Friday, March 30, 2012

Just the Facts Please

In the one thing the whole Trayvon Martin story has made crystal clear is how quickly misinformation can spread in the Information Age and once it’s out there, it’s almost impossible to eradicate.

There are two types of misinformation. There are honest errors and there are flat out lies and I’ve seen both. Part of the problem is people are too willing to accept information at face value. That’s especially true if the information supports a preconceived notion or opinion.

We seriously need to get back to being a lot more careful about insuring information is accurate before we publish it. And that’s goes quadruple for the news media including radio, television, print and internet.

Another problem I see more and more are sensational headlines that don’t come close to accurately reflecting the contents of the story. Some of these are harmless but others aren’t and they leave readers that just see the headline with the completely wrong impression.

The headline crap is especially an issue on-line. Yahoo is one of the worst offenders but MSN and others aren’t far behind.

People are making important decisions based upon totally bogus data. We need to remain skeptical and if what you're reading proves you were right all along, then you better be especially skeptical.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Health Care Law

The SCOTUS has begun hearing oral arguments on the Obama Health Care Law.

There are two primary issues. The first issue is whether congress had the right to expand Medicaid, a joint Federal and State venture, and then condition Federal funding based upon state participation? States challenging the law say this is a form of coercion.

The second issue, and perhaps the more critical one or at least the one that has people jumping up and down, is whether the Federal government has the right to mandate that everyone buy health insurance?

The first issue is a big problem for states already strapped for cash and facing growing budget deficits.

The second issue raises the question if the Federal government can force you to buy health insurance, what else can it force you to buy? Savings bonds? A GM or Ford car rather than a Toyota?

The reason for the mandate to buy insurance is the Free Rider Problem. Given the new regulations about not denying health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, what is to prevent people from not purchasing health insurance until they actually need it? If you don’t have everyone contributing to the system, it becomes unsustainable.

If you remove the individual mandate the whole thing doesn’t work.

This isn’t a great law, but it does address some serious shortfalls in health care and attempts to do so while reining in health care costs. Notice I say “attempts;” the jury is still out on whether it will actually succeed and, to be honest, it’s not looking like it’s going to be all that effective in that regard. If you remove the individual mandate, it’s going to be a disaster.

I’ve found that most people don’t really understand what the Health Care Law is all about. It’s primary focus is to make health care insurance, and thus health care, available to the 30 million or so Americans that don’t have it today. It also reforms some current health insurance practices such as not denying insurance due to pre-existing conditions as previously mentioned, extending coverage for children until a later age and eliminating maximum coverage amounts.

I never believed it wasn’t going to cause a rise in premiums. How can you get more without paying more? Still, I thought overall, although it wasn’t perfect, it was a good start and I still do.

I don’t need it. As a matter of fact I was assuming it would cost me money. But I find it amazing the number of people who are violently opposed to it despite most of them not having a clue what it says. I’m amazed by how many people think it’s a health plan that everyone is going to be forced to use. This is the news media again failing in its mandate to inform the electorate.

As for the SCOTUS, I can’t imagine the conservative court majority allowing this law to continue on unscathed. Forget the law and forget the Constitution, politics and political philosophy demand that the finding on both issues will be that congress exceeded its authority and the law is unconstitutional. After that it doesn’t matter about the remaining provisions, without the individual mandate, the thing becomes unsustainable anyway.

So the number of Americans without health insurance will continue to raise, health care in the U.S. except for the well off will continue to degrade, health care costs will continue to rise and the republic will continue its slide into third world mediocrity.

The sad thing is that a lot of the people yelling the loudest against the Health Care Law are among those that will suffer the most when it’s gone.

The Trayvon Martin Shooting

I’ve been sort of watching the Trayvon Martin case from the sidelines.

My initial impression was a black teenager named Trayvon Martin was challenged and gunned down by an over reaching neighborhood watch member named George Zimmerman.

The initial information was that Zimmerman, after making a call to 911, tracked Martin despite being told by the 911 operator to back off and let a patrol car which was on the way handle the situation. Exactly how things deteriorated into violence wasn’t all that clear. The initial impression given by the reports was that Martin took a “dim view” of Zimmerman tracking him and Zimmerman opened fire. Note that the definition of “dim view” was always a tad hazy.

