Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On Political Analysis Bunk

Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post is dead on that we should ignore that the 2009 elections mean this or that garbage from the analysts.

Marcus writes:
"do the off-year results foreshadow anything for a president's reelection three years down the road? Hardly. Of the 10 elections in which one party won both states, a president of that party was elected six times in the following presidential contest."
She continues:
"So it's possible, for example, that Obama's performance has turned off some of the Virginians who voted for him last year and played a role in the race between Democrat R. Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell. But Deeds was a lousy candidate, McDonnell a far more adept one. Virginia is a purple state, but purple with a decidedly reddish tinge.

But as to the question of whether Tuesday's results portend very much for Congress in 2010 or Obama in 2012, the answer is: not really, all the commentary notwithstanding."

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post does make the obvious yet good point that the dems are heavily reliant on the young voting demographic. And that could prove a real problem in the midterms.

Dark Horse Dispatch gets closer to the intentions of voters in the three "big" races on Tuesday as Sides at The Monkey Cage correctly says is the vital information needed to make robust political analysis. While Dark Horse's use of exit polling is not the best data it is more than we have seen elsewhere.

Dark Horse writes:

"Exit polls in both the NJ and VA elections show that a majority of independents supported Republicans. In Virginia, 62% of them voted for the GOP victor Bob McDonnell, while 37% voted for the Democrat Creigh Deeds. In NJ, GOP winner Chris Christie captured 58% of their votes, while defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine got 31%.

So this means that Steele is right, and that this vital voting bloc is turning their backs on the Democrats and President Obama, yes?

Not if you listen to what these voters themselves told pollsters: When explicitly asked if their votes yesterday were indicative of what they thought about the President, 57% of independents in VA and 60% of them in NJ said —- NO."

Previous Posts
Mountains Out Of Poll Hills
Mountains Out Of Poll Hills - Follow Up
Mountains Out Of Poll Hills - Follow Up II Sphere: Related Content

Poor Rush - Why Does Race Keep Getting In His Way

I received the new issue of The New Republic today. Jonathan Chait finds the problem that Race has with Limbaugh. We worth the click and read. Chait writes:
"So whether Limbaugh is 'racist' is a near-meaningless question. Suffice it to say that he's intensely race-conscious and constantly plays upon white racial paranoia. In Limbaugh's world, racism is everywhere--it's just directed at white people. Earlier this year in Belleville, Illinois, two kids who happened to be black beat up a kid who happened to be white in what witnesses and police say was a non-racial dispute over seating in a school bus. Apparently, the color-blind analysis of that incident is the following:

"Obama's America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety but in Obama's America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,' and, of course, everybody says the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he's white."

Chait is correct that whether someone says Rush is a racist is meaningless at this point. Chait finishes:

"The conservative is a double victim--of false accusations of racism and of racism itself. Limbaugh moans, 'Frankly, the biggest problem I face in the current climate of political correctness is that I'm color-blind about it.' Poor Limbaugh--he tries so hard to avoid race, but it just keeps finding him."

Sphere: Related Content

Mountains Out Of Poll Hills - Follow Up II

"So thank Doug Hoffman for showing the GOP establishment that a conservative can win in upstate New York and for saving us from the disaster of Dede Scozzafava."
Writes John McCormack at The Weekly Standard. I am not sure how he arrives at this conclusion. A conservative did not win proves that a conservative can win, makes no sense.

Of the counties that overlap the NY-23 congressional district and the NYS-122 Assembly district Scozzafava won them handily in her last contested Assembly race. In 2008 she was unopposed on all lines on the election ballot. In 2006 she was opposed by Democrat Karl Williams. In 2006 she carried Jefferson County by more than 20 points over the Democrat while Hoffman in 2009 lost by three points. IN 2006 Scozzafava carried Lewis County by roughly 30 points over the Democrat while in 2009 Hoffman won by only four points over Owens. In 2006 Scozzafava carried Oswego County by more than 25 points over the Democrat while Hoffman in 2009 was over Owens by only two points. Finally in 2006 Scozzafava carried St. Lawrence County by more than 30 points over Williams the Democrat while in 2009 Hoffman was crushed by Owens by over 16 points. (Forgive me for being so dull, but I could not does this quickly any other way).

With that said Scozzafava was not an unknown quantity. Of the 11 counties that make up the NY-23 these four are the largest by population if you remove for Onieda County. Onieda was carried in 2006 by the Democratic Assembly candidate and in 2009 was carried by Owens by 17 points.

I think it is being ignored that John McHugh the predecessor to the NY23 seat was not a terrible conservative as judged by the American Conservative Union. There is absolutely nothing that tells me that the 2009 result is a victory for conservatives.

Previous posts:

Mountains Out Of Poll Hills - Follow Up

Mountains Out Of Poll Hills

Sphere: Related Content

Mountains Out Of Poll Hills - Follow Up

John Sides at The Monkey Cage asks What NY-23 (and VA and NJ) Mean. Sides addresses the theory that yesterdays results are a referendum on Democratic leadership:
"absent more evidence, we simply don’t know if they were referenda on Obama, on Corzine and Kaine, or on none of the above. Interpretations of elections depend on the reasons for voters’ choices. You can’t simply ask voters why they chose a candidate, or whether a particular factor mattered. People do not accurately report on their own mental processes. You can’t simply look at the at overall levels of opinions — what percentage approves of Obama or is dissatisfied with Corzine, etc."
Sides points out the Washington Post's Dan Balz odd contradiction:"

"Especially when these interpretations are contradictory mush like this from Dan Balz:

Off-year elections can be notoriously unreliable as predictors of the future, but as a window on how the political landscape may have changed in the year since President Obama won the White House, Tuesday’s Republican victories in Virginia and New Jersey delivered clear warnings for the Democrats.

Unreliable, yet clear!"

Previous Post Sphere: Related Content

Infant Mortality

The rate of infant mortality in the United States is frighteningly high. 6.9 out of 1,000 babies die before one year the New York Times reports today. That is slightly less than three times the rate in Sweden. Nearly 30,000 babies died in the United States in 2006 before the age of one.

