Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Losing Letterman

During the Vietnam War era LBJ famously said, 'If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the country".

After seeing how McCain disgraced himself by snubbing Letterman, I can see McCain similarly lamenting, "If I've lost Letterman, I've lost the election."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Financial Crisis

Our chickens are coming home to roost. A central part of the Reagan Revolution in the 1980's was less government regulation. Greed again became fashionable, unchecked as it was by any external controls or oversight. In this decade we have seen the result of this trend towards deregulation and government lack of oversight of the financial market. The litany is long and depressing--Enron, Worldcom, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and now the investment houses which the Treasury wants us taxpayers to shell out $700 billion (that's billion with a B) to bail out. The bailout plan would cost $2 thousand per person in the U.S.!

John McCain all of a sudden says he is in favor of more regulation, after having been against it up until now. He even says the wrongdoers should be behind bars. This is a rather far-fetched statement for him to make, as there would have to be a criminal statute in place that was violated by the exeuctives of these companies. Certainly McCain's party is the party that has been steadfastly against any such regulatons, and I challenge McCain to point to any statute which could be the basis to put an executive behind bars for his bad decisions. If there is any such statute, I would bet the farm that it is one passed by the Democrats and opposed by the Republicans.

It is easy to say the Titanic should have had more lifeboats, after it has struck an iceberg and sank. It is easy to say one was wrong about the Titanic being unsinkable, after it has sunk. I am waiting now for the Republicans to admit they were wrong about deregulation, wrong about how unchecked greed is good for the economy, and apologize to the American people. Somehow I think it will be a long wait.

Just as the Titanic needed sufficient lifeboats, so our economy needs the regulation and oversight which the Democrats have consistently advocated over the years, and the Republicans consistently opposed. Think of any advances which have come about over the past 100 years, whether it be social security, Medicare, mimimum wage laws, worker safety laws, food safety laws, child labor laws, and on and on, they have all been passed by Democrats over Republican objections. And we now take all of them for granted, but we should not forget that they all run counter to the basic Republican philosophy of government staying out of the lives of its citizens.

Those are my comments on the "supply side" of the issue. But I think there is a basic cultural reality, one I have not seen discussed, which has to with the "demand side" of the problem. Ever since the end of World War 2, it seems that the "American dream" has been for a family to own its own house, complete with yard and white picket fence in front. Along with that, it is also part of this ideal for every family to own its own vehicle, a vehicle which gets progressively bigger, more expensive, and more of a gas-guzzler each time it is upgraded or replaced.

This is really the source of our problems. It gets drilled into our heads that a "normal American" will have the house and car as a starting point on the road of adult life. And over the years, this has been expanded to include a car for every driver in the household, perhaps a boat, and perhaps a second house as a vacation getaway. (And we have to live in the suburbs, meaning a long commute to work.) To do all this we of course need credit, and that is where the problem comes in. Credit companies have been allowed to make progressively more and more dubious loans to finance these purchases which people really cannot afford.

I have seen some examples of this in my law practice, of clients who get in way over their heads just because they think they have to have a house which is "theirs". In the most recent example, the borrowers enterd into a contract to pay more than $800.00 a month, when the wife was disabled and the husband made only $11.00 an hour. After they defaulted, a forebearance agreement was entered into calling for $1,000 a month payments until they got caught up, and of course this fell apart. After the inevitable foreclosure, they found a place renting from a relative at only $425.00 a month. In another instance, a client facing foreclosure refinanced by paying a mortgage broker $8,000 to find him another creditor who would pay off the existing balance to save his house. So, he ends up with a loan much larger than the original one (the 8K plus all the costs of originating a new loan with a new lender).

We seem to have lost the abilty to distinguish between our needs and our wants. Or, as Lynn Miller puts it in "The Power of Enough", "contentment is found in knowing what things mean has nothing to do with who you are". Things actually get in the way of our relationship with God and our ability to get in touch with our spiritual selves. We become anxious about security to protect all of our "stuff". We rent storage facilities to store all the "stuff". And on and on.