In any event, Zimmerman struck me as a potential poster child for gun restrictions. Sort of a “would you want this idiot to have a gun” kind of approach.

As additional information leaks out, it’s beginning to look as if “dim view” may have been a physical confrontation with Martin decking Zimmerman and proceeding to bag his head on the sidewalk. Zimmerman then shot Martin in self defense or so the story goes. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute might well allow for deadly force in such a situation.

In the meantime Martin’s mother is trade marking phrases with Trayvon in them such as “Justice for Trayvon” and “I am Trayvon.” Perhaps I’m naïve, but one would think that would about the last thing on her mind. I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this one.

I think I will reserve judgment until I have more information.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The 2012 Presidential Election

As I’ve said before, Romney will win the Republican nomination.

To some extent that is a vindication of democracy and provides hope that the Republican party still has a few marbles left.

If the election were held today, Obama would probably win. Obama will also probably win in November ASSUMING that things do not spin out of control either in the economic or international arenas.

Are there possibilities for that? You bet there are. I still think the economy is a lot more fragile than it looks especially with gas prices continuing to spiral upward. Romney almost has to base his campaign on the economy and, if it begins to look like prosperity is ahead, he’s going to look awfully silly doing it.

While not precisely an economic issue per se, the fate of the Health Care Law could have an impact as well. If the SCOTUS declares all or a large part of the law unconstitutional, it would give Romney another bone to chew. It’s always difficult to predict the SCOTUS but I can’t believe the conservative majority is going to let the Health Care Law through unscathed. The only question is how bloody is it going to get?

On the international side the potential problem is the Israel and Iran tug of words.

I don’t believe that Israel is in any danger from Iran even if Iran manages to develop nukes. What I don’t know is what the Israeli’s think. I know what they say, but what do they really think? I suspect they’re smart enough to know that, at least for the moment, there’s no danger. So what I expect is a lot of talk and hand wringing designed to keep the aid and donations flowing but no military action.

The bottom line is there is a pretty good chance Obama wins. Congress is harder to gauge but the Dems could well hold onto the Senate. Even if the GOP manages to take the senate, but loses the White House, there will be a good deal of soul searching in the GOP.

If we were talking about only the rational GOP business faction, the result of that soul searching would be a shift toward the center because it would have been the center that beat them.

Unfortunately, the other factions of the Republican Party are far from rational and facts mean little or nothing to them. A swing to the extreme right for 2016 would not be impossible. Couple that with the Democrats penchant for nominating lack luster candidates and we could be facing a perfect storm of political catastrophe where someone like a Santorum or a Bachmann might actually have a chance to win.

Of course if Romney wins, that might pull the GOP into the 21st Century but I wouldn't count on it.

I wonder if Hillary Clinton, since she’s going to resign as Secretary of State, is going to run? That would certainly prevent the Dems from nominating a lack luster candidate and watching the Religious Right foaming at even the thought of a Clinton presidency would be incredibly amusing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tebow and the Jets

Well, after a minor hiccup last night, it’s official, Tebow is now a Jet and already the media blitz is beginning.

First there’s the report that the Jets want Tebow to live in New Jersey and avoid New York City which they’re afraid he might not be prepared for. I wouldn’t worry about it. Tim’s a big boy. He crosses the street all by himself and everything.

Then again, I can see certain influences in the city looking upon Tim as a challenge. Corrupting him would be like winning some sort of faux trophy.

The sports media figure Tim’s going to be prominent in the Wildcat formation and provide some value in pushing Mark Sanchez. I believe I said something about Tebow and the Wildcat for the Giants two years ago.

Actually, the Giants might turn out to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Tebow trade to the Jets. The Giants are a team that likes to fly under the radar. The less media focus the better is their philosophy and that’s not an easy thing to achieve when you’re the current Super Bowl Champs.

But with the media going all gaga over Tebow and the Jets, that will give the Giants the kind of breathing room and peace and quiet that they like. They’ll need it while they’re trying to figure out how to put together a team to compete in what looks to be a four team slug fest in the NFC East next year after losing so many free agents.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tebow to the Jets

Goes to show you what I know.

