Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Willful Ignorance

It gets scarier and scarier. The anti-scientific lobby is getting closer and closer in a lot of places (notably Kansas, in this article) to lifting intelligent design and creationism to at least equal standing with evolution in biology classes.

Biology is a science. We don't teach, in the context of science, convictions that are unfounded by evidence. If your theory of biology consists of, "Well, I just don't see how there can't be an intelligent designer," then I'm sorry, but you're not on the same footing as evolution. Evolution has taken observations and examples over years and formed hypotheses based on them. Are there holes? Sure, and they're looking to fill them, as they are little by little every day. But evolution is more than just a theory. It's a Theory. See the difference? A scientific Theory (see the Theory of Relativity, for example) is more than, say, a theory that a detective might have on a Law & Order episode. Theory is for all intents and purposes fact, in scientific terms.



Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Strange comment...

Most of you won't see this, as it's on a post that's a few months old, so I figured it'd merit a post of its own. I just got a comment on my "Confederate Flag Prom Dress" post, and I'll post it here for your benefit:

Well pardon me but I think that this girl was causing no harm I meanif its
okay for guys and girls to wear there pants showing their buttcrack then she
should've been aloud to wear her dress. And also youdont know what the flag
stands for because if you did you would thinkthere was no harm in whaty she did.
So keep your DUMB PREJUDICEcomments to your self
By the way Im gonna have a rebel flag prom dress so comment aboutthat

I gave you a topic. Discuss.


Sidekick DeLay?

This just seems like a bad idea. DeLay is joining Bush on the Social Security barnstorming tour. I can't help but think that, whatever the political advantages of adding DeLay to his team, it can't be a good thing to bring on board somebody who's had to collect over $300,000 just in legal defense monies over the last year and a half. DeLay's been getting increasingly shrill and partisan in a time when, I would think, Bush would be wanting to get less partisan, in hopes of crafting a bill that has any chance of passing.

I can't help but think that this will alienate some on-the-fence-about-Social-Security Democrats.


Not too surprising...

A new ABC/WaPo poll shows that the public rejects the GOP's "nuclear option" by a 2-1 margin. Not surprising, I think. Of course the left opposes it. That much goes without saying. But it seems logical to me that a portion of the right would oppose the rules change as well, in anticipation of a backswing in political influence. The Republicans will not be in power forever, and some forward-thinking Republicans want to have the option to use in a few years when justices they don't like are being brought up to the Senate.

Plus, I've found that people are, in general, not too fond of railroading. If there's legitimate rules that can block something from happening, people are going to get upset if your solution is to change the rules, and then try to tell everybody that the rules were wrong in the first place.


Friday, April 22, 2005

New Energy Bill?

This makes me sick. But not as sick as the people being made actually physically ill by their contaminated groundwater.

MTBE manufacturers (a gasoline additive) have been granted, in the House version of this Energy Bill, liability protection from lawsuits about contaminated drinking water. They've said they need protection because they expect an upsurge in lawsuits.

See, what that says to me is that they've been doing a lot of naughty business, and now they don't want to have to pay for it. Congress will be only too happy to oblige.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Obesity redux

Is it terrible that, upon reading this article on FOXNews, my first thought was that the CDC is in the hands of corporate fast-food interests?

So in January, the CDC said that obesity-related deaths in the United States had shot up to 365,000 per year. 1,000 per day. Now, they say that it's only 25,814. That would slide obesity from the second biggest killer to the seventh biggest killer in the U.S.

How is it possible that they've revised their estimate down by fourteen times? And what's more, they're saying now that they've previously underestimated the benefits of being moderately overweight! At that point, if it's safer to be "moderately overweight" as opposed to being normal weight, what the hell does "normal" mean?

This whole thing stinks to me. Like crazy.


No More Internet!

Anthony Kennedy has done research on the internet? That's a nish-nish, as Bruno would say.