After my wife and I separated 10 years ago, I moved into an apartment and discovered some things about what a person really needs. Suddenly my utility bills were only a small fraction of what they had been with a house. Rent was substantially lower than a house payment. I was on a bus line so a car was not essential, as it had been. And with limited space in a one-bedroom apartment, I had to be careful about not accumulating too much "stuff".

An analogy to the so-called "war on drugs" might be apt here. Our "war on drugs" consists of trying to eradicate the supply, but we seem unable to recognize that the demand side is also an equally critical part of the problem. Without the demand, there would be no drug problem! Why do we not focus on eliminating the demand from our citizens, instead of trying to dictate to other countries how they should run their business, which is what happens with the supply-side approach? This is the sort of approach with gives the U.S. a bad name around the world--our dictating to others and our interference in their affairs, like a big bully on the playground.

Just as with the war on drugs, an improved attitude about our need for "things", especially the high-dollar items like houses and cars, would reduce the demand for the risky loans which have led to the current crisis. Mandatory high school classes on personal finance issues would help educate people to understand the importance of not gettin over-extended. And better religous training would similarly educate people on the folly of viewing their own self-worth in terms of their possessions.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

911 Calls

20-20 last night had yet another depressing story of a 911 caller not doing her job properly. In this case, a woman was being chased by a man with a gun trying to kill her, and the 911 operator refused to be of help. The operator kept saying things like "I can't help you if you won't give me your location", and "I can't help you if you don't stop shouting". Well, if someone was trying to kill me, I think I'd shout too.

I have seen this syndrome enough to know it happens a lot. The 911 operators simply don't have the attitude of trying to be helpful, caring, or empathetic. In the case broadcast last night, the caller was trying to find out the location of the police department so she could drive there. In a call lasting over 3 minutes, the operator never did give her the location!

Somehow she found her way to the station anyway, but the gate was locked and she was shot to death right outside the police station. The police chief defended the actions of the operator, saying she had a difficult job to do under the circumstances. What baloney! I have seen news accounts in the past where 911 operators let someone die without sending help because they don't like the way the caller is talking. They need to be trained that people in emergency situations can be excited and fast-talking, and they should learn to deal with this and try to be helpful anyway.

I personally have vowed never to call 911 again, because of the shoddy way I've been talked to when I have in the past. To give an example of a call I witnessed, my colleague at the office called 911 one day to report a man laying in the street outside our office building. The operator asked a neverending series of questions, like what color clothes he had one, what color cap, what race was he, etc. Each time, my colleague patiently said he didn't know and that if she wished, he would set the phone down (it was a land line, not a mobile) and go outside and see and then come back in and let her know. If someone is unconscious in the middle of a busy street, why don't you just send help, and what difference does his race make?

Some months ago there were two incidents in Wichita which shed light on the problem with calling 911. One was an incident in which a woman got killed in a convenience store. The media was full of comments castigating the customers for stepping over her body and going about their business, without calling 911 or otherwise trying to help the victim.

But another incident at about the same time shed light on why folks do *not* call 911. A woman in a Wal-Mart saw what she thought was a young girl being abused, and called 911. And she got roundly castigated for that! The girl's mother was later interviewed and explained that the girl was getting her ears pierced, something she had wanted to do, and that what the caller heard were the girls' screams saying "stop, you're hurting me", but it was a legitimate ear-piercing going on.

We live in a society where solitude and isolation are the norm, and community is the exception. Consequently, there are no clear societal norms on when it is proper to get involved in other people's business, and we often err on the side of caution. Am I my brother's keeper? The Bible says so, but in this country we don't follow Biblical precepts.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Time to Break up the United States

I have had it. The U.S. has become a hopelessly fractured, divided country. The average person feels little ability to influence the policies of the national government. We send representatives to Washington, and instead of being our voice in Washington, they end up becoming part of the Washington power elite. We had a Congressman some years back, Dan Glickman, who did not even reside in his District during the last part of his Congressional tenure. He just melded into the Washington scene, never to be heard from again as far as his District is concerned. Not exactly what our founding fathers had in mind.

