Thursday, May 31, 2007

Online Dating Discrimination?

The popular online dating service eHarmony was sued on Thursday for refusing to offer its services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
This strikes me as a silly lawsuit. What's wrong with a web site focusing on heterosexual dating? Surely there would be nothing wrong with a web site that only handled homosexual dating? Yes, it is discrimination, in a sense. But it does not seem like invidious discrimination. They think they have a special formula for heterosexual relationships, and they have no idea if it applies to gay relationships. If they were the only online dating service, perhaps I could see a problem. But they are not.

The Spelling Bee: Yawn (at Best)

I'm not very impressed with all of this spelling bee stuff. Wouldn't kids be better off reading a book than memorizing obscure words?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Al Gore and Reason

Al Gore has a new book in which he accuses the Bush administration of not using reason:
Mr. Gore’s central argument is that “reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions” and that the country’s public discourse has become “less focused and clear, less reasoned.” This “assault on reason,” he suggests, is personified by the way the Bush White House operates. Echoing many reporters and former administration insiders, Mr. Gore says that the administration tends to ignore expert advice (be it on troop levels, global warming or the deficit), to circumvent the usual policy-making machinery of analysis and debate, and frequently to suppress or disdain the best evidence available on a given subject so it can promote predetermined, ideologically driven policies.

It's hard to take this sort of argument seriously: "The other side is not being reasonable, but we are." Doesn't everybody say that? It just means that the two sides disagree, which is, of course, the reason there are two sides.

Seriously, how is this any different from what Republicans would say about Democrats? All Gore is doing is trying to reframe his political disagreement with Republicans into a statement that he is reasonable and they are not. It seems to me that reasonable people can disagree. Just because someone disagrees does not make them unreasonable.

Obama's Health Plan: The Right Solution

Barack Obama has suffered a lot of criticism recently for failing to offer much substance. Well, at least in health care, that criticism is no longer valid. The details of Obama's health plan are now out:
Under Obama's proposal, everyone would be able to obtain health insurance, and the Illinois senator would create a National Health Insurance Exchange to monitor insurance companies in offering the coverage. In essence, Obama's plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money into the system to pay for the expanded coverage.

Those who can't afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers. The plan that would be offered would be similar to the one covering members of Congress.

I think he's gotten this one exactly right. There is concern about too many people being uninsured. But the idea of having government agencies run aspects of the health care system, like with the John Edwards plan, will never fly. Obama found the right balance, in my view, both in terms of politics and policy. It's what I thought he should have done and I'm glad he did it.

ADDED: Based on other explanations I've seen, I'm going to have to think about whether I've characterized the plan accurately. More later.

MORE: Having read Ezra Klein's explanations (here, here and here), I think I had it just about right, although of course it's a complicated plan with a lot of nuances. Overall, it seems like good politics and not bad policy.

It doesn't fix a lot of my biggest complaints about health care, though. For example, why can insurance companies negotiate with doctors to get lower prices than would an uninsured consumer? I've always wanted to try going with no insurance except for serious illness or injury, but the higher prices I would have to pay for basic care mean that it doesn't make sense.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Who's the Toughest?

Ann Althouse says:
Obama, I suspect, is simply weak on national security (which is why he was against the war all along).

This idea that Bush/Republicans are strong on national security is very strange. 9/11 happened on their watch, and almost 6 years later we still haven't gotten the guy who orchestrated it and Al Qaeda is as strong as ever. How exactly is that strong? As for Obama being weak, here's what he had to say recently: "It is time to end this war so that we can redeploy our forces to focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and all those who plan to do us harm." To me, that sounds stronger than what we're doing now.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Steroids and Doping

As Major League Baseball considers Jason Giambi's latest semi-confession, and the cycling world witnesses a full confession by a former Tour de France champion at the same time they are transfixed by the Landis trial, it occurs to me that there is perhaps only one solution to the current state of affairs: the athletes need to police themselves. The owners/sponsors/organizers won't do it, because they worry about the economic harm they will suffer if they appear to admit any past wrongdoing. The sports unions won't do it because they are run by extremists who believe that any constraint on athletes, even on drug-taking, is bad. So it's up to the athletes. They need to agree among themselves, outside of their unions, not to take performance-enhancing drugs, and to report on anyone who is doing so. It's for their health and for the integrity of their sport. Is there anyone bold enough to take the first step?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ron Paul Takes it to Giuliani

I'm glad to see that Ron Paul is not backing down in the face of criticism:
Longshot Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (news, bio, voting record) on Thursday gave front-runner Rudy Giuliani a list of foreign-policy books to back up his contention that attacks by Islamic militants are fueled by the U.S. presence in the Middle East.

