Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his Mormon church, the Republican presidential candidate's great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great grandfathers had 12.
Polygamy was not just a historical footnote, but a prominent element in the family tree of the former Massachusetts governor now seeking to become the first Mormon president.
Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, married his fifth wife in 1897. That was more than six years after Mormon leaders banned polygamy and more than three decades after a federal law barred the practice.
Seriously, his great-grandfather? How about checking on the all the other candidates' great-grandparents to see if there is some dirt? Did any of them support segregation? Oppose women's rights? Hate Jews? It wouldn't surprise me if at least some did. But are we going to hear about it? Doubtful. This story is inappropriate. It serves no purpose other than to make the "Mormons are weird" point.
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union have raised ... objections, calling the X-ray scan a "virtual strip-search," and have urged Congress to prohibit its use for routine screening.
Yes, it's a "virtual" strip-search. Isn't that better than an actual strip-search, or a pat-down for that matter? Apparently the concern is that your naked body will be exposed to the screeners using the machine:
Security officials examining the head-to-toe images work in a closed booth, hidden from public view, security agency officials said.Special "privacy" software intentionally blurs the image, creating a chalky outline of a body that is clear enough to see a collarbone, bellybutton or weapon, but flattening revealing contours.
If it's between feeling me up and seeing a blurred image of my body, I'll take the image. As is often the case, I think the ACLU is way off-base here. The problem I have with them is that they seem to try to undermine existing security measures and prevent new ones without providing a constructive approach explaining what we should to do promote security. It's fine that they don't like what we're doing, but we have to do something, so they should tell us what they think we should do if they're that concerned.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Obama, speaking at a massive outdoor rally in Austin, Texas, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision this week to withdraw 1,600 troops is a recognition that Iraq's problems can't be solved militarily.
"Now if Tony Blair can understand that, then why can't George Bush and Dick Cheney understand that?" Obama asked thousands of supporters who gathered in the rain to hear him. "In fact, Dick Cheney said this is all part of the plan (and) it was a good thing that Tony Blair was withdrawing, even as the administration is preparing to put 20,000 more of our young men and women in.
"Now, keep in mind, this is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today," Obama said to laughter from supporters holding campaign signs over their heads to keep dry. "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."
Obama is seriously good. Did he improvise that "forecast sun" bit on the spur of the moment? Maybe his staff thought it up beforehand. Regardless, that was a nice bit of taking it to the Bush team.
No one in their right mind should worry about balancing this silly agglomeration. Hats off to politicians (like John Edwards) who recognize this. We should worry instead about putting aside enough to deal with past obligations, devoting no more than we can now afford to current needs, and making adequate future investments – even if we have to borrow in order to make them.
I didn't find his analysis very convincing. We don't "have to" borrow in order to make adequate future investments. The only reason we borrow is political expedience -- politicians prefer to avoid tax increases, so they borrow instead. But when you borrow, you have to pay back the money later (with interest), which increases the "past obligations" in future budgets and thus reduces your future ability to invest or meet current needs. Basically, you can either pay for things now or pay (more) for them later. There's no free lunch. The problem is, the politicians in power at any given moment want to spend a lot on programs they believe will get them votes, even if means borrowing. They're happy to leave it up to future politicians to clean up the mess.
There are definitely instances where current spending needs are so high that raising taxes is not an option because it would cripple the economy (e.g. a war). But that's pretty rare, and I think people arguing for deficit spending have a heavy burden to show that whatever pet program they're advocating merits adding to the deficit.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The hearing will enable lawmakers "to probe whether this merger will enhance or diminish competition in the digital music distribution industry" and whether the "merger will lead to increased choices and lower prices for consumers," Conyers said in the statement.
The hearing will consider "whether satellite radio competes against terrestrial radio, the Internet or other emerging technologies," Smith said.
I like that last bit. Clearly, satellite radio competes against the listed items. Hopefully this will be a mostly positive hearing, laying the groundwork for approval. Even aside from my financial stake, I do worry that the existing duopoly industry structure is not financially viable.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
First, who are the 10% who would vote for a homosexual but not an atheist? Are there large numbers of gay, or gay-friendly, fundamentalists that I don't know about? Is this the Ted Haggard group?
Second, I wonder what the answers would have been if the pollsters had used the term "agnostic"? It may not trigger the same negative reactions that "atheist" does.