Among factors cited in the article was the increasing utilization of Cesarean section births in the U.S. As a point of anecdotal evidence I remember the the Cesarean option being pushed pretty hard by hospital staff as my wife and I were awaiting the arrival of our son in 2007. Sphere: Related Content

Mountains Out Of Poll Hills

Why does the media punditocracy insist on imbuing Tuesday election results with so much predictive power of future elections. In the states and district that comprise this would be backlash against the the democrats and the president a total of roughly 16 million people live. That is about five percent of the total national population. I have not heard any convincing evidence of this great shift from the 2008 presidential election result. So I took a quick look at some election results and attempt to show that the 2009 results are not that revealing.

The turnout for the three races in 2009 was 4.4 million. From these same three political geographic areas the turnout in 2008 was 6.7 million. In VA turnout was down 47 percent. In NJ, turnout one year later is down 40 percent. In NY23 turnout declined by 36 percent. It does not seem like a repudiation of the 2008 national mandate. It is safe to assume that turnout will rise in next year's mid-term congressional elections and then again in 2012. The people who vote in off years, can I say dull electoral years, are severely self selected. The more committed people come out for these elections so we need to take the result with a bit skepticism.

Going down the ballot in VA and NJ reveals more information that takes away from the conventional media wisdom that 2009 is predicate for the next two elections. In NJ 31 out 51 legislative elections went democratic. In VA five out of 15 went democratic. These are not shifts from a historical perspective.

In a structure of government that is designed to be slow and not subject to whims, the media creates an illusion that the president can make changes that are immediately witnessed on the ground. As interesting as the discussing the predictive value of off year elections the media creates expectations that are unreal and unfortunately we the people buy it.

I think this is an indication of the value of the 24 news environment.

Note that my quick math on these numbers may be off slightly. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Privacy And Petitions

The question in Washington state about the privacy of signers of public referendum petitions is interesting and a valuable discussion to have. The question is whether the signatories of petition can be made public. The question of privacy has been raised because of the effort to publish the names of signatories to a referendum petition to prevent domestic partnership rights to same sex couples.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that publishing the names of the referendum supporters may violate protections of free speech. I make no claim to understand the esoteric legal issues this raises but I do understand the function of the referendum process. The function of public referendum is to circumvent the established legislative process. The referendum is a de facto piece of legislation and that means that signers are de facto legislators, similar to sponsors of legislation in a formal body. I can't support any democratic form of government in which there is any benefit in allowing anonymous legislators to introduce legislation to be introduced and passed.

The issue of safety is a concern. It would a tragedy if a petition signer was attacked because of their having signed a petition. But does that concern trump the principle of protecting the people from the tyranny of the majority. While the safety of the signers is a concern is it a greater concern than the protecting the rights of a minority of the people to be subjugated by the passing of the referendum. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It Is About Time

It is about time that the United States lifted the ban on immigrants with HIV. The pressure from gay rights groups that culminated a few weeks ago has extracted President Obama from his policy coma for gay rights. He still has a some work to do but this is a good start. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sen. Tom Coburn Kills Armadillos And Water Moccasins

He also likes to kill legislation. A short profile in Friday's New York Times displays Coburn's penchant for obstructing the legislative process. Is operating as an encumbrance in a legislative body designed to encumber achieving anything positive?
"'I’ve always considered myself an opposition within the opposition,' said Mr. Coburn, whose willingness to block, delay or neuter bills through an array of procedural measures has made him an effective nuisance during his five years in the Senate.

His at-times hyperbolic rhetoric, fervent social conservatism and seeming indifference to whether or not people like him have made him something of a lightning rod. 'If we wiped out the entire Congress and sent common people who have no political experience, we would get far better results than we have today,' he said in a remark typical of how he views the institution."
How true do you think this statement is:
"'If you look historically, every great republic has died over fiscal issues,' he said. 'That is the biggest moral issue of our time.'"
Is Tom Coburn the embodiment of the obsolescence of the senate? Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Liberals Love David Brooks

Gabriel Sherman at The New Republic explains the relationship between the White House and David Brooks and why liberals read his column. Sherman writes:
"That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks’s mind. 'I remember distinctly an image of--we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,' Brooks says, “and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” In the fall of 2006, two days after Obama’s The Audacity of Hope hit bookstores, Brooks published a glowing Times column. The headline was 'Run, Barack, Run.'"
He continues:
"Brooks concedes that his place on the political spectrum has shifted somewhat over the years. 'I used to think conservatives were right about the big things--the Soviet Union, economic growth,' he explains. 'Now, on a lot of issues, I think liberals have been right about some big things, like rising inequality. Both sides of the education divide are within the Democratic Party. . . . The Republicans are sitting this one out. And, then, the war in Iraq has caused me to rethink things in a much more modest [way], and that is Burkean, too.'"
"As much as any columnist, Brooks speaks to these left-of-center suburbanites. After all, he is known for attracting liberal readers who normally can’t stand conservative pundits. 'I get a lot of people who say, ‘I’m a liberal and you’re the only one I read,’ ' Brooks says. 'Sometimes, it can be a little condescending. . . . But you take the readers where you can get them. I do wish more people walked up to me and said, ‘I’m a conservative and I love you.’ But, mostly, they don’t read the Times.'"

Sphere: Related Content

Let's Build That Wind Farm Now

After a short period time from the passing of Ted Kennedy we should begin the process to approve and construct the wind farm of the Massachusetts shore. The Boston Globe writes:
"As the country’s first proposed commercial offshore wind farm, and the only project of its kind this far along in the approval process, Cape Wind could open the door for developers to harness the vast wind energy resource along the nation’s eastern seaboard. The approval could make Massachusetts the trailblazer of a power source that is an essential part of the country’s strategy to address global warming and to achieve energy security."
Sphere: Related Content

The State Of The GOP

Former Reagan Economist, Bruce Bartlett, explains the problem with the GOP and why he left the party. Bartlett writes:
"Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is 'what can we do to screw the Democrats today.' How else can you explain things like that insane op-ed Michael Steele had in the Washington Post on Monday?"
He continues:
"I think the Republican Party is in the same boat the Democrats were in in the early eighties — dominated by extremists unable to see how badly their party was alienating moderates and independents. The party’s adults formed the Democratic Leadership Council to push the party back to the center and it was very successful. But there is no group like that for Republicans. That has left lunatics like Glenn Beck as the party’s de facto leaders. As long as that remains the case, I want nothing to do with the GOP."
Sphere: Related Content

