I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Monday, February 28, 2011

activist judges 1

I think this term was originated to describe judges who went beyond the proper constraints that is placed on them by the Constitution. They embarked on the adventure of finding in the constitution not only what was there but also what they wished was there.
I think one of the earliest and worst examples was the Dred Scott Decision (1857)in which Chief Justice Taney decided that the Court should resolve the slavery issue. The Court essentially decided that not only was it constitutional for a slaveowner to pursue a runaway into a free state, but it was even unconstitutional for a state to prohibit slavery. That is that there could not be any "free states." Taney had to reach a long way for that.

To be clear, activism is not a liberal vs conservative issue. At least it is not in general. I’m not sure which “side” you would put Taney on. But the judges who decided Plessy v Ferguson, 1896, were activist judges on behalf of the popular cause of permitting the establishment of what was so delicately referred to as “Jim Crow legislation”. John Marshall Harlan dissented alone. They found in the Constitution what the society wanted them to find. The full meaning of it was that they simply ignored the 14th amendment and permitted the establishment of an American apartheid. The Warren Court’s Brown v Board of Education, 1954 reversed Plessy. Although Brown was bitterly opposed, Plessy was the activist decision. (see originalism 8-10-10 here for more)

An example of another activist decision in support of a conservative position is Lochner v. New York - 1905. The NY law in question limited the hours that bakers could be allowed to work in one shift or in one week. The court found the law in conflict with the due process clause of the 14th amendment. The state’s police power did not outweigh the "general right to make a contract in relation to his business." John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes (and 2 others) dissented. Holmes apparently took a dim view of this attempt to write someone’s “preferred economic system” into the constitution: He noted, "Some of these laws embody convictions or prejudices which judges are likely to share. Some may not. But a constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory." History eventually supported Harlan and Holmes and the Lochner view was almost universally condemned.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Obama can lose me.

It is possible for Obama to lose me next time.

He has already taken the first step. Immigration. He does not pursue a solution to the general immigration problem. At the same time he supports the "sanctuary cities" folks who are clearly acting in opposition to the Federal immigration laws and goes after the folks in Arizona who are trying to support the Federal immigration laws.

Now he has taken the second step. Money. He proposed a budget with a 1.7 trillion dollar deficit and ignored the long term problems. That is he supported the monetarily irresponsible types. Now he opposes those (read Govenors Walker, Daniels, and Christie) who are seriously attacking the problem.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Quorum Denial 2

Part of the Wisconsin Senate Democrats' purpose in leaving was to slow the process down and focus attention on it. That is reasonable and they have succeeded. Now it is time to go back home and do the best that they can.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Public employee unions

A couple of friends suggested to me the following story about a "prank" phone call to WI Governor Walker described in the Huffpost. There you will also find an article on the Governor's response.
The effort was similaar to the "pimp and prostitute" that did the hit on ACORN. The performer pretends to be something they're not in order to catch the object off guard. I thought the left disapproved of that kind of "journalism", but it is now imitating it. Not nearly as effectively I might add. Of course perhaps there is not as much there.

I'm having trouble with this issue. I unequivocally support unions in the private sector (up to, but not including card check). But I have a bit of trouble with public employees unions. Not only the question of whether they should be allowed to strike, but also the fact that, as an organized block of voters, the union has a lot to say about who is running the operation. The people in the government who sit down across the table from a public employees union are dependent (in part) on the union for their current and future positions in the government. Seems like a set of loaded dice. At the least it has produced some difficult situations for serveral states.

Even aside from the claim that the state is broke.

What do you do?
For two other views see Paul Krugman and Charles Krauthammer.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Libya 2

An interesting proposal by Tom Friedman.

added 3-1-11: The proposal is for a gas tax which he believes would lead to our independence from middle eastern oil.


Revised a few hours later to tone it down a bit.

On CNN Anderson Cooper just said about 9:05 central (last night) the the "US had a lot to answer for" about Libya.

If you like gall, then you will love the media.

I expect that Anderson would, like any good liberal, reject out of hand any suggestion of American Exceptionalism. But, apparently, he really does believe in it, because why else would he look to us for the existence of Quaddafi? He didn't mention that China has anything to answer for.

He's putting people on TV saying we should do more. But if we did more and got involved in it then the self same Anderson Cooper would then put people on TV saying that interference was American Imperialism run amok and we were just there for the oil. Then he would bring on the others screaming - No blood for oil.

There is an Org of African states, the Org. of Arab states, an org of Islamic states, NATO, and the UN. Why is it our problem?

