesus and the FDA

My friend made me aware of this through an e-mail, and I wanted to find a media source to support the story. Although this is from Time (the Mainstream Media again), I believe it.

"Some conservatives are trying to use doubts about such therapy [hormone-replacement] to discredit the use of birth-control pills, which contain similar compounds. The panel also made the key recommendation in 1996 that led to approval of the "abortion pill," RU-486—a decision that abortion foes are still fighting. Hager assisted the Christian Medical Association last August in a "citizens' petition" calling upon the FDA to reverse itself on RU-486, saying it has endangered the lives and health of women."

Regardless of thoughts on abortion, opposition to birth-control is dangerous and short-sighted. If you want to reduce abortions, how can you take away the tools that prevent pregnancy? Without birth control, world population would approach a Malthusian catastrophe, not to speak of the ethical question of denying someone reproductive choice.

A troubling sidenote: they rejected Dr. Mattison from the University of Pittsburgh (Let's go Pitt!). Beyond my obvious Pitt bias, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health runs the nation's most comprehensive program in biostatistics related to breast cancer, one of the foremost threats to women's health. Despite the controversy surrounding Dr. Bernard Fisher, faculty associated with the Univ. of Pgh. GSPH have excellent credentials related to women's health.

But what do I know, I'm just an ignorant liberal, listening to the MSM, who just doesn't GET IT!

Gee Homer, you're kind of all over the place there...

My campaign is a disaster, Moe. I hate the public so much. If only they'd elect me, I'd make them pay.

I've been kind of all over the place lately, but I've had a good bit of schoolwork to address. Sometime after Thanksgiving, I hope to tighten up a bit.

The Ignorant Democrat

Why Americans Hate Democrats�A Dialogue - To win, you have to fight. By Laura�Kipnis: "Here's an interesting little factoid that I share at the risk of sounding, once more, elitist. (Sorry.) The United States ranks 14th out of 15 industrialized countries in per capita education spending. If we have an electorate incapable of thinking rationally about its own interests, who confuse politicians with old movie heroes, don't know much about history, and lap up the administration's lies about Iraq even after they've been repeatedly exposed as lies by the media, this might have something to do with never having been educated in the fundamental skills of critical thinking. (Note that Bush's much touted No Child Left Behind initiative, favoring rote learning and standardized testing, is the formula for an even more intellectually pacified and credulous electorate.) "

About a decade ago, conservatives opposed rule by the "liberal elite." Makes sense - Woodrow Wilson warned against it in "The Study of Administration" over 115 years ago - the rise of a "bureaucratic elite" that might possibly act against the leanings of a democratic society. At least the conservatives had respect for the educated among liberals, but it was (1) devoid of morals, and (2) acting against democratic ideals.

Today, the "liberal elite" has turned into the "ignorant democrat." How can you watch that mainstream media, they ask in disgust, How can you just not GET IT?

The reality is, there is no easy answer to anything and beyond the personal, there is no such thing as black and white. I'm not talking about moral relativism - I KNOW I am personally opposed to abortion - but when considering the largest societal implications, it's just not that easy to KNOW what's right or wrong. I KNOW I'm personally opposed to killing, but right now, our society is in a grand undertaking of execution in Afghanistan, an action contrary to my personal morality, but not indefensible when considered as a societal action.

Now, with a new sense of intellectual empowerment, modern conservatives think there's no place to liberals at all.

I've said many times to my conservative friend - the world needs both of us. Some one has to think of the solutions, someone has to make the decision. Someone has to rein in government, someone has to reign in business. Someone has to promote a totally free and open society, while someone checks moral and social decay. Someone has to think with their head, someone has to think with their heart. Someone has to think of America from the individual perspective, someone has to look at it from the community perspective.



You think you're soooo smart...

I said Mark Warner a week ago...Forget about Vilsack, that's a non-starter (and his wife's a loose cannon too).

U.S. Treasury Bulletin

If you're worried about the national debt, this is a pretty good site for information.

Most useful, check out Ownership of Federal Securities

Why should you be worried about the debt? Deficits don't matter, you say? Generally, this would be true. Unlike a person, a government doesn't die, so the bills never really come due. It's like each time your credit card payment is due, you charge it to another card.

The problem with this is:

1. A rising amount of the debt is held outside the country - almost 22% today, up from 14% a decade ago. This puts us in a dangerous position relative to world trade in Treasury securities.

2. As the debt increases, annual service to the debt increases (think: the minimum payment of a credit card) - if it gets too high, tax collections basically are paying off more interest than they're applied to things like defense or roads.

3. Our debt is "consumption" debt. We're running a debt for things like defense expenses, which don't really buy anything long-term. If you're going to run debt (outside of a recession), you need to spend money on things that generate rippling positive externalities throughout society, like education or health care. The people that benefit from defense spending are far fewer than folks that benefit from a good education system. (and no, I don't mean vouchers - but I'll explain that later.)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

This is ethical leadership...

I read about this last year, and it's stuck with me since. In all this discussion about "moral values", you would think that the national Republican Party would hold Gov. Riley up as an example. I don't really know how it's going for the folks in Alabama, but I think it's the effort that's worth notice.

Replacing a regressive tax for more progressive tax structures to "take care of the least among you." - Imagine that, sounds kind of like a liberal. I'm not by any means an advocate of socialism, but if you are going to look to the church as a direction for leadership, the Catholic "Communion" comes from the idea of reaffirming one's place in the community of Christ. What about the community of the United States? Do we serve our brothers and sisters by sending them to die in Iraq? Do we follow Jesus' direction to care for children when we shoulder them with a debt for our mistakes today?

The Republican Party in this country does not have a monopoly on morals, and for all the nonsense about "values" - television programming isn't a reflection of our societies morals - it's how we treat our kids, our prisoners, our neighbors...That's what makes me so disgusted with the hypocracy.

The Other U.S. Deficit (washingtonpost.com)

This is an interesting editorial. I've always thought that Chinese currency manipulation was dangerous for America, and this is pretty much the doomsday scenario.

I think it's pretty hard not to see a contraction of the U.S. economy beginning in the next five years. We're looking a labour shortage due to retirement, but those positions may just disappear through attrition or get offshored with no corresponding increase in wages. In some ways, with the advent of offshoring and what we can accomplish in terms of worker production - well, thank goodness people are retiring. People are living way beyond their means now, and when interests rates eventually start coming back up (how else will people want to invest in America), a lot of people in the big house with the BMW in the driveway are going to get pinched when the credit card payment comes due.