Wednesday, June 25, 2008


  • I love this idea of "competing" tax plans. It's like competition between McDonald's and Burger King - the differences are marginal and they both suck.
  • Oooh, save me from Google, I'm so oppressed
  • Jason Kuznicki does a great job at debunking the idea that the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Habeas rights will lead to a "flood" of lawsuits. And here is some good stuff from George Will, as well.
  • The Web Time Forgot (annoying, free registration may be required - try BugMeNot)
  • Is labeling menus with nutritional content a good idea? Maybe not.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oh Obama!

I know I've blogged in the past that if forced to I would vote for Obama. But now it is becoming harder for me to even make that concession.

Obama has given his support to a bill that will, in Glenn Greenwald's words, legalize "many of the warrantless eavesdropping activities George Bush secretly and illegally ordered in 2001." Here is the way he justifies his decision:
Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. . . .

After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act. . . It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives -– and the liberty –- of the American people.
First of all, what if you are not elected President? You just supported a bill that you basically admit has problems that could affect the liberty of the American people. How will you feel in January if John McCain gets that power? You shouldn't support legislation that has as a contingency the need for the "right" people enforcing said legislation.

Secondly, I thought I had a Constitution to protect my liberties, not your work ethic.

My very limited support for Obama was largely based on his rhetoric that he would get us out of Iraq. Now I'm thinking that if he is elected President we will get a statement from him next January which begins thusly,
Given the grave threats that we face, our military must continue to be deployed ... blah blah blah.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No Win

We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called...habeas corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material. And we are going to be bollixed up in a way that is terribly unfortunate because we need to go ahead and adjudicate these cases."
Those were the words of John McCain in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling on Guantanamo Bay detainees. It is also a big reason why I can't vote for him this year.

Habeas Corpus is not about filing suits to complain about diet or reading material; the term literally means 'you have the body'. It is a basic right, not of Americans, but of all human beings to challenge their imprisonment in front of a neutral party. For McCain, a Senator and Presidential candidate, to make such a silly statement is disturbing.

I shouldn't be surprised, though. I've always disliked McCain because of his stance on civil liberties. His support for anti-First Amendment campaign finance regulation really told me all I needed to know about him.

Oh, BTW, here is one of many reasons why I can't vote for Obama this year either. Surprise, surprise, he'll raise taxes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Little Pink Houses

People of Cary unite! Rise up against those who would allow home values to not soar ever so skyward! Down with the powers who do nothing to free us from the pain we suffer when prospective buyers avert their eyes!

The Colorist class, with their disdain for the historical progress of drab, must no longer be allowed to offend the Beige class. Talk of 'rights' is a polycolorist tactic which should be looked upon with a blank stare, and disregarded as if not even mentioned.

Polycolorism, after all, is just a superstructure foisted upon society at the behest of the Colorists with the full complicity of their pawns in power. We must break the chains that bind us to this superstructure so that history can pass into the Age of Drabness.

Rise up! Or succumb to the Rainbow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Monday, June 02, 2008

The Religion of Politics

[I recently finished Bryan Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter. In this and future posts I will provide my chapter-by-chapter notes.]

Beyond the Miracle of Aggregation
Voter ignorance is a product of natural human selfishness, not a transient cultural aberration.
- Bryan Caplan
Caplan explains the Aggregation concept which says that individual voter ignorance is canceled out over the large population of voters. His main thesis, however, shows that this only applies if there isn't systematic ignorance throughout the population (or the voters don't make systematic errors).

He asks the question: Are voter errors systematic on questions of direct political relevance? He answers yes, and lays out a set of biases that voters seem to hold. These are
  • Antimarket bias
  • Antiforeign bias
  • Make-work bias
  • Pessimistic bias
We will expand on these biases in future posts.

Caplan then goes on to talk about how politics is a form of religion: "Political/economic ideology is the religion of modernity." People find comfort in politics as they do with religion, and some of the same passions are exhibited as well. He gives the comparison of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages and totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century. I've often made the comparison between socialism and religion. Caplan, however, does not make this comparison himself - it's nationalism and social revolutions that he is concerned with.

Keeping with the theme of religion, Caplan shows how voters can afford to be ideological. In a democracy voters do not pay the "full price" for their beliefs because the odds of one vote having a substantial influence on policy diminishes with the growing voter base. "The price of ideological loyalty is close to zero," so people can easily partake in ideological delusions. "Faith is a shortcut to belief."

In a democracy, "negative externalities irrelevant to individual behavior add up to a large collective misfortune." People will rationalize their errors, however, going so far as to deify those who encourage their delusions; victimizing those who destroy those delusions.

All this means is that in the end democracies fall short because voters get the foolish policies they ask for.