I support John F. Kennedy's statement from long ago: "Africa for the Africans."

It is now 9:30 and Cooper goes on and on. It was not an isolated remark.

It is time to say: "The era of American Exceptionalism is over. Let'em kill each other."

3-1-11 OK So I got a little carried away. I should have made it into a question with: Is it time to say ... . But I couldn't figure out how to punctuate that. See Libya 3 on 3-2-11.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Selective Law Enforcement

I clipped the following from a CBS article.

“In a decision described as "shocking" and "breathtaking," the Obama Administration announced this afternoon that the Justice Department will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman”

How does the group feel? Does the DOJ have the power to pick and choose which laws they will enforce? And if you feel they do, should they?

Lee Greenwood's "at least"

I don’t like the line after “I’m proud to be an American" in Lee Greenwood's very famous song. It goes: "where at least I know I’m free.” It is that "at least" part that bothers me. "At least" suggests that everything else has gone to hell, but "at least" ... . It just doesn't ring right. It seems like "for sure" would work better.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

word order

For those who think word order makes no difference.
Consider the following:

Only I hit him in the eye.
I only hit him in the eye.
I hit only him in the eye.
I hit him only in the eye.
I hit him in only the eye.
I hit him in the only eye.
I hit him in the eye only.

Monday, February 21, 2011


The WSJ article by DOUGLAS BELKIN and KRIS MAHER, quotes Wisconsin State employee Jeff Myers as follows:

"I'm feeling personally bullied at work," he said. "I'm being made to feel like a criminal, they're taking attendance."

No Cash for You, Kentucky

Paul Begala – Tue Feb 15, 4:46 pm ET
NEW YORK – While its small-government crusaders decry Obama’s budget and government spending, the Bluegrass State is thriving on D.C. welfare. Paul Begala says it’s the perfect place for a truly democratic experiment.

The great Mark Shields has said that most Americans are theoretical conservatives but operational liberals. I think Shields is right. In fact, we ought to make it a law of political analysis: According to Shields’ Law, the same people who vote for politicians who pledge to slash government spending are appalled when the politicians they elect actually slash government spending.

No mother wants to see her child crammed into an overcrowded classroom, where she can experience the joys of head lice. I've never been to a community meeting where anyone said, "I'd like to wait longer for an ambulance," or, "I hope America stops spending all that money on cancer research." Nor did I see anyone at a Tea Party rally burning his Medicare card.

When talking about taxes, the late Sen. Russell Long once said, "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind that tree." And so it is with cutting government spending.

Take Kentucky, please. Kentucky has given us Makers Mark bourbon, Churchill Downs, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kentucky has also given us Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers. While Rogers was once dubbed the "Prince of Pork" and McConnell has hauled so much pork he's at risk for trichinosis, they are now converts to Sen. Paul's anti-government gospel. McConnell says President Obama's new budget is "unserious" and "irresponsible" because it merely cuts projected deficits by $1.1 trillion. “The people who voted for a new direction in November have a five-word response," McConnell said, "We don’t have the money.”

Fair enough. So here's my two-word response: Defund Kentucky. Cut it off the federal dole. Kentucky is a welfare state to begin with. The conservative Tax Foundation says the Bluegrass State received $1.51 back from Washington for every dollar it paid in federal taxes in 2005 (the most recent data I could find on the Tax Foundation's website.) We need to listen to the people of Kentucky. They don't want any more federal spending in their state—and they certainly must be appalled by the notion that they're a bunch of welfare queens, living off the taxes paid by blue states like California (which only gets 81 cents back on the dollar), Connecticut (69 cents), Illinois (75 cents) and New York (79 cents).

A report in the Lexington Herald-Leader says 80 percent of Kentucky's Medicaid bill is paid by Washington and more than one in five Kentuckians receives a monthly check from the Social Security System, totaling $8.5 billion a year. Washington also spends over $2 billion a year on flood insurance for Kentuckians, $667 million in crop insurance, and $877 million in mortgage insurance. Plus the Bluegrass State is home to federal facilities ranging from Ft. Knox to the Department of Energy's Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah.

Kentuckians are addicted to federal spending—they're the Lindsay Lohan of states, the Charlie Sheen of commonwealths.