Jack Nicholson Attended The Kennedy Funeral

Photo is from Boston Globe. Sphere: Related Content

The Affirmative Action Class

Glenn Greenwald at Salon has nailed the problem of nepotism in the pundit and political class. Greenwald wrotes:
"They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it's really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There's a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters."
Sphere: Related Content

Ted Kennedy

The weekend long memorial of Ted Kennedy was surprisingly emotional for me. I don't know why, but I cried. Perhaps it the some strange mythical status that my Irish Catholic (OK not really, but I can't escape all of it) background places on the Kennedy name. I was in Washington D.C. last week when Senator Kennedy pasted away and watched as the flag at the National Zoo was lowered to half staff by a National Park Service officer. I was at the zoo about to see an elephant and a zebra and the sight of a man lowering the flag because someone I had never met died made me sad. I have not gotten very emotional about the passing of other public figures but I felt connected to this one. I can't imagine this will happen to me or the country again for a long time.

I watched most of the services over the weekend, switching back and forth between CNN, MSNBC and Fox News to witness the differences in the coverage. I think the Fox News coverage was better than the other two. I think the Fox folks tended not to get too emotional about the death and the events after. I found that refreshing as I was emotional already. CNN had its usual panel of too many people that made the coverage strange. I think at one point CNN had seven people on their panel, not including Anderson Cooper who was the host. MSNBC's coverage was uncomfortable. First Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews should not be in the same room with each other. Their joint discomfort with each other is palpable even if you are just hearing them speak. Olbermann attempts at soaring rhetoric sometimes seems forced and distracting. While Matthew's feeling is genuine his overt emotions was not comforting. By far the best person involved in covering the events this weekend on the three cable networks was MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Unfortunately she was only involved on Friday.

Of all the written memorials to Senator Kennedy, I found Andrew Sullivan's essay in the Times to be the fullest, but there are many others that were just as good. I enjoyed the Sullivan piece because it is not the gushing liberal writing on the loss of the great liberal senator, it is the thoughtful conservative writing about the loss of the great American and part of the myth that is America.

Sullivan writes:
"Kennedy’s insistence on what he saw as racial justice and his deepest passion, universal healthcare, framed his legacy. There wasn’t a gay rights bill this compulsive heterosexual didn’t champion. Even if you disagreed with him on some issues, as I did, there was nothing subtle or contrived about his liberalism.

It was a big-hearted sort of politics, an expansively righteous sense of duty and, as such, an integral part of what makes Anglo-American politics work. Conservatism needs a Reagan and Thatcher; liberalism needs its Kennedys. Because we all need myth and we all need royalty – even if it is strained through the sieve of democratic rule.

Enoch Powell once remarked that all political careers end in failure. The strange thing about Kennedy is that his own might end posthumously in success. His anointed son Obama and a Democratic Congress will almost certainly pass a bill this autumn that will expand access to healthcare to all Americans. He fought for this for 40 years; and despite extreme resistance, peaking now, it seems clear that the Democrats have the votes to pass universal insurance, paid by government subsidy, for private healthcare."

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 28, 2009

Arguing CIA Torture Interrogations

Greg Sargent and Steven Hayes argue over the conclusions of the CIA Inspector General's report on interrogation techniques. Follow the links and read the thread, it is an interesting dialogue.

Ultimately Sargent is the victor in this debate. Hayes is not only an ideologue tool be is also a tool writing the official Dick Cheney biography. Sphere: Related Content

Art Break - Enjoy

Georges Seurat
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grand Jatte, 1884
Oil on canvas Sphere: Related Content

Compromising on Health Care Reform, Maybe

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly suggests that Democrats should utilize the opposition talking points as areas of "compromise." Benen writes:
"With that in mind, I have two suggestions going forward. First, reform proponents should probably start telling the public that even Dick Armey thinks the idea of a public option sounds like 'a wonderful gift.'

And second, Democrats should declare, publicly and loudly, that in response to popular demand, they've decided to make the public plan purely optional. Conservatives drive a hard bargain, but reform proponents are not above compromise. As this item, posted by Josh Marshall, put it, 'I think Obama should use all the fictional friction points as bargaining chips. You want us to give up the tyranny of compulsory coverage? You win, Dick Armey. Will you support the bill now?'"

Sphere: Related Content

Dukakis Is A Good Choice For The Interim, And Not A Kennedy For The Long Term

With Gov. Deval Patrick publicly supporting the idea of an interim Senator from Massachusetts and with the legislative leaders seemingly supporting the idea that would that bring both houses back to Boston to fix their errors in succession laws for the U.S. Senate.

I support the appointment of Michael Dukakis to the interim position. My long term hope is that a Kennedy is not the Senator from Massachusetts. The impression of an entitlement to a seat in the Senate has gone on for too long. A Kennedy has been in this seat since 1953, except for the two years after John F. Kennedy was elected President.

If the Democrats want to run a liberal in the image of Ted Kennedy there are plenty of options. Sphere: Related Content

Has The Bank Bailout Hurt The Consumer Market

The Wash Post reports that the bank bailout during this financial collapse has hurt the market for banking as consumer choices are limited and big banks hold to much market power in the United States market.