Seriously, though, unless Kennedy's coming in and saying, "Well, Josh Marshall says this...." or "Glenn Reynolds says that...." I don't see the issue. I don't see why Supreme Court justices should be blocked from being able to expand their bases of knowledge and opinion through whatever means they so desire.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Lessons of Bubbles

Thanks to Dad for the link.

I had thought that everybody had learned a big lesson from the dot-com bubble of the late nineties. What was that lesson? Bubbles pop. Everybody goes around saying that lessons were learned, that we won't make that mistake again, but what's going on now?

The Housing bubble.

That's what everyone calls it. It's another bubble. We all know about bubbles now. We've learned valuable lessons from them. Remember what bubbles do? They pop.

But I've had a number of conversations with people who have no doubt that this bubble will either just continue to climb (which is a view absolutely divorced from reality), or that housing prices will reach a nice little plateau and just stay there for a while.

Housing prices are already perilously high. A hell of a lot of people can't afford to buy houses, and the ones who already have them are getting money just for the fact that they happened to have them at the right time. If the appraised value of your house goes up, your equity goes up, and you can take out home equity loans for a lot more money. What's more, the rising prices makes demand high because so many people want into the free money business, and that drives prices up even higher.

So in this "ownership society," fewer and fewer people every day are able to own houses.

But we've got to be cognizant of the lessons we've already learned from bubbles. We've known this since we were two years old.

Bubbles pop.


A New Pope

I don't have much to say about this. I mean, good for them for getting it all done quickly and such.

But I just wonder, after years of calling him Joseph Ratzinger, is it supposed to be easy to just switch right into calling him Benedict XVI and Holy Father? What about for the people who didn't vote for him? Are they supposed to feel ashamed of themselves for not being in touch with who God wanted to be the pope?

So confusing...


Get over yourself

Ann Coulter, "reigning diva of the hysterical Right," as Al Franken would have it, is on the cover of Time magazine this week. Awesome. So that should probably assuage some of her misgivings about the media being so left-leaning, right?


Now she and other conservatives are complaining, get this, that though the six-page story is complimentary and factually correct, the picture on the cover isn't as flattering as they'd like. They think it makes her look like she has a big head, in their words. You tell me.


Monday, April 18, 2005


I took down the Best Picture poll, finally. Y'all decided that it was a tie between Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Incredibles, though all but one of the ten choices got at least one vote. Mine was for Eternal Sunshine, personally.

Now I've got a new one up. Vote in it. Vote like crazy.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

John Edwards Is the Man

I don't think he stands a snowball's chance in hell at a run for the presidency, but this post by John Edwards over at TalkingPointsMemo's Bankruptcy Blog makes me respect him like crazy.

Who'd've thought that such a casual admission as "I was wrong" can engender such good feelings?


Manufacturing Crises

As is being widely noted in the blogosphere and the news, this estate tax is on the road to repeal. I wrote about it yesterday, but should issue a correction. When I said that it would cost $290 billion in the next 10 years, it was techinically true, but that means it would cost $290 billion between 2005 and 2015. But it wouldn't take effect until 2012. In the 10 years between 2012 and 2022, it would cost close to a trillion dollars to repeal the estate tax.

Many are rightly noting that it seems to be the height of idiocy to push through another trillion dollar tax cut on one hand while screaming that we don't have enough money to finance our obligations to the Social Security Trust Fund on the other hand. Conservatives argue that we'll meet with a shortfall and have to raise taxes again to cover it. But if they hadn't so drastically and precipitously lowered taxes in the first place, would we be in this place?

Is it not possible that this "crisis" in Social Security's solvency has been a carefully calculated and manufactured one? It seems quite easy. Ramp up the rhetoric, talk about giving back "your money" to the people, until it's not politically viable to vote against massive tax cuts. Then, when all of a sudden you've cut the government's revenue like crazy, say that you won't have enough money to pay back the obligations to the program which you despise. Maybe, more rightly, the program devised by someone you despise.

So we'd have to raise taxes, huh? Well, screw that, say the American people! We have the God-given right to lower taxes, to keep our money, etc. How quickly we forget that just a few short years ago we had higher taxes, a balanced budget, and no trumped-up crisis about Social Security.