Third, why wouldn't people vote for an atheist? Is it a supposed lack of values? My hope is that if presented with an actual atheist who had good values, people might think differently. (E.g., if Ronald Reagan had suddenly declared in 1983, "hey, I'm an atheist.")
MORE: The poll itself has more info. Support from "liberals", "moderates" and "conservatives" (in that order):
homosexual 81 57 36
atheist 67 48 29
So, 33% of self-identified "liberals" would not vote for an atheist! I wonder what they think "liberal" means?
The poll also notes:
Only about one in five Americans said they would vote for an atheist when the item was first asked in the late 1950s, compared with 45% today. Just 26% said they would support a homosexual presidential candidate in 1978, compared with the current 55%.
Well, it's a good trend anyway. Pretty slow-moving, though.
ADDED: I also wonder how people would react to "deist." My sense is there are a lot of people out there who believe generally in God, but do not subscribe to a particular religion (at least not strongly).
I think the antitrust issues can be overcome and the FCC/DOJ will sign off on the merger. Here are some reasons why.
First, satellite radio has a great deal of competition. There is traditional radio, which has increased its offerings through high-definition broadcasting. There are various internet radio and related offerings. And there is the iPod and similar devices, which allow consumers to carry with them huge quantities of music and thus making radio less important.
Second, both XM and Sirius are pretty fragile financially. If one were to go under, the industry would be down to one company anyway; and if both were to go under, there would be nothing. Might as well let them merge so as to ensure there is at least one healthy company.
Third, it will reduce costs tremendously, which should lower prices and improve quality.
And fourth, with this type of regulated industry, there is no real danger of the merged company raising prices too much even if it had the power to do so. If it did, the FCC could just step in. (And the FCC might very well make price increase limits a condition of approving the deal).
Monday, February 19, 2007
The crowd of VIPs roared, and then began to chant: “VP! VP! VP!” Smiling, Obama only referred to his and Warner’s matching blue ties. “I want you to notice how we’re dressed tonight,” he said.
Warner for VP. I like that idea a lot. Warner is a centrist, pro-business Democrat (and pretty damn smart as well). That will certainly help Obama with those like me, who fear many Democrats are closet socialists. Think about it, Barack!
Mitt Romney: My view is that we should let each state have its own responsibility for guiding its laws relating to abortion.
But I'd like to see the Supreme Court allow states to have greater leeway in defining their own laws.
Very nice answer. I like it.
But Stephanopoulos has a tough follow-up. Uh-oh:
Stephanopoulos: But if it's killing, why should states have leeway?
Mitt Romney: You know, that's one of the great challenges that we have. There are a lot of things that are morally very difficult and, in some cases, repugnant that we let states decide. For instance, Nevada allows prostitution. I find that to be quite repugnant as a practice.
OK, that's not bad. Some moral choices are tough, so maybe it makes sense to let people in different places choose their own way.
But Stephanopoulos won't let up:
Stephanopoulos: But murder is illegal in every state.
Nice! Go for the jugular. At this point, Romney kind of falls apart:
Mitt Romney: And so we let states make some of these very difficult decisions. That's one of the difficulties here. Also, I feel a great empathy for women who have difficult decisions in this regard. I don't want to impose my view on the lives of women, and yet this is one of those points where mature men and women have to come together and say, "What's the right course?" And in my particular view, I believe in life, I believe in respecting life, and I believe that we should, as a series of states, allow states to make their own choice in this regard.
Eventually he just sums up with: "I'm saying that, in my view, we should let the states make that decision and I am in favor of life and in favor of choosing life."
That's about all he can do. He doesn't want to say "abortion is different than murder" and he doesn't want to say he's going to lead the drive against abortion state-by-state if the Court overturns Roe, so he's kind of stuck. Ultimately, I like where he comes out. It is a bit of a waffling, though. It's hard to know which will hurt/help him more: A stronger anti-abortion position or this kind of waffling.
"I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned,"I think this is definitely good for the overall abortion debate, such as it is. Maybe now we can talk a bit about how abortion law should be made. As for McCain's political prospects, it might help with the religious conservatives, but hurt with moderates. He may have to explain a bit more, and his explanations will be key.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
How is that not a religious test for the presidency?Um, because it's a campaign slogan, not a government act. (I agree with Sullivan on the substantive point, though. I'm just nit-picking on the legal one.)
