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Fiorina and O’Malley impressed me

by Greg Krehbiel on 29 March 2015

I heard them both on talk shows this morning and they both did better than I expected they would. O’Malley wasn’t as boring as I thought he’d be and Fiorina was quick on her feat and combative.

There may be an interesting primary season this time.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-29  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Interesting religious liberty debate

by Greg Krehbiel on 29 March 2015

With all the talk about the Indiana law on religious liberty, I thought I’d waste an hour or so this morning listening to a debate on religious liberty. I found this one, which is pretty interesting.

A few tidbits I found interesting.

The stats on “religiously unaffiliated” people are often mistakenly used to mean secular or atheist. At least half of those people pray daily. So while it’s certainly true that the percent of unbelievers is on the rise, you have to be careful about how people use the statistics.

Some people on the panel in this debate were saying that the only right we have is freedom of religious opinions, not “free exercise” of religion. It’s important to keep those straight.

On the question of public accommodation and forcing people to serve everybody (e.g., forcing a florist to serve a same-sex wedding), would we force convenience store owners to sell beer against their religious convictions? Would we force doctors to perform abortions, or help somebody die? It seems to me we’re not thinking this “public accommodation” thing all the way through.

About the debate, Ben Shapiro is very intelligent and makes a lot of good points, but he’s also pretty obnoxious.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-29  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Let there be peace on earth …

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 March 2015

A friend of mine frequently posts partisan political stuff on Facebook. Recently this friend posted, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it start with me.” A nice sentiment, of course, but to me it seemed to conflict with this person’s habit of posting partisan stuff.

I was very tempted to reply, “Then quit posting partisan political stuff.” But I didn’t, for many reasons.

One reason is that I also post partisan political stuff — although mostly here, and rarely on Facebook.

Another reason is that I suspect that this person thought that the political stuff this person was posting would actually encourage peace. It’s common for people to believe that the path to peace is for everybody else to be reasonable, which means, of course, that everyone else agrees with them, since they are eminently reasonable. So posting partisan political stuff will lead to the peaceful future where everybody holds to the same partisan view of the world.

Where does this kind of confusion come from, and what is the remedy?

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Impeach him if he signs the deal

by Greg Krehbiel on 27 March 2015

The news about the pending Iran deal is sounding worse and worse. Congress should spell out specific things they require in any deal with Iran and tell Obama that if he signs a deal that doesn’t meet those requirements they’ll impeach him.

Also, I’ve been wondering why Obama thinks he can do this without Congressional approval. I had thought that all treaties had to be ratified by the Senate.

Apparently it’s one of those deals where they simply call it something else: an “executive agreement.”

This article is helpful. Treaties vs. Executive Agreements: When Does Congress Get a Vote?

And about trusting Obama to cut a good deal, this is worth reading: Bam’s disastrous deals.

-- 12 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-27  ::  Greg Krehbiel

What’s wrong with Indiana’s new law?

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 March 2015

The governor of Indiana has just signed legislation that has certain parts of the nut-o-sphere hopping mad. This, as far as I can tell, is the relevant language.

Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
(b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

The law is being described as anti-gay. How is this anti-gay?

-- 8 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The Big Climate Fear-Mongering Fail

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 March 2015

This is interesting: The Campaign To Make You Care About Climate Change Is Failing Miserably.

Whatever you believe about climate change, it is rather remarkable that all the intense screaming and catastrophizing — from “most governmental agencies, a long list of welfare-sucking corporations, the public school system, the universities, an infinite parade of celebrities, think tanks, well-funded environmental groups and an entire major political party” — hasn’t changed public opinion much at all. Poll after poll puts it very far down the list of issues people are concerned about.

How do you explain this? Is Fox News so powerful that it can outweigh the combined efforts of governments, corporations, schools, celebrities and the rest of the media? It seems pretty unlikely.

The article goes on to explain why the Big Sell hasn’t worked. His reasons, as I can see, are as follows.

#1 — If you get on the AGW bandwagon you also get associated with the left’s preference for top-down control, and most Americans don’t like that.

#2 — The public, unlike the scare-mongers, can tell the difference between “climate change is real” and “climate change is calamitous.”

#3 — The chicken little syndrome. (He doesn’t call it that, I do.) He says, “We perpetually hear about new threats that never seem to materialize.”

And as the fearmongering becomes more far-fetched, the accusations become more hysterical, and the deadlines for action keep being pushed right over the horizon, fewer people seem to really care.