The Herald-Leader also pointed out that the USDA—the giant federal agriculture bureaucracy in Barack Obama's Big Government—gave Kentucky's Letcher County $100,000 for a new fire truck. Anyone want to guess who the good people of Letcher County voted for in the 2008 presidential election? You got it. John McCain got 65 percent. But maybe that's because the patriotic folks there loved a war hero. So let's look at 2010: Rand Paul's crusade against federal spending carried the day in Letcher County.

So give the people what they want. Defy Shields’ Law. Defund Kentucky. Kentuckians are addicted to federal spending—they're the Lindsay Lohan of states, the Charlie Sheen of commonwealths. Let's put them in detox. By trying this experiment in one state we can honor the conservatives' belief in states' rights, allowing Kentucky to truly be a laboratory of democracy. If it were up to me, they'd go cold turkey—not one federal dime. But that may be going too far, too soon. So, I have to ask Kentucky, with all due respect: Can we just reclaim the extra 51 cents you take from Washington for every tax dollar you send? Can we transfer our gold from Ft. Knox to, say, San Francisco? They actually like federal spending there, so holding our federal gold will not offend their moral standards. And let's put that Gaseous Diffusion Plant in...well, on second thought, keep it, Kentucky. I'm not sure what it is, but it kind of sounds like my teenage boys' room after burrito night.

But can we at least have our firetruck back?

Paul Begala is a CNN political contributor and a research professor at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute. He was a senior strategist for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and served as counselor to President Clinton in the White House.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Hypocrisy has a value too.

When a society or an individual claims any sort of moral high ground for itself and then doesn't live up to that ideal they are called hypocrites.
This is generally condemned. But there is a silver lining. If one claims the moral high ground then their children may just call them on it. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner comes to mind and the whole boomer generation who tried to hold their parents to account resulting in the antiwar movement and women's movement etc.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Glenn Beck

How should one deal with Glenn Beck?

Reason is not automatic.
Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it.
Do not count on them.
Leave them alone.
Ayn Rand

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quorum Denial

Wisconsin has a Republican Governor and the Republicans control both houses of the legislature, when they can get a quorum. There are 33 State Senate seats with 19 of them being held by republicans.

But a quorum in the Senate requires 20.

The Governor has put major proposals on the table and the Democratic Senators have fled to Chicago.

This is a manuever that has a long tradition in Texas. Originally(?), when God made only Democrats in Texas, it was the liberal minority who would hide out from a quorum call. On at least one occasion they were in the bathroom stalls with their feet up. Afterward, they were known as the "s--thouse liberals." This tradition was resurrected a few years ago in Texas, but in a much more comfortable way - what with the improvements in transportation and all - they went to Oklahoma.

The liberals love it.

They are the same liberals who hate the filibuster because it foils the majority.

What do my liberal friends think about this?

A self made American man

February 18 is my birthday

It always reminds me that when I was young I felt like I had been dealt a pretty bad hand. No money, no connections, too small for sports, 20/400 vision, etc.

But I had been taught that I should be committed to success - or something like that - and so I undertook to pull myself up by my bootstraps - yada -yada - yada. I worked at it, overcame some bad decisions, and got a few breaks. I spent 48 years in the American university system as a student, teacher, and researcher in what I think it would be fair to say was a successful and productive career.

Thirty years ago I was quite proud of it, but later it did not seem so far to go.

I would recommend that if you have those disadvantages and you want to be a self-made person and you have choices I would recommend that you:
1. be born into a family with a strong sense of responsibility,
2. be born in the United States of America, and
3. be born in the early 1940s.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

long range planning

Consider any major problem facing the seven billion people in the world.

Ask yourself, “What would that problem look like, if there were only
1 billion of them."

My question is "Why do people propose solutions to those problems that do not include a reduction in the population, or at least the encouragment of it?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

black history thoughts

No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.
Frederick Douglass

You can only hold a man down in a ditch if you get into the ditch with him.
Booker T. Washington

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steinitz and Fischer

Having the white pieces in chess confers on a player the right to make the first move which is a slight advantage.

As noted earlier (11-6-2010) chessplayers are not noted for their modesty.

On one occasion, while engaged in one of his unsuccessful bouts with humility, Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900), the first official world chess champion, offered to play a game with God. In fact he offered to give God “pawn and move odds”. That meant that he would remove one of his own pawns and let God also have the advantage of the white pieces. It is not recorded whether God accepted. A variation of this story has been told by commentator Charles Krauthammer the American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and political commentator.

The world had progressed well past this kind of foolishness when, in 1972, Robert James Fischer defeated Boris Spassky and the Evil Empire. Fischer became the only world chess champion in the second half of the twentieth century who was not connected to the Soviet Union. After the (real) fall of the Soviet Union it was made public that Fischer had been right in the sixties when he claimed that the Russians had combined against him in the earlier world championship competitions.

