The Lucky Tax
Aug 27th, 2010 by Sam

Abigail Disney, a filmmaker and an heiress to the Disney family, defended the estate tax eloquently: “My grandfather [Roy Disney] would be the first person to tell you that he’d managed to amass his fortune not in spite of, but because of, the American system,’’ she said. “After all, without reliable and safe roads there would be no such thing as Disneyland; without high-functioning legal systems and a well-regulated business environment there would have been no copyright protection for Mickey Mouse.’’

It’s a simple, powerful point: Even if they’re talented and have made every right move, the extremely wealthy do owe something to a system that provides them with countless legal protections and business advantages.

Aug 7: Anthony Weiner, Sherrod video wingnut – Dr Pezzi
Aug 6th, 2010 by Sam


Anthony Weiner smackdown (go Anthony!)

Anthony Weiner get in the faces of the Republicans who were BLOCKING health care for 9-11 responders using RULES while they were SUPPOSEDLY in favor of it – i.e. trying to have it both ways…..  (Anthony is a HERO though the last name is unfortunate, isn’t it?)

Sharrod video wingnut

The guy behind the Sharrod video where she was supposedly a racist – you aren’t going to BELIEVE this…
“Dr Kevin Pezzi…claims to be responsible for ‘over 850 inventions’ and schemes such as a ‘magic bullet’ for cancer, a ‘robotic chef,’ and sexual inventions like ‘penile enlargement techniques’ and ‘ways to tighten the vagina’ (because ‘men like women with tight vaginas’). Pezzi has started multiple websites, from term paper helpers to a sexual help site that answers ‘your questions about sexual attraction, pleasure, performance, and libido’ (Pezzi is qualified to do so because ‘No doctor in the world knows more about sexual pleasure than I do’).
“Pezzi also claims to have ‘beaten Bill Gates’ on a math aptitude test, turned down a blind date with Katie Couric, and says he’s ‘bigger than some porno stars.'”
And these people want to run the country?

Gay marriage judge

Cato Institute:  “Recommended by Ed Meese, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and opposed by Alan Cranston, Nancy Pelosi, Edward Kennedy, and the leading gay activist groups.”  Oh, and the judge in MA was appointed by Nixon.
Surprise!!!  Maybe it really IS a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution.
And, did you know there are definitions of the word tea bagger that I can’t even talk about on the radio??  Who knew?
Jul 31: Libs and Cons; Immigration and Morality
Jul 31st, 2010 by Sam


Newsflash!!! Libs and cons view immigration differently!!! We libs are certain that for us, it is a moral issue. Not only is it immoral to let people die of thirst in the desert, it is immoral to not provide healthcare, separate families, withhold a better living standard to people who just out of bad luck were born into a poorer country.

But, is it POSSIBLE that conservatives have their own moral view? That it isn’t just naked self-interest?

We’re going to look at some cutting edge research on the science of morality; studies that have been done globally on the moral intuitions of people and how that effects their stances on immigration and a whole lot of other things.

These guys got together to talk all about it…

Jonathan Haidt has a theory, the Moral Foundations Theory, where he proposes that liberals and conservatives view the world differently:

Moral Foundations Theory was created to understand why morality varies so much across cultures yet still shows so many similarities and recurrent themes. In brief, the theory proposes that five innate and universally available psychological systems are the foundations of “intuitive ethics.” Each culture then constructs virtues, narratives, and institutions on top of these foundations, thereby creating the unique moralities we see around the world, and conflicting within nations too. The foundations are:

1) Harm/care, related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/reciprocity, related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulate the theory in 2010 based on new data, we are likely to include several forms of fairness, and to emphasize proportionality, which is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
3) Ingroup/loyalty, related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. This foundation underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
4) Authority/respect, shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. This foundation underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
5) Purity/sanctity, shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions)

Take the morality quiz to see where you fall…

Michael Smerconish: For Me, the Party Is Over
Mar 2nd, 2010 by Sam

Michael Smerconish: For Me, the Party Is Over.

I think President Obama is earnest, smart, and much more centrist than his tea party caricature suggests. He has never been given a fair chance to succeed by those who openly crow about their desire to see him fail (while somehow congratulating one another on their relative patriotism). I know he was born in America, isn’t a socialist, and doesn’t worship in a mosque. I get that he inherited a minefield. Still, the level of federal spending concerns me. And he never closed the deal with me that health insurance is a right, not a privilege. But I’m not folding the tent on him. Not now. Not with the nation fighting two wars while its economy still teeters on the brink of collapse.

The diversity paradox
Aug 4th, 2007 by Sam

To the consternation of Robert Putnam, the liberal scholar who did the research, and many liberals in general, a new study suggests that ethnic and racial diversity are linked to declining civic engagement, reports the Boston Globe.  The greater the diversity in a community:

  • fewer people vote
  • people are less likely to volunteer
  • they give less to charity
  • they work less on community projects

In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings.

Conservatives are jumping right on this issue  – from places like the Manhattan Institute and “The American Conservative” – highlighting the harm the study suggests will come from large-scale immigration.  Putnam says he’s received hundreds of complimentary emails laced with bigoted language.  “It certainly is not pleasant when David Duke’s website hails me as the guy who found out racism is good,” he says.

Love those conservatives, they are so pleasant…

So, ethnic diversity leads to civic malaise.  Not greater harmony and understanding (sorry liberals).  Not conflict (sorry conservatives).  Malaise.

Additionally, there are negative economic consequences.  Greater ethnic diversity was linked to lower school funding, for example.

Okay, okay.  Can we just call this what it is?  Tribalism?

I have long said (ask my husband) that Europe spends more on social programs than the US because the countries are more ethnically homogeneous – and have predicted that the ethnic and economic diversity in Europe resulting from the European Union will result in the dismantling of those social support systems.  Europeans, I predict, will be unwilling to provide support to the new immigrants in those countries, and will move toward a US model, which has much less support.

However, there is also a huge benefit from diversity…

Urban centers, such as New York, London, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, are where the action is….  It turns out that the flip side to civic malaise is productivity and innovation.

“…by hanging out with people different than you, you’re likely to get more insights.  Diverse teams tend to be more productive,”  says Scott Page, a political scientist at the Univeristy of Michigan.

In other words,

“…those in more diverse communities may do more bowling alone, but the creative tensions unleashed by those differences in the workplace may vault those same places to the cutting edge of the economy and of creative culture.”  Boston Globe, August 5, 2007

This is also consistent with the place the United States has had in the world since the 1950’s – leading the world in productivity and innovation and being a ‘melting pot’ or, as some say, a ‘tossed salad’ – since those darn immigrants don’t all actually become just like each other.

This is the diversity paradox, that there are both positive and negative effects from diversity.  And, something that the United States has benefited from significantly.

So, which is more important?  The ‘cost’ of lower civic engagement or the ‘benefit’ of higher productivity and innovation?  If it were possible to go back to living within our national and state borders, and all retreat within our ethnic communities – German, Irish, Jewish, Italian, English, Lithuanian, French Canadian, Haitian, African, Norwegian, Russian, Chinese, Mexican, Puerto Rican…  we would have more civic engagement.  But, I believe that the rest of the world would pass us by in innovation, and we can’t afford that.

So, diversity it is, with the full awareness that civic engagement cannot be taken for granted.

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