Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 24th, 2008

Science looks for difference between liberals and conservatives

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Interesting:

Political conservatives operate out of a fear of chaos and absence of order while political liberals operate out of a fear of emptiness, a new Northwestern University study soon to be published in the Journal of Research in Personality finds. “Social scientists long have assumed that liberals are more rational and less fearful than conservatives, but we find that both groups view the world as a dangerous place,” says Dan McAdams, study co-author and professor of human development and psychology at Northwestern University. “It’s just that their fears emerge differently.”

To better understand the differences between politically conservative Christian Americans and their liberal counterparts, McAdams and Northwestern University co-author Michelle Albaugh asked 128 socially active churchgoers this question: What if there were no God?

“Social scientists — who are generally liberals — have for decades done research to figure out what makes conservatives tick,” says McAdams. The study, “What if there Were No God? Politically Conservative and Liberal Christians Imagine their Lives without Faith,” available online to journal subscribers.

Like the Northwestern study, the preponderance of research finds that conservatives fear unchecked human impulses that challenge the status quo. What McAdams and Northwestern researcher Albaugh also find is an underlying, but different, fear that drives liberals as well.

“Political conservatives envision a world without God in which baser human impulses go unchecked, social institutions (marriage, government, family) fall apart and chaos ensues,” says McAdams. Liberals, on the other hand, envision a world without God as barren, lifeless, devoid of color and reasons to live.

“Liberals see their faith as something that fills them up and, without it, they conjure up metaphors of emptiness, depletion and scarcity,” McAdams said. “While conservatives worry about societal collapse, liberals worry about a world without deep feelings and intense experiences.”

The study findings may shed light on why conservatives prefer more authoritarian leaders while liberals do not, he adds.

“What’s clear is that it is their political and not religious orientation that underlies the different psychologies of political conservatives and liberals,” says McAdams. After all, all of the adults he and Northwestern researcher Albaugh studied were members of churches, and their data suggested that most were socially involved, altruistic people.

The Northwestern University study sample included 128 highly religious and politically active Americans who attend church regularly. Although nationally conservatives are more likely to attend church than liberals, the Northwestern study was set up to sample equally from religious conservatives and religious liberals.

The researchers also observed gender differences, but said they did not interfere with the relationship between political orientation and narrative themes. The study is part of a larger project that looks at the relationships of faith, politics and life stories in well-functioning American adults. It is funded by the Foley Family Foundation in Milwaukee.

Source: Northwestern University

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Walkies

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Same route but a little cooler and with a bit of a breeze: 1 hour 0 (zero!) minutes 51.62 seconds.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Palin’s role

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Scary post by Naomi Wolf that begins:

Please understand what you are looking at when you look at Sarah “Evita” Palin. You are looking at the designated muse of the coming American police state.

You have to understand how things work in a closing society in order to understand “Palin Power.” A gang or cabal seizes power, usually with an affable, weak figurehead at the fore. Then they will hold elections — but they will make sure that the election will be corrupted and that the next affable, weak figurehead is entirely in their control. Remember, Russia has Presidents; Russia holds elections. Dictators and gangs of thugs all over the world hold elections. It means nothing. When a cabal has seized power you can have elections and even presidents, but you have no freedom.

I realized early on with horror what I was seeing in Governor Palin: the continuation of the Rove-Cheney cabal, but this time without restraints. I heard her echo Bush 2000 soundbites (“the heart of America is on display”) and realized Bush’s speechwriters were writing her — not McCain’s — speeches. I heard her tell George Bush’s lies — not McCain’s — to the American people, linking 9/11 to Iraq. I heard her make fun of Barack Obama for wanting to prevent the torture of prisoners — this is Rove-Cheney’s enthusiastic S and M, not McCain’s, who, though he shamefully colluded in the 2006 Military Tribunals Act, is also a former prisoner of war and wrote an eloquent Newsweek piece in 2005 opposing torture. I saw that she was even styled by the same skillful stylist (neutral lipstick, matte makeup, dark colors) who turned Katharine Harris from a mall rat into a stateswoman and who styles all the women in the Bush orbit –but who does not bother to style Cindy McCain.