They say that when Bobby heard about what Steinitz had said nearly a hundred years earlier, his religious sensibilities were offended. Fischer exclaimed, “That is ridiculous. No one could beat God.” But he thought for a moment and then said, “But if I had the white pieces, I think I could draw.”

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Human love of freedom

President Bush said (January 18, 2005(corrected 11:30 AM))
'The Desire for Freedom Is Written In Every Human Heart'
He was ridiculed by the left for this.

President Obama said (Feb. 11, 2011)
As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana, while trying to perfect his own “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.”
I wonder if the left will ridicule Obama for that.

I believe that there is a broad inclination by our species toward freedom.

But I believe that the love of freedom is most emphatically not universal. I will begin with those in European history who burned people at the stake for not seeing God in the right way and move forward. You can start with Osama bin Laden and work backwards. We will meet somewhere between the early Americans who fought a civil war over whether they could own their own workforce and the 20th century communists who murdered their own people by the tens of millions.

There have been a lot of folks who were not yearning for freedom.

PS In the interviews that I saw on TV with the Egyptians who had rid themselves of Mubarak, the word that was used most frequently was "dignity" not "freedom".

Saturday, February 12, 2011

the Muslim Brotherhood

In testimony before a Congressional committee: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said: "The term 'Muslim Brotherhood' ... is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam."

Charles Krauthammer observed, “It is an odd name for a secular organization.”

The administration later corrected Clapper’s remark.

Today’s quote, February 12
One man, one vote, one time. Edward Djerejian
The tyrant’s vision of democracy.

I hope the Egyptians have more than one election.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Congratulations to the Egyptians!

Now comes the hard part. The transition from what has been to what will be. When contemplating the difficulty of the job they have in front of them I naturally compare their problems with those that our own founders faced in the late 18th century.

In many ways their job is much harder than ours was.

Our colonies had a lot of democratic experience. Our guys had the luxury of a lot of time. In fact they had enough time to try something that didn’t work (the Articles of Confederation) and after that failure they still had time to take two years to create and implement a constitution. During that time there was no outside interference and George Washington stood as the rock that guaranteed that there would be no dictatorship.

The Egyptians have probably not more than a year and there will be all sorts of interference from various outside groups and there will be internal groups that will want to create one or another form of dictatorship. Also, people expect a lot more from government now than they did then. The Egyptians have some positives though. The world now has had 224 more years of experience with democracy than it did in 1787. They can draw on that and there are a lot of people who wish them well.

If their friends (read “us”) can find the right balance between support and noninterference, maybe they can make it that would help.



I need to revise the SLT (= Science Literacy Test) into a YAMSLT = Yellow Armadillos Math Science Literacy Test so that it can be used to check on the left as well as the right. Any suggestions for another question?

Q.1. If the budget for program X has a built in annual bump up of 11% per year and you reduce that bump up by 3% so that the budget for program X actually grows by only 8%, then the change in the amount spent for program X is most accurately labeled as:
a) an 8% decrease, b) a 3% decrease, c) a 24% decrease, or d) an 8% increase.

Q.2. ?

Q.3. Do you believe in Evolution?

Q.4. Do you oppose teaching mythology in science class?

Desired answers: 1. d, 2. ?? 3. Yes, 4. Yes .

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Congressional pay

I believe that MCs (Members of Congress) should be paid more than they are now. Quite a bit more.
1. The reason that people get upset about their pay is because they compare it to the average worker’s pay in this country. But MCs are by no means taking on average responsibility. This is a purely emotional argument.
2. They are 1/535 of the legislative branch of the government. They are responsible for a budget of roughly 2.675 trillion dollars. That is an average of 5 billion dollars each! So they should be paid on the order of what a CEO of a  corporation with and annual budget of 5 billion dollars is paid!!
3. If they are well paid then there would be much less reason for them to steal or sell their souls. Or for the more honest ones to quit so they can make enough money to send their kids to college.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Those Republican Scamps

The Republicans are trying to appropriate Ronald Reagan for their own.

Andrea Mitchell on Meet the Press 2-6-2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Say it ain't so...

So, I'm actually somewhat out of the loop on what's going on in the US right now.

I just found out that there are some members of congress who voted against the so-called ObamaCare and yet signed up for the new tax-payer subsidized congressional and government plans.