ADDED: Someone should ask Romney, "Why do we need to have a person of faith lead the country"? I'd like to hear his answer.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
But even the story about the church's founding is unusual to nonbelievers: God appeared to Joseph Smith and told him that all existing forms of Christianity were "an abomination" and then directed Smith to a hillside in upstate New York where, with the help of the angel Moroni, Smith recovered a set of golden tablets that revealed the real word of God. Smith had further revelations, which Mormons treat as scripture alongside the Bible, including that Jesus would eventually return to reign from Missouri. Smith was eventually killed by vigilantes.
The story is "unusual"? How is it any more "unusual" than the stories of the origin of other religions?
The author also mentions that the Mormon church used to be formally racist and a long, long time ago officially practiced polygamy. OK, sure, these are skeletons, but are they worse than what other religions have? Not to me.
If this is what people are writing in the Washington Post, I hate to hear what they are whispering in private.
ADDED: Not surprisingly, it turns out I'm not the only one to think of this: http://politicalwire.com/archives/2006/06/26/jeb_bush_eyed_for_number_two_spot.html
Friday, February 16, 2007
I wonder if Jeb would accept a VP nomination? It sounds crazy, but it would be difficult to pass it up. He wouldn't get the blame if he lost, and it would help lay the groundwork for his own future run.
the Eleventh Circuit held today that an Alabama law banning the sale of sex toys is not unconstitutional, on the grounds that Alabama has an interest in preserving "public morality" against the sale of such devices. The challenged law prohibits only the sale of devices "primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." It does not forbid their use or possession.
This is a decision that seems like it should concern me, but it just doesn't. It's a stupid law, no doubt about that. But should courts prohibit legislatures from passing stupid laws? That seems like a difficult standard to enforce. The more likely approach is to develop new conceptions of "rights" to prevent specific laws from being passed. To me, that seems even more dangerious than the stupid laws themselves. At least I can vote out the legislators.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Well, it's a shame that Obama did not impress Dowd. People like her are an important part of the process and he'll need to find a way to get these folks to like him.
On the other hand, it's understandable that he would get annoyed at a never-ending string of questions that is completely lacking in substance (e.g. did you have a heater in your podium during the announcement speech?) It often seems like many reporters don't understand the issues very well, and therefore spend most of their time on personalities and similar topics (e.g. is Obama "black" enough?).
You know, there are days when I think of myself as a conservative, at least a liberatian one. But people like Ann Coulter make me wonder whether I really want to be part of the group.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
When I meet with Obama in his office, it becomes clear that his study of foreign policy has only deepened his belief in the potential of American power. "In Africa, you often see that the difference between a village where everybody eats and a village where people starve is government," he tells me. "One has a functioning government, and the other does not. Which is why it bothers me when I hear Grover Norquist or someone say that government is the enemy. They don't understand the fundamental role that government plays."
I'm not sure the issue is quote so simple. In Zimbabwe, for example, there's a "functioning government" that is starving its people through its policies.
It's not surprising to hear Obama slam Norquist. That can only help with liberals. But I hope he can at least appreciate that government is not always the answer.
This piece from the Arizona Republic surprises me by filling out its column inches with anecdotes about the negative effects of Arizona's higher minimum wage:
Some Valley employers, especially those in the food industry, say payroll budgets have risen so much that they're cutting hours, instituting hiring freezes and laying off employees.And teens are among the first workers to go. Companies maintain the new wage was raised to $6.75 per hour from $5.15 per hour to help the breadwinners in working-poor families. Teens typically have other means of support. Mark Messner, owner of Pepi's Pizza in south Phoenix, estimates he has employed more than 2,000 high school students since 1990. But he plans to lay off three teenage workers and decrease hours worked by others. Of his 25-person workforce, roughly 75 percent are in high school. "I've had to go to some of my kids and say, 'Look, my payroll just increased 13 percent,' " he said. " 'Sorry, I don't have any hours for you.' "
That is the one good thing about this latest increase. It will give us lots of opportunities to collect data on examples like this one.
Michelle Malkin criticizes Obama for saying this:
OBAMA: We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged and to which we have now spent $400 billion and has seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.She says that Obama argued that "each and every member of the military who volunteered to serve and died in Iraq wasted his/her life."