Then I saw and heard more. Palin is embracing lawlessness in defying Alaskan Legislature subpoenas –this is what Rove-Cheney, and not McCain, believe in doing. She uses mafia tactics against critics, like the police commissioner who was railroaded for opposing handguns in Alaskan battered women’s shelters — Rove’s style, not McCain’s. I realized what I was seeing.

Reports confirmed my suspicions: Palin, not McCain, is the FrankenBarbie of the Rove-Cheney cabal. The strategy became clear. Time magazine reported that Rove is “dialed in” to the McCain campaign. Rove’s protégé Steve Schmidt is now campaign manager. And Politico reported that Rove was heavily involved in McCain’s vice presidential selection. Finally a new report shows that there are dozens of Bush and Rove operatives surrounding Sarah Palin and orchestrating her every move.

What’s the plan? It is this. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 1:26 pm

Quote of the day

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From Froomkin’s column today:

‘This is eerily similar to the rush to war in Iraq,’ Rep. Mike McNulty, Democrat of New York, said. ‘We have been told repeatedly by this administration that the economy is fundamentally sound, and then all of the sudden they say the economy is going to collapse.’

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 1:17 pm

McCain postpones debate. Health reasons?

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No one has said (that I know of) that the reason is health, but McCain has shown little interest in the bailout up until today, and he has adopted a VERY relaxed campaign schedule, and of course he refuses to interact with the press. I’m wondering now whether he’s having health problems. If he were, he certainly would not own up to it—he won’t even release his medical records in a way that they can be reasonably reviewed—but he definitely would not want to debate, especially since the latest poll has Obama 9 points ahead.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Daily life, Election, GOP

Sarah Palin’s affair with Todd’s business partner?

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Can it be? Certainly the National Enquirer was right about John Edwards’s affair. More here.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP

The richest members of Congress

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The article lists the 50 richest. Here are the top 31: 18 GOP, 13 Democrats. UPDATE: What’s weird is the McCain is not listed, yet (like Kerry) he married a very wealthy woman. As pointed out in comments, McCain is there: 13 in the list.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Congress, Daily life

Greenwald and Digby discuss the bailout

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Looks as though the Dems will roll over once more. I don’t think it’s so much that they lack spine, but that they’ve been bought and paid for by lobbyists and large corporations. We just vote, on the whole, and can’t offer them bushels of money. At any rate, take a look and listen.

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24 September 2008 at 12:49 pm

End of Posse Comitatus Act?

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Glenn Greenwald has an important column on the fraying of the Posse Comitatus Act. Please read it.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 12:47 pm

Krugman makes some good points

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Paul Krugman:

The initial Treasury stance on the bailout was one of sheer demand for authority: give us total discretion and a blank check, and we’ll fix things. There was no explanation of the theory of the case — of why we should believe the proposed intervention would work. So many of us turned to our own analyses, and concluded that it probably wouldn’t work — unless it amounted to a huge giveaway to the financial industry.

Now, under duress, Ben Bernanke (not Paulson!) has offered an explanation of sorts about the missing theory. And it is, in effect, a metastasized version of the “slap-in-the-face” theory that has failed to resolve the crisis so far.

Before I explain the apparent logic here, let’s talk about how governments normally respond to financial crisis: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 12:43 pm

More details of Troopergate

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Via John Cole and Balloon Juice, this long and interesting analysis by Donald Craig Mitchell (and Cole’s post is also worth reading). Mitchell begins:

For Alaskans who have been enjoying the blood sport that Sarah Palin’s weaving and bobbing to avoid accountability in the Troopergate investigation has generated, last week there were two noteworthy new developments.

As America now knows, Troopergate is the local Alaska name for the investigation that the Alaska Legislature (by a unanimous vote of both Republicans and Democrats) directed the Judiciary Committee of the Alaska Senate to initiate to find out whether Sarah and the Palinistas who work for her in the Governor’s Office tried (unsuccessfully as it turned out) to pressure Walt Monegan, the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, to violate civil service laws and the State’s contract with the State Troopers’ union by firing Trooper Mike Wooten, Sarah’s ex-brother-in-law. Alaska Governor Palin welcomed the Troopergate investigation. Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Palin now wants nothing to do with it.

