Friday, February 26, 2010

Findings Sure To Create Anger

I remember when the book "The Bell Curve" was released. It created brisk animosity with its' findings. Well, another libertarian has a study that will certainly cause much gloating in some, great anger in others. From a CNN report:
Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds.

Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

Kanazawa's biases?
Neither Bailey nor Kanazawa identify themselves as liberal; Bailey is conservative and Kanazawa is "a strong libertarian."

I just made up that libertarians tend to have IQs around 130. It's the only reason I can think of not to have included other worldviews beyond 'liberal' and 'conservative'. There will be enough animosity and jealousy without having to include libertarians and their vastly superior IQs. Only thing that makes sense. Ha!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Afghanistan Today's Vietnam?

I thought the Left and the Democrats had it right when some warned against Iraq turning into the next Vietnam, back in 2002. We're still there, but we're also still in Afghanistan, which President Obama has called 'the right war'.

I thought this opinion in CNN today was noteworthy in comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam. From Andrew West:
After the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, U.S. Col. Harry Summers remarked to his North Vietnamese counterpart, "You know you never defeated us on the battlefield." After a moment, the North Vietnamese officer replied: "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

Although that blunt exchange took place nearly 35 years ago, it's still worthy of close consideration in light of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Americans did win their battles in Vietnam, but, as the outcome of the war made clear, raw battlefield prowess did not lead to victory. Why? Because the war there was not for Americans to win or lose. It was a Vietnamese war.

Looking to capture and bring to justice those who masterminded the attacks of 2001 is excellent. Going to war within a country to root out terrorism, generally? Not our war.

Where are the Democrats who were opposed to the wars when GW Bush was president? I can only conclude by their general silence that their opposition was not principled, but raw political opportunism.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Conventions & Platforms

I've always been a little flat on the Libertarian Party's national platform. It doesn't function like a party platform should, but rather as a manifesto. That's ok for a new party, but not one that is trying to let the country know, "We're an established party, and here is what we will do as a focused effort to improve the country. Now, vote for us on the strength of this".

I believe that at each national convention of the LP, we should be adopting 3-5 planks that represent our solutions to the major issues of the day. If I could wave my magic wand, the platform going into 2010 elections would look like this:

  1. No more bailouts. Nobody is 'too big to fail'. If you make bad decisions, they won't be subsidized by the rest of the country.
  2. No more stimulus spending. Deficit spending is a placebo, and doesn't generate genuine wealth. It drains the country of tomorrow's wealth.
  3. Fix the health care problems caused by government intervention. Eliminate the federal mandates that generate inefficiency and needlessly drive up costs.
  4. End the wars. Pull out of Iraq & Afghanistan immediately. Stop trying to be the world's police officer. It doesn't work.
  5. Restore civil liberties. Repeal the Patriot Act and all other laws that direct law enforcement to spy on American citizens.
For my part, as a County Chair, I will be directing the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County towards having a platform that does just this sort of thing- presents the issues and solution we will run on locally for 2010.

Doing this does not represent an abdication of the full range of policy solutions libertarians have for the myriad issues we could address. Rather, it prioritizes the response to the most pressing issues affecting the greatest number of citizens.

I'll have info on the LP of Hamilton County's convention posted shortly.

Update: A correction has been made to replace the word 'panacea' with 'placebo'. Thanks to Todd for the Websterian QC action!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm A Victim of Credit Card Fraud!

Now I'm sure it's just coincidence in following up my previous post with this, but yesterday, I found a curious entry on my Visa statement.
2/14 Taco Bell $31.24

That jumped out at me because a) it was Valentine's Day, and I sure wasn't taking my bride there if I wanted not to sleep on the couch; b) I can't remember the last time I ate at Taco Bell; and c) even if I did, I can't imagine eating 30 tacos.

So, I called Chase and had the charge investigated. I found out the charge was made in Dallas. I've never even been to Dallas! They said a card had been swiped there.

This was all mystifying to me. I'm pretty responsible with financial documents and credit cards. I use a cross-cut shredder. The remnants of credit cards do go into the trash can, while the old shredded statements are used for kindling in the fireplace. It's good kindling, too!

I had an old friend tell me he had a scam run on him where someone made an entry, he didn't catch it, and they attached his account to a PayPal account, drained his charge account, and closed the PayPal account. Well, that's pretty scary!

Fortunately, Chase closed my card account after reviewing my other charges. The Taco Bell one was the only one I didn't recognize. I'll be refunded the money on that charge, and will get a new account.

I'd love to know what I can do to be more careful.

Monday, February 22, 2010

As Usual, 'Reform' Makes Things Worse

This time, it's credit card 'reform' that will help enrich the credit card companies that were supposed to be reigned in. From Reason Hit & Run:
Lo some nine months ago, Congress took a politically courageous stand against mom, apple pie, and credit card issuers by supposedly reining in the excesses of the latter (excesses which largely consisted of giving lots of people the ability to purchase goods and services on the automated installment plans otherwise known as credit cards). The goal of the new legislation was to clear the books, start anew, blah blah blah, and hem in the contagion known as excessive credit, which was widely believed to be behind the financial crisis that may or may not be over. And, at the same time, of course, Congress was going to make sure that all Americans had access to the credit that is our god-given birthright. The streets of America are paved with gold MasterCards and all that.

So now the new rules are in effect. And credit card issuers (banks, mostly) are now coming up with new ways to squeeze money out of customers, just like restauarants doubling up on corkage fees, extra charges for more butter, you name it.

So many people want Congress to act. Not me! Give me gridlock, stalemate, pussyfooting, and deliberation! I can't think of a single Congressional 'reform' in my lifetime that made anything better, only worse.

Great Olympic Hockey!

I've really been enjoying what I can catch of the Olympic hockey this year, mens' & women's. It wasn't the Miracle On Ice last night, but watching the US men's team defeat the Canadians, in Canada, while playing most of the game in the American defensive zone, was a great thrill. From's report on USA's 5-3 win:
[T]he young and brash Americans had silenced not only the capacity crowd at Canada Hockey Place, but an entire nation with a gritty 5-3 win that featured two goals by Rafalski, single strikes from both Langenbrunner and Drury and 42 saves from Miller.

"Those guys know what to do to win," said American coach Ron Wilson.

David Backes, part of America's youth brigade couldn't suppress a smile when asked about the veterans stepping to the fore Sunday.

"Veteran leadership; there's not much of it, but those are the guys that came here tonight and got it done," said Backes, who is making a name for himself on the international game's biggest stage. "Ryan Miller, Brian Rafalski, Jamie Langenbrunner. Those are guys that are blue-collar and get it done."

They certainly did Sunday, against what many considered the longest of odds.

Canada entered this tournament as the odd-on favorite and, on paper, was better than the Americans at almost every position. Now, the Canadians (1-1-0-1, 5 points) are relegated to Tuesday's qualification round, forced to play Germany in an unwanted winner-take-all game.

The Americans (3-0-0-0, 9 points) not only win Group A, but will have one of the top-two seeds in Wednesday's quarterfinal round.

While I'm excited, I doubt this win is yet capturing the imagination of Americans from sea to sea.
1980 won't be duplicated. It can't be. Those were different times.

The Soviet Union and other Soviet Bloc countries fielded teams that were amateur in name only, unofficial pros from the Red Army teams. More importantly, it was still the Cold War, and besides that, the US had endured a 10+ year malaise. The country needed something to believe in and rally behind, and this was it.

Since those conditions don't exist, I love the fact of the NHL pros in the Games. The competition is as level as it's ever been, and at a high level besides. People think of Canada & Russia as the top teams, but the Swedes won the last gold, and are undefeated with the US. Great hockey!

The US is not assured a medal yet, but they are spared the first round of elimination games. After that, win one game, and the US will advance to the medal round.

The US women are in the same spot, having won their preliminary games. I do hope the women's final is US-Canada. Unlike the men's game, there is great disparity in national talent, and the North American squads are far and away the most talented.