I think she's mis-characterizing his statement, though. He's not arguing that they wasted their lives by joining the military. He's arguing that Bush wasted their lives by sending them to Iraq.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Gar Alperovitz had a very provocative and thoughtful op-ed in yesterday's NYT. The central point was that this country is getting too big for centralized government and that it should come as no surprise that big states and regions are getting bolder in efforts at self-governance. California and its ambitions to address health care, trade, and global warming issues might be seen as exemplary.I've had similar thoughts, but never tried to flesh them out. Makes sense instinctively, though.
Thus, the following alternative theory of global warming strikes me as somewhat credible. In short, the argument is that the recent warmer temperatures are due to the sun:
the sun drives climate changes more emphatically than greenhouse gases do. After becoming much more active during the 20th century, the sun now stands at a high but roughly level state of activity. Solar physicists warn of possible global cooling, should the sun revert to the lazier mood it was in during the Little Ice Age 300 years ago.
Not being a scientist, I can't really evaluate this theory in a meaningful way. (I haven't noticed the sun being more "active" recently, but then I usually try not to look directly at it). But I will keep an eye on news reports on the subject.
So, first off, what on earth is she thinking saying that the Court is not following the people when 67% of people support it? Granted, support has declined, but it's still very high, probably higher than among the Justicies.
But more importantly, there's a big difference between people having doubts about the death penalty as a policy matter and it being unconstitutional. It can be a horrible policy but still be constitutional (or vice versa). There's not always going to be a connection between the two. The Court's job is to address constitutional issues, not make policy, right? I guess for some people these issues are one and the same, which is something that is depressing to be reminded of.
The Volokh conspirators dissect the issue here and here.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
After years of lopsided political giving to Republicans, American businesses are quickly rushing to support the new party in power. The top 25 corporate political action committees all gave more to Republicans than Democrats for the November 2006 elections. Afterward, 17 of them switched sides.Why do we allow corporations to give money to political causes? We don't let them vote. If the company bosses want to give their own money, that's fine, but permitting direct contributions from corporations themselves provides for such a transparent buying of influence and favorable policies that it undermines the whole political system.
I'm very surprised that I haven't heard more support for the following idea for dealing with the aftermath of a pull out: Having an international coalition of troops step in. Sure, it would be hard to generate support, but I don't think it would necessarily be impossible. If the next U.S. President would stand up and say, "We made a mistake in invading Iraq, and now we need the world's help to mitigate the damage," it might be possible. No one wants to see the Iraq turmoil get worse and spread. This could be a way to prevent that.
The other alternative, of course, is to stay there for the indefinite future, incurring more casualties and watching the violence get worse.
MORE: What really impresses me is his understanding of his own words. With most politicians, I get the sense that somebody else wrote the speech and the politician has little feeling for the content; or they have been coached to such an extent that they are over-thinking each syllable and intonation, and have lost sight of the meaning; or they can't articulate their thoughts very clearly even though they may be quite smart (e.g. Joe Biden). Now, somebody else may have written part or all of Obama's speech, and he may have been coached a bit, but nevertheless it comes across as authentic. And he articulates his thoughts very clearly. Speeches are just one element of many in a political race, of course, but in this area Obama is head and shoulders above the rest.
I also asked Dr. [Ian Howat of the University of Washington] about the argument that, since Greenland went through decades of relatively warm weather in the first half of the 20th century without catastrophic consequences, it’s unlikely that the glaciers are suddenly going to plunge into the ocean because of the current warming. His response:
Greenland was about as warm or warmer in the 1930’s and 40’s, and many of the glaciers were smaller than they are now. This was a period of rapid glacier shrinkage world-wide, followed by at least partial re-expansion during a colder period from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. Of course, we don’t know very much about how the glacier dynamics changed then because we didn’t have satellites to observe it. However, it does suggest that large variations in ice sheet dynamics can occur from natural climate variability. The problem arises in thepossibility that, due to anthropogenic warming, warm phases will become longer and more severe, so that each time the glaciers go through a period of retreat like this, they won’t fully grow back and they will retreat farther the next time.
So why was it so warm in the 1930s and 1940s? Does that tell us anything about why it is warm today? The global warming experts' answer to these questions, to the best I can tell, seems to be, "I don't know." Which isn't very satisfying, and leaves some reasonable doubt in relation to the global warming debate.
Friday, February 09, 2007
ADDED: Jeez, I was joking, but somebody is already saying this seriously.
People who don’t get insurance from their employers would... purchase insurance through “Health Markets”: government-run bodies negotiating with insurance companies on the public’s behalf. ...
