Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Don't See Any There There

I know that Democrats generally love pointing out when some GOPer or other right-winger fights hard against something but then, after it gets through anyway, takes advantage (lots of US Reps that voted against stimulus at ribbon cuttings paid for by stimulus, and now the Koch brothers).

I understand a level of frustration with that, but I don't really think it's terribly wrong. Frankly, with zero GOP support, there was no real reason for Dems to have any of the stim funds go to GOP districts (to the extent that funds could be diverted). It would have been wrong, but so was the unified GOP opposition. As for the Koch brothers? I oppose the mortgage interest tax deduction, but I will certainly get all of my tax refund that results from it. I would be very happy if it were to end, or at least be limited, but I will take full advantage while it exists.

Taking advantage of a system that you don't like is not, necessarily hypocritical. It's fair. I would be perfectly happy paying higher taxes, but only if everyone else is subject to the same tax system. What is done with tax dollars has some lesser relevance.

I neither feel obligated to disregard advantages that I don't like, nor do I see anything wrong with that sentiment, in myself or others.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thinking of Siding With Global Warming Deniers

Not because they are remotely correct, of course, but more because we are unlikely to be able to ameliorate global climate change in any way shape or form. There is just too much CO2 in the atmosphere to counter in a meaningful time frame.

Things are most likely going to get bad. 50 years from now it will be better to be on the "we wanted to do something about this but you wouldn't let us" side than it will to be on the "we got our way and the shit still hit the fan" side. Seriously. At this point it's really about who will have the better "I told you so" argument in several decades.

I'm still pro-conservation and pro-renewable energy, but those are good ideas no matter what the earth's climate does. We don't have unlimited fossil fuels, so we're best off weaning ourselves from them even though it won't actually reduce CO2 or cause global warming to be thwarted. I'm also not a big fan of waste, so reducing, reusing, and recycling play well with me. I'm also kind of cheap so a house that is more efficient to heat and cool is a winner as far as I'm concerned.

So global warming is a real and increasing threat to humanity, but since we aren't going to do anything that will substantially change that, I would at least like the opportunity to say "told ya so" within my lifetime, so fire up the burners!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chamber of Commerse is Full of Idiots

At least that's the rough reading of this post.

The very frustrating aspect of reading through is that he isn't entirely wrong, but he fails to address the latent bias that produces the various choices men and women make differently. It is stated as though it is just the status quo and tough shit.

First, while it is not entirely clear, it does not seem the post is talking about women choosing low paying fields (like elementary school teacher) while men choose high paying ones (like rocket scientist) which would be a really bad argument, and is the tack taken by some of the critics I read. Rather, it is alluding to women making "life choices" that reduce their pay--like fewer working hours due to children.

I'll admit I mostly agree with that sentiment, particularly as someone who has made job choices not designed to maximize my earning potential. I think that men are more fixated on making money than are women. I think that fixation (or "fetish") does lead to making more money. I also think that we live in a society that discourages women from fixating on making more money. There are a whole slew of ways to look at this and to approach it.

The Chamber Post is essentially saying that the choice is wholly owned by women and men and that if women make less it is the fault of the women. I think that the choice is foisted on women (and men) by societal norms and that women make less because our society has deemed that women shouldn't be the moneymakers.

So long as all people are happy with whatever result may be I don't see as how it matters much. But some people are really unhappy with the status quo. Others don't care so much. My problem is that it becomes extraordinarily difficult to price out the type of choice I am referring to, and, even more difficult to figure out how to price that out in such a way that we can still factor in women and men whose choices are in larger part owned by societal norms.

The closest I've seen was something I discussed a while back. The paper concluded (among other things) that the "real" pay gap was ~$0.05. That is women make $0.95 for every $1.00 men make if the playing field is completely leveled--including choices like who works more hours and first choice spouse...at least as I understand it.

So there is only one pay number that can be generated without much extra effort (the 77 cents on the dollar one) and without charging into controversy headlong. The problem is that the controversy avoided still exists and is real.

I do not believe that a woman's pay aggregate number will ever be equal to a man's for the simple reason that women and men will never have identical roles in society. I could be wrong, I would like to be, but I don't see the perception of women having a more important role in the family and household going away any time soon.

To restate: it doesn't matter if men and women have full equality, and are perceived entirely as equals in the workplace, women will not ever make as much as men if women are yet perceived as more important than men at home.

43% People are "Single"...not Single

I really don't like hairs split like this. I realize that, for purposes of taxes and some legal definition, there has to be a legal event that removes a person's single status, but, really, based on that definition the vast majority of gay people are single (all of them are by federal law...I have faith that this is not going to be the case in 2-9 years) and lots of people in long term, committed relationships are "single".

I am aware that the article later explains and even goes on to separate out the "living alone" numbers from that, but the picture and the opening line would imply that nearly half of the country is not involved in a relationship.

