December 29, 2010

Yet Another Study Finds That Liberals Are Loving and Empathetic and Conservatives Are Fearful Monsters
— Ace

Lot of that goin' round.

The actual study here is about "gaze following." That is, looking at someone's eyes to see what they're looking at, then looking at whatever they're looking at. The study finds political liberals do this more, conservatives do this less.

Is that right? Who knows, I haven't seen the data. I suspect things like this may very well be right, as liberals may be found to have a stronger socialization/empathy tendency in their biological make-up (mommy traits), and conservatives a stronger threat assessment/response/rule of law sort of tendency (daddy traits). I would not be at all surprised to find some biological difference here (and in fact I'd be surprised to find there were no biological difference at all, that it was all purely a thing of airy intellect with no biological root).

Check out how they like to put their sketchy findings...

"Across a variety of tasks, we are beginning to find a consistent pattern where conservatives are more responsive to threat/disgust, more responsive to angry faces, and less sensitive to gaze cues than liberals," Dodd wrote in an e-mail to LiveScience. "Liberals, on the other hand, are proving to be more responsive to positive/appetitive stimuli, more responsive to happy faces, and more sensitive to gazes."

I can't help but notice that they're casting "conservative" attributes in bad terms, while making "liberal" tendencies sound happywonderful.

By the way, if you read the article, you find that the study itself is sort of wrong-headed. Because they don't test whether people are actually following human gazes, but rather drawings of faces on a computer screen, which seems to be assuming that people react to abstract representations the same way the react to the tangible reality. Which mostly isn't true.

Exit Question: Is liberalism a choice? Can it be "cured"?

More Interesting... than the devolution of human beings into the sub-species called homo liberus is the evolution of dogs, in this National Geographic special.

Interesting fact: Dogs know to follow human gazes and human pointing. Apparently other animals, even domesticated ones like horses and cats, can't do this. They aren't that locked-in on human cues to pick up on what pointing and looking mean. Even chimps don't do this.

At least that's what this video claims. (It should be noted, though, they used a trained dog and an untrained chimp in their pointing-recognition test, substantially weakening any conclusion that could be drawn from it.)

I'm Told... that horses can follow a finger-point. Ah well. I'm just telling you what the Nova documentary claimed. I don't run these tests myself!

Posted by: Ace at 08:27 AM | Comments (291)
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One HUGE unresolved issue of 2010- Delaware
— CAC

Delaware.
Land of..what exactly? Oregonites, New Yorkers, Texans and Californians, besides any potential family that live in that "state", what purpose does Delaware serve? Those of us in the other 49 states are, frankly, puzzled by its very existence.

For those of you who have heard rumors, yes it actually exists- it's a state that rests on the Delmarva Peninsula, mainly to buffer the bulk of Eastern Shore Maryland from having a kickassedly massive shoreline. Blocks Pennsylvania from having one at all, in fact.

The big story out of the First State this year was not, in fact, the epic battle of Rino V Conservative. Nor was it the Big F'n Deal out of native son Biden's mouth. No, Delaware managed to highlight its uselessness. Facts below. more...

Posted by: CAC at 08:12 AM | Comments (86)
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Global Warming Skeptic: Prepare For The Ice Age
— Ace

Interesting, in as much as he at least makes falsifiable predictions we can judge him by.

He predicted this current winter would be the coldest in 100 years, and that the Northeast US would suffer the worst blizzards in decades. Comparing him to the UK meterological office that believes in global warming -- they predicted a mild winter.

Using solar cycle theory, he predicts it'll be cold for 25 years or more.

One erroneous prediction doesn't prove or disprove a theory, but the global warming disciples really need to put some W's up. This is getting embarrassing.

Posted by: Ace at 07:54 AM | Comments (92)
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We're a Nation of Wusses Because We Postponed a Football Game?
— Ace

At Hot Air, a minor story continues drawing attention.

I don't know if Rendell is right. To the extent he's right, he's right in the wrong way.

Rendell speaks about courage and pioneer spirit with regard to driving to a football game in the tall snow. Is that right? Would taking an unnecessary risk in the service of being a spectator at a trivial entertainment demonstrate one's courage or pioneer spirit? If that's courage, what do our troops demonstrate? If that's pioneer spirit, what did that teenage girl who tried to sail solo through an ocean possess?

