Obama Judicial Nominations: record diversity

(cross posted on Daily Kos, where I’ll either get flamed or be ignored outright. 🙂 )

I’ve read that President Obama is really a conservative, especially when economic issues are being discussed.

But there is one issue in which President Obama is clearly liberal: diversity in judicial nominations. I’ll quote from a New York Times article below the fold.

(note: I said “diversity” because I did not research the judicial philosophy of the nominees)

I read the following in this Sunday’s New York Times:

President Obama made history when he nominated Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court. He did it again with his second nominee, Elena Kagan, raising the number of women on the nation’s highest court to three.

And Mr. Obama has also added judicial diversity further down the federal ladder. His administration has placed a higher percentage of ethnic minorities among his nominees into federal judgeships than any other president.

So far, Mr. Obama has had 97 of his judicial nominees confirmed — compared with 322 for President George W. Bush and 372 for President Bill Clinton, who each served two terms. So far in Mr. Obama’s presidency, nearly half of the confirmed nominees are women, compared with 23 percent and 29 percent in the Bush and Clinton years.

Here are the numbers:

Barack Obama: 46 of 97
confirmed judges; 47 percent
George W. Bush: 73 of 322
confirmed judges; 23 percent
Bill Clinton: 109 of 372
confirmed judges; 29 percent

Obama: 20 of 97; 21 percent
Bush: 23 of 322; 7 percent
Clinton: 61 of 372; 16 percent

Obama: 11 of 97; 11 percent
Bush: 29 of 322; 9 percent
Clinton: 25 of 372; 7 percent

Obama: 7 of 97; 7 percent
Bush: 4 of 322; 1 percent
Clinton: 5 of 372; 1 percent

I can recommend reading the rest of the article; there is much more there. There has been Republican obstructionism, of course. And there are the usual ridiculous whines from some conservatives that “diversity” means “lowering of quality”.

Anyway, I doubt that we’d be seeing this from a Republican president; President Obama richly deserves some credit.

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Barack Obama, Democrats, Judicial nominations, political/social, politics, politics/social | Leave a comment

1 June 2010 (am)

Workout notes Yoga class, then 4 miles at Jubilee Park with Vickie. I did 20 minutes easy (included some light drills) then 40 minutes of 1 on, 2 off, then 2 on, 1 off.

Injury notes: I noticed that my shoulder really made noise when I racewalked with my arms in the proper position; it sounded a bit like water in an ice cooler (swishing sound). That is probably why I have some right shoulder ache; hence I can probably do a few lifting exercises but I should walk “hiking style” with my arms at my sides for a while or only raise my arms when I walk slower. I’ll focus on posture and feet.

Speaking of yoga:

[…] Dr. Karen Mustian of the University of Rochester Medical Center decided to put a favorite practice of cancer survivors — yoga — to the test. In a paper she will present at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in June, Mustian designed a standardized program based on hatha yoga — a slow-moving form of the discipline — and tested its effect on improving the quality of life for cancer survivors.

Called YOCAS, the four-week program involved sessions of hatha and restorative yoga twice a week for 75 minutes each, in combination with breathing exercises and meditation. Among the 410 participants, who were divided into yoga and traditional follow-up care groups, those practicing yoga recorded nearly double the improvement in sleep quality and reduction of fatigue compared to those not practicing yoga. They also reported better quality of life overall, Mustian says. “And the yoga group had all of these benefits while reducing their use of sleep medication,” she says. […]

Mustian points out that not all yoga programs may necessarily have the same effect as those that the study discovered. She worked with yoga experts to generate a series of specific yoga exercises and postures that are targeted to address fatigue and sleep issues. But, she says, “clinicians could recommend to their patients that they might want to try taking gentle hatha yoga or restorative yoga classes, or one that combines these two techniques along with breathing exercises and mindfulness.” Now, she says, there is scientific proof that the benefits are worth the effort of seeking these programs out.


There appears to be truth here.

World Events: Israel’s attack on Gaza relief boats: I haven’t said much about this. The reason is that I am not very optimistic that the United States will do anything about it; our country is too tied to Israel:

The violence on the flotilla headed for Gaza would seem to be unambiguously bad news for Israel. In boarding a civilian ship carrying humanitarian aid supplies, and involving themselves in an incident that led to at least ten civilian deaths, it seems clear that the Israeli Defense Forces have incurred a political cost for Israel that far exceeds whatever national interest they thought they were protecting. Europe is outraged, Turkey is cutting off ties, and an explosion in the occupied territories looks possible.