So the smartest thing to do, probably, is to eliminate the estate tax, which would go about halfway toward funding the liabilities owed the Social Security Trust Fund by the federal government.

Way to go, guys.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Day of Silence/Day of Truth

One's about promoting tolerance and respect, the other's about promoting intolerance and disrespect. One's secular, the other's religious. One's preemptive, the other's reactionary.

You all know how I feel about this debate, so I hope I can say I think that this "Day of Truth" nonsense is disgusting.


Estate tax

Misinformation and intentionally perpetuated ignorance fuel the fierce battle for the repeal of the estate tax. Republicans started calling it the "death tax" in 1995, when studies showed that "death tax" polled better than "estate tax." But is "death tax" really accurate?

Just think about the term for a second. Calling it a "death tax" makes it seem as though everybody is going to be taxed upon their deaths, but that's simply not true. The average estate which had to pay the estate tax was $2.7 million. That's a hell of a lot more than the average American has at the time of his or her death.

Moreover, the permanent repeal of the estate tax will end up costing $290 billion in tax revenue over the next 10 years. So how have they done it? What have the conservatives done to trump up such widespread support (firmly more than a majority no matter how the question's asked) for repealing a measure that affects so few?


That's right, they've appealed to lower- and middle-class Americans' concept of fairness. "Neither rich nor poor should have to be taxed upon their deaths," they say, and Americans gobble it up. Never mind that this is a tax that only affects the top 2.1% or so of the population; it wouldn't be fair to treat them differently.

But is it fair for economic policies to let the rich keep getting richer while the poor get poorer? Wait, that's not harsh enough. Policies let the rich get richer while the poor get blamed for getting themselves poorer. They're told that it's their fault, and that anybody can make it, and that extenuating circumstances aren't excuses, because everybody should have enough cash in reserve to take care of themselves. If they don't, then they're just not trying hard enough and don't deserve to be taken care of anyway.

These tax cuts, in the face of massive (and increasing) federal spending, are reckless and greedy. The opposite of fiscal responsibility.

In the '80s it was "Greed is good," right? So voting with your own economic interests was the thing to do. Well, the top earners still do. Why, then, do they insist on pushing some artificial doctrine of fairness onto the middle and low earners? Because the top earners don't have enough votes to democratically make things happen in their own economic interests. So they have to rely on misinformation and ignorance to get other people to vote against their economic interests.

Sorry, this was rambling. I hope it made sense.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

On Filibusters (Sort of)

We can (and should, probably) have a lively debate on whether or not filibusters are necessary or constitutional in general, but that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the filibuster of judicial nominees. Mickey Kaus has an excellent post on it over at Slate (thanks to Mark Coffey for the link) in which he argues that while the filibuster may be disposable in most cases, the filibuster of judicial nominees is crucial for moderation of the courts. Kaus's argument is that since judicial confirmations are almost invariably politicized votes, where people tend to vote along party lines for controversial candidates, the filibuster would help moderate that process.

I'd go him a step further. Why not make the confirmation of judges a supermajority vote? It would amount to pretty much the same thing in terms of number of votes, and it would stop Presidents from both sides from even thinking about nominating judges that would just clog up the process. As it is right now, Presidents can nominate extremists for two purposes: throwing a bone to extremist bases, and daring the opposition to be cast as obstructionists by using the filibuster. But this willful, knowledgeable gumming up of the Senate proceedings is counter-productive on all sides.

So if nominees had to get 61 votes instead of 51, any attempt to nominate unconfirmable extremists would be stripped down as transparently partisan and political. And it's possible for judges to get that many votes, regardless of who's nominating them. See the post right below this one.

Call me crazy.....


Compromise? Is it possible?

But I thought everyone was telling us that those evil Democrats in the Senate were never going to confirm any of Bush's judicial nominees! So CNN must be lying when they say that Paul Crotty was confirmed 95-0 in the Senate, and that he was the 205th Bush-appointed judge confirmed since 2001.