But driving in snow in an SUV with lots of emergency rescue vehicles available is courage? Or an indulgence? Especially since any use of emergency services is costly and, in an emergency situation, may cause delays in getting aid to others?

Perhaps he means this is just a symptom of the loss of courage and pioneer spirit, rather than this itself being an example of a loss of courage and pioneer spirit.

There's little doubt that risk-taking is, often, a good thing, and Americans have lost a lot of their risk-taking spirit. But to just frame this so simply -- taking risks for no particular reason is good! -- makes an untruth out of something sort of true.

Because a lot of teenagers take an awful lot of unnecessary and dumb risks in the service of excitement and entertainment, and we don't judge them worthy for doing so. We say they're callow and stupid.

To the extent he's right, I'd say this is less about courage and more about the loss of individual responsibility and judgment. Risk-taking is only justified if the payoff is big enough. Driving to an Eagles game in bad driving conditions, when the game is available on tv... I don't know if that's anything like a sound appraisal of risk and reward.

If we're talking about manfulness -- and I think we are, essentially -- I don't think the rule is "take risks whenever possible" so much as "make sound judgments about risk and take risks when justified." And the problem here might be that as a society we're so insulated against real physical risk we've lost the ability (generally) to make sound judgments about them.

I mean that a hunter might get lost in the snowy woods in pursuing his recreation, and, having gone through that ordeal, with the real chance of permanent maiming by frostbite or actual death, would have a proper appreciation of risk/reward in snowbound situations. Since most of us haven't faced that, we sort of blow that off as a possibility. It doesn't seem real to us as it's outside our experience. Intellectually, we might note that, but sort of as an asterisk under the category of "Things That Can Never Really Happen."

When it comes to calamity, most people acknowledge it as a risk but don't really acknowledge it in their guts. Calamity is too big a concept for most people to think about, and so they just note it as a possibility, assign it a risk of 0.00% of happening, and blow it off as a real, genuine concern.

And since we're a nation of idiots when it comes to such things, Big Daddy Government figures he has to come in and specifically forbid us from doing them, or cancel a game so that we're not overly tempted to stupid doom.

And maybe that's where I sort of agree with Rendell -- if we still (all of us, instead of a tiny fraction of us) possessed basic survival sense and an appreciation for the havoc that natural forces can cause, we could all make independent, personal decisions about whether it's a hot idea to bundle up our kids in the child seats and drive out onto snow-paved roads, and they'd be sound, in the main.

But we don't, we've lost that basic appreciation for danger, so we get the nanny treatment. And if we were a livelier, more daring people, we'd be more accustomed to risk, and calculations of genuine risk versus reward, and that wouldn't happen.

Where I can't get behind Rendell is in his assertion that just assuming a risk for the point of being a spectator is itself manly. Watching other guys do manly things is not itself manly.

I think the sound decision is not to drive in blizzard conditions, unless it's necessary. But being able to make that decision with a proper appreciation of risk and reward -- perspective -- is probably something a lot of us have lost.

Posted by: Ace at 05:51 AM | Comments (240)
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Black Chicago Mayoral Candidate to America's 'First' Black President: Shut Up
— Dave in Texas

Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) is warning Bill Clinton to keep his nose out of the Chicago Mayor's race. His threat? Withdrawal of affection.

"The African American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship maybe fractured and perhaps even broken should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community," Davis said in the statement.

There's something perversely funny in that, if Clinton campaigns for Emanuel then of course that means he's trying to "thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community."

Oddly, threatening "not to love Bill anymore" is probably the only threat that actually would make him slow down and think it over.

Recent poll shows Davis lagging far behind Raum.

Well, since I'm here and I just got the email from Ben, here's the latest standings in the NFL pick em thing.

Ubermensch

Reggie Bush's Birth Cert: 136
joltin' j: 134

Next nearest is 131!

Untermensch

Ben: 120
Russ from Winterset: 120
DrewM: 115
CDR M: 112
DiT:98 (yeah, I totally forgot)

It's the middle of a short week morons (for me anyway). Make the best of it.

Posted by: Dave in Texas at 04:51 AM | Comments (71)
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CPAC in the News Again, Sorta
— Gabriel Malor

I don't know about you guys, but I'm excited about CPAC this year. It's my first year in D.C., so I can actually go. Unfortunately, not everyone is as excited about it. Some groups are again organizing a boycott over the inclusion of gay conservative group GOProud.

