Archive for September, 2008

Tuesday Night Linkorama

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

I don’t know what it is, but there are tons of interesting articles coming out this week. More than I can possibly right about at right-thinking.

  • Crook goes after the Dems for dissing America. I think one meme that’s going to emerge from this election is the need of Democrats to understand how the Great Unwashed think. They don’t vote conservative because they’re stupid; they vote conservative because they’re conservative.
  • Egad.

    While 82% of voters who support McCain believe the justices should rule on what is in the Constitution, just 29% of Barack Obama’s supporters agree. Just 11% of McCain supporters say judges should rule based on the judge’s sense of fairness, while nearly half (49%) of Obama supporters agree.

  • A good reason to like Obama. He’s not going along with the anti-vaccination nonsense.
  • The green’s are starving Africa with misguided “traditional” farming. But you already knew that.
  • I’m not certain what to make on Congress’s effort to force DC to comply with Heller. The Feds are right. But I just get nervous when the Feds start shoving smaller districts around.
  • Fred Thompson explains the Fam-Frem mess better than anyone I’ve read. Where was he during the campaign? Cato does it more in-depth.
  • Energy independence is just garbage.
  • Finally, some good news. The private schools get started in LA.
  • A Pox On Both Houses

    Monday, September 8th, 2008

    The incomparable Michael Cannon fires in both directions on the “there’s no such thing as uninsured” quote.

    Chick Fight

    Monday, September 8th, 2008

    Katherine Mangu-Ward has the lunch of those who think Palin is an anti-feminist candidate:

    Steinem says Palin is the “wrong woman” for the VP job because her stances on creationism, global warming, gun control, stem cell research, wolf hunting, education reform and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are not the same as those of the “majority or plurality” of women, which I’m sure is true enough. But here’s where she loses me: Surely possessors of breasts can legitimately disagree about the proper method of wolf population control. Did God create the world 6,000 years ago? Hold on, let me consult my ovaries.

    Steinem also includes abortion, sex education and the Fair Pay Act in her indictment of Palin. It’s easier to construct a story in which a uniquely feminine view is relevant on these issues. But lo and behold, women are divided here as well. On abortion, for instance, a May Gallup poll found that 50% of American women are pro-choice, while 43% are pro-life — roughly the same percentages as men.

    Her opponent’s response? Those dumb broads in the surveys don’t know what pro-life means. Seriously.

    Bias

    Monday, September 8th, 2008

    A great article over at Economics of Contempt tackles the media bias issues. The basic argument is:

    1) Scientific experiment have shown that people tend to form their political opinions emotionally and then reason backward to support their pre-conceived notions.

    2) The media vote overwhelming Democrat.

    3) Therefore, they support liberal ideas. QED

    My one problem with this is that the scientific experiments show a snapshot in time. While most people’s instantaneous reaction to political events is emotional, the can demonstrably change their opinions over a long enough timescale. This is exemplified by patterns in voting with age and wealth, for example.

    But it also applies independent of this. I recently was reading Team of Rivals which demonstrated how individuals such as Lincoln, states such as Maryland and indeed the entire nation changed their opinions on slavery. People’s reaction to their beliefs being challenged is emotional — at first. But over time, reason can wear down most people’s pre-conceived notions.

    Income Inequality

    Monday, September 8th, 2008

    Don Bodreaux debunks it.

    Monday Linkorama

    Monday, September 8th, 2008
  • Why is that whenever Obama attacks his opponent, he gives me reasons to vote for McCain? If McCain really wanted to addressed Social Security by raising the retirement age, slowing the growth and partially privatizing, I’d be supportive.
  • Why can’t we get clean diesel cars? Taxes.
  • Would you believe it? Three-quarters of last month’s unemployment increase was a result of government programs encouraging people to claim unemployment.
  • McCain’s idea of having cabinet members work for $1 a year is really stupid (and almost certainly illegal). I’d much rather be ruled by someone out for a buck than someone driving by a burning desire to “help” me.
  • The dirty word at this year’s conventions? Liberty. I’m not persuaded that McCain is the best pick for a libertarian. He’s a big believer in national service.
  • Slightly Less Cowardice

    Sunday, September 7th, 2008

    ESPN has their big prediction page for the NFL season. Easterbrook documents how many picks were wrong post-facto. Last year, I documented how spineless the picks were in the first place. Less than half of NFL playoff teams repeat the next year. But the typical ESPNer predicts eight to nine teams to repeat and usually picks six or seven division winners to repeat.

    This year, they aren’t nearly as spineless. The picks are:

    AFC East — Everyone picks New England, which seemed reasonable until Brady got hurt

    AFC North – Twelve pick Pittsburgh to repeat, Four pick Cleveland

    AFC South – Ten pick Indy to repeat; six take Jacksonville (but those six all have Indy as the Wild Card)

    AFC West – All pick San Diego to repeat, which seems reasonable given how crappy the AFC West is.

    AFC Wildcard – Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Jets, Indy, Pittsburgh, Houston, Denver and Buffalo all get picks. Only the Dolphins, Bengals, Ravens, Raiders and Chiefs get no votes (although Denver and Buffalo only get one each).

