Saturday, October 23, 2010

one reality, many interpretations?

The progressive drumbeat that the Dems are in trouble because Obama was too conservative continues.

Mark Thoma gives a clear articulation of the view:

"I don't know if the centrist, bipartisan seeking, compromising Obama we have seen to date can actually embrace an encompassing vision. He seems afraid to be a Democrat.."

It's hard for me to understand this sentence coming from a person (i.e. Mark) who I like and respect. From my perspective, Obama is pretty far left and uncompromising.

So let me invoke Robin Hanson and try to list things Obama has done that qualify as evidence for Mark's view.

I would say on economic policy the closest thing to centrist & compromising that he's done is appoint Summers and Geithner.

Can you count not pushing for single payer as bipartisan seeking or compromising?

Then there's Guantanamo, renditions, wiretaps, and the like. I view the continuation of these policies as wrong, but are they being continued as a compromise? Or out of bipartisanship?

Oh and then there are the wars. Do they count?

Oh my, there's also no action on immigration reform and the monstrosity that is DADT.

Holy Crap! Maybe Mark has a point.

I see Obama as the worst possible policy mix. Wrong on economic issues, wrong on foreign policy and wrong on social issues too. A Dem should at least get the social issues right!

That Robin H. sure is a smart fellow.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Froggy apocalypse continues

More rolling strikes and national days of action are planned as the country waits for its Senate to vote on the bill to raise the retirement age by two years.

Let's get a message from the French street:

"I am 44 and I don't want to work until I am 62 or 67," teacher Odile Jaquet told the Associated Press news agency. "I am still young: I still have to work for another 18 years, and in my industry, I don't think that I will be able to work much longer."

Some comments:

First, let me point out to Odile that by saving and investing, one can build one's own (this would be worded less awkwardly if I had any idea what gender the name Odile connotes) financial assets and choose one's own retirement age. Waiting for the state's permission is not the only possible option. I don't want to work until I'm 67 either and have taken a series of steps to try and insure that I won't have to, whatever Uncle Sam may do to his official "retirement age".

Second, being a 52 year old teacher, I wonder what it is about our industry that would cause a 44 year old teacher to say "I don't think I will be able to work much longer". Maybe Odile just got done grading a bunch of mid-terms, that often makes me think the end is near.

Third, is this action being phased in over time or does it just hit everyone at once? If I was 59.5 and planning to retire, I'd be seriously pissed. At age 44, Odile still has a chance to make financial decisions that would allow retirement at 60 instead of 62 (or 65 instead of 67).

Fourth, I would reckon that this small raising of the retirement age is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the eventual retrenchment of the French welfare state. I wonder what kind of protests will occur when the big stuff starts to come down?

Quotes entirely relevant for this election season

"Politics is a ridiculous profession populated by ridiculous people. Maybe if we elect increasingly clownish candidates, the public will eventually come to realize this, and finally realize that it’s probably not a good idea to put larger and larger portions of our lives and livelihoods in the hands of people who have achieved success in a field that rewards character traits you spend your entire tenure as a parent trying to teach out of your kids."

-Radley Balko

Stealing From the Children

A nice synthesis by Dr. Karlson.


Senator Boxer: "I worked SO hard..."


Call Me Madam Joe from RightChange on Vimeo.

And, yes, it did really happen.


quotes entirely relevant for explaining why I live in Oklahoma

"You can get 100 wings here for less than 100 bucks, Good deal, huh?"

-Kevin Durant

Phone call for Mikhail Prokhorov!

(click the pic for a more glorious image)

more here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Take These Words, and Make a Title

So, can you take these words, and make the title of an actual article?

Seven Inch Rim Jobs

Is this the title you came up with? Here?

Nod to Angry Alex.

JoPa is on the right track

American football has a big problem. The accumulation of huge hits seems to be causing severe neurological problems. The NFL has responded by adopting a more strict concussion protocol and now looks to be adopting or enforcing more rules against helmet-to-helmet contact.

NCAA legend Joe Paterno says that the league should remove the face mask from the helmet.

I say they should remove the entire helmet!

Really. You can't have helmet to helmet hits without a helmet! Maybe receivers and quarterbacks get helmets but no one else does.

It is not a huge stretch to argue that better helmets make for more vicious hitting and more injuries.

Maybe, a la Gordon Tullock, backs and receivers could wear a headband of metal spikes while defensive players go bareheaded.

If football doesn't solve this problem, it may not exist in anything like its current form in another 20 years.