When the latest story came out about the social conservative groups who are choosing to absent themselves from the conference, I decided not to post about it. First of all, it was just after Christmas and who wants to deal with a downer like that during the holidays? Second, the story was in World Net Daily and nowhere else. I suspected WND was simply continuing its crusade against GOProud (recall the kerfuffle when Ann Coulter had the audacity to speak at their Homocon party). Third, I figured WND's story and the various social con boycotts in general wouldn't make much of a splash on the Right, but rather give the Left something to chortle about.

As Jimmie at the Sundries Shack discovered, it was a good prediction:

And you know what? The boycott isn’t drawing much attention from the right, if any at all. Take a look at this memeorandum thread. See all those blogs writing about this story? They’re almost all left-wing blogs and I can guarantee you they’re not writing about the noble moral stand of the Concerned Women of America or the Family Research Council. Without even looking, I can tell you they’re eating up the “I hates me some gay people” quotes like sweet, sweet candy and using words like “bigot” and “hater”. It’s a mortal lock that they’re playing those two groups as representative of conservatives as a whole, to make us all look like homophobic cretins.

Whether CWA and FRC are taking a "noble moral stand" is somewhat questionable anyway. FRC says in WND that it has been "very involved in CPAC for over a decade." In fact, FRC stopped participating in CPAC a few years ago and now operates a rival conference, the Values Voters Summit. Encouraging people to skip CPAC and wait for its own conference is fine, but let's not pretend FRC doesn't have this self-interested motive in making CPAC look bad in the papers.

Stacy McCain doesn't understand the "auto-marginalization" of these groups, given the unparalleled opportunity at CPAC to reach out to other conservatives. But I suspect that they don't believe they are marginalizing themselves. Many conservative identity groups, particularly the Christian-identity Christian-themed special-interest groups* making the ruckus here-- FRC, Liberty Counsel, NOM -- already feel isolated in an immoral world. It's an easy calculation: will they get more by reaching out to other (immoral) conservatives at CPAC or by making a flashy stand in WND and then hold their own Christian conference?

The target constituency for these groups isn't conservatism as a whole, but a rather more limited group. I think they were genuinely surprised by the general lack of reception to their vocal GOProud opposition last year (remember the Sorba incident?) and this is the response. If they can't convince conservatives of the evils of GOProud inclusion (we're not even talking about the "evils" of gays here, we're talking about merely standing in the same room with them), well, they're going to take their ball and go home.

Update: *I was informed in comments that refering to these groups as Christian-identity groups is defamatory. Rather than fight about whether they are in fact identity groups with explicitly Christian goals and outlook, I'll just strike and rephrase to avoid the disputed words. A google search turned up a movement refered to as "Christian Identity" which is basically a racist idea masquerading as religion. I had no intention of associating FRC or the other special interest groups above with the racist Christian Identity movement and I'll avoid that phrasing in the future since it comes with unfortunate implications and a likelihood of misunderstanding.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 03:15 AM | Comments (355)
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Top Headline Comments 12-29-10
— Gabriel Malor

This space is for comments on headlines and other stuff in the Top Headlines sidebar. It's also a place to suggest what you think are top headlines. A link to these comments is stickied at the top of the Top Headlines sidebar.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:51 AM | Comments (47)
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December 28, 2010

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Yet Another Wacky Japanese TV Show

This time involving donuts, giant treadmills, and a dunking pool for losers.
Clearly we're behind in this kind of television entertainment - we must close the game show gap!

And of course I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the Japanese Sega pissing game:


Yep we're behind in bathroom gaming tech too. more...

Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:44 PM | Comments (577)
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Alaska Senate Update: End Game?
— Gabriel Malor

Perhaps our long, national nightmare is finally over. I say perhaps, because Joe Miller could always appeal, right?

The federal judge dismissed the case, just as the Alaska courts did. Here's fairly federalist heart of it:

This is not to say that Miller’s technical arguments are frivolous, for it is easy to understand his view as to the proper interpretation of A.S. § 15.15.360(a)(11). But it is just as easy to accept the interpretation given by the Alaska Supreme Court. What we have before us is a poorly drafted state statute. Wisdom would suggest that the Alaska Legislature act to clarify it to avoid similar disputes in the future. For now we have to work with what we have and that is what the Alaska Supreme Court has done.