I further heard that the reason this is OK (even if slightly hypocritical) is because “Unfortunately, being here in Washington is very expensive." (Rep. Renee Ellmers, N.C. (R)) Apparently way too expensive for her $174,000 annual congressional salary.

But I don't blame her for anything. I don't agree with affirmative action, but I'm a beneficiary of it. And I will continue to be as long as I can. Hypocrite? Sure. But it'd be just plain stupid to do otherwise. So, if I have a choce between being stupid, and being a hypocrite, well I think there is not really a choice to be made. So, I think members of congress are perfecetly right in accepting the healthcare they attempted to eschew from general voting populace. It's a dam good deal and they'd be stupid not to take it.

Clearly the problem lies elsewhere. I don't know where exactly, but it's probably somewhere in the neigborhood of whatever the hell made her think it was a good idea to take a job that doesn't pay enough to live "comfortably" in the city where the job is located.

I'd be willing to bet that the worst student in the worst inner city middle school in the worst inner city in the nation would be able to tell you it's a bad idea to take a job that doesn't pay you enough money to live where you need to live in taking the job. Hell, ask your own kids. "Kids, is it a good idea to take a job that doens't pay you enough money to live in the city where you'll have to live if you take the job?" I'll wait..................

Please tell me I'm missing part of the story...Surely the leaders of our country cannot be so dense as to not know that you don't take jobs that don't pay you enough money to live in the city where you'll have to live if you take the job...And if they are that dense, then I think our nation's elite private schools (that many members of congress attended) have much bigger problems than our underfunded public school kids who are merely getting there asses kicked in math by the Japanese.

So please readers, where have I, or it, gone wrong??

S. Holbrook

Here's an idea...stop paying members of congress so much money to not sit in those supremely comfortable looking tax-payer bought chairs I see on C-SPAN and I'd be willing to bet that the prices of goods and (ahem) "services" would decrease dramatically.

Just a thought...

arrested for torture?

A friend told me that Bush's trip to Switzerland was canceled "because of torture". It is an interesting expression.

Groups opposing Bush announced a two prong attack. The Center for Constitutional Rights was going to try to get the Swiss to begin a prosecution of Bush for "crimes" while he was there and others were planning a violent demonstration against him.

Bush's people announced that he was not going because of the threatened violence.

The Center says that he is not going because he fears being prosecuted.

It is a nice one-two punch. Threaten violence - get him to stay away - then claim that he is afraid of prosecution.

It is certainly good enough to persuade those who want to believe it.

You can find out more in the Washington Post story.

If it is not clear to you that this is poppycock then consider:
1. A swiss official said that Bush would be immune. and
2. If it wasn't a PR stunt, then why did they announce it in advance?
Why give him warning? Why not surprize him?

Monday, February 7, 2011

terrorist threat levels

Here is something from a friend in Arizona who is desperately trying to avoid reading about local politics.

Stop now if you are easily offended, or French.

Here's something on terrorist threat levels, written by John Cleese.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

-- John Cleese - British writer, actor and tall person

The Arrogance of Power

It is many years since Senator J. William Fulbright wrote that book about American foreign policy entitled, The Arrogance of Power.

Madeleine Albright says on "State of the Union" that Mubarak must do ..., Egypt must do ..., Obama says the transition must be ... .

These are not the wingnuts. This is the mainstream.

It seems that we have not learned much.

Why can't we find some language that is just a wee bit less arrogant?

entertainment critic wanted

If we had a good critic, then this segment would be better.

TV: try Justified


We welcome S. Holbrook.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Affirmative Action and Senator Webb

His views are discussed in the Washington Post article. This is not a new topic for Webb, whose complicated views on race-based programs were an issue in his 2006 Senate campaign, when some of his fellow Democrats complained that Webb sounded like a Republican. In a 2000 book review, also published in the Wall Street Journal, Webb wrote that affirmative action "has within one generation brought about a permeating state-sponsored racism that is as odious as the Jim Crow laws it sought to countermand."

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
Frederick Douglass

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Geneva Convention

Should we reopen the Geneva Convention to discuss how to deal with prisoners who do not represent any state and whose organizations do not recognize any constraints on how they act?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not ready for prime time

Commentary: Beijing's Response to Egypt's Upheaval
Beijing is taking no chances regarding the possible impact that the “color revolutions” raging in North Africa and Middle East may have on China.

China's reaction to the situation in Egypt.

of countries and leaders

From the right, left, and center I have heard that Mubarak has been a good ally of ours?