The Post reports:
"J.P. Morgan Chase, an amalgam of some of Wall Street's most storied institutions, now holds more than $1 of every $10 on deposit in this country. So does Bank of America, scarred by its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and partly government-owned as a result of the crisis, as does Wells Fargo, the biggest West Coast bank. Those three banks, plus government-rescued and -owned Citigroup, now issue one of every two mortgages and about two of every three credit cards, federal data show."
Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said:
"'To favor one class of financial institutions over another class skews the market. You don't have a free market; you have a government-favored market,' he said. 'We will never have free markets again if you have the government picking winners and losers.'"
Sphere: Related Content

Want To Get Lost: Ask Bob Dylan For Directions

Bob Dylan may provide the voice for turn by turn direction GPS in a few cars over the next few years. That seems incredibly strange. Why not Ozzie if you are looking for indecipherable directions? Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Art Break - Enjoy

Liam Marc O'Connor
as Ramon Subercaseaux - 1880 - John Singer Sargent, 2008
Oil on Canvas
Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Art Break

Abstract Oil Painting Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Art Break - Enjoy

Jack Morrocco
Morning Market, Place aux Herbes, Uzes Sphere: Related Content

How Many Words Do You Have To Type To Make $100,000

A-Rod makes 100g's every six pitches while Norm Duke, a pro bowler, has to throw 2,360 frames to make $100,000. Which would you rather do?

The WSJ reports how long athlete take to make $100,000
. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 24, 2009

From Cynicism And Immorality To The Moral And Ethical

Is it surprising that some politicians
"don’t want to do the right thing because their self-interest points them toward doing something bad. But it’s impossible to imagine these same Senators stabbing a homeless person in a dark DC alley to steal his shoes. And what’s more, the entire political class would be (rightly!) shocked and appalled by the specter of a Senator murdering someone for personal gain. Yet it’s actually taken for granted that “my selfish desires dictate that I do x” constitutes a legitimate reason to do the wrong thing on important legislation."
Perhaps the possibility of losing the next election is the catalyst for this cynical approach to governing but I don't think there is a direct relationship between what the politician does and what the voters know, believe or understand. The way the commentatorate frames the politicans actions is how the voters understand what happened. It is not the wrath of the voters politicians are afraid of it the rhetoric of the pundits.

David Frum has recently laid out a polemic for the right and has been strongly shunned and criticized for his stand on a principle of what he believes is the right thing to do. Most analysis of his actions are framed in the form of Apostasy. Turning on a politician is much more appealing to the pundit because they know who they are talking to, the pols constituents.

We don't have politicians that have the long term goals of the country in mind. If the oath congress takes to the constitution meant something they would be less willing to fold to pundits or voters in favor of the "moral and ethical dimensions of political disputes and political action." Perhaps this is an argument for term limits but would we get better people? We should also ask when were we at a place where the "moral and ethical" trumped the cold political choices?
Sphere: Related Content

Bigotry Homosexuals And Capital Punishment

I am not one to advocate violence but Steven L. Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, needs to be hit up-side the head with his own bible. Here is a taste of this bigod's hate and stupidity:
"You want to know who the biggest hypocrite in the world is? The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers and not for homosexuals. Hypocrite. The same God who instituted the death penalty for murderers is the same God who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals - sodomites, queers! That's what it was instituted for, okay? That's God, he hasn't changed. Oh, God doesn't feel that way in the New Testament ... God never "felt" anything about it, he commanded it and said they should be taken out and killed."
I'm more "Christian" than this man and I am not even religious.

An example of his wife's Christianity from her blog:
"With any luck, this guy will get killed in a car accident while he is out trolling around in his squad car. It might save a Mom's life. Shame on his mother for raising such a worthless excuse for a human being. Yes, I did just say all that. And let me remind you that if you do not enjoy reading my blog, you never need to visit here again, and you will not be missed."
Sphere: Related Content

A Child Is Released From Gitmo

The United States has sent Mohammed Jawad home to Afghanistan. Mr. Jawad was picked up in Afghanistan as child and essentially forced to confess to crimes.

Here is the NY Times story about his release and an excellent interview by Glenn Greenwald with Jonathan Hafetz, Mr. Jawad's lawyer. Sphere: Related Content

Glenn Beck's New Book

Has Glenn Beck's use of Nazi imagery over the past month or two has been to promote his new book? Anything for a dollar. Sphere: Related Content

Addicted To The Internet

Finally there is help. Sphere: Related Content

The GOP's Winning Arguments?

Fred Barnes writes in a Wall Street Journal essay today, "What the GOP has done best has been to make and win arguments."

That claim may be sort of true. The GOP has been talking a lot but I would not call what they say sound arguments based on truth.

Barnes claims:
"consider Sarah Palin's controversial statement that Mr. Obama's health-care plan would establish 'death panels' capable of denying care to seniors."
This line of 'argument' has been proven to be lies and huge distortions by a bi-partisan group of commentators.

Barnes writes:
"Better yet, they've stopped bad policies in their tracks. Consider Dick Cheney's decision to challenge Mr. Obama's inclination to go soft in the war on terror in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in May. By winning the argument that the nation needs a vigorous defense against al Qaeda, Mr. Cheney left Mr. Obama little choice but to stick with such Bush era policies as rendition of captured terrorists, immunity for telecommunication companies that cooperated with wiretapping possible terrorists, and targeting terrorist leaders for assassination."
Unfortunately, President Obama and Cheney did not have an argument in this area. How could the GOP win if the President's position is so similar to the GOP's position. Michael Crowley at the TNR writes:
"Cheney won the argument that we need a vigorous defense against al Qaeda? When exactly was Obama arguing it the other way?

And consider the positions into which Barnes says Obama was supposedly badgered by the former vice president. Rendition? It's true that Obama hasn't prohibited the snatching of terror suspects off the streets. But in February he signed an executive order outlawing the extrajudicial 'extraordinary renditions' that were an innovation of the Bush-Cheney era, and will no longer send them to countries where we can expect them to be tortured. Telecom immunity? Obama voted to support it while he was still in the Senate, outraging the liberal left. Targeting terrorist leaders? Obama vowed during the 2008 campaign to do just that--a position conservatives both distorted and ridiculed."
If the arguments are so powerful and true why aren't the independents in the "mass migration" from the President's corner supporting the GOP? Because the GOP is not making and winning arguments. Barnes writes:
"That's not the way politics works. Political recovery comes in two stages. The party out of power must first discredit the majority's ideas and agenda. Public approval comes later. It shows up on Election Day."
Barnes is correct that the Democrat's plan has been somewhat discredited, albeit by lies not arguments, but as David Frum asks what do you do then? If the GOP does not have its own idea how to fix these problems beyond discrediting Democratic proposals, who is going to vote for them. Sphere: Related Content

Art Break - Enjoy

Arthur Dove
Nature Symbolized (or Reefs), 1924
Sphere: Related Content

Benen On Steele

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly has a good reaction to the Michael Steele essay. Benen writes:
"If one sifts through the nonsense, looking for something substantive, what we're left with is Steele's uninformed opposition to the creation of an Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC). The idea is to have appointed IMAC members -- physicians and medical experts, appointed by the White House and confirmed by the Senate -- who would have some added authority to help control what Medicare pays doctors and hospitals. The panel would probably help lower costs more effectively than Congress, which isn't especially good at these technical, medicinal, and scientific questions.

