Archive for February, 2007

The Mexican Truckers Are Coming!

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

The usual suspects are worked into a lather over the fact that Mexican trucks are going to have access to American highways. Be afraid, be very afraid, we are told. Of course, this whole thing was part of NAFTA, which many of the conservative critics supported. WSJ has a good editorial that debunks most of the demagoguery. Money quote:

It’s nice the U.S. government is finally getting around to meeting its obligations under a trade pact with Mexico ratified a mere 14 years ago. But even that is too fast for some protectionists.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. was required to lift a ban on Mexican trucks traveling more than 25 miles inside the border. The deadline for doing so was 2000, yet seven years later the ban remains in place. Hence, when Mexican trucks reach the mileage limit, they must off-load and transfer the goods to American trucks, which carry them to their ultimate destination. You can understand why the Teamsters who represent American drivers favor this arrangement, however inefficient, but U.S. consumers pick up the tab.

Retrying Scopes

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Apparently, State Sen. Raymond Finney (R-Maryville) thinks the 1925 humiliation wasn’t enough. Oh no, he wants to retry the monkey:

A Tennessee State Senate member has filed a resolution asking the Tennessee Department of Education to address a few basic questions about life, the universe and all that:

* “Is the universe and all that is within it, including human beings, created through purposeful, intelligent design by a Supreme Being, that is a Creator?”
* “Since the universe, including human beings, is created by a supreme being (a creator), why is creationism not taught in Tennessee public schools?
* “Since it cannot be determined whether the universe, including human beings, is created by a supreme being (a creator), why is creationism not taught as an alternative concept, explanation, or theory, along with the theory of evolution in Tennessee public schools?”

I doubt that this bill will go anywhere; it’s most likely a cynical attempt by Finney to score some points with the Religious Right. I have no problem with acknowledgment of a Supreme Creator. I am a Christian. I believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth, and that Jesus came to redeem the world. And, for the record, I have no problem with this theology being studied in classrooms, so long as it’s voluntary.

But I am against the academic fraud that is running rampant in the schools. Conservatives can generally be counted on to expose and fight it, except when it comes to science. For some reason, many Conservative Christians feel the need to have their beliefs taught in science classes, either as outright Creationism or the more covert Intelligent Design. The problem is that neither of these beliefs are science. Teaching them as such represents academic fraud, and quite frankly seems to me to be a sign of weak faith, as if kids will become atheists if they even hear of Charles Darwin.

Science is not the be all, end all. It is simply part of a larger puzzle. I would argue that it is important to learn and understand, but it can only tell us so much. It is silent, for example, on the existence of God. That is the realm of theology. Theology is also important, and is necessary, in my opinion, for a full life. Contemplating things bigger than one’s self and wrestling with life’s big questions is very important for anyone who wants to live a full life.

But just as we would not substitute science for faith, we should not substitute faith for science. We should respect and cherish both, and encourage the honest examination and study of each. Sen. Finney, a doctor, should know this.

Via Bob Krumm.

UPDATE: This post is taking part in the Beltway Traffic Jam.

The Government

Monday, February 26th, 2007

It just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger:

The welfare state is bigger than ever despite a decade of policies designed to wean poor people from public aid.

The number of families receiving cash benefits from welfare has plummeted since the government imposed time limits on the payments a decade ago. But other programs for the poor, including Medicaid, food stamps and disability benefits, are bursting with new enrollees.

Lieberman Defends War

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Sen. Joe Lieberman defends the troop surge:

In fact, halting the current security operation at midpoint, as virtually all of the congressional proposals seek to do, would have devastating consequences. It would put thousands of American troops already deployed in the heart of Baghdad in even greater danger–forced to choose between trying to hold their position without the required reinforcements or, more likely, abandoning them outright. A precipitous pullout would leave a gaping security vacuum in its wake, which terrorists, insurgents, militias and Iran would rush to fill–probably resulting in a spiral of ethnic cleansing and slaughter on a scale as yet unseen in Iraq.

I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next. Instead of undermining Gen. Petraeus before he has been in Iraq for even a month, let us give him and his troops the time and support they need to succeed.

Romney’s Genealogy Matters Because…?

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

I don’t plan to vote for Mitt Romney, at least not in the GOP primary, because of his big government ways (especially in relation to health care) and his tendency to flip flop on major issues. But I am disturbed by stories like this:

While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his Mormon church, the Republican presidential candidate’s great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great grandfathers had 12.

Seriously, why does this matter? Why does Fox News need to report it? We all know that Mormonism embraced polygamy more than a century ago. We also know that it was rejected in 1896. Today, a few radical sects practice it, but the mainstream church does not. The actions of his great-grandfather tells us nothing about Mitt Romney.

Maybe I’m just out of touch, but I never realized there was as much anti-Mormon sentiment in America as there is. Romney’s candidacy really highlights it. I don’t fully get it, but it’s obviously there. That’s a shame, because the fact that Romney is a Latter-Day Saint is, at least in my view, irrelevant to the kind of president he would be.

UPDATE: Actually, it was the AP who originally reported on Romney’s ancestry. Fox News simply picked up the wire (which, I would argue, they shouldn’t have).

UPDATE II: More thoughts from the Music City Oracle.

Liberty Security Would Be Better

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Okay, I’m going to go ahead and kill any chances I ever had of winning elected office and point to this article on Social Security that I completely agree with. Money quote:

If Social Security did not exist–if the individual were free to use that 12% of his income as he chose–his ability to better his future would be incomparably greater. He could save for his retirement with a diversified, long-term, productive investment in stocks or bonds. Or he could reasonably choose not to devote all 12% to retirement. He might choose to work far past the age of 65. He might choose to live more comfortably when he is young and more modestly in old age. He might choose to invest in his own productivity through additional education or starting a business.

How much, when, and in what form one should provide for retirement is highly individual–and is properly left to the individual’s free judgment and action. Social Security deprives the young of this freedom, and thus makes them less able to plan for the future, less able to provide for their retirements, less able to buy homes, less able to enjoy their most vital years, less able to invest in themselves.

Munchin’ Hay

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Early Numbers

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Michael Barone crunches some poll numbers. It’s good news for Rudy Giuliani.

Freedom for Kareem

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Freedom for Egyptians blogs about the Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, the Egyptian blogger who was arrested after criticizing the Egyptian government on his blog

And the biggest disaster that it is not the issue to agree or disagree with Kareem Amer’s blog, but the real disappointment is that many people are supporting jailing Kareem, including his family. They do not know that regardless where do they stand on politics and religion, their turn is coming….

Bush Numbers Up

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire notes some good news for the President:

President Bush’s job approval ratings have improved from January thanks to Republicans, according to a new American Research Group survey. 39% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling his job and 56% disapprove. When it comes to Bush’s handling of the economy, 40% approve and 54% disapprove.

82% of Republicans now say they approve of the way Bush is handling his job and 86% say they approve the way Bush is handling the economy. Bush’s job approval rebound may be limited as 88% of Democrats and 63% of independents disapprove of the way he is handling his job.

Bush’s numbers are still abysmal, but this does indeed mark some improvement. My guess is this that, as is noted above, Republicans are rallying around the President, partially due to the Democratic-controlled Congress. Having a clear political enemy is usually good for improving sagging popularity.