See, this is my issue. There are obviously people that both sides can agree on. This guy was confirmed unanimously by everyone there, and he was nominated by Bush. Why can't they stick to those people? They're the people who would probably let ideology cloud their judgments the least, on one side or the other, and it would speed Senate proceedings by both not making the confirmation process take longer, and by not increasing friction between the liberals and the conservatives.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.


Unintentional humor

From Louis Woodhill over at Social Security Choice (boy, do I wish they had comments enabled), we have this entry on why "America Must Be an Ownership State, Not a Welfare State." Here's a couple of highlights:

First, he says what liberals say:

Personal Social Security Accounts (PSSAs) represent an effort to dismantle the American welfare state, started by the sainted Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR).

Next, he gives his response:
Yes, that’s exactly what PSSAs are for.

Finally, he cites a news story which "proves his point":
Earlier this year, a New York City subway fire seriously disrupted Manhattan transit service. The switching gear destroyed dated back to when the subway was built in 1932.

So wait, let me see if I understand the logic. Liberals say the conservatives don't like FDR, which is true, ergo if subway switching gear from the 1930s is faulty, Social Security must go.

I can't make this stuff up, folks. Go check it out yourself.


Separation of Church and State

Via Jesus Politics, I bring you this quiz concerning the separation of church and state. It's quite an interesting quiz, and you might be surprised by some of the answers. I got 16 correct out of 21. Put your scores up, if you dare.


Monday, April 11, 2005

That bastard!

To what depths will this rapscallion not sink? What new mountains of depravity will he not scale?

Bill Clinton just announced that his foundation is donating $10 million to help treat children with AIDS in developing countries around the world.* Of all the sneaky, rotten, no-good.....Now he's willing to spend millions of dollars just to buy publicity. Schmuck.**


*If you didn't catch it already, I was kidding. I think that this is a wonderful thing, and that Clinton is to be commended for using his ex-presidency to good effect in recent months, with traveling to the parts of the world afflicted by the tsunami with Bush 41 to this. Congrats, Billy boy.

**The model for this faux anti-Clinton screed can be found at

UPDATE: I just wanted to tell y'all that I am aware that I used the word "screed" in two posts in a row. Deal with it.

Dr. James Dobson, Cleric

Further proving my point that higher education is no proof of intelligence, we have a radio clip from Dr. James Dobson. In it, he talks with Mark Levin, author of Men in Black, the inexplicable New York Times bestselling screed which charges that the Supreme Court is destroying our country.

Josh Marshall and Oliver Willis both cite Dobson's comparison of the black-robed Supreme Court to the white-robed Ku Klux Klan as the height of Dobson's insanity, but it's really just the easiest bullet point. If you've got the stomach, listen to the whole thing. It's about 26 minutes long, and it just gets more and more ridiculous.

For me, the height came when, after talking about Terri Schiavo and the execution of minors, Dobson and Levin agreed completely that history would bear out that granting "a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy" would prove to be one of the worst decisions our country ever made. They don't offer justification, they don't offer hypotheticals. They just go on to imply that since there's no explicit right to sodomy enumerated in the constitution, then nobody has that right.

It's insane to think how much influence these people have.


Of Education and Politics

The debate about education and politics is heating up again. Evidently I'll have to reference my post about assumptions and help the conservatives to use the same logic.

There are numerous studies which show that liberals outnumber conservatives on college and university campuses. That's not really disputable. The different studies aren't always comparable, so it's hard to show a trend, but the liberals pretty far outnumber the conservatives, and that's for sure.

Now as I said before, to assume that this means an increase in intelligence leads to a tendency toward liberalism is faulty logic for a number of reasons, not least of which is the implicit assumption within it that people who work in academia are somehow smarter than anyone who works outside of academia. Not true at all. Level of education is only a very very very rough indicator of overall intelligence, I think, but it certainly does not follow that anybody with an advanced degree is smarter than anyone without an advanced degree.