I understand that in some sense that is true and that it is important who rules Egypt, but ...

Alliances should be between nations not regimes. We "supported" Mubarak because he was the legal leader of Egypt. We supported Tony Blair as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, but our alliance is with Britain.

Given the politics of the situation we should now be stressing that the leadership that the Egyptians choose is who we would like to establish a good relationship with.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

the winged partisans

I spent a few minutes checking out The Ed Show and Hannity last night. It was depressing.

Hannity is certain that Obama is mishandling Egypt. The Islamic Brotherhood is the thing (apparently it is a "gateway organization" to Al Queda) and we should move Heaven and Earth to make sure those Egyptians don't do the "wrong thing". After all Mubarak was always nice to Israel. You would have thought he was talking about one of our provinces.

Ed was all over Romney and those other Rs for "their flip-flop on health care which they liked when Romney did something similar in MA but they don't like in Obama's national version." He even played clips of Romney talking about supporting such a plan at the state level but not at the Federal level since a state does not have the same limitations on it that the Federal Government does – i.e. enumerated powers. I think that one could argue that that position is not valid and the differences in venue do not matter in this case. Ed did not do so, he only argued that they were for it in one circumstance and against it in another. Therefore flip-flop. Following his thinking if one supports state provided free K-12 education, then one is obliged to support changing to having the Federal Govt. providing it also.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

basic math

Democratic Governor Cuomo of NY has made a major mathematical discovery. It turns out that government programs all over the state of New York have annual increases built into the law that created them. Therefore the default position is that the budget will increase. Furthermore if the budget has a built in increase of 13% (as NY's does) and you reduce that increase by 3% then the folks in his party typically describe this as "cutting the program by 3%." This is an important technique in increasing the budget while claiming to cut it. This discovery holds great promise for budget discussions in the future.

This is comparable to Governor Huckabee discovering that evolution is a very good explanation of how things change over time, except for the fact that these math concepts are simpler than those biological ones.

PS I think the Republicans have known about this (the math part) since Darwin's time.

due credit where credit is due

(added later: I should have begun this with: If the Egypt thing ends well, then:)

Very shortly the Bush people will be pointing out that his policy of building democracy in Iraq has indeed started to yield the hoped for fruit of democratizing the Arab world.

Very shortly the Obama people will be pointing out that his policy of greater openness in the Middle East has indeed started to yield the hoped for fruit of democratizing the Arab world.

2012 Candidates - February 2011

Here are some possible candidates for the major party nominations for president in 2012.
The numbers in parentheses are my wild guesses about the percentage chance that each of them has, at this point, of getting the nomination.
My principal reaction to each is listed afterword. If you will point out stuff to me I can improve this description over time.

Obama (99) I would consider him.

Mitt Romney (25) I would consider him. He has a flip flop problem in some quarters. The Romney health plan in MA is similar to Obama’s national plan which some say it is therefore a contradiction for Romney to oppose Obamacare is . I think not, since a state does not have the same limitations on it that the Federal Government does – i.e. enumerated powers. (Yes, I do know that references to the Constitution are sooooo old fashioned.)
Mike Huckabee (20) - Fails the SLT*.
Sarah Palin (20) - A lightweight. Fails the SLT.
Mitch Daniels (15) - I would consider him. Very straight forward.
Tim Pawlenty (7) - I would consider him.
John Thune (5) - I might consider him
Newt Gingrich (4) - I would have considered him.
……… I do not like his position on Park 51 – not only that they should not but that Muslims do NOT even have the right to build there.
Rick Santorum (2) former PA Senator - Too far right for me. Fails the SLT.
Bobby Jindal (1) Fails the SLT.
Jim Demint (1) - Too far right for me
Haley Barbour (0) -probably self removed by his citizens council remarks.

Mike Pence – now says he is not running
Chris Christie – Says he’s not running. I would consider him.
*SLT = Scientific Literacy Test (see below)
Q.1. Do you believe in the Copernican Solar System?
Q.2. Do you believe in Evolution?
Q.3. Do you oppose teaching mythology in science class?
Desired answers: 1. Yes, 2. Yes, 3. Yes .

Chinese Military Might...

It's not that I don't understand posturing.  All countries do it when they announce "military tests" of various sorts.

What I don't understand is how the Chinese thought that WE (Americans) of all people wouldn't notice THIS!!  I mean seriously, who else would China be posturing for?

Note to China:  Taking two steps forward isn't really all that useful if you stay 3 steps back.