It’s never easy to make guesses about what will happen in Middle East politics. But I think we’re blowing the event out of proportion — not in its moral gravity, but in its likely immediate political consequences.

First of all, the most crucial relationship Israel has is with the United States, and there isn’t much indication yet of that this will alter that relationship. The hard consensus at the elite level in favor of tolerating whatever Israel wants to do rests on a soft consensus in American public opinion. Both are likely to survive this in some slightly diminished form, as they’ve survived the two Lebanon wars (complete with thoroughly unprovoked massacres), the small Gaza war and the formation of an Israeli government including a quasi-fascist foreign minister. […]

Seeing conservatives rally to Israel’s defense and liberals agonize and waffle, Americans who are paying even moderate attention will probably just figure that this is more of the usual. While the Obama administration has been trying to apply pressure to the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we’ve yet to see any willingness to expend significant political capital on the effort. This latest might give President Obama more leverage, and lend weight to his warnings that Israel is undermining its own long-term political standing. But it seems equally likely that it won’t have any significant short-term consequences, and Israeli conservatives will figure that everything turned out for the best.

Social: Nicki’s Nest has an interesting link: did this school bus driver overstep in confronting this student on her bigotry?

Religion Here is another case of a Muslim country invoking the death penalty for someone leaving Islam. One cannot justify this.

Nature: I’ve never seen anything like this:

Yes, is a sinkhole in Guatemala City.

Elitism I am not one of those who complains that the Supreme Court of the United States consists of graduates from the elite law schools. Here is why. Hat tip: Legal Satyricon Note: I don’t see a colorful backpack with OBAMA on it as evidence of “Idiot America”; after all one of my running shirts is tie-dye and has Ronald Reagan on it (from a 1997 race):

Some political figures ARE popular icons.

And, conservatives should NEVER throw stones about Idiot America:

Note: some of these photos predate the “teabagger” movement; the “morans” photo was taken while President Bush was in office.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, education, Friends, injury, Judicial nominations, Middle East, political humor, politics, politics/social, racewalking, religion, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, SCOTUS, training, walking, yoga | Leave a comment

So the Sex Lives of SCOTUS Justices are Fair Game

What about Justice Scalia? Michale Kinsley wants to know:

Let me be clear: the issue is not the fact that Scalia has chosen to have nine children. That is his personal business. The question is whether he is an extremist advocate of the so-called “Nine Children Agenda.” Can he deal open-mindedly with children’s issues when he has so many himself? Can he persuade his children to recuse themselves when appropriate (or, in the vernacular, “Just shut up, will you? I’m trying to write an opinion here. Sweetheart, could you please come and take him…stop climbing up my leg…watch it with that glass of water, buddy…no, that’s some condemned prisoner’s brief that daddy has to reject, so don’t …would somebody please take this kid…LOOK OUT for the… Jesus H. Christ, how am I supposed to get any work done”?).

Speculation is already rampant about why Scalia chose nine children over a more conventional lifestyle. Is he a sex maniac? That suspicion naturally arises. But perhaps once he started, he just never got around to stopping. Or maybe he just likes children. In recent days, Scalia’s friends have rushed to his defense, going out of their way to portray him as a model of sexual restraint. “Every Friday a bunch of us used to go down to this bar to pick up women,” one of his college roommates recalls. “We’d always ask Nino if he wanted to join us, but he always said he was too busy studying. Frankly, we thought he was gay.”

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Judicial nominations, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, SCOTUS, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Countdown: Finding support for Obama’s SCOTUS nomination

Workout notes
Slept in again; I still lifted weights and walked for 1:04: The walking came later.
3 miles on the indoor track: 13:29, 12:29, 12:12 (easy 200, quicker 200). Then 2 miles of hills on the treadmill (varied from 0 to 3 incline) in 25:50

warm up: 2 minutes arm bike
pull-ups (3 sets of 10)
rows: 10 x 115, 10 x 135, 8 x 135 Smith Machine
military dumbbell: 10 x 45, 10 x 50, 8 x 50
incline bench press: 10 x 135, 8 x 145
pull downs 3 sets of 10 x 140
chin ups (palms in) 2 sets of 10
Rotator cuff exercises
yoga leg lifts (2 sets of 30)
raises (2 sets of 20)
twists (10 x 135, 10 x 135)
crunches (10 x 135, 10 x 135)
vertical crunches (2 sets of 20)
head stand: 5:00 (had trouble with balance at fist)

Injury notes: no leg pain last night (no fins with swimming either), no shoulder pain at night (no bench presses).