The ink isn’t even dry on my prediction that Tebow would go to the Jaguars and it gets announced that he’s headed for the Big Apple and the Jets.

Look out Broadway, here comes Tim.

The Saints pay for Bounty System

The NFL came down pretty hard on the New Orleans Saints for the illegal bounty system they had running under ex-defensive coordinator Greg Williams.

The head coach, Shaun Peyton, has been suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season; the GM was suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 season and the team has been fined $500,000 and stripped of second round draft choices in 2012 and 2013.

Mr. Bounty himself, Greg Williams, has been suspended indefinitely with a review to occur after the 2012 season. That puts the Rams, who just hired Williams, in the market for a defensive coordinator I suppose.

The $500,000 is almost a joke but the suspensions and loss of draft choices have some teeth. I would have taken away both first and second round choices myself or a first round in 2012 and a second round in 2013.

But at least it was more than a slap on the wrist.

Peyton Manning

As an ardent NFL fan I was very much interested in where Peyton Manning would play next season.

Originally I thought it might be Miami or the Jets to set up twice yearly confrontations with Tom Brady. But the Jets, correctly I think, stuck with Mark Sanchez and the Dolphins are just too dysfunctional a franchise right now to attract a Peyton Manning.

For a while I thought it might be the Redskins but, again, they made the right move by trading up in the draft for Robert Griffin III. I should be spending many future afternoons watching the Giants defense chasing him all over MetLife Stadium.

It finally seemed to come down to the Titans, Broncos and 49ers.

I still think the 49ers were the best option as the most Super Bowl ready team. After watching them in them in the NFC Championship game it was clear their biggest question mark was Alex Smith at quarterback.

Don’t get me wrong, Smith is a decent quarterback, but Manning, assuming he’s healthy, would have been a significant upgrade especially with the addition of Mario Manningham as a target. I think Manningham needs an “I got it all under control” QB like Peyton or his brother Eli. I’m not sure Smith is there yet after the years of crap he’s been handed in SF.

But what do I know? Manning decided that Denver was the place for him.

That sort of extended the soap opera because now the question becomes what happens to Terrific Tim Tebow? The latest rumor is he goes to either Jacksonville or the Jets. The Jets!? You can’t do that to that nice boy. I can see it now, Broadway Tim Tebow, hanging out in all the NYC best places.

I suspect it will be Jacksonville though since Tim wants to go home.

As for Peyton, the pressure to bring a championship to Denver is going to be enormous. In 2012, since they won the division in 2011, the Broncos get Houston and New England in addition to the six games against divisional opponents, the AFC North and the NFC South. The Chargers, who I suspect will be their primary antagonist in the AFC West, get the Jets and Titans instead.

It should be interesting to watch. I’m already assuming the Giants will have a big down year next year, as they always seem to do after winning a championship, so I’ll need something to keep me amused.

In 2013 the Broncos get the NFC East. The Giants should be resurgent by then, Robert Griffin III should be coming into his own and the Eagles and Cowboys should be pretty tough as well. If the Eagles don’t win it all in 2012 they should be downright wide-eyed and foaming at the mouth by 2013.

The Super Bowl for the 2013 season is also at MetLife Stadium. Now wouldn't it be something if Peyton won a ring in Eli's house?

Remake America

Yahoo is tracking six families struggling in the soft economy. So far I’ve looked at two of the stories and, to be honest, while I sympathize, you really can’t say they’re in the mess they’re in due solely to bad luck.

Let’s consider the family from Little Falls New Jersey.

The short video shows them with a stack of bills and a balance sheet showing $5700 in income and $5300 in expenses, not including food, for six people. Husband, wife, three high school age children and the wife’s 74 year old father.

They also have $350,000 in debt including three maxed out credit cards and two mortgages. The husband has been out of work since July.

I’ve having a lot of problems with this. First of all, how do you rack up $350,000 in dept including maxing out three credit cards and having a second mortgage? This didn’t happen in the six or seven months hubby has been unemployed.

Second of all, on the income side, I didn’t see any contribution from the wife’s father. He must have some income. Social Security if nothing else. Where’s his contribution? Even $300 or $400 a month would be enough to get them out from under water.