As an aside, the last bit--88 single men to 100 single women--is way off the actual split and would imply that the number of "singles" that are elderly is quite large. In the US M:F under 65 is close to 1:1--and actually ~1.02:1--while over 65 that ratio goes to 0.75:1. Incidentally, I do like the CIA world fact book.

Friday, August 13, 2010


At least, I thought so.

An Interesting Plan

Is sort of outlined late in this piece. By "Interesting" of course I mean "really fucking cynical and depressing."

It gets at a lot of the "depressed Dems" issues--which are the real reason that Republicans have a chance at taking over the House this fall--but it goes further to basically say that this is the Obama administration's plan. That they intended to have the house switch so that they could paint a better picture of Republicans as bad at governing, win big in 2012 and then have real achievements in term 2.

That would be a plan worthy of Machiavelli. I don't necessarily believe it, and I am still left overly frustrated by the behavior of Democratic politicians. (I really, really, really wish that Republicans could represent me, because they are fucking effective legislators, even as they are horrible at governance.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Words With Power

I think that it's pretty fucking stupid that words have such power over people that the use of some of them requires a full on apology or censorship or the like.

That said I am fully aware that words have power. Not so much the words themselves, but rather the way in which we shape and use them. Unfortunately, the N-word (which I can't use, even in this context, being white and all) is one that has spent so much time used to hurt and belittle blacks in this country, that any use is suspect and tends to demonstrate at the least racial insensitivity.

As one who appreciates words as powerful tools for conveying information and emotion, I am not exactly thrilled that some word--any word--is out of bounds. That said, about the only times I can think that use of the N-word is appropriate for conveying information or emotion pretty much isolate it from my lexicon anyway.

(If you are curious the 3 ways I can think of are: literary works--including film--conveyance of anti-black sentiment--i.e. racism--and possibly writings/communications like this one, though as most people know what "N-word" means it is actually seldom necessary even then...though I do feel silly writing "N-word.")

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Memo to Gibbs:

That really wasn't a very bright thing to say.

I'll let someone else point out why in detail, but suffice to say: the left wing in this country is not the problem, the right is (particularly the more right wing Democrats), and the failure of the White House and the President to make that painfully clear is what will hurt elective prospects this fall the most.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Just a Quick Follow Up

To the last post...

If progressives and liberals keep voting for Democrats NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO IN OFFICE, then the whole incentive for Democrats becomes: make more right-wing people happy. It is really that simple. If progressive Democrats concede that they are so afraid of Republican rule that they will vote for Democrats no matter what, they have given up any ability to dictate legislation, because Democrats already have their vote, they only need to work for more conservative voters which means their legislating will need to be more conservative.

Tough to Figure

I enjoy skimming Daily Kos. The site is concerned with electing "more and better Democrats." There are certainly policy discussions that go on, and lots of petitioning readers to email/call/write their representatives on particular issues. The site is definitely on the progressive side of things.

The amusing/annoying thing about the site, possibly related to the primary goal, is a tendency to shout down those who get so fed up that they vent the possibility or even reality of not voting for some (often Obama) Democrat (see parts of this thread). Lots of commenters try and pass off the progressive failings of the present administration and Congress as not their fault. As though Obama's continued mediocrity could be entirely blamed on the Senate, or that the ineffectual "big legislation" that has been passed has been some praiseworthy progressive victory.

Republicans are, in my opinion, worse than Democrats. But they are more effective at getting their legislation passed. Hell, we got GOP health care without a single GOP vote (on final passage)! Now that is some impressive legislating!

By contrast what fucking good does voting for Democrats accomplish? Doubling down on Afghanistan (Way to go Bush...I mean Obama!). Continued indefinite detention at Gitmo along with no prosecution of torture (Congrats on getting your way Cheney...thanks to Obama!). More and better chasing after government whistle blowers (can't have people finding out about laws being broken or failures of the government/military now can we?). And a brand new assassination of Americans abroad program (who wouldn't be excited?!?). And those are the things that Obama is in no way shape or form constrained by Congress on, with the assassination program being a bright and shiny Obama original!

To the folks at Kos who believe that Republicans would be so much worse I say: "Yea? So?"

What I do not understand is that Democrats (including Obama), if they want to retain power and be reelected, need to be viewed as capable of doing something. Republicans may stand on a platform that I disagree with, but even I, at this point, would prefer a government that does something over nothing. Good or bad, right or wrong. I am not the arbiter of that which would be best for this nation. The GOP is at least willing to enact their agenda. The Democrats do not provide any substantial counter to that right now. To me, it seems that only Republicans are willing to try.

I'm not likely to vote for them, and I don't like their policy, but if the GOP wins back the House this fall, it will be because voters like me don't see much point in giving Democrats "power". When my option is to vote the lesser of two evils, I see nothing wrong with voting "Present." Democrats--including Obama--should be aware that they lose more than they gain by being weak and ineffectual.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Want to Reduce Spending?

I say eliminate the Senate. I know, I know, it would put 100 Senators plus the thousands of staffers out of work, but in Senate salary alone it's a savings of $20 million annually! It isn't like they are terribly useful.