In looking at the electoral map provided at http://www.electoral-vote.com/ it is obvious that the U.S. needs to be broken up into smaller countries that are more cohesive than the mess we've got now. Those areas that like being ruled by the Republicans, that like the uncontrolled deficit spending, the disastrous foreign policies that have made us the laughingstock of the world, and the head-in-the-sand refusal to address the health care criss, those areas can go their merry way and continue to elect Republicans. Those areas of the country which would like to move into the 21st century with alternative energy and humane foreign and domestic policies can do so free of Republican domination.

I propose that the 3 Pacific Ocean states be one country. Perhaps the capitol could be in Portland, the largest city in the middle of the 3 states.

Next we would have the huge mass of Western states over to the Eastern borders of North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Next we would have the Southeastern states, basically the states of the old Confederacy except for Texas.

The 4th country would be the upper Midwest, basically the "Rust Belt" states. These would include Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and perhaps Missouri.

Next we would have the New England states, plus New York, Pennsylvania, and the little states down to the Northern border of Virginia & West Virginia. One important caveat here, though. Vermont has its own secessionist movement which has been gaining traction in recent years. Support among Vermonters is now at 13%, up from 8% the year before. For an article explaining Vermont's rationale for secession, see http://www.vermontrepublic.org/in_defense_of_vermonts_secession_from_the_union_2 For a concise statement of the 8 principles of the Second Vermont Republic movement, see http://www.vermontrepublic.org/about

In recognition of its progress towards independence, I would give Vermonters the option of being its own country (as it was from 1775 to 1791). Similarly, Maine could choose to become part of Canada if it wished. That leaves us with the problem states of Missouri and West Virginia. Both of these states voted twice for Clinton, then twice for Bush. They would have to choose where to go, with Missouri choosing between the Confederacy and the Midwest Republic and the West, while West Virginia would have to choose between the Confederacy and the New England Republic and the Midwest.

Think of the benefits! Each of the new countries would be free to pursue it own vision and ideas of how to make the best future for its people. As one of the Vermont principles says, "We believe life should be lived on a human scale. Small is still beautiful."

Putting Missouri with the Midwest, West Virginia with the South, and Nevada with the West, the current 538 electoral votes would break down as follows: Pacific--73, West--102, South--132, Midwest--107, New England--117, Hawaii--4, and Alaska-3.

When Obama says "We are not a collection of red states and blue states, we are the *United* States of America, I think he is engaging in wishful thinking. The fact is that not only are we a collection of red and blue states, but we are a collection of red and blue *regions*. The only states out of step with the rest of their region in the above breakdown are Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri. Colorado and New Mexico have longstanding traditions of supporting environmental concerns and opposing unchecked growth. (Years ago I recall seeing a sign in New Mexico saying "Don't Californicate New Mexico".) Missouri is really a Southern state, and the southern portions of Indiana and Ohio are really southern also at heart, possibly explaining why those stateas are out of step with the rest of the Midwest.

The electoral vote distribution between Obama and McCain based on region is 301-237 for Obama. Adjusting for the discrepancy posed by the 5 states just mentioned add 28 to McCain's total, arriving at the current (as of 9/22) electoral vote count of 273-265.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jim Wallis and the Legacy of Political Correctness

In a recent blog post Jim Wallis decried what he perceived as reporters claiming that Sarah Palin could not be a mother and run for Vice-President. He claimed this was a "blatant double standard that would not be applied to a male candidate".

If this was in fact happening, then he is right that it is a double standard and would be completely out of bounds. The problem with Wallis' statement is that there is no evidence that reporters are in fact doing this! I listen/watch the news all the time, and I have never seen or heard a reporter claim Sarah Palin cold not be a mother and a politician both. In fact, I maintain that in this era of political correctness, any reporter who did this would be out of a job within days.

This got me to thinking about other situations in which reporters have lost their jobs because of politically incorrect statements. The situation which comes immediately to mind is the famous faux pas Rush Limbaugh made when he was a commentator on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown for the 2003 season. On the 4th show he claimed that the media bent over backwards to build up Black quarterbacks. He had absolutely no evidence for this and was just making it up, just as Wallis was making up his so-called "observation" about the media and Palin. In talking about Donovan McNabb, Limbaugh's exact comments, according to Wikipedia, were:

"Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

There was a firestorm of protest to this, and Limbaugh resigned only 3 days later.