Third of all, let’s talk about the credit cards, at least one of which hubby groans he’s paying 27% interest on. He says that’s ridiculous, and he’s right, it is ridiculous. The question is how did it get that high? For an interest rate to be that high, your credit rating has to be disastrous and it’s unclear that it could dive bomb to that level in six months.

I think it’s likely the family has been in debt and was making some bad financial decisions well before Hubby got laid off. Losing his job was the final nail so to speak.

But that’s all water under the bridge, the question is what do you do now?

I have two suggestions. The first is to figure out a way to get rid of the credit card debt because 27% interest is going to kill anyone. My second suggestion would be based on the question of why grandpa wasn’t contributing anything to the balance sheet? He must have some income and a couple of hundred dollars would go a long way toward getting this family above water.

The second family is a couple that, according to the video, planned to retire at 59 but hubby had a stroke at 55. He couldn’t continue to function at his executive position so he was let go.

At that point, rather than go on long term disability, they decided to open a hardware store. And not just any hardware store, a huge affair in a strip mall. Unfortunately that business went belly up and they’re trying again with a store of more modest size.

Owning a small business is always tough and this is no exception. Sounds to me like they’re barely surviving.

Again, I’m having some problems with this. If you were planning on retiring at 59, how far away could you have been at 55? Opening a massive hardware store at that age was a high risk decision especially since, given the age of the couple, there was no obvious recovery path.

At age 55, given the health issues, extreme financial conservatism was called for not a high risk new venture.

But , again, that’s water under the bridge, now what?

Clearly these folks are in worse shape than the first family and most of my sympathy goes to them. I really have no idea what our hardware store entrepreneurs should do other than dump the store and live as best they can on Social Security. I think the problem right now is they continue to sink assets into a losing proposition.

The first two cases got me so depressed I think I’m going to skip the other four.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Racist Chant in NCAA Game?

In the NCAA tournament game between the University of Southern Mississippi and Kansas State, the USM student body got on Kansas State’s star Angel Rodriguez with a chant of “where’s your green card.”

Well, no one expects class from anyone from Mississippi anyway and Rodriguez got his revenge with an “in your face” 13 point and 4 assist performance in Kansas State’s 70-64 win.

Now here’s where it gets surreal.

Southern Miss president Martha Saunders felt obligated to issue a formal apology. The only problem was she MISSPELLED Angel’s name as “RODRIQUEZ.”

Sort of makes you doubt the sincerity of the apology doesn’t it?

Apparently even the presidents of universities in Mississippi are idiots. I wonder if she’s part of the 60% of people in Mississippi that think Barack Obama is a Muslim or the 25% that think interracial marriage should be illegal?

Like Phil Ochs said, “Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of.”

New Frog Species

Scientists discover new animals species with great regularity, especially when they venture into remote or uncharted territory.

You know, uncharted territory, like Yankee Stadium in New York City.

I kid you not. A team from LSU and UCLA has discovered a new species of Leopard Frog who’s habitat centers around Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Of course, one has to wonder why they were LOOKING around Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. There aren’t enough frogs in Louisiana?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Santorum calls Global Warming a Hoax

Ok, he’s entitled to his opinion. But the amount of ignorance demonstrated in this next quote is embarrassing. It’s embarrassing that someone this dumb may still figure out a way to be the candidate for president of a major political party.

"The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is.”

I don’t know about you Rick, but I’m not a plant. Tell you what, let’s lock you in a room and slowing replace the air in it with more and more carbon dioxide and see how well you do?

Hell, it couldn’t make you any dumber.

Now let’s address the whole hoax idea. A hoax perpetrated by who and why? Are you really this stupid or do you just think people in Mississippi are (well, he might have a point there)?

Feel free to challenge the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community on the interpretation of the evidence if you want. But to caverlierly dismiss the issue as a "hoax" is idiotic if not downright criminal.

The stupidity of the American public, that anything over a minuscule percentage would vote for this idiot, never ceases to amaze me.

An Impeachable Offense

Representative Walter Jones from North Carolina has introduced a bill warning the Obama administration that it is an impeachable offense for a president to authorize military action against another country without consent from congress.

The specific issue is possible intervention in Syria.