But neither do these results prove that there has been some sort of conservative witch hunt in the academic world, as many conservatives have been claiming. This is the same sort of assumption as I outlined above; to assume persecution as the only possible reason for an underrepresentation of a particular viewpoint in a particular population is faulty logic. Especially when we're dealing with so small and specialized a segment of the population as college and university professors. To do a comprehensive study and come to some definite conclusions, we'd have to know about the number and relative strength of conservative applicants versus liberal applicants.

But until that study's done, neither side can go around asserting one conclusion or the other as fact.


UPDATE: Harvey calls my attention to an article at EvolutionBlog entitled "God Bless Paul Krugman" (read it too, you conservatives, for yea, it is relevant). The PermaLink isn't working, so just scroll down to Wednesday, April 06, 2005, and it's right there.


A little tangent here...

I recently installed a new hit counter on my blog here, and it lets me track where people got here from, where in the country they reside, etc. Well, a few months ago, I had a post about the futility of abstinence-only education entitled "Kids are gonna have sex." Seemed pretty innocent, I thought.

But when I was checking out my stat counter, I saw that one of my visitors came here from a Yahoo search for "do kids have sex," and another came from a Yahoo search for "kids that have sex."

This troubles me a bit.


Sunday, April 10, 2005

Way to go Joe!

Joe Scarborough does it again, this time in easy-to-access internet form!

He proves that he cares almost enough about Terri Schiavo to spell her name correctly!

He asserts that condoms would do nothing to even help stem the tide of AIDS in Africa!

He tells us that God is behind the Republicans' political victories!

I hate you, Joe Scarborough.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

I have no words

Thanks to dad for the link. Conservatives are starting to scare me more than they ever were before. Religious folk are starting to scare me more than they ever were before. Now they're advocating impeachment for judges who disagree with them, and we've got one guy quoting Stalin, implying that death would be justified.

Where do we live now?


Friday, April 08, 2005

Too good to be true?


The Republicans in the Senate are evidently thinking about backing off of the personal accounts tip for a little while in favor of fighting the solvency battle. You know what? Good for them. They're two separate issues, and they shouldn't be conflated. One has to do with a fix, one has to do with a fundamental break from the current system.

But they are going to try to keep pushing the private accounts after they're done with their fixes. Somebody pointed out, as well (I can't remember who, and I'm sorry if I'm stepping on toes here) that it's crazy to talk about the Trust Fund as IOUs out of one side of your mouth, and then talk about solvency out of the other side. The solvency debate presupposes that the Trust Fund will have to be drawn upon at some point. Hell, Reagan presupposed that the Trust Fund would have to be drawn upon at some point. It just doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense.

And, just for a laugh, in case you were ever confused about what your parents, grandparents, and Founding Father actually wanted, the nice folks over at Social Security Choice tell us:

President Bush’s vision of an ownership society is the same as that of our Founding Fathers, our grandparents and our parents.

Wow. Just make sure not to tell my dad that he's been lying to me all along about what he wants, OK?


Way to go, CT

Connecticut is on its way to becoming, I think, the first state in the union to preemptively legislate in favor of homosexual civil unions.

That is to say, there are civil unions in Vermont, and gay marriages in Massachusetts, but those were brought to the fore by judicial action. Connecticut has taken an important step in following the legislative process to bring such rights to the people, rather than throwing together a hasty statewide popular vote on a constitutional amendment.

The bill now has to pass the Connecticut House and get signed by Republican governor Jodi Rell (who approves of civil unions, but would have preferred if the bill included language limiting "marriage" to one man and one woman), but it looks like it's on its way.

So Connecticut, I know that in the past our relationship has been rocky. I've said stuff behind your back about how boring you are, about how you didn't offer me anything to do in high school, and about how frustrating it was that you shut your liquor stores at nine o'clock. I even left you for a few other states. But I wanted you to know that I heard about you, and I'm very proud of you for this.



Just a gentle reminder to y'all.....if you're here and you haven't voted in my polls (one up at the top, one down a little on the right side), you're morally obligated to do so.