Now, media people make silly and unsubstantiated comments every day, and these comments normally go virtually unnoticed and un-commented upon. However, when the comments are considered politically incorrect, i.e., they involve race, gender, ethnic group, or religion, then the thought police are out in full force and the politically correct folks jump on it with all guns blazing. Another example is Jimmy the Greek. He was a commentator for CBS on its NFL Today program for 12 years, and survived many controversies, including an incident in which he punched fellow CBS commentator Brent Musberger in a restaurant. However, on 1/16/88 he got fired after making this comment:

"The black is a better athlete to begin with because he's been bred to be that way — because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs. This goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trading, the owner — the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid."

Again, certainly a totally silly and unsubstantiated comment, but because it involves race, the thought police jump on it and he has to be fired because of it, even though he wasn't fired for physically attacking his colleague Musberger, nor for many other silly comments Jimmy the Greek made over the years.

A particularly pathetic example is that of John Rocker. Poor John Rocker was a 25-year-old pitcher for the Atlanta Braves when he had the unfortunate experience of running his mouth to a Sports Illustrated reporter who was riding with him to a speaking engagement in January of 2000. Rocker, a Georgia native, allegedly said, speaking of New York City:

"It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark, looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."

Lest you are under the illusion that this is still America and free speech sitll exists, let the record show that Rocker was suspended without pay for Spring Training and the first 28 games of the season.

I still recall the hurt in Ken Caminiti's voice while being interviewed by Dan Patrick on ESPN radio, after the SI article quoting him as saying half the players in the majors are on steroids. This article caused a huge uproar, and Caminiti was in the eye of quite a storm. (He soon died of a drug overdose at the age of only 41.) Caminiti explained that an SI reporter called and said he wanted to talk with Caminiti about life after baseball. The reporter flew down to visit Caminiti and they chatted over a long period of time. In a weak moment, Caminiti made the offhand remark which caused all the fuss. Steroid use was *not* the subject of the interview, and Caminiti never intended to make a controversial statement, unlike Jose Canseco who wrote a book accusing players of rampant steroid use.

And finally we come to Andy Rooney. Andy has been the resident curmudgeon on "60 Minutes for many years. His incisive observations on American life, and life in general, have made him a viewer favorite. Here is how Wikipedia described his 1990 suspension:

"In 1990 Rooney was suspended without pay for three months. This punishment was for saying that "too much alcohol, too much food, drugs, homosexual unions, cigarettes [are] all known to lead ... to premature death." Also, he wrote an explanatory letter to a gay organization after being ordered not to do so. This may have contributed to the severity of the action. After only four weeks without Andy Rooney 60 Minutes lost 20 percent of its audience. CBS management then decided that it was in the best interest of the network to have Rooney return immediately."

I think I have demonstrated what happens to reporters (and others) who comment on taboo subjects. Sarah Palin has been roundly criticized for her Neanderthal views, and rightly so, but nobody suggests she can't be a mother and a candidate both. Wallis is all wet when he says otherwise.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Republican Lies

Yesterday Sarah Palin repeated her assertion made in her acceptance speech, that she said "Thanks but no thanks for that Bridge to Nowhere up in Alaska", even though it has been clearly established that she was originally for it, and, according to a network interview with an Alaskan journalist, she only "put the nail in the coffin" of the project after it had become politically unfeasible to continue.

But the real lie, one on a substantive issue and one which people believe in amazingly high numbers, is McCain's almost daily assertion that Obama would raise everyone's taxes". This is clearly a despicable lie, as his plan would raise taxes only on those earning more than $250,000. How can McCain get away with this? An article in the Washington Post today explores this business of lying. It quotes Republican strategist John Feehery as saying that the important thing at this stage of the campaign is establishing dominant themes, and that "these little facts don't really matter". What a shame. It is said that in war "truth is the first casualty", and I guess you can add in politics also.

The daily news summary at electoral-vote.com observes that the problem is that the news media feels obligated to report equally on both sides of an issue. It is as if Obama would assert that "McCain will bring back the draft and everyone under 21 will be sent to Iraq." The press would then dutifully report this along with McCain's outraged denial. Totally unethical for Obama to do this, of course, but comparable to what McCain is dong with the taxes issue.

