Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Opions. Heh. What are they Good for? Absolutely Nothin'.

Watching this "public debate" on healthcare unfold is a fascinating process. There is certain amount of wonderment at the delusional quality of this angry segment of the American people. Oh, its not just their arguments that are delusional, even though the fact that "death panels" have never and will never exist certainly qualifies as a delusion. Rather, there is a significant amount of delusion in their apparent belief that their opinions matter. Now, that might sound hypocritical coming from what is essentially an opinion piece by a random schmuck in his apartment. But its not, really. I don't think there is anything essentially wrong with voicing your opinion. But to get angry when no one cares? That shows a fundamental disconnect with reality. I've said it before and I'll say it again; this ain't a democracy. The opinion of the individual on the street doesn't matter for squat. So, go ahead. Do what I do. Put you're opinions on the web. Write them to your congressmen. Shove them up your...well, you get the idea. Just don't go nuts when no one pays attention. Because, honestly, why would they?

Monday, August 10, 2009

NYTimes: Passions Remain High as Child Victims Act Is Derailed After Bruising Fight

PAUL VITELLO writes on the struggles of one NY Assembly woman to pass a bill intended to allow or even encourage sexual abuse victims to sue their attackers. There is serious question in my mind as to whether or not this is a good idea. First, sexual assault is a crime and there are serious moral questions about reducing the penalty for such a terrible crime to a dollar amount. That's of course assuming that the perp is being punished in civil rather than criminal court. But even if they are tried as criminals, should we then force the individual to face financial ruin as well? Many people might say yes, but I suspect that comes from a personal sense of repugnance and a desire for retribution. This is a natural reaction, but it is a dangerous way to write laws. Punitive laws motivated by vengence have a way of getting out of hand, growing ever more sweepig an arbitrary. As a nation that believes in the rule of law (in the sense that, we are ruled by just laws and not by men) this is something to be feared rather than encouraged.

Secondly, on a more practical level this law seems clearly aimed at large organizations - specifically the Catholic Church. The author points out that this bill first began to circulate following the scandals of the Boston diocese. While I cannot blame the bills supporters for their outrage, the precedent this would set could backfire drasticallly. Even though I would never seek to disparage the experiences of those who have been truly harmed by the actions of the diocese, exposing this this kind of deep-pocket organization would simply create too tempting a target. It would likely be a letigiousr free-for-all which would only harm what good the church does do and benefit no one. Wanting revenge is not an unnatural response. It is only too human. But we must take care to not to imbue the law with our own shortcomings.

From The New York Times:

Passions Remain High as Child Victims Act Is Derailed After Bruising Fight

Assembly leaders pulled a bill that would loosen restrictions on lawsuits involving the sexual abuse of children from the calendar in the last session.

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From the "I-Told-You-So" file...

At long last someone has officially said what many of my age-set have been saying for a long time: telephone polling is bunk. Okay, maybe not complete bunk. Not yet anyway. But consider this; Mark Blumenthal quotes a statistician, whose business it is to keep the telephone poll alive, as saying "it's over...this is the end. Something else has got to come along."

The problem? Us youngsters. Quite simply, there aren't enough of us hanging around the house with dedicated, verifiable landlines to answer polls and generate a truly representative sample. We communicate with text, IM, status posts and Twitters. Frankly, a phone call just takes too much time. So, how will the pollsters of the future manage to correct samples so as not to skew to the old and well-to-do? Apparently, they don't know. Until they figure it out, my advice is to take the latest poll numbers with a grain of salt, if you have to take them at all.

F. Frog

The Missing Linc has Found his Groove?

Exciting news for Warwickians: our old mayor, Lincoln Chafee is officially running for governor of Rhode Island!!!


Whatsmore, our own very proud RINO (Republican in Name Only, in case you forgot) has recently bolted his party for the respectable life of an independent. According to the article in CQ, Rhode Island's registered independents have topped at 48%. What this will translate to in an election is, of course, anyone's guess. But whichever way the wind blows it's not going to help the GOP. Which, of course, is all right by me.

F. Frog

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What Khamenei Seems to be Missing...

Yesterday the crisis in Iran took on a new dimension as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei officially swore in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for another term as president. Thousands immediately took to the streets in opposition. All of this seems to be part of one big miscalculation on the part of Khamenei. In dismissing the will of the electorate he has de-legitimized the very power he was attempting to wield as head of a more authoritarian political body. Even if the islamic council is as totalitarian as the west likes to portray it, by at least maintaining the charade of representative democracy the Ayatollah had always been able to legitimize his rule among the Iranian people. With this veil cast aside, Khamenei will seem like just another Shah. The lesson for rulers here? Never underestimate the importance of popular legitimacy. No system will stand long without it.