Thursday, April 07, 2005


I'm a little amazed, a little dismayed by this report from the Washington Post. A bill just passed the Florida Senate 39-0 and the Florida House 94-20 which would allow citizens to use deadly force anywhere, not just in their homes, if they feel threatened and without trying to flee first. Currently, the law states that if you're threatened, you're obligated to attempt to flee before violence is justified (though people who kill in self-defense without first trying to flee are rarely prosecuted). In addition, you're allowed to use deadly force in your own home, and the rationale there is that you probably don't have anyplace to be fleeing to from your house. I'll buy that.

But now, if you're walking down the street with a Glock in your waistband, and you feel threatened, you'll be able to shoot the bastard who you feel is threatening you.

Does that mean that duels would be allowed? The winner could always just claim that he was threatened, because the other guy was gonna shoot if he didn't.


DeLay = Scumbag

It's all the liberal media's fault, says DeLay. The Times and the Post are just out to get him, and he hasn't done anything more wrong than anybody else in the Senate.

That's why he's facing criminal charges? That's why they were trying to change the House Ethics Committee rules to allow him to remain House Majority Leader while being indicted?

Sure, just par for the course in the Congress. So basically, what Tom DeLay's saying (by way of Roy Blunt, one of his chief supporters) is that we shouldn't be getting our panties in a bunch over him. We should be getting our panties in a bunch over him and 534 other criminals. Usually excuses are something that are offered up to exonerate the accused party. Instead, it looks like DeLay's just getting his cronies to try to bring everyone down to his level.

Then we'll just have to accept that Congress is a bunch of liars, thieves, and crooks, and do nothing about it. Wonderful.


Schiavo Memo

I don't have much at all to say about this, because I haven't already, and because a bunch of people have beaten me to the punch. But basically, there was a GOP memo circulating the floor of the Senate which implored Republicans to seize on the Schiavo issue as a good political issue. Basically, to throw a bone to the Religious Right.

Well, you can probably imagine, when nobody 'fessed up, the bloggers went nuts, claiming another "memogate," and the failure of the MSM (mainstream media) yet again. But now they're singing a different tune, since Mel Martinez admitted that it was written by one of his staffers. Well, a--

EDIT: I had written a complete entry here, but Blogger messed it up, and to tell you the truth, I don't remember exactly what I had finished with. I guess I can come up with something.

Martinez said that he inadvertently passed the memo on the floor to Senator Harkin. Harkin says differently. He says that Martinez was passing copies out. Now it's important to remember that this is certainly not a GOP-leadership sanctioned thing, but it's also not a Democrat-sanctioned thing, which a lot of the blogs were trying to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt not a few days ago.

And Martinez has got to work on making up plausible alibis, I think.


Vatican Delegation

I don't think it's a big fat hairy deal that Jimmy Carter wasn't able to go see the Pope's funeral, but looking at the pictures accompanying this FOX News story, I could swear that that's Andy Card second from the right, which would bring the delegation to 6 (7, if the dude next to Card is somebody official, too). In case you hadn't heard, Carter couldn't go because the delegation had been capped at 5 (Mr. & Mrs. President, Clinton, Condi, & Bush 41).

Just seems strange to me.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005


These guys, in case you haven't heard, are a bunch of regular civilians taking it upon themselves to help patrol the border. There's been talk of some carrying rifles, or of white supremacists being involved, but I'm not going to go there, as I don't feel like digging it up, and it's not what the article talks about.

According to the article, the Minutemen, as they call themselves, are simply sitting by the border, trying to help alert border patrol to immigrants illegally crossing. They're not allowed to confront the crossers, and they say all they do is to phone the border patrol when they see someone crossing.

But reports are saying that these folks are doing more harm than good. They're setting off sensors inadvertently that draw the border patrol there for no reason. And while they say they're just calmly sitting there, any 6th grader will be able to tell you that "Minutemen" has a definite military connotation to it.

So whichever side of the border issue you fall on, it seems like these fellows are doing nothing but making it harder for a group that they already criticize for not doing enough.


A Sad Day

I don't have much to say about the fact that at least 16 U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan today in a helicopter crash. I just wish their families well.