Actually I did see on the NBC Nightly News last night that they were doing some fact-checking on various assertions that have been made in the campaigns so far. There needs to be more of this, in order to hold politicians to account when they make false or exaggerated claims. Personally, I like to think that the truth still counts for something.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Digital Roots and Powers

When I wake up in the middle of the night, as I often do, I try to put myself back to sleep by doing some sort of mental exercise. Last night I got to playing with digital roots and powers. The digital roots of the squares of numbers with digital roots from 1 to 9, replacing each 3rd number with dashes, since those will all be 9's, are:

1, 4 -- 7, 7 -- 4, 1 a pleasing palindromic result.

Expanding this out a bit, we can construct a table of powers up to 6, as follows (2nd line for square, 3rd line for cube, etc.).

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 4 9 7 7 9 4 1 9
1 8 9 1 8 9 1 8 9
1 7 9 4 4 9 7 1 9
1 5 9 7 2 9 4 8 9
1 1 9 1 1 9 1 1 9

We can see that the 6th power of all non-multiples of 3 have digital root of 1, so the cycle starts all over. We can see also that the powers of both 2 and 5 contain the digits for the famous cyclical number 142857, though the digits are not in the right order. 4 and 7 have a cycle of 3 before repeating, while 8 is a rather boring cycle of 2.

A similar table for the last digit of powers would look like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 4 9 6 5 6 9 4 1
1 8 7 4 5 6 3 2 9
1 6 1 6 5 6 1 6 1
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

We can see that any number to the 5th power will end in the same digit which the original number ended in, so we only have to go up to 4 powers to have a complete table ad infinitum, unlike with digital roots where we needed to go to the 6th power.

We have seen that the digital root of a power of 2 is always 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, or 8. It so happens that these are also the digital roots of all the prime numbers (except for 3). (This is per Wikipedia, I don't pretend to understand why this is so.) More Wikipedia goodies: digital root of a perfect number will always be 1; digital root of a triangular number will always be 1, 3, 6, or 9.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Boeing Union Shoots Itself in the Foot Once Again

Once again, the Boeing union myopically complains about having to pay a larger amount each month for their health insurance premiums. The good news is that they only rejected the contract, and postponed a strike vote by 48 hours to allow a federal mediator to take a stab at settlement.

This issue came up full force some years back. I remember hearing a Boeing worker describe it as a "giveback". This has rankled me ever since, as to how the union could be so just plain ignorant. When the total premium cost goes up by, say, $100.00 a month, and the company asks the workers to pay a small part of that increase, say $25.00, then this is *not* a giveback!! The company is paying more than it used to, and is simply asking the worker to share a small part of the burden. But all the shortsighted union people can see is that a bit more will be coming out of their paychecks, so they stupidly see it as a giveback.

What happened in that strike years ago was quite illuminating. The workers stayed out for about a month, and then at that point they were going to have to pay their entire insurance premium for the next month, or lose their insurance. They were shocked, and were quoted time and again in the media as saying "I can't afford $400 a month". They immediately went back to work with their tails between their legs.

I am reminded of my old tax law prof, Martin Dickinson, who said that the federal government should *not* withhold the total amount of income tax to be paid from worker paychecks. He said they should only withhold 90% or so, and then when the workers had to dig into their own pockets on April 15th and cough up the remaining 10%, this was the only way momentum for tax reform would develop.

The same thing is true with health insurance. Boeing workers are used to the paternalism of the company paying the entire amount of the premium. With the skyrocketing health care costs, the company understandably is trying to share the load a bit. What progressive companies do is have the employee pick from a menu of options, and then pay for only what is needed for that particular family. This puts more of the responsibility on the user of the health care benefits, so has to be considered preferable.

I have heard of a number of situations where both husband and wife have full family coverage. This means one of the employers is paying premiums each month that are entirely unnecessary and unusable. It makes no sense, and at some point the unions need to understand this and become part of the solution, instead of part of the problem.