Generally speaking, the Alaska Supreme Court is the final expositor of Alaska law. That must be the case here. It concluded that Miller's interpretation of the statute "would erode the integrity of the election system," and held that "voter intent is paramount." Under the facts presented, this Court declines to second-guess the highest Court of the state.

The judge also dismissed Miller's equal protection claims. It's a short 11 pager (PDF).

So far there's no word that Miller intends to appeal. If he wanted, he could take this to the 9th Circuit. With the injunction lifted, Murky will be seated in time to keep her seniority.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 03:54 PM | Comments (82)
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Incompetent Snowman: Bloomberg's Alleged Competence Takes Major Hit As NYC Remains Buried Under Snow
— Ace

Huge post by Allah on the huge snowfall. Bloomberg's unearned reputation as Mr. Capable is taking a big hit as his block in Manhattan is clear but the outer boroughs are strangely still snowbound. Hmmm. Guess it just worked out that way.

How bad was it? This bad.

Daily News writer Erin Durkin was stuck on the A train between the Aqueduct and Rockaway Boulevard stations (above ground, at least) for seven hours on Sunday after the conductor announced, "This train is completely dead." The 500 passengers went without food, water, bathrooms, and heat. The passengers tried to stay calm and not go crazy and eat one another, but it became difficult: "Spirits rose when they announced a rescue train was coming to fetch us — but sunk again at the news: 'The rescue train is stuck,'" Durkin writes. Conductors reportedly "pleaded for help, but no one came." One passenger banged on the windows and screamed, "I want to go home!"

No bathrooms? Oh boy. Seven hours is a long, long time with no bathroom. I'm guessing that nature won out over manners.

If this sticks to Bloomy, this video will become the metaphor that plays with his picture when people talk about an independent presidential run.
more...

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Chris Matthews: Hey, Why Doesn't Obama Send Me a Copy of His Long-Form Birth Certificate Right Now?
— Ace

Good question. Even has his super-liberal guests (Clarence "Empty" Page and David "Candy" Corn) bash the birthers, they can't spin any plausible reason as to why Obama shouldn't do just this.

Neither can I. And I've said so. Granted, I reject the proofs of the birth certificate conspiracy theorists as balderdash. But one question cannot be easily answered: So why the hell doesn't he just release it then? The most suspicious thing here is Obama's own sneaky, dishonest behavior.

If a man acts for two years like he's got something to hide I start to think that maybe he does.

I have become convinced there is something embarrassing on that long form. There is little other way to explain such shady behavior.

Posted by: Ace at 11:56 AM | Comments (262)
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Want To Reduce Inequality of Income? Okay, Well Crack Down On Illegal Immigration
— Ace

Mickey Kaus argues against liberals... as usual.

Kaus sets up Brazil as the situation liberals don't want -- incredible wealth at the top, desperate scrabbling poverty (poverty-poverty, as Whoopi Goldberg might say) at the bottom -- and goes from there.

But, hey, whatever. Let's assume the problem is income inequality. And none of us wants Brazil.

The question is then what makes Brazil Brazil. Is it wild riches at the top, or extreme poverty at the bottom? It seems pretty obvious, from what little I know of Brazil, that the problem is the bottom, not the top. We worry about Brazil because of the favelas, the huge impoverished shantytowns, and the crime coming out of them. We worry because it's hard to believe that if you're a poor Brazilian squatting in a shanty you can think of yourself as the social equal of a tycoon across town. And across town, thanks to all that crime, it seems impossible to lead a normal, American-style socially-egalitarian middle class life, at least without a full-time bodyguard. You're not about to go sit in the cheap seats at a soccer match or wander near your local favela while shopping. I had an affluent Brazilian friend who moved to New York City and would only consider living in Trump buildings, on the grounds that only they would have adequate security for someone of her class. I finally convinced her that no, this was America. You could really live almost anywhere you wanted. You didn't need a guard with a gun on every floor. And you could walk around.