The idea was originally proposed by conservatives, embraced by Democrats, and would serve as part of a larger effort to save money and take political considerations out of the process.

And now Michael Steele wants seniors to think big bad Democrats are trying to undermine Medicare."

Sphere: Related Content

I Think Michael Steele Needs To Go On The Daily Show

Michael Steele, the inept chair of the Republican National Committee, needs to pay a visit to the would be HR department that Jon Stewart runs on the west side of Manhattan. In a essay at the Wash Post today, Steele put forth the same misrepresentations, or lies, that Betsy McCaughey uncontrollably spewed last week. Steele:
"Third, we need to outlaw any effort to ration health care based on age. Obama has promoted a program of "comparative effectiveness research" that he claims will be used only to study competing medical treatments. But this program could actually lead to government boards rationing treatments based on age. For example, if there are going to be only so many heart surgeries in a given year, the Democrats figure government will get more bang for its buck if more young and middle-aged people get them."
Steele goes on to call for a bi-partisan approach on health care. The mind of Steele must have forgotten that President Obama has put health care reform in the hands of our only bi-partisan branch of government only to have anything but flexibility or compromise from the Republican party. Steele writes:
"Reversing course and joining Republicans in support of health care for our nation's senior citizens is a good place to start. Doing so will help him restart the reform process to give Americans access to low-cost, high-quality health care."
Perhaps this faux call for bi-partisanship should start with Michael Steele telling us where the party he leads is flexible and willing to compromise on it core values. I don't think he can do it, obstructing and killing legislation is not a core value. Sphere: Related Content

Is Max Baucus Fighting With Max Baucus

Jonathan Chait at TNR is concerned with the Dem Congressional Health Care leadership. Chait writes:
"So first Baucus announces a deadline. Then he says we don't need no stinking deadline. I'm at a loss. I have been told by somebody in a position to know firsthand that Baucus, to put it delicately, is not an intellectual giant. But is he such an affable dolt that he simply agrees with whoever speaks with him last? Do other Senators routinely trade him shiny new dimes for drab old dollar bills? Just how mentally feeble is this man?"
Sphere: Related Content

Should Dems Make Health Care Debate Last

Mickey Kaus thinks the health care deabte is a much happier place to be as oppoesed to the other big issues that are coming. The longer the Dems are on health care the farther away is immigration reform. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is Mike Wallace Disappointed With His Son

Chris Wallace calls Tammy Duckworth a liar while not telling the truth about VA end of life counseling. The documents from the VA are very clear and Wallace is boldly telling lies to power.

Media Matters Sphere: Related Content

Old People Don't Think They Know Someone Gay

Interesting research from Columbia University of attitudes on gay marriage. It is odd that the percentage of people reporting knowing someone gay is so low. I would think that people between 20 and 40 years old would report knowing at least one homosexual. The older folks don't realize they know homosexuals.
Sphere: Related Content

Is Water Scarcity The Most Pressing Environmental Problem We Face

Robert Glennon writes in the Wash Post:
"The idea of charging for water offends many people who think that would be like charging for air. Is it immoral to extract fees for an essential resource? Precisely because water is a public -- and exhaustible -- resource, the government has an obligation to manage it wisely.

Think of our water supply as a giant milkshake, and think of each demand for water as a straw in the glass. Most states permit a limitless number of straws -- and that has to change."

One proposed solution sounds like something out of fiction, possible the Simpson's:

"Some dreamers gaze upon distant sources of water and imagine that the problem is solved. Plans to divert water from rivers in British Columbia or tow icebergs from Alaska periodically arise."

Towing icebergs, really?

Photo is from

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Art Break - Enjoy

Wosene Worke Kosrof
Color of Jazz II, 2008
Acrylic/linen Sphere: Related Content

Barack Obama Has To Find His Partisan Balls

The White House needs to abandon dreams of bi-partisanship and get their Democratic Ducks in order.

There will be no health care bill that gets more than one to two Republican votes. It is time for the White House to play harder with the Democrats in Congress, particularly the Senate Dems.

Over the next two election cycles there are eight Democratic Senators running for re-election. It may be time for the party and the President to take advantage of this reality. I don't think it helps these eight Democrats to have a new president under cut on what is likely the biggest policy initiative of his presidency. It would pay off for congressional Democrats to strengthen Barack Obama's political power by passing reform in the strongest form possible.

Since the President, and politics in general, is fond of sports methaphors we can call this last week of August half time. The President needs to set the tone for the team that he leads and have them running out of the locker room with a new game plan and all on the same page. If he can't get firm commitments from the Democrats that strayed from the pack he and the party needs to use real internal party pressure on these politicians. Right now Barack Obama is still the most popular figure in the country and the fundraising possibility is amazing. If the Congressional Democrats want a piece of that they need to get in line. They should be told to imagine the possible electoral and fund raising power of a President that passed a major policy initiative and what that power does for them. Remind them that avoiding huge losses in the mid-terms is good for them as much as it is for the White House.

This week while vacationing in Martha's Vineyard Barack Obama should also make time to sit with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Democratic legislative leaders to stress the importance of changing state succession laws for the US Senate seats as soon as possible. Along with Patrick, President Obama stress to Senator Kennedy the need to resign if the State does change the succession law. It secures the Senator's legacy if a strong bill passes with him in retirement not if a weak bill fails with him kind of in office. A similar conversation should take place with Senator Robert Byrd in West Virginia.

What is likely to be the most important piece of legislation to come out of the Congress in nearly forty years and will create huge changes in our society over the next forty and beyond should not be held up by the lack of congressional and presidential leadership.