Why is this such a good idea? ...[M]arketing and underwriting — ... screening out high-risk clients — are responsible for two-thirds of insurance companies’ overhead. With insurers selling to government-run Health Markets, not directly to individuals, most of these expenses should go away, making insurance considerably cheaper.
As an initial point, it seems a bit Orwellian to describe "government-run bodies" as "markets." It's very deceptive, at the least. This is not a free market plan in any sense. Rather, a federal government entity will be running things. Think of the Post Office for health insurance.
Second, he seems to be saying that we are going to add an extra layer of government bureaucracy to the existing framework, and that will bring costs down. Well, my head is spinning a bit, but maybe I can figure this out. Perhaps he means that the price of insurance will not include the costs incurred by these new government entitities, which will be paid for by taxpayers. As a result, the retail cost of insurance will decrease. Hmm. I think it may be worth trying to calculate the government entities' costs before rendering a verdict on this plan. Something tells me these costs will be non-negligible.
I honestly can't look without feeling pity, and indeed mercy, at whites' need for absolution. For all our sakes, it seemed (again) best not to point out the obvious: You're not embracing a black man, a descendant of slaves. You're replacing the black man with an immigrant of recent African descent of whom you can approve without feeling either guilty or frightened. If he were Ronald Washington from Detroit, even with the same résumé, he wouldn't be getting this kind of love. Washington would have to earn it, not just show promise of it, and even then whites would remain wary.
I have two reactions to this. First, it's just plain wrong. I don't think most, if any, whites make this distinction among blacks. (This goes for both non-racist whites and for racist whites.) Ronald Washington from Detroit would have no problem getting support if he had all the talent and personality Obama has. Look at Oprah: She is wildly popular with whites based on similar reasons as with Obama.
Second, since virtually all of the people supporting Obama are white liberals, not conservatives, she is essentially saying that white liberals would not support a black person descended from slaves. I find this particularly hard to believe, and it further undermines her argument.
ADDED: I think Obama has the right attitude on this issue:
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama said his campaign for the presidency "will send a wonderful message to young people of color and to immigrants around the country" if successful.
He makes clear, though, that he hopes to make race irrelevant in his bid to become the first black to occupy the White House.
"If I'm talking about the issues that matter to people, if we do a good job in letting people know who I am and what I stand for … they'll make their judgment not based on my race but based on how well they think I can lead this country," Obama told USA TODAY.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
(1) Those who cite international law when it supports their views and ignore it where it does not
(2) Those who think international law should either trump domestic law or play an important role in its interpretation and formation, regardless of whether they agree with the substance
( 3) Those who think international law should play at most a minor role in the interpretation and formation of domestic law, regardless of whether they agree with the substance
Most of what I read, in both the popular press and from legal experts, falls into (1). People in (2) are true internationalists who believe, for various reasons, that the international is inherently good. People in (3) are true sovereigntists who believe, for various reasons, that the international is inherently bad. But people in (1) really only care about the particular issue they are interested in (e.g. prohibiting gay marriage or allowing it) and cite to international/foreign sources of law that support their view. They don't care about the proper role of internatinoal law in U.S. law. Thus, to me, they are only "internationalists of convenience."
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Is football’s popularity a result of the cartel that runs the football league or is American football an innately more interesting game?
Economic theory predicts that the profitability of a cartel comes from the firms withholding some of its product to increase its value and/or charging the highest price possible without being undercut by its competition. ... Should the government intervene, break up the cartel, and make football games more frequent?
This analysis is just wrong. The NFL is no more a cartel than is, say, Dell or Toyota. The NFL is a single entity that competes in the sports entertainment industry along with a number of other actors.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Do you have a bright idea (albeit a controversial one) that you would like to see implemented as national policy? Would you prefer to achieve this without the inconvenience of having to persuade Congress and the president, let alone the American people? Well, here's how to do it.
First, go to law school and afterwards clerk for a justice of the Supreme Court. Then become a professor at a leading law school. Earn the respect of other legal scholars by writing academic articles and books. Gain broader visibility by publishing op-ed pieces and operating a blog. Next, write up your bright idea as an article for an influential law review and get an important think tank to invite prominent legal scholars to discuss your article. Then, wait for some litigators to pick up your idea and hope the Supreme Court will eventually impose it as a requirement of constitutional law. It doesn't always work, but--at least as compared with the options available to most people--it is worth a shot.