Well praise the Lord and pass the ammunition; it’s about time that congress put its foot down.

Granted, the president is Commander and Chief of the armed forces, and there are instances that require action without delay, but Syria is not one of them just like Libya was not one of them.

You go Representative Jones. I couldn’t agree with you more.

Monday, March 12, 2012

11,000 Missiles

It’s pretty stupid to give the impression to a much stronger potential adversary that you’re a threat.

Iran seems determined to do that.

The latest insanity was dual statements. One was to the effect that Iran has 11,000 missiles ready to launch against Israel and the U.S. The second was to the effect that they weren’t afraid of western military weapons.

There is a thin line between courage and stupidity.

Iran is assuming that the U.S. will keep Israel on a leash and not support military action against Iran. That’s only a good assumption as long as the U.S. and the rest of the west doesn’t view Iran as a real threat.

As soon as that line is crossed, and the Iranians are getting awfully close to it, then all bets are off.

I’d really prefer it if we could figure out a way to avoid another war. Attacking Iran would firmly entrench its theocracy for another 20 years.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Flight Attendant Flips

How you would you like to be on an airplane and have the flight attendant come on the intercom and proclaim that the plane is going to crash?

That would be a bit of a downer.

Apparently that’s what happened on American Airlines Flight 2332 from Dallas to Chicago. Luckily the plane hadn’t taken off yet and the captain returned to the gate while passengers subdued the flight attendant. Police met the plane and the apparently two female flight attendants were taken to local hospitals.

As for the passengers, some chose to get off the plane and make other arrangements but most stayed around while AA replaced the flight crew (can you say career in a shambles five times fast?) and the flight took off about a hour and a half late at 9:45 AM. It landed safely in Chicago around noon.

You know that hour and a half late isn’t bad these days. Maybe AA could arrange for a loony flight attendant on my next flight?

I have lots of airplane war stories but the best one was on a short Continental flight from Boston to Newark. It was during serious weather and, since long flights take priority, we were about three hours late taking off. It was nighttime and the thunder and lightning were the stuff of legend.

We finally managed to get the plane loaded with the flight attendant announcing to everyone to grab any seat so we get off the ground before we got delayed again. That’s when the pilot came on and announced that this was going to be a very rough flight and, if there was anyone on board that didn’t want to subject themselves to it, they should consider getting off the plane and flying the next day.

I had never heard that kind of announcement on a flight. Several people actually got off the plane. There was one lady that couldn’t decide and kept walking up and down the aisle. Finally the flight attendant told her firmly that she had to either go or sit down. She decided to go and got off.

The kicker was the flight wasn’t that bad at all.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Argument against Gay Marriage

I was on a Christian web site the other day dedicated to the argument against homosexuality in general and gay marriage in particular.

Most of the site focused on deflecting criticism of gay marriage opposition but it also established a positive argument which went something like this:

1. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice
2. Homosexual behavior is inherently harmful
3. Society should not encourage harmful behavior

The support for point 1 was basically the “large number” of gays which have left the gay lifestyle and are now happy heterosexuals.

The support for point 2 was a Center for Disease Control (CDC) report indicating that the overwhelming majority of Aids infection due to sexual activity was via homosexual encounters. The site quoted 82% but my arithmetic indicated it was closer to 79%. Given the relatively rarity of homosexual sex to heterosexual sex this is a pretty amazing number. The site also quoted a CDC report indicating the high incidence of syphilis among gay men.

Point 3 is a philosophical position but one which I have a hard time arguing with. They’re right, society should not encourage harmful behavior.

So what do I make of this?

On the face of it it’s not a bad argument and I suspect it’s one that might convince some people but it really doesn’t hold up under closer examination.

Let’s start with the idea that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. The current scientific position supported by both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association is that for sexual orientation this isn’t true. While it’s unclear what determines sexual orientation, there is compelling evidence that it is determined either before birth or very, very early in a child’s development.

So what about all these “ex-gays?”

Well, first let’s understand that engaging in homosexual activity is certainly a choice just like engaging in heterosexual activity is a choice. One can choose to remain celibate. Let’s also understand that sexual orientation isn’t a binary thing. The Kinsey scale has seven positions ranging from exclusively heterosexual on one end to exclusively homosexual on the other. In between are five levels of bi-sexuality. A bi-sexual can also choose to restrict themselves to only heterosexual or only homosexual activity.