Kansas, of all places

Of all places for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Kansas has stepped up. The thing that I find most interesting, though, is that there was already a law banning gay marriage. It was supported and enforced, but the proponents of the state constitutional amendment say that it was necessary to shield marriage from attack.

You've got quotes in that article from people basing their vote on the Bible, and God's word. Now I've long been one to defend peoples' right to vote whichever way they desire for whatever reason they desire, and I'm not about to stop that now. If somebody wants to vote for Bush because they find their daughters more attractive than Kerry's, that's entirely their right. The right is a right to vote, not an obligation to vote intelligently.

But sometimes I wish people would take some time and consider more than just their own visceral reactions. Gays have done nothing to damage the sanctity of marriage. Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Larry King and Elizabeth Taylor (not to mention Rush Limbaugh) have done plenty, but not the gays. They haven't had the chance yet. But even if the divorce rate of gays were to be higher than the divorce rate of heterosexuals, or if the rate of adultery were higher with gays than with heterosexuals, who would they be hurting? If divorce and adultery are not criminal for heterosexuals (and those are the only real "dangers" I see in marriage.....point some more out in the comments if you've got some), then it must be because they are not judged to infringe upon the rights or safety of anybody.

How would that be any different for homosexuals?


(No) Common Sensenbrenner

For those of you confused by the obscure title of this post, you won't be for long. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WIS) is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He says that flagrant violators of indecency regulations should face criminal prosecution, since in his estimation, the regulatory process is not working.

The people who are trying to do the right thing end up being penalized the same
way the people who are doing the wrong thing.

OK, so he thinks that some people are being punished too much. Some broadcasters who are, as he says, legitimately making an effort to do the right thing. But where in his proposal is leniency for these people mentioned? Where is it proposed that these "decent" broadcasters should have their fines mitigated?

It's not. All I see there is the need to up the punishment for "flagrant" violators not just in dollar values, but to the next level. Up to the majors from the minors, it seems.

But isn't this all just another example of trying to push punishment for perceived thought crime? If the committee examines and finds that your intentions were good and that you are pure of heart and retain the ability to see unicorns, then you'll just get saddled with a massive fine. But if it's legislatively determined that your intentions were bad, then look out. Boy, I remember getting reamed out in English class for proposing that I had an idea what Shakespeare's intention was in a certain scene of Hamlet.

Maybe I should get Mrs. Bachiochi to talk to Mr. Sensenbrenner.


Back to Social Security!

Ah, I haven't made a post on Social Security in a while, but this tidbit was too good to pass up.

Evidently the President recently made a visit to Parkersburg, West Virginia. What's there, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. There's a filing cabinet filled with the Treasury bonds that back the Social Security Trust Fund. President Bush seized on this opportunity to say that the retirement security of Americans sits in this humble file cabinet filled with IOUs, and that we need to let people take control of their own money and have it in assets that they can touch.

Now I've said this before, and a lot of people have said it before, and a lot of people have said it again, and I will follow suit: Those Treasury bonds are considered the most secure investment in the world. To call them "simply IOUs" raises serious questions about the state of the massive $7.8 trillion federal debt, which is held in mostly these same Treasury bonds. If, as Bush seems to be implying, the government shouldn't have any obligation to pay back the bonds which back the Social Security Trust Fund, then what of the bonds that back China's investment in the United States' debt?

I'm no economist, and I've admitted such all over the place. But let's imagine that you decide to put your money into the bank. Imagine, then, that one day you're in there, putting in more money, and you see an old woman trying to withdraw her money. In response, the bank manager gets the CEO to fly down and tell the old lady that the bank's not going to make good on her investment.

It'd make you think twice about putting your money into that bank, wouldn't it?


Tom DeLay Imploding

Boy, I'm not one to go around telling the other side how they should act, especially with how pissed off I get when I hear them doing it ("The Democrats should have picked Howard Dean, the candidate they really wanted." Thanks, Ann Coulter, for that amazing insight into the Democratic mind). But I'll make an exception this once and remind them that they need to drop Tom DeLay like a bad habit.