I am making progress!

Science and “militant atheism” fun: Get your cards now!

Yeah, I’ve read books by these men; I hope that Susan Jacoby gets a card as well.

From Hulu: Split: A Divided America This takes about 80 minutes to watch and is fairly even handed. One point this video makes is that the bases for each party tends to drive the politicians toward the extremes.

Frankly, I think that the liberal base has failed to drive the Democrats to the left as the Democrats tend to run AGAINST their base whereas the Republicans run toward their base.

Here you see that Bob Bennett was not conservative enough!

Of course, there are posts that decry President Obama for not being liberal enough but there is Democratic blowback against such sentiments.

SCOTUS Here is a good two video series (about 10 minutes each) on the liberal concerns on the Kagan nomination. Note: though this is Keith Olbermann, this is NOT a “Republicans suck” kind of post; this is more about what liberals are talking about with each other.

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May 11, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, Democrats, injury, Judicial nominations, politics, politics/social, religion, science, social/political, training, walking, weight training | 1 Comment


Personal commentary On some websites, I’ve seen some people lampoon Kagan’s appearance (e. g., unattractive). Often those doing the lampooning are themselves, well, rather unattractive unless you find belly buttons pointing at the ground attractive.

Hey, if you have an issue with her and don’t like her due to one issue or another: fine. Make the criticism. But what is the deal with appearance? She wasn’t nominated to be a Hooters server.

About the issues:

Democratic Convention Watch has a nice “point/counter point”.

There is some trepidation from the left: (see the discussion here); some feel that she is too soft on First Amendment issues; rather than taking “here is a line on what is protected speech” she seems ok with asking “why is the government seeking to regulate this speech” which man First Amendment advocates see as a “slippery slope”.

Others see here as being “too accommodating”; this would tend to give validity to right wing arguments.

Of course, much of the right wing attacks are nonsense; Media Matters has a collection of these here.

Some have pounced on a remark that she made about agreeing with Justice Marshall about the original Constitution being flawed (he was talking about slavery).

One wonders if the GOP would have attempted some sort of filibuster no matter who the President nominated; Senator Leahy lampoons this.

One interesting point: it seems as if Republican nominees become “foam at the mouth rightwing radicals” when they are nominated but the more liberal nominees tend to run away from their ideology. We liberals are still timid rabbits.

May 11, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Judicial nominations, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, SCOTUS | Leave a comment

10 May 2010 (am)

Injury notes The shoulder seems better; slight ache behind the knee at night.

Posts: here is an interesting take on current politics:

Here’s Evert’s Nutshell, which hit me in a road-to-Damascus eureka moment:

Angry left-wingers mutter to themselves: “Rich people are ripping me off.”

Angry right-wingers mutter to themselves: “Poor people are ripping me off.”

With this nutshell in hand, I believe I can explain even the all-over-the-place Tea Party movement to you. I hazard to suggest we’ve hereby arrived at the basic fact of American Politics 101. In fact, I believe Evert’s Nutshell best explains everything anybody ever wanted to know about American politics. Keep this nutshell in mind, and you’ll understand everyone from Barack Obama to Jim De Mint to Michael Moore to Rush Limbaugh to Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher to your neighbor.

If you’re in any position of power, like the folks I just mentioned, who believe they’re too smart and powerful to be ripped off by anyone, the nutshell changes emphasis. It becomes this:

Power people on the left declare to themselves: “I must help the poor people — and middle-class people — who are being ripped off by rich people.”

Power people on the right declare to themselves: “I must help the rich people — and middle-class people — who are being ripped off by poor people.”

Some power people even believe a little in both statements, which is what makes a guy like Obama confusing, especially to the left.

Anyway, if you get this, you get today’s American politics.

SCOUTS Evidently the President has a nominee. Here is a “good/bad” (expect to see these arguments) and here is an analysis of her record of hiring women and minorities. You can see more here. Of course the purity trolls won’t be pleased but they never are.

Education: here is an interesting read on the experience of Chinese teachers in the United States. Of interest:

Zheng Yue, a young woman from China who is teaching her native language to students in this town on the Oklahoma grasslands, was explaining a vocabulary quiz on a recent morning. Then a student interrupted.

“Sorry, I was zoning out,” said the girl, a junior wearing black eye makeup. “What are we supposed to be doing?”

Ms. Zheng seemed taken aback but patiently repeated the instructions.

“In China,” she said after class, “if you teach the students and they don’t get it, that’s their problem. Here if they don’t get it, you teach it again.”

Ms. Zheng, 27, is teaching Chinese in Lawton — and learning a few things herself about American culture — because of a partnership between an agency of China’s Education Ministry and the College Board.

China wants to teach the world its language and culture, and Ms. Zheng is one of about 325 guest teachers who have volunteered to work for up to three years in American schools, with their salaries subsidized by the Chinese government. A parallel effort has sent about 2,000 American school administrators to visit China at Beijing’s expense.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | education, injury, Judicial nominations, politics, politics/social, SCOTUS | Leave a comment

24 April 2010 Posts

Ezra Klein on health care reform: its real implications

Third Way, the centrist policy outfit, sent over its own analysis of the data. “The fact is that by 2019, national health spending per insured person will be $15,132 compared to $16,812 without the new law,” they write. “That’s 10 percent less spending per insured person than it would have been, according to the actuary’s report.”

So though total spending nudges up (though by the end of the first 10 years, it’s coming back down), spending per insured person actually comes down. As Third Way says: “The actuary’s report shows that the nation will be getting a bigger bang for its health care buck. For a mere two-tenths of one percent more in health care spending, the new health care law will cover most of the uninsured and more Americans will be healthier and living longer because they will be getting treatments like cancer care and heart surgery that had previously been denied them.”

The basic question here is whether covering 34 million Americans is worth adding a percentage point or two more to our health-care spending for a couple of years, at which point total spending should actually fall below what it would’ve been if this bill had never passed.

SCOTUS: Robert Reich and how the next SCOTUS could have an economic impact:

How Justices of the Supreme Court interpret the Constitution and federal and state laws is not merely a question of judicial philosophy – of whether they seek out the “original intent” of the Framers or lawmakers, defer to legislatures and agencies, or meticulously follow Court precedents. It also depends on their values – their understanding where the nation is at a point in historic time and how it needs to progress. If it were nothing more than judicial competence and philosophy of interpretation – if moral values weren’t directly at stake here – the President’s short list for Chief Justice might have included Harvard’s Lawrence Tribe and other eminent scholars and jurists who presumably share a view of America different from that of John Roberts. Roberts was nominated by the President because he shares the President’s values. […]

A central moral problem for the American economy today is that, although it has been growing at a good clip and corporate profits rising nicely, most American paychecks have been going nowhere. Last year, the Census Bureau tells us, the economy grew a solid 3.8 percent. Yet median household income barely grew at all. That’s the fifth straight year of stagnant household earnings, the longest on record. Meanwhile, another 1.1 million Americans fell into poverty, bringing the ranks of the poor to 37 million. And an additional 800,000 workers found themselves without health insurance. Only the top 5 percent of households enjoyed real income gains. These trends are not new. They began thirty years ago but are now reaching the point where they threaten the social fabric. Not since the Gilded Age of the 1890s has this nation experienced anything like the inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity we are witnessing today.

A central moral choice, then, is whether America should seek to reverse this trend. Those who view our society as a group of self-seeking individuals for whom government’s major purpose is to protect their property and ensure their freedom of contract would probably say no. Those who view us as a national community of with responsibilities to promote the well-being of one another would likely say yes. Is the well-being of our society the sum of our individual goods, or is there a common good that must be addressed? The answer will shape the American economy and society of the twenty-first century.

Over the next decades, the Supreme Court will play important role in helping us make this choice. Under the guise of many doctrines and rationales – interpretations of the takings and due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Commerce Clause, the doctrine of federal preemption, the doctrine involving improper delegations of legislative or judicial powers to regulatory agencies, and so on – the Court will favor either property or community, depending on the economic values of a majority of the Justices.

April 25, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, economy, health care, Judicial nominations, republicans, SCOTUS | Leave a comment

White Men Can’t Judge – Sotomayor: Judgment Days | The Daily Show; today’s GOP

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Pat Buchanan: noisily ignorant of the basic facts.

Republican web game: pornographic and has links to anti-Semitic books. Hat tip: Rose.

Republicans: Obama’s birth certificate remains an issue with them. 🙂

Life is good. 🙂

July 17, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Judicial nominations, politics, politics/social, republicans, SCOTUS | Leave a comment

17 July 09 (am)

Workout notes I’ll do something akin to a glorified warm up followed by stretching; perhaps 2-4 miles. It is too pretty to NOT get outside a bit.

Update: 3 miles of recovery walking, push-ups (50, 30, 20), stretching, toe raises. Pretty day!