We have a national health care crisis in this country. We pay twice as much of our gross national product on health care as other developed countries do, with results that are pathetic in terms of any accepted measure. We all need to work together to change this.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Every Voter Should Know about Sarah Palin

1. She does not believe in man-made global warming. This is like being a member of the Flat Earth Society.

2. She does not believe in abortion rights, even for victims of rape and incest. This is more of the "blame the victim" mentality which we see all too often.

3. When she was first introduced by John McCain, Palin made a big point of claiming that she had told Congress "thanks, but no thanks" to that infamous "bridge to nowhere". However, the actual facts are that she had earlier supported it, and only turned against it when circumstances forced her to because the project was no longer viable. Also, as mayor she hired a lobbyist to seek federal funds for her town. Full story is at http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=news-000002943925

4. She has to this day not explained why she fired Walt Monegan, the Alaska public safety commissioner. Palin continues to insist it was *not* because Monegan refused to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, with whom the Palin family has been feuding for years. Yet, she has refused to say why she *did* fire Monegan, other than to make a vague reference to "policy differences". The evidence is that Palin contacted Monegan complaining about Wooten on multiple occasions, and no less that 14 members of her administration also contacted Monegan as well. One story on this is at http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message598915/pg1

5. She accepted the VP nomination knowing it would thrust her 17-year-old pregnant daughter into the national spotlight. What kind of parent does this to a child? She should have said "thanks, but no thanks", just like she claims she did to that bridge to nowhere.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So Why Did Palin Really Fire Monegan?

If Sarah Palin expects to salvage her nomination, and not become another Eagleton, then needs to come forth with a complete and believable explanation of why she fired Walt Monegan, her public safety commissioner. If it was not in retaliation for his refusal to fire her ex brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, then why *did* she fire him? She needs to speak clearly and forthrightly to this issue, otherwise it will hopelessly poison the GOP ticket.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

The electoral map at this site http://www.electoral-vote.com/ shows the latest polling numbers from each state, and the electoral vote breakdown based on those numbers. Current standing is 270-243 for Obama, with 13 not included based on Virginia being currently a tie.

I have only a slight quarrel with the breakdown. New York is said to be "weak Democratic" based on a lead of "only" 8 percentage points for Obama. To me this is a sizable lead and the dividing point between "weak" and "strong" should be somewhat lower than 10%. Similarly, a 4% lead is classified as "barely", when "weak" would be more appropriate.

Of the close states, these are 1% for McCain--Ohio, Florida, Montana; 3% for McCain--North Dakota, North Carlina; 4% for McCain--South Dakota. 1% for Obama--New Hampshire; 2% for Obama--Colorado; and 3% for Obama--Nevada. 6 close states for McCain and only 3 for Obama, so big edge to Obama here. Put another way, 71 of McCain's 243 electoral votes are in jeopardy, while only 18 of Obama's 270 votes are in jeopardy based on today's numbers.

Sarah Palin after the First Weekend

My initial impression of Palin was of a stunningly attractive woman, who seemed a lookalike of my favorite show business personality, Tina Fey.

After a weekend the picture doesn't look so bright. Here are a few things learned:

1. It was revealed on "Meet the Press" Sunday that McCain wanted to pick Lieberman, but was told by a state chairman that if he did that there would be a floor fight. He backed down and went with the "safe" choice.

2. Palin is against all abortion rights, including for incest and rape victims.

3. Palin denies the reality of man-made global warming.

In a C-SPAN panel discussion yesterday, a group of Republicans discussed these issues. Arianna Huffington really beat up on Tucker Carlson, likening Tucker's insistence that all sides get an equal hearing on these issues to saying the Flat Earth Society deserves an equal hearing with other views. Are we to simply ignore what science has learned? Of course not. Global warming is a reality, whether people like Sarah Palin choose to accept it or not. Her view does *not* deserve an equal hearing with the truth.

I hadn't realized how low Tucker Carlson had fallen. After the discussion the camera showed him putting his arm around Arianna, as if they were all on the same page after all. This was patently artificial and downright embarrassing. I can't imagine George Will, who, unlike Tucker, is a conservative worthy of respect, doing this.