The dude went mad with power, and that's it. Plain and simple. He misappropriated all sorts of funds all over the place, misused federal agencies (using the FAA to track down Democratic Texas legislators trying to outrun the gerrymandering vote), and all sorts of other assorted crap. The latest is that his wife and daughter have been paid more than half a million dollars in campaign monies since 2001. Let's say it's exactly $500,000, split between the two of them over four years. That's $62,500 a year for each of them. After taxes, I'd think (though I'm not sure about that). That's a well-paying job.

Connecticut's former governor John Rowland just went to jail for crap like this. No wonder DeLay latched so hard onto the Schiavo case--to distract from his own scandals.


Monday, April 04, 2005


I was just having a nice walk & talk with Johan, and we started talking about differences between the two political poles in America. Johan brought up the oft-cited statistic that the higher their education level, the more likely people are to vote liberal.

I have to say, as a liberal, it's quite an alluring argument, and it would be nice to be able to just accept it out of hand. But I've heard this statistic thrown around a lot, and I have always felt a little uneasy about it for a number of reasons. I don't think, for one thing, that education level and graduate degrees correlate necessarily to intelligence. I met idiots at Lafayette. Seriously, full-blown idiots. And I've met much smarter people who never went to college. But barring my own personal experience, I wasn't able to figure out exactly where the logical gap in the argument lay.

But tonight I found it. The argument assumes a causality that it cannot prove. No matter how alluring the argument may be, you can't prove that greater intelligence objectively makes one lean more toward a liberal worldview. It could be the other way around; in other words, the world of higher education has more appeal and draw to people with liberal mindsets, and as such people with higher degrees are predominantly liberal.

I'm not saying that either one is true; I'm saying that neither one has convincing evidence to back it up, and as such, I can't use it as an argument anymore, much as I'd like to be able to.

Conservatives, feel free to use that one to discredit that argument. I'm just here trying to be an object lesson in my call to everyone out there to examine and test their own beliefs and arguments, to see how they hold up.


Breaking News!

You won't find this story anywhere else, but Pope John Paul II has died. This hard-to-find story has been forced down by that anti-religious MSM, so you won't have a chance of seeing it on your televisions. It's as if they think everything in the world happening right now is more important than the Pope's death.

Yeah, I mean all of that. Except the exact opposite.

Look, I understand that the passing of the Pope is a big deal. Nobody is arguing that, I don't think. His reign was longer than almost any other in the long history of the Catholic church. The Catholic church has ever been one of the most powerful organizations on the planet. His papacy thrust the office from a provincial religious leader to an outspoken globetrotting moral activist. There is a lot about Karol Wojtyla's life to be celebrating, lauding, and remembering.

Yet I can't help but think that other things have happened in the world in the last two days. We have three twenty-four hour news channels that have offered wall-to-wall Pope coverage since Saturday (maybe with breaks for commercials and weather), and will most likely continue to do so until a few days after the smoke burns white from the conclave.

The media is laying down on the job here, folks. I don't know whether it's that the American public can't pay attention to more than one thing at once or whether the administrators of the media think that we can't pay attention to more thing at once, but the two amount to basically the same thing. We live in a complex world, but for the last couple of weeks, we've been dominated by single issues. What about the horrendous school shooting in Red Lake, Minnesota? What about the continuing tour on "reforming" Social Security? What about the train crash in Washington state? What about the coordinated attack by insurgents at Abu Ghraib prison that left 44 US servicemen injured?

The Pope's death deserves time on the news networks. But not all of the time they have available.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

Oh my God I'm back again

I'm back from Connecticut for the weekend. I had a great time, saw some friends that I hadn't seen for a while, and learned some new words that it's not appropriate to post here. Since I last posted, Terri Schiavo died and Pope John Paul II died. I'll have something to say on those later, but I just wanted to say this for now (and I won't pretend it's not directed at somebody specific): If it's okay for religious people to think it's wrong to be gay, then why is it not right for me to think that it's wrong to be so self-righteously zealous about their faith?