Science, Evolution and Nature Here is an article that suggests that “politeness” (e. g., turn taking) evolved way before humans did. What is especially interesting to me is that this sort of strategy would tend to evolve into behavior for game theoretic reasons.

Taking turns isn’t just a nice idea. It may be as much a part of the theory of evolution as survival of the fittest – at least that’s the conclusion that British researchers reached after running a genetic simulation through thousands of generations of evolutionary change.

Turn-taking behavior seem to come naturally to humans, whether it’s standing in line or deciding who’s going to do the dishes tonight. But such behavior has been observed in a wide variety of other species as well: Chimps take turns grooming each other, for example, and penguins take turns minding their eggs.

“It is far from obvious how turn-taking evolved without language or insight in animals shaped by natural selection to pursue their individual self-interests,” University of Leicester psychologist Andrew Colman said last week in a news release about the research.

Colman and a university colleague of his, Lindsay Browning, looked into the evolution of politeness for a paper published in the September issue of the journal Evolutionary Ecology Research – not by studying actual monkeys, penguins or line-standers, but by setting up a series of genetic simulations where they could dictate the rules of the evolutionary game.

The experiment was as much an exercise in game theory as in evolutionary biology. Colman and Browning programmed a computer to play a variety of games in which the payoff varied depending on whether the simulated players made the same or different choices.

Climate Change: may have direct political effects. Right now, enemies Pakistan and India have worked out a water sharing scheme; it has worked for 50 plus years. But climate change may well change the water balance (much of the water comes from seasonal melt).

1960, India and Pakistan agreed to divide the six tributaries that form the Indus River. India claimed the three eastern branches, which flow through Punjab. The water in the other three, which pass through Jammu and Kashmir, became Pakistan’s. The countries set a cap on how much land Kashmir could irrigate and agreed to strict regulations on how and where water could be stored. The resulting Indus Waters Treaty has survived three wars and nearly 50 years. It’s often cited as an example of how resource scarcity can lead to cooperation rather than conflict.

But the treaty’s success depends on the maintenance of a status quo that will be disrupted as the world warms. Traditionally, Kashmir’s waters have been naturally regulated by the glaciers in the Himalayas. Precipitation freezes during the coldest months and then melts during the agricultural season. But if global warming continues at its current rate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates, the glaciers could be mostly gone from the mountains by 2035. Water that once flowed for the planting will flush away in winter floods.

Health Care Alan Colmes talks about the Republican public relations strategy; look for the same old buzzwards. Of course, detractors aren’t above feeding false information.

Kevin Drum does a righteous smackdown of Bryan Caplan for arguing that we should oppose the House health reform bill because it would raise taxes in the midst of a recession. As Kevin points out, the provisions wouldn’t take effect for several years; it takes real chutzpah, given that obvious point, for Caplan to accuse me of being disingenuous. […]

What’s striking here is the cynicism. Feldstein, in particular, is surely a good enough economist to know better. But he and Caplan and others are prepared to grab any argument they can to block progressive reform.

But things might be looking up; even the American Medical Association has backed the House version of the health care bill?

So, what are the Republicans really afraid of? Here is a punchy, amusing cartoon. 🙂

World Politics
President Obama is reasonably popular in the world as a whole even though, when it comes to world strategy, our policies aren’t all that different NOW than they were when President Bush was still in office.

No, I am NOT making an “Obama = Bush” argument; for example I doubt that President Obama would have invaded Iraq. But what I am saying that, when it comes to dealing with the world, tone matters. Showing a bit of humility and explaining why we are doing what we are doing and admitting that we are sometimes wrong matters; this “we are going to this, god told me to do this and you are either with us or against us” doesn’t win any friends.

Sure, there are some who don’t like President Obama’s tone, but most Americans voted for what President Obama is bringing in terms of tone.

Racism and the Old GOP

Last night, Rachel Maddow had on Pat Buchanan; he is livid over Judge Sotomayor.

Note how he comes off issue (oh yes, Mr. Buchanan, the grade inflation that you are referring to is very real…TODAY…things were different when Judge Sotomayor was in college)

Disclaimer: I benefited from affirmative action to get into college. But, in my graduating class, my academic rank was 269 out of 969 at the United States Naval Academy; (I had a relatively weak first year where I was slightly below the median). So, no greatness for me, but I wasn’t the bottom of the barrel either, and I did go on to earn a Ph. D. in mathematics and publish research (including half of my thesis).