If you're worried about incomes at the bottom, though, one solution leaps out at you. It's a solution that worked, at least in the late 1990s under Bill Clinton, when wages at the low end of the income ladder rose fairly dramatically. The solution is tight labor markets. Get employers bidding for scarce workers and you'll see incomes rise across the board without the need for government aid programs or tax redistribution. A major enemy of tight labor markets at the bottom is also fairly clear: unchecked immigration by undocumented low-skilled workers. It's hard for a day laborer to command $18 an hour in the market if there are illegals hanging out on the corner willing to work for $7. Even experts who claim illlegal immigration is good for Americans overall admit that it's not good for Americans at the bottom. In other words, it's not good for income equality.

If you want to help Americans at the bottom, you can improve their wages by making unskilled labor more valuable, by reducing competition -- or in this case, simply preventing new competition from forever entering the market.

Liberals never understand that the "problem" of income inequality, to the extent its a problem, is not a two-sided problem. The problem is not the very poor and the very rich. The very rich are not the problem, and just taking from them is not the solution. The problem is just the poor, and whether they are advancing or not. And that can't be done just be increasing tax rates and giving handouts. Handouts only create a dependent, cynical underclass, with far greater ills than the working poor would ever experience.

Since Brazil has been brought up, check out this 60 Minutes piece on Brazil from a few weeks ago. The joke was that "Brazil is the country of the future-- and always will be." That is, it would never actually make it to first tier status, just threaten to, before Latin economics and Latin politics would sabotage it yet again.

But this time... maybe so.

Two points: One, Brazil is getting rich partly over its newish oil discoveries. Gee, wouldn't it be nice if somewhere in America there were potential oil fields that maybe rivaled Brazil's that we could tap.

Two, Krofft talks here with a lot of wealthy people. Ultra-tycoons. And he takes them -- as anyone who's not a twit would -- as evidence that Brazil is doing well, not that Brazil is doing poorly.

This just reinforces the point that these people are not the problem. Other people did not become poor so that they could become rich. The poor have largely stayed poor; the rich and ultra-rich get that way because of new wealth, not wealth hijacked from the poor.

Who the hell robs a poor person? There's no percentage in it.

more...

Posted by: Ace at 11:40 AM | Comments (62)
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Ex-Shell President: Gas Might Go Up To $5 a Gallon in 2012
— Ace

The one good thing is that both parties have a narrative/answer for this -- the Republicans, expanding domestic drilling, including in ANWR, and the Democrats, filling out tanks with starshine and rainbows -- but prices at this level will compel moving on both. The public may still want their starshine and rainbows, but they're not going to be content with only that option.

"I'm predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices," he said.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service says Americans will see gasoline prices hit the $5 a gallon mark in the next decade, but not by 2012.

"That wolf is out there and it's going to be at the door...I agree with him that we'll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet." Kloza said.

"The demand is still sluggish enough in some of the mature economies."

Instapundit quotes John Tierny on oil, and Malthusian pessimism against Cornucopian optimism.

I called Mr. Simmons to discuss a bet. To his credit — and unlike some other Malthusians — he was eager to back his predictions with cash. He expected the price of oil, then about $65 a barrel, to more than triple in the next five years, even after adjusting for inflation. He offered to bet $5,000 that the average price of oil over the course of 2010 would be at least $200 a barrel in 2005 dollars.

I took him up on it, not because I knew much about Saudi oil production or the other “peak oil” arguments that global production was headed downward. I was just following a rule learned from a mentor and a friend, the economist Julian L. Simon.

As the leader of the Cornucopians, the optimists who believed there would always be abundant supplies of energy and other resources, Julian figured that betting was the best way to make his argument. Optimism, he found, didn’t make for cover stories and front-page headlines.

No matter how many cheery long-term statistics he produced, he couldn’t get as much attention as the gloomy Malthusians like Paul Ehrlich, the best-selling ecologist. Their forecasts of energy crises and resource shortages seemed not only newsier but also more intuitively correct. In a finite world with a growing population, wasn’t it logical to expect resources to become scarcer and more expensive?

As an alternative to arguing, Julian offered to bet that the price of any natural resource chosen by a Malthusian wouldn’t rise in the future. Dr. Ehrlich accepted and formed a consortium with two colleagues at Berkeley, John P. Holdren and John Harte, who were supposed to be experts in natural resources. In 1980, they picked five metals and bet that the prices would rise during the next 10 years.

By 1990, the prices were lower, and the Malthusians paid up, although they didn’t seem to suffer any professional consequences. Dr. Ehrlich and Dr. Holdren both won MacArthur “genius awards” (Julian never did). Dr. Holdren went on to lead the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and today he serves as President Obama’s science adviser.