Eleanor Clift of Newsweek writes:
"Obama's message of conciliation worked perfectly in the '08 campaign in part because it's an authentic reflection of his personality. Axelrod harbored doubts about whether Obama's aversion to confrontation when it becomes nasty and personal would hamper him as a candidate. 'When it comes to taking a punch, I don't know whether you're Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson,' Axelrod wrote to Obama in a November 2006 memo reported in a new book that reprises the campaign by Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz and former Post writer Haynes Johnson. Now Obama supporters are wondering about their man. If they're to see what he's made of, Obama has to first get in the ring. Forget the niceties, it's time to fight."

It is past the time for Barack Obama to get involved in this process. He needs to put out some strong speeches about the moral obligations we have to secure health care for everyone but he needs to get the politics in his party together first.

Photo is from Newsweek Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Video Screens Inside Physical Paper Magazines?

Pepsi and CBS are putting small thin video screens in an ad inside Entertainment Weekly. This sounds amazing. Advertising Age reports:
"CBS will insert a paper-thin interactive video player into copies of the Sept. 18 issue of Time Inc.'s Entertainment Weekly sent to Los Angeles- and New York-area subscribers. The issue previews the 2009-2010 TV season. As part of a unique marketing partnership, PepsiCo will join with CBS to promote its Pepsi Max diet cola for men in the print ads and sponsor the fall debut of CBS's Monday-night comedies on Sept. 21."

What are the possibilities of this new technology? Sphere: Related Content

Seventeen More Minutes Til A Big Mac - Mmmmm

A graph by The Economist illustrating UBS data shows us the purchasing power of people in various cities. How long do you have to work for your Big Mac? I have to work 17 minutes.

Sphere: Related Content

The Cultural Acceptance Domestic Abuse Around The World

This is a disturbing statistic.

It is also a really interesting way to design the graph.

Found at The Daily Dish Sphere: Related Content

Bachmann Hannity 2012 Or Hannity Bachmann 2012 -- Which Do You Prefer?

I don't care who gets top billing. I want to see this campaign.

Hannity said he has not ruled out running for president.

Should we be scared of this idea? Sphere: Related Content

Art Break - Enjoy

Marvin Franklin Sphere: Related Content

The American Thunker Is Always Searching For A Reason To Attack

Now they are attacking the Obamas for wanting to have a small farmers market outside the White House grounds. What is wrong with that? If the White House garden is yielding a surplus in excess of the White House needs why not offer it to the community? I think the farmers market outside the White House is basically a inexpensive method of making an example of healthy food choices.

But Clarice Feldman of the American Thunker must not be a green thumb. She writes:
"Like a child who wandered into an adult cocktail party and tried to seem precocious by mouthing clich├ęs he doesn't really understand, Obama once again made a fool of himself as he did during the campaign when he told his rich backers in San Francisco about those bitter clingers to their religion and guns ."
"For the record, Washington D.C. has many outlets selling good fresh food , including numerous well-attended farmers' markets selling locally grown produce .The President might have known this if he hadn't spent most of his feckless tenure jetting about the world apologizing for the "sins" of his country."
I am unsure how the President made a fool of himself. What is the poor judgment he displayed by proposing a farmers market? Is it because there are farmers markets in DC already.

According to Google maps there are six markets in DC. There may be more than six but does one more hurt? It would be a better proposal if the White House would setup the market in a neighbor that does not have a market already and lacks options for fresh fruit and veg but that does not make the White House farmers market a bad idea.

Also how is Barack Obama like a child?
Sphere: Related Content

If Hitler Falls In The FVW Hall And No One Sees It On MSNBC...

Kathleen Parker of The Wash Post wants the media to stop covering the Hitlerization of our public discourse. Parker writes:
"Alas, we can't even critique the phenomenon known as Heisenberg's Principle of Observation without circling back to Herr Hitler. Physicist Werner Heisenberg, leader of Hitler's atomic bomb project, came up with an "uncertainty principle" that has been used -- some say misused -- to suggest that things observed are altered by the fact of observation.

Translation: When you turn on the camera, the presence of the camera alters whatever transpires.

There isn't much we can do about the convergence of technology and the persistent plague of narcissism, but there is something we can do about Hitler. The moment he shows up in any form, turn off the cameras. Consider it an act of nonviolent protest -- and self-respect."

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 21, 2009

President Obama Gives Ramadan Message

I think it is extremely important that President Obama continue to engage the world in really small but effective measures such as this message about Ramadan.

Sphere: Related Content

Betsy McCaughey Resigns From Cantel Medical Because Of Jon Stewart?

With no indication that last nights appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Betsy McCaughey gas resigned her position from Cantel Medical. Cantel makes dialysis machine and other medical devices.

A release from Cantel said:
"announced that on August 20, 2009 it received a letter of resignation from Ms. Elizabeth McCaughey as a director of the Company. Ms. McCaughey, who had served as a director since 2005, stated that she was resigning to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest during the national debate over healthcare reform."
    I can't believe that she would resign because of the possible appearance of conflict of interest. It seems that they asked her to leave. Sphere: Related Content

    Are The Dems Losing Support In The Country

    Greg Sargent at The Plum Line Blog breaks down a Research 2000 poll conducted for Daily Kos.

    The Plum Line:
    "Here are the net favorability ratings for Obama — i.e., the difference between the favorable and unfavorable ratings — broken down by party and compared with the previous week:

    DEMOCRATS: +72 (+78)
    REPUBLICANS: - 86 (- 84)
    INDEPENDENTS: +35 (+39)

    And here are the net favorability ratings for Congressional Dems, broken down by party and compared with the previous week:

    DEMOCRATS: +55 (+65)
    REPUBLICANS: - 90 (- 90)
    INDEPENDENTS: - 20 (- 15)

    A six point drop in the net fave rating among Dems for Obama; a ten point drop among Dems for Congressional Dems. Pretty telling."