Then poor Oklahoma won't be first in anything!

Quotes entirely relevant for these troubled times

"The pet-wheelchair industry is one manufacturing niche the U.S. still dominates"

--Timothy Aeppel, WSJ

Politics and Baby Mamas

Mothers are somewhat more conservative than women overall. Does becoming a mother change a woman's political attitudes? Or do relatively more conservative women become mothers at a higher rate?

Soccer Moms, Hockey Moms and the Question of “Transformative” Motherhood

Jill Greenlee, Politics & Gender, September 2010, Pages 405-431

Abstract: From Dwight Eisenhower to John McCain, presidential candidates have appealed to female voters by highlighting motherhood in their campaigns. The most recent example of this has been the “hockey mom” trope introduced by the first hockey mom to earn a slot on the GOP presidential ticket, Governor Sarah Palin. These appeals, while motivated by political gamesmanship, imply that mothers see the political world a bit differently from other women. They suggest that women with children have different political priorities and concerns and, at times, different positions on political issues. This article takes this proposition seriously, and asks the question: Does becoming a mother have a transformative effect on women's political attitudes? Using longitudinal data from the four-wave 1965–97 Political Socialization Panel Study, I track the movement of women's political attitudes on partisan identification, ideological identification, and policy issues. I find that the effects of motherhood on women's political attitudes, while not uniform in nature, do push some women to adopt more conservative political attitudes. Thus, these results suggest that while motherhood does not transform women's political attitudes, for some women motherhood does promote interesting attitudinal shifts.

Nod to Kevin Lewis...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the Land of Real Sucking, Those Who Only Kind of Suck Will Win

Let's not forget, the Republicans do in fact suck. But they only kind of suck, so they will win big in November.

Nod to Angry ALex


Tyler's a comin'!

On the "post your poster" meme, here is the one I did for Tyler Cowen's visit in two weeks....
Not near as pretty as the one Angus had done for my visit to OU, but that's because Angus wisely avoided using MY photograph.

Some Constitutional Links

10th Amendment Case: what should the feds do? (Nod to Neanderbill)

Miss O'Donnell is powned, by asking what she thinks is a "gotcha" question: "Where is this 'separation of church and state' in the Constitution?" Remember, she was a "Constitutional Scholar" at Claremont. I was open-mouthed watching the video. This debate was at a LAW SCHOOL. That's why the laughter. O'Donnell actually looks around and grins, certain that they are laughing at her clever gotcha question. (Nod to Anonyman)

UPDATE: From the National Review..... And, sorry Ms. Trinko, but that is a fail. There are two parts to the guarantee of the separation of church and state in the 1st Amendment. The first is the restriction on establishment. The second is the restriction on free exercise. BOTH of those together, where the government cannot choose one sect, and ALSO cannot restrict what individuals practice, together constitute the separation of church and state. So, the defense that "free exercise" somehow requires the teaching of intelligent design in schools is just nonsense. It DOES mean that the state cannot prevent it from being taught in church, and that's all. Ms. O'Donnell is an idiot, but at least she is an idiot in the first instance. Ms. Trinko, in defending this nonsense, is a derivative idiot in the second instance.

Federal judge hears case on Obamacare. This has already gone further than I expected.

This is what yesterday was like for me

epic fail photos - Surfing FAIL

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Foot in mouth disease, ecclesiastical edition

Regarding AIDS, the head of the Catholic church in Belgium recently said:

"I would not at all think in such terms. I do not see this illness as a punishment, at most a sort of inherent justice, a bit like how we are presented with the bill for what we do to the environment."

Regarding Gentiles/Goyim (aka non-Jews) the head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages and a senior Sephardi adjudicator recently said:

"Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel,”

“Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat.

That is why gentiles were created,”

Thank you gentlemen, for clearing up a few mysteries for us.

Obama explains the upcoming election, take 2

I guess the "blame it on the Supremes" balloon wasn't flying, because now the President is blaming the upcoming election results on evolutionary biology!


"People out there are still hurting very badly, and they are still scared. And so part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared," Obama said at a Democratic fundraiser Saturday in Boston. "And the country is scared, and they have good reason to be."

Man, that is a bodacious line of argument, innit?

Here is what Obama should say:

We won near-historic majorities in 2008 and history shows that those kinds of gains are almost always eroded in the following mid-term. Plus, despite our best efforts, the economy hasn't recovered quickly and historically voters will blame my Party for that.