Julian, who died in 1998, never managed to persuade Dr. Ehrlich or Dr. Holdren or other prominent doomsayers to take his bets again.

The Malthusians seem to forget that many limitations on resources are imposed by lack of human will, lack of human energy, and lack of human knowledge, and that rising prices in any particular sector have a habit of increasing those scarce supplies.

Posted by: Ace at 11:26 AM | Comments (76)
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Julian Assange, 256-Bit Cassanova
— Ace

This article is worth a skim if you care about the rape/rape-rape allegations against Julian Assange, but I guess I was most taken by Julian Assange's alleged line:

She says they had consensual sex but she woke up the next morning to find him having intercourse with her to which she had not consented.

When she asked him if he was wearing anything, he had allegedly said: "I am wearing you."

That's pimp. The line I mean, not the rape. Gotta give him that.

He claims:

Mr Assange regards himself as a victim of radicalism. "Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism," he said. "I fell into a hornets' nest of revolutionary feminism."

Not exactly. According to him, this is just the vengeance of jilted women:

He said he believed his accusers became angry when the younger woman, Miss W, contacted Miss A and they realised he had been to bed with both of them in swift succession. They went to the police station together, apparently to seek advice. A policewoman who heard their stories is said to have suggested they could pursue criminal charges.

...but the second woman claims she specifically told him to stop after she awoke to find him on top of her, and he didn't. So, he hadn't had consent -- I guess a sort of implied consent in his mind, but not actual consent -- and even if you give him a pass on that, that non-consent was followed up with an affirmative denial of consent. But he kept going and, um, "finished up," despite that.

Maybe some date-rape charges are a bit grey-area, but this charge doesn't seem gray-area, if true. It sounds like rape.

Posted by: Ace at 09:40 AM | Comments (312)
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Out: Earmarking
In: Lettermarking

— Ace

"Lettermarking" is just earmarking via another route. It's a scandal that incoming GOP senators like Mark Kirk, who ran on an anti-earmarking platform, are already earmarking, just calling it something else.

In fact, "lettermarking" is worse.

What Kirk is doing -- and your senator is probably doing too, unless you ride herd on him -- is no longer including his spending preferences in actual bills, but writing letters to the administrative agencies asking them to direct monies in this way or that way. It doesn't have the force of law, but does have the force of coercion: An agency that wants to keep its budgets ever, ever growing (as is the goal of all federal agencies) knows damn well it had better do as requested.

At least "hard earmarks," as opposed to these "soft earmarks," are actually part of the constitutional process of proposing and voting and stuff.

The GOP's energy should be devoted exclusively to finding new ways to cut government spending, not new ways to spend it.

The GOP has been granted a two-year probation. It seems they are hellbent on violating the terms of probation and going back to political prison.

I don't know if the GOP is going to survive much longer. At some point, they just prove they don't care, and it's time for the party to die.

Posted by: Ace at 09:03 AM | Comments (140)
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Does ObamaCare Violate the General Welfare Clause Of The Constitution?
— Ace

Interesting argument.

First of all, I couldn't remember if the bit about "the general welfare" appeared only in the preamble (in which case it would be guidance, programmer's notes rather executable code, if you will) or both in the preamble and the actual Constitution; it's both. The taxing and spending clause of Article 1 mentions that monies will be spent "for the general welfare."

Barnett's and Oedel's argument here is persuasive, but it sort of requires text plus logic to get to his interpretation; liberal judges will of course resist adding in that logic, and claim that anyone who says otherwise is guilty of "judicial activism" (!!!), adding stuff to the Constitution. But this is certainly reasonable inference -- if words appear in the Constitution, they're supposed to mean something, and not mean nothing at all, as a resistant liberal will claim. The words didn't just appear there as filler. They had a point, we can assume.

The basic argument is that ObamaCare's Medicaid mandates for states plus the opt-out is coercive and violates the General Welfare clause, because if a state did exercise its right to opt out, its money would flow to Washington (and other states) without anything in return. The money would therefore decidedly not be spent for "the general welfare," as any state opting out would not have its welfare improved at all (and would in fact be reduced, as billions flow out of it to benefit the citizens of other states).