To try to weasel out of cooperating, Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Palin instructed Talis Colberg, Alaska Governor Palin’s attorney general, to have the Alaska Department of Law hire a journeyman attorney named Tom Van Flein to try to discredit the Troopergate investigation. For the past two weeks Van Flein’s legal strategy – if you can call it a legal strategy – has been two-pronged. The first prong has been to try to publicly trash the professional reputations of Hollis French, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Steve Branchflower, the attorney the Committee hired to interview witnesses, gather documents, and then piece together the Troopergate story. The second prong has been to try to impede the investigation by encouraging the witnesses Branchflower needs to interview to refuse to cooperate.

Unfortunately for Van Flein, inside the Alaska Legislature, Hollis French, who is a thoroughly decent guy and was a prosecutor himself before he was elected to the Alaska Senate, is liked and respected. Steve Branchflower, a veteran of the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office is a seasoned and perseverant former prosecutor. And, most importantly, despite the arm-twisting (or worse) to which he has been subjected by the McCain presidential campaign, Charlie Huggins, a conservative Republican who represents Wasilla, Sarah Palin’s hometown, in the Alaska Senate, and who is the swing vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has continued to stand with Hollis. As a consequence, rather than shutting down the Troopergate investigation, Van Flein’s absolutely shameful performance has accelerated it.

Which brings me to the first new development: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 12:11 pm

Sarah Palin

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She is, of course, cooperating in her isolation.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 11:23 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Free money

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Matthew Yglesias:

Luigi Zingales says the Paulson Plan is a scam:

There is a better answer: Some form of debt forgiveness. If the face value of half of the debt was forgiven in exchange for some new government authority, the financial sector could be recapitalized at no cost to the taxpayers. […] This time, an amendment would make available to companies a prepackaged bankruptcy in which debt forgiveness could be done overnight. To induce financial institutions to undergo this restructuring, the Fed could condition its provision of liquidity to the completion of the procedure. I doubt that any financial institution would choose to opt out.

If such a simple solution exists, why do we not hear about it? Easy: Wall Street would much prefer to be bailed out with taxpayers’ money than to be forced to pay for its own mistakes.

Before former investment bankers telling you that their friends in the business need $700 billion of your money.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 11:21 am

“Profane and informed” speaks out

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From Ezra Klein’s blog—and from one of his readers:

From a profane and informed reader:

I’ve actually spent 15 years in the financial sector, and I actually understand the credit crisis – and there is a crisis, no matter what the multitudes who don’t know jack about it say.Two quick points on the above post and I’ll leave you alone:

[David Cay] Johnston is way too smart a guy to be tossing around meaningless personal anecdotes as evidence of the absence of a credit crunch. The crunch doesn’t start in the consumer sector, that’s where it ends. It starts in the financial sector, and this very real, easily measurable crunch has been intermittently entering the red zone for several weeks. I won’t bother playing unknown, self-proclaimed expert here. Just do a google news search for “overnight lending rate” and let the financial news explain it to you. Better yet, google “TED spread” and check out the stats. They’re scary – scary in a way that hasn’t been seen since the late-Carter and early-Reagan years (when we had 17% interest rates for prime mortgages). Bad mortgages are incidental, at this point.

Second, as for your point about “enticement” of Wall Street, I totally agree that we should just swoop down and take control of the whole lot of them. But what Paulson and Bernanke are getting at is that there’s a very distinct division of labor in finance, and that the corner of Wall Street which produced this mess is wholly operated by testosterone-fueled assholes with God complexes. Even now, while the straight banking and insurance sectors are pissing their pants, the douchebags that crapped out this whole mess still think they’re invincible. I know I’m getting a little “strawman” here, but I know these jerks. They really believe that don’t need bailed out. They think they can cook up some new, crazy derivative to sit on top of the failed credit default swaps, restore the Wild West credit market (and by extension, liquidity), and make a shitload of money. They’re complete idiots. Diabolical, narcissistic idiots, but idiots nonetheless. Bernanke and Paulson quite rightly fear that a voluntary program that isn’t full of gimmes and profits will have no participants and will solve nothing. These guys (and a few women) are already rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams, and don’t believe that can ever change. I think Paulson and Bernanke really fear that these assholes will continue to take a series of increasingly big, stinky dumps on the global economy if we don’t kiss their asses and beg them to let us buy their shit. Again, I think we should be sending jackbooted thugs into their $12M meat-packing district co-ops and take every last saleable thing they own and give it to Sarah Palin to auction on eBay.