    The AFC has a lot of repeat picks, with two commentators spinelessly picking the entire slate of 2007 playoffs teams to repeat exactly. I’m guessing most people would currently believe the AFC is the superior conference. But it’s not. The NFC outperformed them by two games last year. Moreover, the AFC is incredibly unbalanced, with several great teams and a lot of horrible teams. The NFC is much more competitive, which is reflected in the picks

    NFC East – 14 pick Dallas, one each pick Philly and the Giants

    NFC North – Evenly split between Green Bay and Minnesota

    NFC South – New Orleans gets all but one vote, that one going to Carolina

    NFC West – Seattle gets 14 votes, with two extremely deluded people picking Arizona.

    NFC Wild Card – Minnesota Giants, Carolina, Philly, Green Bay, Washington, Tampa, Dallas and St. Louis all get votes.

    San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit are the only teams not picked to make the playoffs by anyone.

    Going analyst by analyst, while Chadiha and Clayton pick seven division repeats, no one picks more than nine overall repeats and Wickersham takes over Tafoya’s spot as the only analyst with real balls, picking only five division winners and six teams overall to repeat.

    So my non-spineless somewhat randomized picks?

    AFC East – Pats, even if Brady is hurt.
    AFC North – Pittsburgh
    AFC South – Jacksonville
    AFC West – Denver

    Wild Cards – Indy and Cleveland

    NFC East – Philadelphia
    NFC North – Green Bay
    NFC South – Carolina
    NFC West – Seattle

    NFC WC – Dallas and New Orleans

    That’s four division repeats and seven overall repeats. I deliberately picked to not have as many repeats — which was tough in the very unbalanced AFC. I suspect that one of Indy and Pitt will not make the playoffs, but since I like both teams I unfairly bounced San Diego. I’m still not happy having seven repeat teams, but it’s the best I can do.

    What the Heck?

    Sunday, September 7th, 2008

    I just saw the strangest commercial with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates. I backed the DVR up and watched it a second time. I still don’t know what the heck that was about.

    Ratings

    Saturday, September 6th, 2008

    For some reason, I love information like this on how TV ratings don’t predict elections.

    Esoteric Post of the Day

    Saturday, September 6th, 2008

    Turns out that the neocons are indeed full of crap:

    In a recent paper, co-author Andrea Dean and I investigate whether democratic dominoes like the ones American foreign policy posits actually exist and, if they do, how “hard” they fall.

    Does democracy really spread between countries? If so, how much? We find that democratic dominoes do in fact exist, but they fall significantly “lighter” than foreign policy applications of this principle pretend.

    Countries only “catch” about 11 percent of their geographic neighbors’ average changes in democracy; the modesty of this spread rate is consistent over time. Our analysis extends back to 1850, but 150-plus years ago, like today, changes in countries’ democracies were only mildly contagious.

    Our study isn’t focused on the impact of U.S. intervention on democracy abroad. But if our estimates are in the ballpark, they have potentially sobering implications for attempts to democratize the world through intervention. Even if U.S. intervention succeeds in improving democracy in a key country it occupies, the democracy-enhancing “spillovers” of the intervention are likely to be minimal.

    Democratic dominoes don’t have the “oomph” to democratize entire regions. Most of an intervention’s benefits for democracy, where there are any at all, are likely to remain local.

    Bill Easterly and two of his colleagues have a provocative working paper that looks specifically at foreign intervention’s influence on democracy abroad. What they find is even more damning for domino-inspired interventions.

    According to their work, which examines interventions in the cold war period, U.S. interventions decreased democracy by 33 percent in countries where America intervened (so did Soviet interventions). Christopher Coyne’s important book examines the reasons for this failure and provides evidence that foreign intervention’s democracy-reducing outcome isn’t limited to the cold war context.

    I’ve always thought that spreading democracy should take a distant third place to defending and improving our own. I would point out, however, that the entire point of Soviet interventions was to stop democracy.

    Friday Night Linkorama

    Friday, September 5th, 2008
  • How cute are puppies?
  • How fascinating is evolution?
  • How dumb is Michael Gerson?
  • How typical is the Florida State Supreme Court. The tossed out school choice amendments to the Constitution.
  • Quote of the Day

    Thursday, September 4th, 2008

    Dave Barry:

    “Nobody here is bitter or angry. As far as I can tell, nobody in Minnesota ever gets riled up about anything. Minnesotans really are, as the expression goes, ”Minnesota nice.” They are beyond nice. They make Mister Rogers look like Hitler. If you drove your car at 85 mph into a Minnesota family’s house, their reaction, once they pulled you out of the wreckage and gave you some hot cocoa, would be to apologize for building their house in a location that you would eventually want to drive through.

    Which may be why no Minnesotan has ever been elected president.”

    It’s funny because it’s true.

    Overkill

    Monday, September 1st, 2008

    I hope I’m not the only one bothered by this. Any Presidential candidate who cracks down on the sale of military weapons to local law enforcement would get my vote.

    Crapstrong

    Monday, September 1st, 2008

    Lance Amstrong is embracing the anti-vaccine garbage. How disappointing.