So point 1 is not terribly well supported. But so what? One could still argue that even if it’s not a choice that fact that it is inherently harmful should preclude society from encouraging it.

The problem is the transmission of STDs is more a matter of education and taking the proper precautions than inherent in any one form of sexual activity. Condoms would guard against it in both cases. Why homosexuals tend to eschew taking the proper precautions is unclear to me but the argument that homosexual sex is inherently, rather than statistically, more harmful is not established simply by quoting statistics.

So the case doesn’t really hold water. As I’ve said before, I don’t know why some small segment of the population has its sexual wires crossed but I don’t see any harm in extending to them the financial, cultural and emotional benefits of marriage and I’ve yet to see any compelling argument against doing so.

The fact of the matter is that Christians are against it because they interpret the Bible as saying it's wrong. Everything else is an attempt to justify with non-religious arguments a religious viewpoint. That's why the arguments are all so weak.

Why can't Christians just be honest about it? Honesty seems to be something, whether we're talking about gay marriage, evolution or prayer in the schools, that Christians have a hard time dealing with.

This tendancy toward dishonesty is what convinces me that Christianity is a bankrupt philosophy unworthy of adherence or respect.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Proof that Jesus is God?

I do read sites and watch videos that argue against my views. It’s an intellectually honest exercise or at least it can be if you don’t go into it strictly with the idea of shooting down anything the other guy comes up with out of hand.

My most recent excursion was a YouTube video with “proof” that Jesus is God.

The argument for Jesus as God was actually quite simple and based upon only two assumptions both related to Mark 13:2.

Mark 13:2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

The first assumption is that this is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple fulfilled by the Romans in 70 CE. The second is that Jesus actually said it and Mark recorded it prior to 70 CE.

The poor guy then goes on to “prove” that Jerusalem and the Temple were actually destroyed. The one point that no one was going to argue with him about.

The idea that Jesus may not have actually said this never enters into his head.

Even if Jesus did say it, it’s not clear from the context of Mark 13 that he isn’t talking about incidental destruction occurring at the same time as wide spread and large scale destruction.

In Mark 13:3-31 Jesus describes the destruction of Mark 13:2 as part of the end times when “people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”

Well, unless everyone missed it, that didn’t happen when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE so that couldn’t have been what Jesus was talking about.

The other problem of course is Mark 13:30 where Jesus says “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

So, again, unless everyone missed it, “all these things” most certainly did not happen before that generation passed away unless you think there are some 2,000 or so year old people hiding somewhere.

So, while it’s possible he’s right, there are several weak points in the argument that keep it from being anything close to the slam dunk “proof” he appears to think it is.

Super Tuesday

Ten states had primaries. Mitt Romney won six, including the all important state of Ohio, Rick Santorum three and Newt Gingrich one. Ron Paul won nothing to keep his streak alive. In delegates it was Romney 198, Santorum 84, Gingrich 68 and Paul 21.

That brings the current delegate count up to Romney 404 (55.3%), Santorum 161 (22.0%), Gingrich 105 (14.4%) and Paul 61 (8.3%).

Romney is slowly, but surely, edging his way toward the nomination. Assuming he doesn’t spike himself on the left edge of his tongue prior to the convention, I don’t see any way he loses it. Intrade has him at 89%.

That brings up the question of Romney vs. Obama.

You can be sure that Mitt will beat a hasty retreat from anything remotely associated with the culture wars and pound away at the economy, the deficit and jobs. Which is precisely what he should do.

The latest RCP average shows Obama leading Romney by about 5 points 49.5% to 44.3%. The latest electoral estimates at RCP show 227 for Obama, 181 for the Republican candidate and 130 undecided. Obviously that may change once Romney becomes the clear nominee.

The winner is going to be the one that manages to stir up the enthusiasm in their base. Obama hasn’t delivered on his 2008 promise and conservatives aren’t all that happy with Romney. They’re not happy now, wait until rubber boy springs back to the center. Both of those attitudes translate into not bothering to vote and that could be significant in the battleground states. Intrade has Obama at 60% at the moment.