Sorry – I ended up rambling anyway. As I think you can guess, I’m getting really fed up with this emerging “there’s no crisis” meme. It’s fueled entirely by ignorance and fury over a too-clever-by-half Republican political rope-a-dope. Keep reading Krugman, etc. They get it.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 11:17 am

McCain offers high-production dishonesty

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Wonderful: industrializing lies:

“You can be whoever you want to be,” says an inviting Phil Tuchman. “You can be a beggar or a millionaire. A mom or a husband. Whatever. You decide!”

I volunteer in political campaigns now and then. After a series of outings for Obama and a first mission as a phone banker for John McCain, I returned to McCain’s headquarters in Arlington, Va. The offer was too alluring to delay — they wanted to put me into action as a ghostwriter. Next to commercials and phone banking, writing letters to the editor is the most important method of the McCain campaign to attract voters. At least that is what’s written in the guidelines that McCain campaign worker Phil Tuchman presents to me.

Today he is training six ghostwriters. What on earth is the appeal of McCain for the former Soviet bloc? Last time I was here, an exuberant Polish guy was phone banking next to me. Today, a Russian in yellow suspenders is shimmering at the same table, looking just like an actor who is famous in the Netherlands for star turns as a genius who suppresses his dark side with painstaking self-control.

The assignment is simple: We are going to write letters to the editor and we are allowed to make up whatever we want — as long as it adds to the campaign. After today we are supposed to use our free moments at home to create a flow of fictional fan mail for McCain. “Your letters,” says Phil Tuchman, “will be sent to our campaign offices in battle states. Ohio. Pennsylvania. Virginia. New Hampshire. There we’ll place them in local newspapers.”

Place them? I may be wrong, but I thought that in the USA only a newspaper’s editors decided that.

“We will show your letters to our supporters in those states,” explains Phil. “If they say: ‘Yeah, he/she is right!’ then we ask them to sign your letter. And then we send that letter to the local newspaper. That’s how we send dozens of letters at once.”

No newspaper can refuse a stream of articulate expressions of support, is the thought behind it. “This way, we will always get into some letters column.”

It is the day after Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican convention. Today, she is our main subject. The others are already enthusiastically hammering their keyboards. I am struggling with a tiny writer’s block. “Dear Editor …”

Phil Tuchman has handed out model letters, and talking points and quotes from Sarah Palin’s speech. But whom do I want to be?

Let’s loosen up my fingers a little first — and my principles, too. Am I actually allowed to make up letters? At the moment, it seems to be the only way to demonstrate how this is done in a campaign. So yes. I start practicing attractive sentences about Sarah Palin:

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 11:05 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Heckuva job, Bushie

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Everything he touches …

Over $13 billion that the U.S. sent to for Iraq to pay for reconstruction projects has been wasted, stolen or diverted to al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to Salam Adhoob, a former chief investigator for Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity. Adhoob worked for the Commission for three years, where he oversaw 200 employees. He testified about the waste, fraud and diversion of U.S. funds before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. He told the panel that some of the investigations his and other agencies conducted uncovered “ghost projects” that never existed, or instances in which Iraqi and U.S. contractors did poor-quality work. In one case, Adhoob said that the U.S. had spent $24.4 million on an electricity project in Nineveh province, but that an oversight agency found that it “existed only on paper.” He reported that he had a “firsthand, up-close look at corruption” and waste of U.S. funds, and that he eventually was forced to flee Iraq because of death threats.

