Friday, October 30

At bottom, her individualism owed much more to Nietzsche than to Adam Smith (though Rand, typically, denied any influence, saying only that Nietzsche “beat me to all my ideas.” But “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” never sold a quarter of a million copies a year.
The vast majority of cars bought through (Your) Cash for Clunkers would have been bought anyway, which means (your) $3B contribution works out to roughly $24,000 per extra car sold.
Note: this calculation does not account for all the value lost by the forced destruction of turned in cars, their engines and parts.
Additional note: some of the vehicles clunkers were traded in for include Hummers.
And this gets called a “successful program.”

Wednesday, October 28

Open Letter to the Democratic National Committee

Dear Bozo:

Yesterday I got a call from a professional fundraiser asking me to open my wallet and make a donation to the DNC. In the past I have gladly done just that. I have given money to the DNC, the fundraising arms of both the House and Senate Democrats, Democratic candidates for President, and even money to Democratic candidates for Congress in districts where I don’t even live. And I have traveled to Pennsylvania, Ohio and southern Virginia to knock on doors for Democratic Presidential nominees.

But yesterday I refused to heed the clarion call for donations to help save the country from whatever the Republicans have in mind. And you know why? Because no amount of “grassroots” money from citizens will ever be enough to get the duly elected Democrats in Congress to pay attention to something other than their own egos and their allegiance to the corporate money that keeps them in office. How does my $25 or $250 or even $2,500 stack up against the pile of money that big business funnels into the political system? If you get my personal check will Senator Dodd pick up the phone when I call to tell him that he is handing big banks everything they want while passing along all the risk to me? If I take a couple days of salary and send it to the DNC will Senator Baucus let me write health care legislation instead of his seven former staffers who now work for health industry lobbyists?

And don’t even get me started on the ethics-challenged Congressman Rangel keeping his committee chair.

Maybe, just once, Democrats could lend meaningful support to a Democratic President, the leader of their party. But it seems like too many Democrats in Congress want to relive the glory days of 1994 when they assisted the Republicans in neutering another Democratic President.

I am not saying you will never get money from me again, after all I do think that Democratic crooks are a better option than Republican crooks. But for now I’d like to see Democrats begin to pay back the Americans who delivered them majorities in both houses of Congress.

Love, Thomas
[crossposted at MyPorch]

Friday, October 23

“The year 1989 was one of the best in European history. Indeed, I am hard pushed to think of a better one."

- Timothy Garton Ash explores new books on the subject in the NY Review of Books.
Michael C. Moynihan does something similar in Reason.

Thursday, October 22

"While attracting surprisingly little attention, the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any "negative racial and religious stereotyping…
In the resolution, the administration aligned itself with Egypt, which has long been criticized for prosecuting artists, activists and journalists for insulting Islam. For example, Egypt recently banned a journal that published respected poet Helmi Salem merely because one of his poems compared God to a villager who feeds ducks and milks cows."

Tuesday, October 20

"Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed to abandon hope of bringing any real change to the Patriot Act. A lopsided and depressingly bipartisan majority approved legislation that would reauthorize a series of expanded surveillance powers set to expire at the end of the year. Several senators had proposed that reauthorization be wedded to safeguards designed to protect the privacy of innocent Americans from indiscriminate data dragnets--but behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the Obama administration ensured that even the most modest of these were stripped from the final bill now being sent to the full Senate."

And yes, that’s a CATO research fellow writing in The Nation.

Friday, October 16

I finally got around to reading the much promoted “How American Health Care Killed my Father” in The Atlantic. It lives up to the hype. It’s an excellent, informative and engaging read. You’ve probably seen it linked to or promoted elsewhere already, but if you’ve avoided it like I did, it’s worth reading. Here.

Thursday, October 15

Are Americans Faking Religiosity?
Depending on which poll you consult, between 33 percent and 43 percent of Americans claim to attend church weekly. Using the low end of that range, we get a figure of around a hundred million people. Even cursory crack research, however, reveals that this can not be true, for the simple reason that there are not enough seats in all churches in America to hold nearly as many people.

[A liberal estimate of] the total number of available seats in churches across America is 59,045,600. That is just little over a half of what would be necessary to accommodate all the people who claim to go to church weekly. A large number of Americans are lying to the polls.

Wednesday, October 14

Neighborhood News (for me):

"New York's highest court is set to hear arguments Wednesday in a case that will decide whether the state government can lawfully seize private property for a development company.

The case pits the New York State Urban Development Corp., a government agency, against nearly a dozen land owners who say the state constitution bars the government from stripping the rights of private parties to benefit a developer that aims to build a new arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. The developer, Forest City Ratner Cos., is currently one of the owners of the Nets."

Yes, it's still an open question in New York and many states on whether you can be forced from your home so your land and property can be turned over to someone with more money.

Friday, October 9

Well, I can hear the right wing already screaming about the leftist slant of the Nobel committee. Just like they did when Al Gore won, and Jimmy Carter won. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, maybe peace has a liberal bias. And I think there is some dismay that Obama won without having a substantive body of work to justify getting the prize.

Obama may not be a conventional pick, but there may be some very good reasons for the Nobel committee's choice. One that comes to mind is the down payment Obama has made in restablishing the USA as an agent of positive change and moral leadership around the world. And he has done it with a great deal of grace and humility. One could argue that just about anyone left of Genghis Kahn could have done this in the wake of Cheney-Bush. There are those who have claimed that Obama is nothing but pretty words and clever rhetoric. I don't believe that is true, I think he is much more than that, but the US and the world needs someone with Obama's ability to inspire us and get us to think about loftier goals.

Another good reason for Obama to get the prize is that he is a living manifestation of the future. The combination of his global outlook, education, and experiences make him the ideal leader to begin building bridges between countries, continents, and creeds. All those things that the Palin-ites were so worried about, those things that supposedly made Obama less American, actually look good to many around the world and indeed to Americans who believe that being a good global citizen is something to be proud of.

And, although I am not sure if this played any role in the committee's choice, there is something to be said about Obama's ability to confront the racial stalemate in the US and the world and help nudge race relations forward into the 21st century.

Whether the issues are domestic or international, or about race, class, religion or economics, he is unafraid to wade into dangerous political waters, find common ground, and just as importantly is unafraid to call things as he sees them. He is not afraid to recognize US failings, but he is also not afraid to let the rest of the world know when they aren't living up to their promises. So he told the US, so he told Europe, so he told the Middle East, so he told Africa. And finally, this may be the Nobel committe's way reminding Obama how much the world is counting on him.

[Crossposted on MyPorch.]

Saturday, October 3

David Brooks: "They [the Republican Party] pay more attention to Rush’s imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy."