The Locker Room

December 19, 2006

The kind of Republican a liberal can love

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 6:20 PM

Joe Klein's columns in TIME are always worth a few laughs, and his year-end "Teddy Awards" offer more reasons to chortle and guffaw.

Klein offers praise to Kofi Annan and Al Gore and then -- wait a minute! -- honors a Republican? How can this be? Has Mr. Klein stopped taking his meds?

No, he's found a Republican -- outgoing Iowa Rep. Jim Leach -- who has all the qualities a liberal loves from a member of the GOP:

  • He lost his re-election bid.
  • He feuded with the Republican National Committee.
  • He eschewed "negative ads."
  • He opposed the Iraq War.
  • Klein calls him an "independent" and "multilateralist."

The one descriptor which Klein employs that does not seem to gibe with the liberal agenda is "scrupulously honest." 

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Conservatives talking past each other

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 4:47 PM

Michael Gerson makes some good points but wraps them in unduly inflammatory language aimed at small-government types. It's the latest salvo in the GOP civil war

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Re: "numbed minds"

Posted by Jon Sanders at 4:02 PM

In response to comments I've received basically along the lines of "Do they really think that is good argument?", it reminds me of what Catherine Seipp wrote back in April 2004:

The constant 'Eek, a mouse!' tone of girlish fright has seeped from feminist rhetoric into the general rhetoric of the left. ...

The feminization (and psychotherapization) of American culture so influences the newsroom now that gut feelings are too often treated with the respect of hard facts

This theory would cover why they throw out "zingers" (Eeek! a mouse!) without bothering to contest them or anything else (since they've got their strenuous feelings as substitute for actual hard facts).

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Responding to attacks from admitted 'numbed minds' — or, Roy, you ignorant slut!

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:42 PM

I've come to the studied conclusion that "Reality Check" is NC Policy Watch code for "Goodness, we don't have a substantive counter for that!"

Consider their reaction to Roy Cordato's recent Macon report on N.C.'s price-control laws. It's mere fulmination. They bring no substantial argument against Roy's report. Instead, they offer:

More ex terrori descriptions: "Radical right … market fundamentalist … pro-price gouging, pro-usury spiel … rehashed, far-right, 'ivory towerisms.'" [Oh, Margaret! Hide the children!]

Straw man combined with argument ad novitam: "we followed the ideological breadcrumbs from a John Locke Foundation missive known as the 'Free Market Minute' all the way back to the 25 year-old musings of an obscure, California college professor."

Reductio ad abstinentis: "Here are some zingers from the report" (followed by said "zingers" to which no counterargument is even offered, as if to imply that those comments are wrong on their face and no counterargument is needed).

Petitio principii (begging the question) combined with argument ab ignoramus: Rather than acknowledging the many areas where Roy points out the failure in practice of the price-control laws, NCPW ignores all those points and vehemently reiterates the intent behind those laws as if that is refutation.

It is akin to the famous scene in "A Few Good Men" in which the character Jo issues an objection in court, is overruled, and replies, "Sir, the defense strenuously objects …" (not only is she overruled again, she's later mocked by co-counsel: "Objection. Overruled. No, no, no, no, I strenuously object. Oh, well, if you strenuously object, let me take a moment to reconsider!").

Here are NCPW's strenuous objections, pleading that the premise be accepted and ignoring Roy's many arguments against the laws in practice:

— "The point of anti-price gouging laws, of course, is not to undermine the market but to preserve it. By placing limited restraints on price gouging during disasters, the public is requiring sellers to play by the rules – something that is essential to all successful markets."

— "The same can be said for our century-old antitrust laws which came about in response to the kinds of monopolies (does Standard Oil ring any bells?) that the report seems to deny ever existed." (I'll let Roy have fun with the Standard Oil example; that ball is perfectly teed up.)

— "For the real scoop on predatory 'payday lending,' one need only look at the latest report from the Center for Responsible Lending …," which is question-begging by proxy, since that "report finds that across the nation payday borrowers are paying more in interest, at annual rates of 400 percent, than the amount of the loan they originally borrowed."

Red herring plus argument ad misericordiam: "As for the minimum wage, it will no doubt come as a relief to the thousands of workers struggling to survive below the poverty line that their poverty has nothing to do with their income."

It's a tribute to Roy, apparently, that his critics cannot dismantle his argument but instead have to rely of personal potshots and disingenuous, fallacious retorts.

A personal favorite:

Though it goes on for a mind-numbing 44 pages, North Carolina Price Controls adds nothing new to the debate over the proper role of public institutions in regulating the market economy.

It's not as if Roy needed to reinvent the wheel. Especially since NCPW still demonstrably has no counter to what the "free-market fundamentalist" crowd has had to say.

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Lottery Funds

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 2:29 PM

In ten months, the NC Education Lottery raised only $63.5 million for education programs. This means that only $25 million would be available for school construction projects for all 115 school systems.

Lottery officials hope that it will bring in $401 million in FY 2006-2007, down from an initial estimate of $425 million. In order to meet that goal, lottery officials will have to do a better job giving their bread and butter, poor and minority neighborhoods, more access to lottery games.

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Re: Price Controls

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 1:50 PM

Not only is their economic analysis non-existent (actually there's no analysis at all) but their "history" is actually made up. They suggest that the 1910 Standard Oil antitrust case is an example of predatory pricing. They should read the case (this is the sort of thing that real researchers do). Standard was not only not convicted of predatory priciing it was not even charged with it. They should also look at the economics literature in this area (or in any area for that matter.). The standard work on predatory pricing and Standard Oil is by John McGee, 1958, the Journal of Law and Economics, "Predatory Price Cutting: The Standard Oil Case," which finds no evidence of predatory pricing. When is the left going to realize that there actually are source references out there that are more rigorous than the New York Times?  

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Why not just use public financing of elections?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:37 PM

Hugo Chavez is "unifying" his supporters in a single group, but don't worrry, the BBC reports: "Mr. Chávez says he is not anti-democratic and that he's simply rooting out inefficiency and bureaucracy by streamlining Venezuela's political landscape."

The International Herald Tribune quotes Chavez himself: "Those parties that wish to preserve themselves, they will leave the government." See, it's all perfectly democratic.

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Gift Giving Regulated in the Classroom

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 1:06 PM

It looks like the Grinch who stole Christmas has made his way to the classroom.  According to an article in the LA Times, A Pandora's Box for Teachers, school leadership is evaluating teacher gift giving, and adopting policies that discourage gifts or impose limitations for giving.
One reason for such policies comes from an “inequity” of gift giving for each teacher in the school. The central office does not want particular teachers going home with “armfuls of goodies while others head out for holiday vacation empty-handed.” Has anyone ever told these folks that life is not fair!
Another reason is that the “gift policy” lifts the financial burden on students of little means who feel compelled to give.   As a teacher I loved a hand written note from the heart! However, if it was mandated, I don’t think it would have meant so much!
But the reason that got my attention, allegedly, faculty in a public school in Irvine, Ca. demanded expensive jewels, perfumes and clothing in exchange for accepting a special needs student. 
Extortion in the classroom!
Some folks will always abuse what is good – even gift giving. I guess the arrogant central office thinks a policy will “fix” the problem.  I think NOT!

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Price Controls

Posted by Daren Bakst at 12:33 AM

If you'd like to learn the economic perspective on price controls, I highly recommend reading this

If you'd like to learn a perspective on price controls devoid of economic thought, I highly recommend reading this.

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You or them?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 11:52 AM

I am relying on the press release here, but there seems to be an interesting article on the Oregon Health Plan by Jonathan Oberlander. The writer of the release rehearses all of the standard tropes about the need for revenues and the problems of consumerism but provides this insightful conclusion:

According to Oberlander, the most important lesson of the Oregon experience for other states “is that the task is not simply to enact coverage expansions--it is to sustain them.” He suggests that the strongest challenge to sustainability is increasing medical costs, which leads to a catch-22: Avoiding cost controls, and thus avoiding fights with medical industry stakeholders, “is perhaps the key to short-term political success.” However, the absence of cost control “may be, in the long run, the Achilles’ heel of state-led health reforms.”

So, the question comes back again to controlling costs and rationing care. Would you rather make your own decisions on care or would you prefer people you’ve never met and likely won’t meet in Raleigh at the Division of Medical Assistance and in the General Assembly to make those decisions for you. You might make your decisions based on cost and health, they may consider politics.

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Re: Dagny

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:22 AM

Coletti pointed me to this Mises Economics Blog posting on the subject. Apparently Jolie is a Randian. This would contrast her with many other notorious starlets, who are simply randy.

Several comments to that post also tout Cate Blanchett for the Dagny role. All I can say is, if anyone here suggests Julia Roberts, I'm'o go upside his head with my Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics.

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Shaft's next!

Posted by Paul Chesser at 11:09 AM

Governor Easley is bringing Ron O'Neal to Charlotte!


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Two views of the Libertarian Party

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:55 AM

Shawn Macomber and Bruce Bartlett.

Neither is very flattering.

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Another emerging education crisis

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:52 AM

The Washington Post reports:

Global warming is a key subject that many educators and scientists say should be, but isn't, taught in every school. And as with other emerging sciences, there remains a need, they say, for more materials available for teachers to incorporate into their lessons.

"It's not a formalized part of the curriculum," said John Rudolph, associate professor in the Department of Instruction and Curriculum at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "It is more of an individual teacher's initiative."

But when Laurie David, the producer of the global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," narrated by former vice president Al Gore, wanted to distribute 50,000 copies to schools across the country, the National Science Teachers Association said it wouldn't help her.

You might not think it possible, but the article goes downhill from there.

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Re: Dagny

Posted by Jon Ham at 09:56 AM

I think Jolie is a horrible choice, and not because of her politics. My choice would be Cate Blanchett. She's not "pretty" beautiful but, rather, is a "handsome" woman without soft edges, which is how Rand saw her. She is far more Dagny-like than the Play-doh-featured Jolie.

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Posted by Jon Sanders at 00:23 AM

ESPN's talking head (not sure who he is), in reporting on the NBA brawl, just now said that league commissioner David Stern has promised to get stern. The ESPN commentator called it an example of "onomatopoeia."

Good grief, and I was just today writing about euonymy.

Well, I suppose as Alanis Morisette would say, "Isn't it ironic?"

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