This strategy has often been used by left-wing law professors and even by some conservatives. However, with the Court increasingly dominated by the likes of Antonin Scalia and John Roberts, who claim to be committed to judicial restraint, it might seem that clever constitutional arguments are no longer a likely way to influence national policies. UCLA's Eugene Volokh, one of the nation's most prolific and insightful young legal scholars, doesn't think so. And, sadly, he may be right.
This is how lawyers have come to dominate moral debate in the United States. They elevate their preferences to constitutional rights and then claim that profound moral beliefs held by others are inadequate to justify restrictions on the newly created rights. You see, rights cannot be abridged except for highly convincing reasons, and judges (enlightened by the arguments of litigators and law professors) will decide what is convincing.
Creating a constitutional right to medical self-defense would be a definitive sign that the conservatives who sit on the Supreme Court are not serious about establishing a saner, less imperial role for the judiciary--indeed, that just about nobody in the legal
profession is. This would be further evidence, if more is needed, that if non-lawyers want to retake control over public decision-making, they should not expect much help from members of the profession whose inordinate power is based on the modern conventions of constitutional argument.
This is a powerful point, and he makes it as well as it can be made. In my experience, it's the kind of point that people instinctively disagree with, but when it is explained they will often come around. It's great that Professor Nagel is taking the time to explain.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
The Iraq War
Russert asked Edwards why he still supported the war a year and a half into it, during the 2004 Presidential campaign. Edwards responded:
SEN. EDWARDS: Mm-hmm. Perfect—that’s a very fair question. I can tell you what happened with me, personally. We got through—I was—at that point, I was in the middle of a very intense campaign, one that I thought was very important for America. When the campaign was over and the election was over, we had a lot going on in my own family. Elizabeth had been diagnosed with breast cancer, we were taking care of her. And for the first time I had time to really think about, number one, what I was going to spend my time doing, and, number two, my vote for this war. And over time, when I reflected on what I thought was going to be necessary going forward, to have some moral foundation to work on issues like poverty and genocide, things that I care deeply about, I could no longer defend this vote. It was pretty simple. And I got to the place I felt like I had to say it and had to say it publicly. And so—what?--a year—a year or so ago I did that.
So basically, he was busy campaigning and didn't really have time to think about it. After the campaign, he gave it some thought and changed his mind.
That sounds a bit inauthentic to me. Seems to me the answer is he thought it was too risky politically to change his view at the time of the campaign, but later, as support for the war declined and he wanted to run in 2008, decided it was too risky not to.
I'm no scientist, but that strikes me as ridiculous. Nuclear waste should be stored as far away from people as possible, not in the "vicinity." Perhaps under a mountain somewhere? Hmm ...
MR. RUSSERT: But now you’re saying that maybe the nuclear waste should be stored locally where the waste was produced. Is that your position?
SEN. EDWARDS: My position is that, that what’s happened with Yucca Mountain is there’ve been serious questions, including the, the possibility of lying and fraud in the scientific evidence of—that Yucca Mountain would work. I was always concerned, still am, about this nuclear waste being transported around the country. I, I think, at this point in time, it does not make sense to do—to do Yucca Mountain. So the, the, the answer is we have nuclear plants, the, the stuff has to be stored—waste has to be stored somewhere, so it has to be stored where the plants are.
MR. RUSSERT: So in...
SEN. EDWARDS: Or in the vicinity.
MR. RUSSERT: So in Seabrook, New Hampshire, the nuclear waste has to be stored in New Hampshire.
SEN. EDWARDS: It has to be stored somewhere close by.
MR. RUSSERT: It’s next up after Nevada. Gay marriage. You said this: “ It is [a hard issue] ... because I’m 53 years old. I grew up in a small town in the rural south. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church and so I have a belief system that arises from that. It’s part of who I am. I can’t make it disappear. ... I personally feel great conflict about that. I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. I think from my perspective it’s very easy for me to say, gay civil unions, yes, partnership benefits, yes, but it is something that I struggle with. Do I believe they should have the right to marry? I’m just not there yet.” Why not?Man, what a wuss. Will any of the leading Democrats have the guts to be for gay marriage? His answer seems like such a transparent attempt not to seem too extreme and to maintain his viability with moderates. But I suppose he figures that's the only way to win.