But don't be fooled my friends, the Republicans are the same duplicitous, ignorant, venal, clowns you correctly threw out in 2006 and 2008, and if these historical forces put them back in now, they will be gone again by 2012!

The 2010 election will be just an inconvenient blip in the road to a progressive America.

KPC readers, what do you think?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh brave new world that has such people in it

"Like, it sounds so old," she told the press before her Las Vegas party. "And then the other half of me is like, I feel so accomplished and it's really no different than 29."

Kimmy Kardashian!!

Taking a stand that appeals to no one

This is pretty much what President Obama has done. He's making vague noises about the "government tightening its belt", which has made Delong, Krugman and Mark Thoma go ballistic.

Of course, contingency plans for a possible 5% cut that might involve not filling vacancies is not going to do anything to placate deficit hawks and Tea Party Peeps.

Sure the President is in a rough spot. The incumbent party generally loses seats in a mid-term election, and voters tend to punish incumbents for poor economic performance, but Obama seems to have gone totally tone deaf, appealing to neither the left or the right.

Perhaps the most disconnected part of his remarks are where he blames the upcoming electoral debacle on the Supreme Court:

Obama linked the Republican momentum to a Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations to spend freely on elections.

"I would feel very confident about our position right now if it weren't for the fact that these third-party independent groups, funded by corporate special interests and run by Republican operatives, without disclosing where that money is coming from, are outspending our candidates in some cases 5 to 1, 10 to 1.. . . And it's the direct result of a Supreme Court opinion called Citizens United."

He called the opinion "a profoundly faulty Supreme Court decision [that] has opened the floodgates to special interest money, undisclosed, and having a significant impact on the election."


Makin' Bacon

It is hard to know how to react to this.

First of all, it's a waste of perfectly good bacon.

Second, it is, as my Duke colleague D. Schanzer notes, "intolerance." (He also says that intolerance is in "plentiful abundance," which must be different from regular abundance, I guess...)

I can see that someone might think it was funny (in a not very funny, drunk redneck yelling "FREE BIRD!!!!" kind of way). But I can also see, and moreso, how an already beleaguered minority would perceive this as a threat. If you want to have ham on Easter, to show you are not Muslim (or Jewish), then go for it. But why do you have to go defile someone else's church?

The KKK does not represent mainstream Christianity. Al Qaeda does not represent mainstream Islam. Lay off other peoples' churches.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

The Culture that is Oklahoma

47th in life expectancy,


1st in the BCS!!!

At least we excel at what's really important.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Quotes entirely relevant for this election season

"Thank God I am not a free-trader. In this country, pernicious indulgence in the doctrine of free trade seems inevitably to produce fatty degeneration of the moral fiber."

--Teddy Roosevelt, 1895

Best bedroom ever?

The (mono) Culture that is Germany

Ah yes, Germany. Where people still want a "pure" country and 10% dream of a new Fuehrer.

The article starts strong:

Germany's attempts to create a multi-cultural society in which people from various cultural backgrounds live together peacefully have failed, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

"Multikulti", the concept that "we are now living side by side and are happy about it," does not work, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam near Berlin.

"This approach has failed, totally," she said in Saturday's speech.

Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, CSU, told the same party meeting Friday that the two Union parties were "committed to a dominant German culture and opposed to a multicultural one.

"'Multikulti' is dead," he said.

I don't know what you think of when you hear the phrase "a dominant German culture", but it does not produce a pleasant image of unicorns and rainbows in my head.

Then the article progresses from intolerance among the elites to intolerance among the rank and file:

The study, by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think tank, showed that more than one third (34.3 percent) of those surveyed believed Germany's 16 million immigrants or people with foreign origins came to the country for the social benefits.

Around the same number (35.6 percent) think Germany is being "over-run by foreigners" and more than one in 10 called for a "Fuehrer" to run the country "with a strong hand".

Thirty-two percent of people said they agreed with the statement: "Foreigners should be sent home when jobs are scarce."

Far-right attitudes are found not only at the extremes of German society, but "to a worrying degree at the centre of society," the report noted.

More than half (58.4 percent) of the 2,411 people polled thought the around four million Muslims in Germany should have their religious practices "significantly curbed."

The integration of Muslims has been a hot button issue since August when a member of Germany's central bank sparked outrage by saying the country was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants with headscarves.

That last bit reminds me of when I left GMU for Tulane and Gordon Tullock told me the move was terrific because I was "raising the average IQ at both places"!