Source: Washington Post, September 23, 2008

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 10:48 am

The Wall Street personality

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Ezra Klein:

Another reader from the financial world writes in:

Profane and informed” is exactly right. I spent a couple of years as a litigator investigating charges against one of the major firms in this crisis, reading their professional and personal emails. Calling them “testoterone-fueled assholes with God complexes” may be an understatement. These guys (and it’s all guys) think no rules apply to them, and that they are the smartest, biggest-dick Masters of the Universe to ever breathe. Just confirming what “profane and informed” wrote, in case any of your readers think it’s hyperbole–it’s surgically accurate.

Even so, these guys can’t be permitted to drown the financial system beneath their own self-regard. Paulson and Bernanke are acting as if Wall Street should retain agency, and they can’t play it that way. It will kill the plan. Congressional egos are as big as Wall Street’s — maybe the only ones that big — and right now, Paulson and Bernanke need to be playing to the political system that will pass this bailout, not kowtowing to the financial system that has created the need for it. Wall Street has money, but at the moment, they don’t have power. Not unless we pretend they do.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 10:37 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Is Barney Frank selling out?

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David Sirota is worried:

House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) has spent the last few days appearing on television telling America how honorable and wonderful Henry Paulson is for proposing a bailout that sends billions of taxpayer dollars to Paulson’s old friends at Goldman Sachs. I’ve tangled with Frank before, over his all-too-close relationship with Big Money – and now, even as banking industry lobbyists are publicly laughing at Democrats, Roll Call reports that Frank may be moving to quietly cut a secret bailout deal:

Democrats weren’t immune from divisions as well. Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) reiterated his concern that House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was making a deal with the White House without Senate input.”You can’t go off on this one side doing something that the other side doesn’t know about,” Dodd said.

But when asked why he wasn’t present in the room with Paulson and Frank, Dodd said it was because “of the nature of the institutions.” Pressed further about why he didn’t insist on being in the room, Dodd said, “We’re not going to get into that.”

Is this why lobbyists and George “19 percent” Bush are laughing at Democrats like Dodd? Are they laughing because one of the other Democratic leaders is busy working to help them sell America out? Frank’s staffers deny that this is what’s going on, despite Frank’s fawning all over Paulson. I hope they are being truthful.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 10:30 am

Skies: no longer friendly; actively hostile

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Don’t travel if you can avoid it, particularly on airlines. From The Consumerist:

A 65-year-old urologist, born in India but living in the United States for 38 years now, was flying from his home in Missouri to a medical convention in Las Vegas on June 26th, 2008. Did you notice that “born in India” detail? Apparently his attempts to go to the bathroom angered and frightened a flight attendant, who wouldn’t tell Dr. Sivaprasad Madduri why he couldn’t use the lavatory (the pilot was using it) and who wouldn’t listen to Dr. Madduri’s explanation that he was taking a medicine that acts as a diuretic. When the plane landed he was arrested, spent the night in jail, and was told the next day to plead guilty and pay $2500 if he wanted a quick resolution.

Southwest has since told Dr. Madduri, “We don’t want this experience to affect your feelings about flying with us in the future,” and they’ve offered him a $100 voucher.

From Rediff:

Ironically, even before he filed his complaint with the Southwest Airlines officials, he got a letter from Frederick Taylor Jr, senior manager at the airline’s customer service communications, offering a $100 voucher for a future flight.

“Sometimes, an explanation for the reason why things happen is not always possible, and the bizarre behaviour of the individual during your June 26 flight to Las Vegas supports this point,” Taylor said in a letter accompanying the voucher. “While I am unable to explain the circumstances surrounding the disruption, I think it is important to offer my heartfelt apologies for any concerns you may have had as a result of this event”.

“Naturally, we don’t want this experience to affect your feelings about flying with us in the future, or for it to be your last recollection of traveling with our company. In fact we would consider it a privilege if you gave us another opportunity to provide you with better memories.”

Here’s Dr. Madduri’s story in his own words: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 10:15 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

What you actually pay for you company healthcare plan

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Ezra Klein makes an interesting point: the amount workers pay (of their own money) is not an average of $3,826 per year per worker, but also includes another $8,863 per employee: total $12,689 per year per employee. Read his analysis here.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2008 at 10:07 am

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