I might be able to live with Romney as president if he wasn’t a Republican. It’s the party baggage he brings with him that worries me.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Iran, Israel and Nukes

I’d prefer Iran not to have nuclear weapons. I also prefer India and Pakistan not to have nuclear weapons. As a matter of fact, I wish nobody had nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, nuclear weapons exist and I can understand Iran’s desire to have them. Of course allowing a Theocracy to have nukes may well be the worst idea in the history of civilization.

On the other hand, starting another war in the middle east doesn’t strike me as a very good idea either.

I find it hard to believe that even Iran’s mullahs would be suicidal enough to use nuclear weapons except as a last resort. The bigger danger is a fanatical group getting their hands on a small nuke and getting it to Tel Aviv or New York and, the more countries that have nukes, the more likely something like that could happen.

Israel seriously needs to keep it in their pants and let the economic sanctions being put in place have a chance to work. Enough with the saber rattling.

If they act on their own, then I say we leave them to fight it out by themselves while working to restore peace as quickly as possible. I’m not willing to fight a war over what might well be an imagined threat. Have we forgotten the “weapons of mass destruction” fiasco already?

Friday, March 02, 2012

Then there were Eight

Maryland became the eighth state to legalize same sex marriage yesterday.

The battle isn’t over of course as opponents have vowed to put the measure on the ballot in November.

In New Jersey, governor “fat man” Christie vetoed the same sex marriage bill that passed the legislature so it’s still Civil Unions in New Jersey.

As many as three states will have gay marriage on the ballot in November. Opponents are trying to get it on the ballot in Washington as well as Maryland and proponents, hopeful that it will pass this time, have already gotten it back on the ballot in Maine.

In New Jersey a measure is working its way through the courts and gay marriage supporters have refused to place it on the ballot since their position is that rights are not a matter for popular vote.

I think they should put it on the ballot for two reasons. First, there’s a damn good chance it will pass and second it would stretch the resources of the forces of darkness across four states.

Any victory at the ballot could bring the whole rotten infrastructure opposing gay marriage crashing down. Three or four victories would almost vaporize it. On the down side, a majority of defeats would set things back and four defeats would be devastating.

So the question becomes, how much faith do you have in the American electorate in those four states? We’re probably going to have three votes anyway so what the hell already, let’s fight. Put it on the ballot in New Jersey as well.

Rush Limbaugh is Total Slime

I should really apologize to the slime for saying that.

Sandra Fluke, a student at Georgetown University Law School, testified on the importance of contraception. Limbaugh’s initial reaction was to call her a slut and he followed that up with suggesting that she post sex videos.

Limbaugh also compared her to a prostitute because, as he puts it, she wants to be paid to have sex.

One observation I’d like to make is that Limbaugh is lucky that Fluke isn’t my daughter or he’d be setting up dental appointments for a new set of teeth.

However, let’s ignore for the moment Limbaugh’s boorish comments and focus on Ms. Fluke’s testimony.

She testified that contraception can cost a woman $3,000 during law school. One has to wonder what type of contraception Ms. Fluke and her fellow students are using?

Birth control pills are the most common form of birth control and cost anywhere from $20 to $40 per month. Using the highest rate, and throwing in two $100 doctors visits, yields $40x12+$200 = $680 per year times three years gives us $2,040.

Even if one assumes the use of female condoms, a relatively ineffective method, these run $2-$4 each. Again, using the highest cost of $4 and $1,000 per year, yields some 250 sexual encounters per year or five times a week. If you do the numbers with male condoms, which run about $1 each, we’re talking almost three sexual encounters per day.

Clearly something is wrong with the math here unless Sandra is doubling up for extra protection or law students are having a hell of a lot more sex than I ever imagined.

I also have to admit that in many ways I’m a bit naïve and old fashioned. When the topic of contraception came up, I was really thinking about married working women and not unmarried students.

Some 80% of health insurance policies cover contraception primarily in the form of birth control pills. Contraception is a fact of life and I still maintain that this is an employer-employee issue and not a religious freedom issue. So I’m still not convinced that the church, as an employer, should get an exemption from providing health care coverage that includes contraception.