I think he’s missing a few other factors.

People may realize that even the most extreme cuts to U.S. emissions would barely have any effect, since India and China will continue to pump out CO2 like crazy. So it hardly seems worth it to strangle our economy for no real change.

People may also be sick of spending too much for stupid light bulbs, toilets that barely flush, and other annoying environmental things. “Green” may have been pushed beyond people’s tolerance.

It’s also possible (although unlikely) that people realize the climate has changed many times without our help, and that humanity has survived.

-- 9 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Those dirty dogs

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 March 2015

Our ancestors and their dogs drove the Neanderthals to extinction, says a new book.

Shipman lays out meticulous data that shows that when modern humans arrived in Eurasia “there was an ecosystem-wide crash involving many members of the predatory guild” — not only Neanderthals but also other species, including cave hyenas, cave lions, leopards and lesser scimitar cats.

I don’t mind the loss of cave hyenas, cave lions, leopards and lesser scimitar cats, but I’ve always wanted to meet a Neanderthal.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Certain sure of their moral superiority?

by Greg Krehbiel on 25 March 2015

A friend linked to an article that included this little gem: “no one is more certain of their moral superiority than the Left.”

That certainly fits with my experience. Liberals seem annoyingly sure that their perspective is the only possible way to view the world.

But … Evangelicals can be that way too. And … so can conservative Catholics. And have you ever listened to Mark Levin? Talk about certain!

It’s definitely not only liberals who are doggedly confident of their moral superiority. But it does seem to me that the left is (on balance) more guilty of this than the right. That’s only my impression, of course.

I wonder if there’s a way to test that hypothesis.

P.S. — “certain sure” is something Katy says in Darby O’Gill and the Little People.

-- 14 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-25  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Not the internet’s policeman?

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 March 2015

A few years ago I had regular contact with a team of people at Google because of some work I was doing. I work in the publishing industry, and one of the topics that’s near and dear to my heart is copyright protection. Publishing largely depends on copyright law, which means my paycheck largely depends on copyright law.

I pitched an idea to some Google folk about ranking pages, and organizing search results, based on whether the content was original or stolen. To simplify it for the sake of discussion, a publisher would register with Google and identify sites that are authorized to carry its content.

So, for example, this site would be registered to me and Google would associate the content on this site with me. If another site uses the same text without my permission (i.e., authorized sites would be managed through my webmaster tools, or something like that), Google would identify the site as a copyright violator, and perhaps mark them down in search results, send me a notification, or something. There are a range of options.

The Google people I worked with reflexively responded, “We don’t want to be the internet’s policeman.” It sounded like that was a company line that all the drones learn when they sign on.

As with other things at Google, when it comes to ethics and such they seem to like to rely on overly simplistic rules. (“Don’t be evil.”)

The reality is that they do want to be the policeman when it’s something they care about. Take a look at this.

What If Web Search Results Were Based On Accuracy?

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Don’t underestimate Cruz

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 March 2015

It’s easy to dismiss Cruz. He’s a freshman Senator with very little experience in elective office (but a fair amount of experience in government). He’s on an edge of the Republican Party that many will dismiss as the lunatic fringe.

Don’t let that fool you. I listened to about a half hour of his speech from yesterday — which he delivered without notes or a teleprompter. He is very smart, and he has a vision and a message. He could easily become a star.

I’m not supporting him. At this point I’m not sure it’s right to go from Obama-crazy amateur-hour left to Cruz-crazy amateur-hour right. I’m leaning towards the idea that the country needs a centrist who can govern from the middle. I’m not completely sure of that, but it’s where I’m leaning right now. And from that perspective I would not want Cruz.

But I absolutely do want his voice in the primaries. I think it’s important to get lots of voices out there.

Remember Herman Cain and 9-9-9? He wasn’t going anywhere as a candidate, but he got people thinking about alternatives to the existing system, and that’s very important. Unthinkable ideas have to become thinkable.

I want a crowded field on both sides. Get Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley out there on the left, and get Cruz, Walker and Rubio out there on the right. Let’s hear what they have to say.

-- 8 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-03-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2015-03-23 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Obama’s radical agenda re: Iran
2015-03-22 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
If you’ve got a kid …
2015-03-22 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Liberal idiocy on display
2015-03-20 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
No jury duty for me
2015-03-19 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Mars or space stations?