    Sphere: Related Content

    The Daily Dish Follows Up On Maggie Gallagher Predictions O Fear

    The Daily Dish's The Horrible Thing That Gay Marriage Will Do, Ctd

    My reaction to Gallagher. Sphere: Related Content

    Presidents Don't Get Vacations

    Criticizing the President of the United States for taking a "vacation" is ridiculous. It was ridiculous to criticize President Bush and it is the same to criticize President Obama. Do they ever get away from the job? When I went on vacation I never brought along the people that work for me.

    Found at Ria Misra at Politics Daily Sphere: Related Content

    The Daily Dish On Krauthammer

    Conor Clarke writes:
    "And I am further intrigued by Krauthammer's claim that his living will is 'more a literary than a legal document.' I've filled out some impressively boring legal documents, but they don't exactly hold a candle to Dickens."
    My previous post on Charles Krauthammer's 'The Truth About Death Counseling'. Sphere: Related Content

    Did You Get Your Back To School Socks Yet?

    Found at The Daily What Sphere: Related Content

    When Should We Think About Our Mortality?

    I am outraged by the people that say, “there are no ‘death panels’ in the Democratic health-care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate” but then go on to say that end of life counseling is the “subtle pressure applied by society through your doctor” to “gently point the patient in a certain direction, toward the corner of the sickroom where stands a ghostly figure, scythe in hand, offering release.”

    These quotes come from Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. His goal in the essay is surely not to assert that the “death panel” claims is a bunch of lies, it is to assert that there is no efficacy in the living will as a legal document.

    Krauthammer writes about his own living will:

    “My own living will, which I have always considered more a literary than a legal document, basically says: ‘I've had some good innings, thank you. If I have anything so much as a hangnail, pull the plug.’ I've never taken it terribly seriously because unless I'm comatose or demented, they're going to ask me at the time whether or not I want to be resuscitated if I go into cardiac arrest. The paper I signed years ago will mean nothing.”

    I think he has missed the point of a living will and perhaps documents naming health care proxies. I find the claim that a family can know a person’s wishes better than that person knows himself or herself dubious. Krauthammer passes along a story about the death of his father. He writes:

    “When my father was dying, my mother and brother and I had to decide how much treatment to pursue. What was a better way to ascertain my father's wishes: What he checked off on a form one fine summer's day years before being stricken; or what we, who had known him intimately for decades, thought he would want? The answer is obvious.”

    Just because you say it is obvious does not make it correct or obvious. This confuses a family’s emotional desire to not lose a loved one with the wishes of the loved one. If the efficacy of the living will is so limited why have one at all.

    I don’t understand why Krauthammer believes that doctors, the “white-coated authority whose chosen vocation is curing and healing”, would ignore, in the end of life consultations, the possibilities of life saving efforts that “can prolong the patient's otherwise hopeless condition for another six months” and focus on “hospice care and palliative care and other ways of letting go of life.”

    I am sure Krauthammer would agree that life and death are both serious matters, as is the choices people make in both. So why would we want to diminish people’s wishes and minimize the value of a legal document that people create when they are thinking about the seriousness of death.

    The question that needs to be asked is, when are we able to rationally think about our own mortality? Is our approach to death more practical as we get closer to mortality or in an earlier time in our lives? These are important questions that should be pondered by serious people. If Krauthammer has written a legal document that he does not take seriously why should we take him seriously?

    Sphere: Related Content

    The Secrecy Of The Judicial Branch

    Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason has an essay in today's Wall Street Journal describing the antiquated hurdles to judicial records. She writes:
    "But with the possible exception of the ever-leaky CIA, no aspect of government remains more locked down than the secretive, hierarchical judicial branch. Digital records of court filings, briefs and transcripts sit behind paywalls like Lexis and Westlaw. Legal codes and judicial documents aren't copyrighted, but governments often cut exclusive distribution deals, rendering other access methods a bit legally questionable. Supreme Court decisions are easy to get, but the briefs and decisions of lower courts can be hard to come by."
    Sphere: Related Content

    Is Barack Obama A Fellow Traveler Of The Iranian Regime

    The resident nut at The National Review, Andrew McCarthy, wonders why President Obama has been forgoing a neck tie so often. He write:
    "Derb, I've noticed that President Obama frequently forgoes the necktie — lately, even in public appearances. That reminded me — I have no idea why — that the Iranian regime has shunned the necktie ever since Khomeini pronounced it a symbol of Western decadence. I've always assumed that's why Michael Ledeen is often picturedconspirators." wearing a big, bold tie — you know, as a signal to the other
    Perhaps I have grown too sensitive to his ridiculousness and now everything he writes sounds crazy but is he implying that the President is signaling his allegiance to the Iran government? Sphere: Related Content

    Art Break - Enjoy

    Moise Kisling
    Paysage de Provence, c. 1919
    oil on canvas Sphere: Related Content

    The Length Of Recessions And The Size Of Government, Just A Correlation?

    Conor Clarke at The Daily Dish has a good reaction to Alan Reynolds essay in the Wall Street Journal. Reynolds writes:
    "To believe Big Government explains why this extremely long recession was not even longer, we need to find some connection between the size of government and the depth and duration of recessions. There is no such connection in U.S. history, or in recent cyclical experience of other countries.

    On the contrary, recessions have become longer as the U.S. government (and the Fed) became larger, more expensive, and more involved in the economy. Foreign countries in which government spending accounts for about half of the economy have also suffered the deepest recessions lately, while economic recovery is well established in countries where government spending is a smaller share of GDP than in the U.S."

    Clarke writes:
    "First, all statistical joykills are fond of pointing out that correlation does not equal causation. Even if it were true that there was a tight historical correlation between the size of governments and the length of recessions, this would not prove that big governments cause (or 'produce' in Reynolds' parlance) longer recessions. It could be the case that longer recessions produce bigger governments. Or it could be the case that some third factor produces both. A statistically significant relationship between the size of government and the length of recession is no more proof that one causes the other than is a statistically significant relationship between global temperature and the number of pirates."
    Sphere: Related Content

    CSPAN Health Care Hub

    CSPAN Health Care Hub has great collection health care information. For all you health care rubberneckers they have a nice collection own hall videos. Sphere: Related Content

    Watch Jon Stewart With Betsy McCaughey - Stewart Has The Patience Of A Saint

    Jon Stewart at The Daily Show does a fine job of staying ahead of McCaughey. Her arguments are not very robust and neither are Stewart's but he is a comedian. His arguments are more than sufficient to handle McCaughey's fear based misrepresentations.

    does come off as awfully condescending. Throwing out that she has a Phd and saying about Stewart, "Isn't he cute" as he is making his point (I think she did this twice. Perhap one time she called him funny not cute).