July 17, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, affirmative action, Barack Obama, economy, education, Judicial nominations, mathematics, mind, movies, nature, obama, politics, politics/social, pwnd, racism, republicans, science, SCOTUS, world events | 1 Comment

15 July PM

Workout notes A hot sticky walk with Olivia along the rivertrail. The red wing blackbird has started to perch on the other side of the trail so as to build up more momentum for it’s dive bombing.

Note: check out this page and scroll all of the way down to see a blackbird attack.

This isn’t me, but this is what they do.

Science and Religion: here is an interesting essay from Cosmic Variance

Here is my favorite example question. Alpha Centauri A is a G-type star a little over four light years away. Now pick some very particular moment one billion years ago, and zoom in to the precise center of the star. Protons and electrons are colliding with each other all the time. Consider the collision of two electrons nearest to that exact time and that precise point in space. Now let’s ask: was momentum conserved in that collision? Or, to make it slightly more empirical, was the magnitude of the total momentum after the collision within one percent of the magnitude of the total momentum after the collision?

This isn’t supposed to be a trick question; I don’t have any special knowledge or theories about the interior of Alpha Centauri that you don’t have. The scientific answer to this question is: of course, the momentum was conserved. Conservation of momentum is a principle of science that has been tested to very high accuracy by all sorts of experiments, we have every reason to believe it held true in that particular collision, and absolutely no reason to doubt it; therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that momentum was conserved. […]

Now let’s turn to a closely analogous question. There is some historical evidence that, about two thousand years ago in Galilee, a person named Jesus was born to a woman named Mary, and later grew up to be a messianic leader and was eventually crucified by the Romans. (Unruly bloke, by the way — tended to be pretty doctrinaire about the number of paths to salvation, and prone to throwing moneychangers out of temples. Not very “accommodating,” if you will.) The question is: how did Mary get pregnant?

One approach would be to say: we just don’t know. We weren’t there, don’t have any reliable data, etc. Should just be quiet.

The scientific approach is very different. We have two theories. One theory is that Mary was a virgin; she had never had sex before becoming pregnant, or encountered sperm in any way. Her pregnancy was a miraculous event, carried out through the intervention of the Holy Ghost, a spiritual manifestation of a triune God. The other theory is that Mary got pregnant through relatively conventional channels, with the help of (one presumes) her husband. According to this theory, claims to the contrary in early (although not contemporary) literature are, simply, erroneous.

There’s no question that these two theories can be judged scientifically. One is conceptually very simple; all it requires is that some ancient texts be mistaken, which we know happens all the time, even with texts that are considerably less ancient and considerably better corroborated. The other is conceptually horrible; it posits an isolated and unpredictable deviation from otherwise universal rules, and invokes a set of vaguely-defined spiritual categories along the way. By all of the standards that scientists have used for hundreds of years, the answer is clear: the sex-and-lies theory is enormously more compelling than the virgin-birth theory.

The same thing is true for various other sorts of miraculous events, […]

BINGO. That is what irritates me about religion; all too many say “we must suspend judgment” if the claim is at all religious. Nonsense. Most of what we know comes from the fact that we assume that the laws of nature are working properly (even if we have an incomplete understanding of them).

When you go to the basement and look at a pool of water on the floor and observe a pipe joint that has a tiny bit of green on it that is right above the pool of water, you don’t say “I don’t know what happened; maybe a devil formed this water pool out of nothing”, do you?

Politics The House has released the details of its proposed health care plan. Robert Reich prepares us for the onslaught:

Don’t believe critics who say the surtax will harm small business. According to the Center for Tax Justice, it would hit only five percent of small business owners — realistically defined as taxpayers for whom small business income makes up at least half of their adjusted gross income (from schedule C businesses, partnerships, family farms, and Subchapter S corporations).

Besides, only the profits of a small business would be taxed. The owner of a small business deducts money paid to employees as compensation, as well as operating costs. So, for example, a couple whose income comes entirely from a small business would have to earn more than $350,000 in business profits — after paying all their expenses, including salaries — before the surcharge would affect them at all. And if they earned more, the surcharge wouldn’t reduce their incentive to hire more employees because they pay employees with pre-tax income. And not even purchases of equipment to expand business operations would be affected because most small business owners can write off up to $250,000 of the costs of such equipment immediately.

A surtax is easy to administer. And the whole idea is easy to understand. Tax the wealthy to keep everyone healthy. Not even a bad bumper sticker.

The key is to get a few of the “blue dogs” aboard.


Their own words. Note the utter lack of proof of the charges:

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, health care, Judicial nominations, nature, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, science, SCOTUS, superstition, walking | Leave a comment