I doubt I agree with all/most/many of Ron Paul's views, but Giuliani's claim that we were attacked because of our freedoms is one of the dumbest things to come out of the mouth of one of the serious Presidential candidates. People on all sides really need to challenge him on this.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Giambi's Comments

The recent Jason Giambi remarks about steriod use and the need for MLB to offer an apology has me re-thinking some things I said a while back. I used to think the controversy would blow over in a couple years, and McGwire, Bonds et al. would get in the Hall of Fame. Now I'm not so sure. Without sincere apologies and explanations from these guys, they might not be forgiven.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dem Polls

The latest Iowa polls:
Edwards, who ran second in the 2004 Iowa caucuses and has worked hard to maintain his organization in the state, is at 29 percent. That's about where he has been for some time in Iowa, where caucus goers will do much to define the direction of the 2008 race as it hist full speed next January.

In second place is Illinois Senator Barack Obama with 23 percent.

Clinton musters a mere 21 percent -- down significantly from her position in several previous polls -- to secure the No. 3 position.

But nationally things are different:
Among Democrats Clinton has strengthened her status as front-runner, putting the brakes on a surge from rival Barack Obama, according to a Harris poll.

The poll found Clinton ahead by 13 points, 40 percent to 27 percent among Democratic voters nationwide. Her showing was better than a similar poll
in April which showed her leading Obama 37 to 32.

Three questions: (1) Does this mean anything at this point? (2) Who on earth supports Hillary Clinton? (3) And Why?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Giuliani's Perspective on Islamic Terrorism

Ann Althouse describes Rudy Giuliani as saying:
Giuliani says that what Paul said about 9/11 last night is something he'd have been surprised to hear anyone say even in the Democratic debate. Giuliani seemed to know that some people are talking about whether he characterized Paul's comment fairly last night when he lit into him, because he said he listened to it again and that there was "tremendous confusion in what [Paul] was saying." Paul said that because of our attacks on Saddam, al Qaeda wanted to kill us. That didn't make sense. Giuliani emphasized that he has been studying Islam and Islamic terrorism since the 1970s when he was in the Ford administration, and he knows that the reason they hate us is because of our freedom, notably our freedom of religion and the freedom for women.

Now, I'll grant him that our freedom of religion and freedom for women do not endear us to Islamic extremists. But does he really believe that's why 9/11 happened? It seems to me that the primary reasons were: (1) our constant meddling in the Middle East over the past few decades; (2) our support for currupt authoritatrian regimes in the Middle East; (3) our military presence over there; and (4) our support for Israel. None of this means that we "invited" the attacks or that we are somehow responsible. It just means that these are the reasons they attacked.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Do the Iraqis Want us There?

Sen. McConnell throws down the gauntlet:
Citing media reports, McConnell said some lawmakers in Iraq's parliament wanted a vote to ask the United States to leave.

"I want to assure you, if they vote to ask us to leave, we'll be glad to comply with their request," he said.

That's a bold statement. If the Iraqis actually do vote that way, are the Congressional Republicans ready to back him up?

He also says:
"What we are all discovering, however, it's very difficult to set up a functioning government in places like Iraq and Afghanistan."

Quite a discovery. Of course, quite a few people knew that before the invasions.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Giuliani Supports Abortion!

The New York Times reports:
After months of conflicting signals on abortion, Rudolph W. Giuliani is planning to offer a forthright affirmation of his support for abortion rights in public forums, television appearances and interviews in the coming days, despite the potential for bad consequences among some conservative voters already wary of his views, aides said yesterday.

I'm not sure why this is such a big deal. As the article later states, "In a New York Times/CBS News poll in March, 41 percent of Republicans thought abortions should be prohibited ... ." Presumably, then, 59 percent of Republicans would allow at least some abortions. As the only pro-choice Republican candidate, Giuliani might actually be in a pretty good position.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Obama's Wimpy Call for Better Fuel Economy

Obama's energy proposal:
In a frontal assault on the automobile industry, Sen. Barack Obama's call Monday for tougher fuel-economy standards and new financial incentives for hybrid cars would force a retooling of the way autos are built -- triggering a sometimes tepid response from business leaders in the Motor City.

The Illinois senator outlined a detailed energy proposal that echoes calls by other Democrats for higher fuel-efficiency standards and seeks to demonstrate he has environmental credentials as robust as those with longer voting records.


Obama, speaking to the Detroit Economic Club, said his proposals would cut the nation's oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels a day by 2020 and remove 50 million cars' worth of pollution from the air. He would achieve his goals in part by targeting a 4 percent annual increase -- approximately 1 mile per gallon each year -- in fuel standards.
This is a bit disappointing. Instead of a serious solution like a gas tax, Obama is asking for minimally higher fuel standards. It seems to me that one of the biggest reasons for the current state of affairs with the environment is liberals' refusal to propose real solutions.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sarkozy Wins!

Wow, I never thought I would read something like this:
Nicolas Sarkozy, a blunt and uncompromising pro-American conservative, was elected president of France Sunday with a mandate to chart a new course for an economically sluggish nation struggling to incorporate immigrants and their children.

Even French conservatives tend to be anti-America and anti-free market so this is really shocking. I wonder if this is an anomaly or part of a larger shift in European viewpoints.