    McCaughey sounds very disingenuous and came across as a paranoid. Stewart is an incredibly patient man.

    You can read the McCaughey "plan" to cover the uninsured
    it is not very clear or detailed. as Stewart points out the math doesn't quite work out.

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorHealthcare Protests

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorHealthcare Protests
    Sphere: Related Content

    If Gays Get Married What Will I Do?

    Maggie Gallagher of the National Review has decided to issue some short term predictions for states that will allow same sex marriage in response to Steve Chapman request:
    "But with the experiment looming, some opponents seem to be doubting their own convictions. I contacted three serious conservative thinkers who have written extensively about the dangers of allowing gay marriage and asked them to make simple, concrete predictions about measurable social indicators—marriage rates, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, child poverty, you name it.""Yet none was prepared to forecast what would happen in same-sex marriage states versus other states."
    "In gay-marriage states, a large minority people committed to traditional notions of marriage will feel afraid to speak up for their views, lest they be punished in some way."
    So what. How would these people have expressed their views prior to the state allowing gay marriage? Perhaps this minority's views are wrong and the invisible pressure of the majority's views should silence them. If they really want to express their views about marriage they should continue to marry people of the opposite gender.

    "Public schools will teach about gay marriage."
    Do schools teach about marriage now. I really don't know or remember being taught about marriage.

    "Parents in public schools who object to gay marriage being taught to their children will be told with increasing public firmness that they don't belong in public schools and their views will not be accommodated in any way."
    Again do they teach marriage? I'll assume they do teach it for the sack of this exercise. In the lesson on marriage wouldn't gay marriage be a part added the lesson on straight marriage. Do lessons on marriage currently teach about heterosexuality? If they do teach heterosexuality in schools now and people can learn to be gay or straight why do we have so many homosexuals? There must be schools teaching homosexuality for many years. What about the gay married couples who don't want "traditional" marriage taught? Perhaps we should stop teaching about marriage.

    "Religious institutions will face new legal threats (especially soft litigation threats) that will cause some to close, or modify their missions, to avoid clashing with the government's official views of marriage (which will include the view that opponents are akin to racists for failing to see same-sex couples as married)."
    Is there no distinction between civil marriage and a religious marriage. Any legal action against a church or other religious institution to force the services for which they don't agree is not acceptable, but is this really a concern. I have a straight cousin that was denied marriage services in a church because they had not fulfilled all the sacramental rights required for marriage. The rights of straight people to marry is a long standing matter but my cousin did not sue the church, why would gay people? Even if people did sue I think a court would throw out the case quickly. I would assume over time there would be churches and other institutions that will begin offering service to gay couples for simple economic reasons.

    "Support for the idea "the ideal for a child is a married mother and father" will decline."
    I am not sure if this bad in itself. I do understand the ideal state being a mother and father but how does that translate to gays would make bad parents. If it is because they will raise gay children just stop now.

    So Gallagher really doesn't give any predictions as to how gay marriage will change society beyond the tired statements of her irrational fears. She is correct that "a project to document institutional change should be done in a serious way." I look forward to her serious predictions on this matter.

    All I want to know is how do we determine if acceptance of gay marriage is ending civilization or if society's norms are just progressing in a neutral way? Sphere: Related Content

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    Gay Marriage Opponents Unwilling To Offer Short Term Predictions - Rather Wait For The End Of Civilization For Vindication

    Opponents of same sex marriage offer, uninvited, grand scale predictions about the perils that gay marriage will visit upon our society. We know them all. It would be the end of civilization, monogamy will be abandoned and people will marry dogs if gay get married. If any of those things happen it will be because of many reasons I would not pin it on gay marriage.

    Before we get to these extreme results what would be some discernible benchmarks to show that these predictions may be true not just bigoted hyperbole. Well Steve Chapman at Reason had the brilliant idea to ask the gay marriage doomsayers exactly that question. With six states have essentially experiments in gay marriage what would the signs that the end of civilization is coming or that monogamy is being abandoned.

    "But with the experiment looming, some opponents seem to be doubting their own convictions. I contacted three serious conservative thinkers who have written extensively about the dangers of allowing gay marriage and asked them to make simple, concrete predictions about measurable social indicators—marriage rates, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, child poverty, you name it.""Yet none was prepared to forecast what would happen in same-sex marriage states versus other states."
    Of course proponents of gay marriage had no problem saying that there would be no impact on the course of civilization. At least none that will be noticeable by statistics.

    "In a few years, we won't have to rely on such forecasts, because the facts will be there for all to see. And they should settle the issue once and for all.

    But I have a strong suspicion that both sides of the debate are right. The supporters of same-sex marriage are right in predicting that it will have no bad side effects. And the opponents are right not to make predictions."
    Previous posts on gay marriage. Sphere: Related Content

    NewsFlash: Agriculture Town Hall Meetings Less Exciting Than Health Care Town Halls

    It seems the tone of the agriculture town halls are more civil than those for health care. The respective stories for each are also more imaginative and pleasant. Ria Misra at Politics Daily:
    "On Wednesday at the Iowa State Fair, a group of farmers gathered from all over the state. Walking straight past the 1,000-pound squash, a 600-pound butter sculpture of a cow and the stand selling fried Milky Way bars, the farmers sat down to detail some of the problems they were facing to their former governor."
    But the two town halls intersect. Misra:
    "It's not just the lack of insurance that's troubling farmers. Vilsack estimated that the out-of-pocket costs for people living in rural communities was about $1,000 more per year than their urban counterparts pay. 'Rural America really comes out at the short end of a very long stick under the current health care system,' he said."
    You would think that Iowa's senior Senator would be talking about the health care plight of Iowan farmer's. Sphere: Related Content
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