He also makes this argument with regard to the Cornhusker Kickback -- a special Nebraska-only benefit to secure the vote of one Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a situation in which dollars flow to Nebraska (to make up for their non-contribution to the costs of the program) from other states.

This is actually a rather important idea. The Cornhusker Kickback violated many people's sense of fair play, but I think many of us couldn't quite explain which rule of fair play it violated. The danger of the maneuver was clear -- if you can bribe individual states' citizens to go along with federal programs, you can create different tiers of states, with some citizens having more rights than the citizens of others, which seems, certainly, to violate the basic idea of equality in the eyes of the law.

Barnett and Oedel sharpen this up a bit, I think, by offering a more specific command of the Constitution such schemes can be said to violate. Money spent in this way is not for the General Welfare, but for the particular welfare of the citizens of one state (and not others), and thus is impermissible.

Like I said, interesting. And certainly, I think, the Constitution should stand for such an idea. Without such a command, it is quite possible that a blue state president with a blue state Congress could simply reduce taxes and other burdens on the blue states alone and hike them punitively on the red states. Some would say that will never happen, as that would spark a new civil war, but I'd like to think the Constitution itself has something within it to restrain violations of such blazing injustice such that civil war isn't necessary to retain basic fairness.

It's Old: Gabe ably covered this yesterday.

I thought this argument, while attractive, was a bit of longshot, but as Gabe mentions it just might fly:

From a litigators' perspective, this argument of Barnett's is strategically attractive because the Dole restriction, discussed in the WSJ piece, is relatively unfleshed by the courts. This case is absolutely headed for the Supreme Court and justices hesitate to overturn precedent. Dole's very vagueness gives them (ahem, Kennedy) room to maneuver because ObamaCare says 100% of Medicare dollars will be withheld from states that opt out. The justices won't have to decide a sticky question about just how much is too much coercion; it's relatively easy to say that 100% is too much.

Yes, judges don't like laying down categorical forbiddances (i.e., you can never spend more on one state than another) and try to avoid fine-tuning line-drawing about where the threshold of forbiddance is reached, as that just leads to lots and lots of litigation and more and more decisions.

That said, as Gabe notes, it's a relatively easy thing to say, in one decision, that seizing 100% of the money a state spends for one purpose to distribute it to other states is unconstitutional. Later cases may be more difficult -- how about a 25% penalty? How about a 10% penalty? -- but the 100% fuck-you confiscation is itself rather easier to call bullshit on.

Posted by: Ace at 08:31 AM | Comments (47)
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More 2012 Speculation
— Gabriel Malor

There really isn't any news to speak of today, so . . . how about more 2012 speculation. CNN/Opinion Research has a new poll out gauging support for several probable candidates. On the Democrat side -- surprise, surprise -- 78% want to see the President run for election.

The Republican results are just heartbreaking, though. Somehow 67% say they would support Certain Fuckin' Doomabee if he sought the nomination. That compares to 59% for Mitt Romney and 54% for Newt Gingrich. The only other possible candidate polled was Sarah Palin, who only got 49%.

I guess Huckabee's TV show is paying off, huh?

The poll results are here (PDF). The margin of error for the Republican sample is +/- 4.5% points.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 07:47 AM | Comments (264)
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Year in Review: Places of 2010
— Gabriel Malor

I'm stepping away, a little bit, from politics in today's yearly review to recall the places that dominated news cycles. Some of these places are just plain amazing, some are just plain scary, and some are just plain. For sure, what happened in these places last year will color national and international events in the future. more...

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 03:30 AM | Comments (245)
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Top Headline Comments 12-28-10
— Gabriel Malor

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A B A Select Start

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:07 AM | Comments (72)
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December 27, 2010

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Another night, another ONT.

So What Generation Do You Belong To?

Take the USA Today quiz and find out which one you really belong to.

generations_screen.png

Hawaii Governor To Combat Birthers
He's most definitely not a Birther:

Neil Abercrombie, who was a friend of Obama’s parents when the president was a baby, has only been governor of Hawaii for less than three weeks, but he’s said in interviews this week that he’s already initiated a process to make policy changes that would allow Hawaii to release additional evidence that Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.
But he may do more to put the whole controversy to rest than Obama has ever done. I've always assumed that Obama was born in Hawaii but there was something embarrassing on his long form birth certificate. That or he's just neurotically private about any personal information. more...

Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:53 PM | Comments (425)
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