SEN. EDWARDS: I think it’s from my own personal culture and faith belief. And I think, if you had gone on in that same quote, that I, I have—I, I struggle myself with imposing my faiths—my faith belief. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, I was baptized in the Southern Baptist church, my dad was a deacon. In fact, I was there just a couple weeks ago to see my father get an award. It’s, it’s just part of who I am. And the question is whether I, as president of the United States, should impose on the United States of America my views on gay marriage because I know where it comes from. I’m aware of why I believe what I believe. And I think there is consensus around this idea of no discrimination, partnership benefits, civil unions. I think that, that certainly a president who’s willing to lead could lead the country in the right direction on that.
Nichol ordered the cross removed in October to make the chapel more welcoming to students of all faiths. Previously, the cross could be removed by request; now it can be returned by request.
I'm not quite sure I see the other side's point. They seem to be arguing that displaying a cross should be the default. In other words, Christianity is the default, and other, lesser religions can be present only upon special request. Generally speaking, it doesn't seem like it's too much to ask to make university chapels equally available for all religions.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate John Edwards' on Sunday said that he would raise taxes, chiefly on the wealthy, to pay for expanded healthcare coverage under a plan costing $90 billion to $120 billion a year to be unveiled on Monday.
Well, the honesty is refreshing. Not a good way to get my vote, though.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Now, if governments ever get serious about fighing global warming, here are some things they could do:
(1) Put solar panels on government buildings. It might be mostly a symbolic gesture in terms of the energy produced, but it would set a good example.
(2) Give large tax credits to people who put solar panels on their roofs.
(3) Give large tax breaks to wind turbine and fuel cell producers; and to wind farms and fuel cell-based power plants.
Ultimately, if we want to reduce emissions, we're going need to rely mostly on these zero emission energy sources. If we want this to work, it's time to start subsidizing their use.
I suppose it's no more absurd than nominating Al Gore.
A USA Today editorial says:
The arguments against the minimum wage are familiar and unpersuasive. Critics argue that it will cost jobs, but the economic literature suggests job losses are a minimal threat. The last increase in 1997 was followed by a surge in low-wage employment.
Well, that's certainly worded with careful vagueness, but it's pretty callous nonetheless. Job losses are "a minimal threat"? No doubt the threat to to USA Today editorial writers is minimal. But that's not much consolation to those who do lose their job or don't get hired -- and the statement effectively acknolwedges that this will be the case. Sure, there's a question of how many. But there's no doubt it will be quite a few.
USA Today goes on to say:
Some opponents argue that wages should be decided exclusively by the free market.
But the nation decided otherwise in 1938, when Congress created the minimum wage so the poorest workers would have a chance at a decent living. And it's hard to recall similar free-market complaints about the tax code, which is all about picking winners and losers - homeowners over renters, for example, or investors over workers.
This part is just embarassing. Is the writer really unaware of the widespread free market criticism of the tax code? I suspect the answer is yes. When you only talk to like minded people, you simply never hear the opposing view.
Friday, February 02, 2007
According to the same survey, 60% of Europeans are against capital punishment, while 38% are in favour. Support for abolition is most widespread in the south (80% of the Spanish population and 72% of Italians declare themselves opposed to the death penalty), while the British are divided on the issue (49% against and 48% in favour).
I was under the impression there was almost unanimous opposition, but apparently not. Maybe the UK will even bring it back some day!
I've never understood why opposition to the death penalty is as strong as it is, especially to the mere idea of it. I can understand the criticism of the implementation, which seems unfair in any many ways. But I often hear people say they oppose the "state" killing people under any circumstances. Presumably, though, they do not have a problem with a police officer killing someone who is trying to murder them. Thus, it can't really be an opposition to all state killing. So what's wrong with killing someone who has killed in a way that indicates a likelihood to kill again?
Thursday, February 01, 2007
OK, first off, the obvious. Peace? Really? What, does peace include peace with nature? This is really kind of silly. If they want to give him a prize, create an environment prize.
More importantly, though, how can they give this guy a prize when he had eight years as Vice-President to say the things he's saying now but was too gutless to do so. Sure, he made occasional remarks here and there about the environment, just like Bush does now. By and large, though, he had his chance to make a real difference when he was in office and he chickened out. Saying it now is easy. Many non-politicians are saying the same thing. The key is to get the politicians on board. If he had been this active about it when he was a politician, the world might look a lot different now.